June 4, 2014
by Turaki A. Hassan, DailyTrust
Senator Abdullahi Adamu was the governor of Nasarawa State from 1999-2007, and a former secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees. He says contrary to the denials, President Goodluck Jonathan did sign an agreement to run for only one term as president in 2010. He also speaks on the challenges the All Progressives Congress (APC) is facing from the PDP in Nasarawa State and his relations with Information Minister, Labaran Maku. Excerpts:
You did say recently that you were present at the meeting where President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to serve for only one term in 2010, can you tell us more?
I was part and parcel of that meeting. I was not the secretary or chairman of the party at that time but I was present at the meeting. The issue arose when people from the northern part of the country who were members of the meeting came up with the argument that the PDP has enthroned zoning and that after former President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was late Umaru Musa Yar’adua who had opportunity to be president as a northerner but as God would have it, he didn’t live to see his tenure through. His second in command naturally took over and the issue arose as we approached 2011 elections, of whether or not Jonathan should contest or the fact that he has completed the tenure of the ticket that he was along with on the first term and that it should be reverted back to the north. There were two issues here, whether he contests or he steps aside and a northerner contests to complete the tenure of Yar’adua as second term and the party does accept that as a practice. And so we were adamant to allow him contest. W argued that he should have the courage and the honour to stand by that arrangement. We argued that if a northerner takes over and he accepts that Jonathan should be his running mate to continue with Yar’adua’s ticket so be it. This debate went on. I remember vividly the person who brought out the suggestion that was acceptable was Chief Samuel Ogbemudia former governor of Bendel State. He proposed that Jonathan be allowed to contest and that when he completes one term it should revert to the north as was the accepted practice in the party but he should have the opportunity of contesting for one term.
Was the president in the meeting?
Jonathan was seated there. It was not in his absence. He was physically there and agreed clearly without any doubt what so ever.
Did he utter any word to say like “I agree”?
Of course he was in the meeting, he was the president and there couldn’t be a meeting without his consent because it held inside the presidential villa at the first lady’s conference room.
But did he say he accepted the proposal to serve for only one term?
There was no way we would have held a meeting like that without his consent. He accepted it. He was there.
Who and who were also at the meeting?
At that time all the PDP governors were invited if any was absent, it was not because he was not invited. The leadership of the PDP was there also. The leadership of the National Assembly comprising of Senate and House of Representatives were all there. The members of the national working committee were also there. At the end of the day we all accepted the proposal and BOT members were all present.
But many people will wonder why is it that you didn’t say this long ago, is it because you are now in the opposition?
If you have been following this I have always said it. This is not the first interview. I have alluded to this fact at various times.
Before this, was there any similar meeting where the issue was tabled?
Over and above that, while I was secretary of the Board of Trustees, there was a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and I was a member of the NEC, the northern governors then, put their fingers up at the NEC and they stood their ground that Jonathan will not contest. The NEC was being threatened and some how they went upstairs I was not with them. I didn’t follow them upstairs and those of them who were present at the meeting when they came back they said they agreed that he (Jonathan) will go for the election but on condition that he will only serve for one term. I was in the main meeting but I was not in the meeting the governors held upstairs in the chairman’s office and that was what they came up with.
If I may ask, was the agreement written?
Well, if it was written I don’t have a copy.
But were you aware whether it was written or an agreement was signed to that effect?
I know that the meetings we held at the villa and at the chairman’s office must have been documented. There were attendance, minutes and we all signed. If only they will be honest enough to bring it out, Nigerians will see almost verbatim what everybody said. It is because some where there is a conspiracy burying the document.
Was it a negligence on your part, I mean those of you who attended the meeting that you didn’t insist on having a copy of the agreement?
That is not the issue. There was no negligence.
Does that mean you gave him a blind trust?
No, it wasn’t a blind trust. In every organization, as I said it was an expanded meeting in which all the governors were in attendance. National chairman, secretary, all leadership and members of the BoT and the National Assembly were all there. Now, that is not the normal meeting of the party. It was an extra-ordinary meeting and is only when you have a similar meeting that you may talk of the minutes of the last meeting which must be read before the commencement of the meeting of the NEC or the NWC. And since that meeting, to my knowledge there hasn’t been any such meeting in which the minutes would have been read. But the national secretariat of the party should be in possession of the minutes and there was a time governor of Niger State Dr, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu did say that they made him (Jonathan) sign an agreement in the meeting they held upstairs and it was published in all papers and at the end one does not hear anything about it any longer. What is important here is that when the debate was raging as to whether he should contest or not, some eminent northern leaders did say we should support Jonathan. I know president Shehu Shagari did say we should support him because we worked with their forebearers and we always worked together and it was an opportunity to return that gesture. And those of us who have been students of constitutional law also remember the fact that during the independence constitutional conference the issue of minority rights came up. It was topical issue and specific positions were taken to safeguard the interests of the minorities. Our leaders in the north were saying that he should be allowed to have a shot at it. For instance in my zone of north central, we had a meeting at Lafia and I with Professor Jerry Gana moved the motion that adopted Jonathan as the presidential candidate of the North central zone all on the basis that we have earlier agreed that he will serve for only one term.
And everywhere I went to campaign I did so for myself as Senator and Jonathan as president and without prejudice to the fact that he (Jonathan) as the number one citizen of the country and as the father of the nation today should be a role model. No matter how long he wants to stay there as president one day it will be history for the living. No matter how long he wants it but the fact of the matter is there should be honour in everything we do.
Are you now pained that leadership in this country today has lost that honour?
In fairness to Jonathan it is not just him who is not honoring a commitment he made. Those of us who were part of it at various stages are honour-bound to see that what we agreed is kept and honoured but how many people are talking about it today?
Those of us who have been able to stand up and say it they see us as opponents or as enemies of Mr. President. Most of the guys who are shouting at rooftops today as town criers were not even in Nigeria then. It was after his nomination was done at the PDP convention that they came back to join. They weren’t in this country then but today they love Jonathan more than we love him, today their voices are more prominent.
Still on this issue of agreement, if you meet Mr. President, can you tell us in one sentence what you will tell him?
I will tell him Mr. President I was at the meeting at which you did accept to have only one term. I will tell him so. It is for him to deny or accept. I am not him so I wouldn’t know what he may say. But whatever I won’t tell Jonathan I won’t tell you.
In your State of Nasarawa the PDP seems to be on an onslaught to capture the State especially with the defections at the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly…..
I will be morally wrong if I say that defection is wrong or not acceptable because I have defected from the PDP to the APC. But the issue of other legislators decamping from APC to PDP in Nasarawa State shouldn’t surprise you because politics is a very dynamic calling. Whether they have done so on matters of principle is for them to answer I cannot speak for them. But what is wrong is for you to say that the PDP is on an onslaught in Nasarawa State. What you hear in Abuja is not it. Come to the ground. Come to the