…Reveals only thing that can stop his party from the promised land
…Explains why he remains loyal to ex-Gov Shema
By Andy Asemota
No matter how anyone battles him, Hon. Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, Chairman of Katina State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says he will not waiver in the loyalty and respect for former Governor Ibrahim Shema of the state, who rose to the position of Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party.
The former Chief of Staff, Government House Katsina, also revealed how the PDP has waxed strong as an opposition party after it was in the saddle of the state for 16 years.
A three time councillor before he emerged local government chairman on the platform of PDP and eventually switched to the House of Representatives, Majigiri has been there.
For 21 years, the grassroots politician has been doing the same thing in different ways at different levels and his passion for it has never decreased. He affirmed this position during an interview with Saturday VANGUARD. Excerpts
Would you seek a second tenure in office at the next state congress of the PDP?
The decision has already been made because a group has already bought a form for me to contest the election into the office of the state chairman for another term. We thank God Almighty for giving me the opportunity to vie for a second term.
PDP has been twice lost in the last two general elections in Katsina. Are you not worried?
Let me begin by giving gratitude to God Almighty for keeping me alive till this time. Don’t forget that PDP was in the saddle of Katsina for good 16 years and PDP had the opportunity to produce the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria from Katsina state just as APC produced the President of Nigeria twice from Katsina. So, the issue of losing elections in 2015 and 2019 must be considered against the background that the current President hails from Katsina.
It is not easy. If PDP can lose Kwara State where it had a sitting senate president and a sitting governor, I won’t be surprised it lost Katsina. We tried our best and PDP is on ground, it’s just a matter of time. In 2015, we lost elections in many states especially in Northern Nigeria. In 2019, we lost so many states, Katsina inclusive.
So, I think if you can consider the number of votes scored by our candidates from the presidential to governorship candidate in 2019, you can say PDP is making progress from 2015 to 2019.
In 2015, the PDP was in the saddle right from ward level up to the presidency but in 2019, right from the ward up to the Presidency but we had neither an appointed nor elected public office holder in the State. Despite that, we were able to have 300,080 votes in the presidential election and we were able to have about 400,080 votes in the governorship in 2019. When we were in office, our votes in the presidential and governorship election were less than the votes we scored in 2019 when we had no elective or appointed office holders in Katsina State.
If you can compare 2015 and 2019 polls, when we were in government and in opposition respectively, you can see the progress am trying to point out. With this, I am telling you, we have no cause to worry, we are on course; we know the government has failed and the people are now differentiating between PDP government and APC government. So, the only thing we can now do is ensure our unity as a party. We should persevere so that we can emerge victorious in 2023 by God’s grace.
Is it at the state or federal level?
At all levels.
Would you accept the nomination as a running mate to governorship ticket holder of your party in 2023, giving that you were a running mate to the governorship candidate in the last poll?
2023 is far ahead, we are trying to re-position the party; we are not yet there. I don’t talk of ambition now. This is not the time of talking about the ambition of somebody or mine. If you start talking about ambition now, it will bring disunity to a party. 2019 has come and gone, the only thing we should await is 2023 primaries and processes. That will be the best time when anybody in PDP will come out and declare the position he is contesting.
People bought (nomination) form for me to vie for the position of the state chairman again. Whatever I do is with the support of the people.
As the Chairman of the Party, I don’t have anything to say about my ambition. All I am after is for PDP to be effectively on ground so that anybody can contest election, whoever people wish to vote for can emerge victorious.
What are the prospects that PDP stakeholders in the state would bury their hatchets and work as a team before the next elections?
The chances are bright; we need unity in PDP. United we stand and divided we fall. So, if we are united, the sky is the limit for PDP at all levels. We should always try and avoid external forces that will come into the internal affairs of the Party to bring disunity among its members.
So, I am calling on all members of the Party at all levels to be united: In your ward, be united so that you can deliver your wards. At local government level, all the Stakeholders should try and be united so that they can deliver their local governments in the next elections. Stakeholders at the state level should be united so that they deliver the State likewise the country at large.
If there is unity -that is the only thing PDP needs now – and without distractions through contracts and other incentives of the ruling party, it’s just a matter of time before PDP will in the saddle again.
What is your personal view on the controversial ward and local government congresses of Katina State PDP?
PDP ward and local government congresses were not controversial. Never! Something is said to be controversial if it has some ambiguities. Our congresses at ward and local government levels were conducted in full compliance with PDP guidelines and electoral laws.
So, we have no controversy. The national headquarters is solely responsible for the conduct of the congress. It has released the time table, which is being followed, as approved by the National Executive Committee of the party. Forms were sold, there was electoral committee appointed by the National Working Committee for the party sent to Katsina and other states. The electoral committee came and conducted ward congress peacefully and successfully with participation of INEC and security agencies in the state.
Three days later, the national headquarters of the party sent an appeal committee to hear from members with any complaint against the conduct of the congresses. They sat here for two days, no complaint was received in respect of the ward congress and they went back and reported to the national headquarters of the party.
And on the 21st of March, 2020, the local government congress was conducted. It conducted peacefully. The committee from national headquarters came and I went round with the committee to Mashi, Katsina and Kurfi Local Governments to monitor the conduct of the congress. We have the reports that showed that the conduct was hitch
free and successful. INEC and security agencies witnessed the local government congresses.
The appeal committee for the local government also came and it listened to everybody with complaints. That is the procedure and it’s in line with the guidelines, constitution and electoral laws. So, I don’t see anything controversial there except somebody wants to bring certain issues that are not relevant to the conduct of the congresses which are 100% internal affairs of the party, PDP. But we are seeing some infiltration, most likely from APC.
We make effort to establish what is happening but the actual PDP members are comfortable with the conduct of the congresses and they are very, very committed to the party and are very ready to support the party at all levels. Now, what we are awaiting for is the state congress.
What is your take on the said court order against the congresses?
Somebody took the party to the court but the person is not even a member of the party. We have only one PDP. So, it’s the national headquarters of the party that will take up the matter. The court order was received by the party on the 16th of March, 2020, while we conducted our ward congress on the 14th of March.
We were not even aware of the court order. And when the legal team studied the court order, it was discovered that it was only talking about state congress because the applicant prayed the court to restrain the party from conducting ward, LG and state congresses while the court only restrained the state congress.
You can see clearly that no court order restrained PDP from conducting ward and LG congresses. So, there is nothing to worry about; we didn’t violate any court order; we are law abiding (party) that always respect the rule of law. We don’t violate court orders.
Several PDP chieftains have expressed concern over your loyalty to former governor Ibrahim Shema and 2019 governorship candidate on the platform of the party, Sen. Yakubu Lado. What is your reaction to the accusation?
When you are close people, you interact with them and you have understanding with them, it will generate complaints and if you are quarreling with everyone, some people will also speak ill of you.
Some people are saying that several stakeholders are leaving PDP because we are not close to them, at the same time; some are asking why should we be close to chieftains of the party? Do they want us to shun the former governor so that he can leave the party? That is the point. I don’t think to be loyal to a leader is a crime.
As the state chairman of the party, I would love to have more members from other parties to join PDP not to talk of former governor or governorship candidate. This is about relationship; how do you relate with people? Do they want me to fight with the former governor before they will agree that I am a leader? I don’t think that is the best principle for me.
My own philosophy is to be at peace with everybody; I don’t quarrel with people, I don’t fight people. I always respect people; I am close to all members of my party. I don’t have any camp. PDP is one in
Katina state. Right from the days of Mudu Sheriff and Makarfi, there was never a faction in Katsina; we are one under my leadership.
Don’t forget that PDP has found itself as an opposition party in Katsina; I am the pioneer chairman of the opposition party in the state. So, I have to device so many means to ensure that people are kept together in the party despite all the challenges. I have to relate with them very well, support them and give them the necessary respect they deserve from me, no matter their position. I give them their due respect.
To be loyal to somebody who deserves to be respected is not a crime, it’s not bad. As a former governor of my state for eight years, as a former attorney general of the state, as a former deputy National Chairman of PDP, North, he deserves to be respected in PDP.
Currently, he has a statutory position in PDP. He is a member of the national caucus of the party, he is a member of National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, he is an automatic delegate to the national convention of the party, state congress and up to ward level; he doesn’t need to be voted for. He is an automatic member of all these organs of the party. So, if I don’t respect this kind of person, who do you want me to respect? Who do you want me to be close to? It’s a matter of fact.
If anyone has something personal against the former governor, that is a personal issue, but I am telling you I was not brought up in a way to disrespect leaders. I respect leaders and I respect followers, even my subordinates -I respect them and I am close to them.
I am grassroots politician; I started from my ward as a councilor before I became the chairman of the local government, a member of the House of Representatives, Chief of Staff and eventually the state chairman of the party. I have been in PDP for 21 years; I have never been in any other party for one second apart from PDP.
So also governor Shema, he has never been out of PDP since 1998. He started as an attorney general of the state under late Umaru Musa Yar’adua. And late Umaru Musa Yar’adua was our mentor. He died as a sitting President under the platform of PDP. In PDP, we respect each other. People can say whatever they want to say but the truth is truth, you can’t run away from the reality.
The only living former governor we have in Katsina now under PDP is Shema. So, if I am not close to the ex-governor and I don’t respect him, I think I am not fair to PDP members in Katsina and even the entire people of Katsina state. What crime did he commit that we cannot be loyal or close to him? You know, there are certain things that people used but I don’t fancy: I don’t like betrayal. You can see clearly that we don’t discriminate in PDP; whoever is going to join our party is free.
What is your view on the defection of many PDP stakeholders to the ruling party?
Naturally, we know now that some people are decamping, we are also receiving people into the PDP. You can see, we have former speaker of the state assembly, Kabir Kofa. He decamped from APC to PDP in 2018.
See Senator M.T. Liman, former senate leader, he decamped from APC to PDP. We have state treasurer of APC, Nasiru Kankia. He decamped from APC to PDP.
We have so many prominent people who left APC to join PDP but people will only tell you that there are defectors from PDP to APC. Most of the defectors have their own mission; mostly it has to do with obtaining appointive positions in government. How can we hold them here in PDP? Only people who will stay in a party without any office or contract are in PDP.
I can list so many of them who were rewarded for going to APC. So, to ask why some people are going to APC is asking the obvious. While, we were in government, people were coming to PDP to have elective positions, contracts and some incentives from the governor but now we are in opposition.
We are lucky and even grateful to God for having the calibre of people and the support of the people in PDP. If we can have half a million people to vote for us willingly in Katsina in 2019 governorship election, Mr. Andy, we have to give gratitude to God Almighty.
The votes of these half a million people were without any irregularity; we are even challenging the votes that brought this (APC) government. We went up to the Supreme Court but once the apex court decided otherwise, we had to accept judgment as final.
We have done all we can to see that we keep people in PDP united; we have tried our best and we are heading to the Promised Land by God’s grace.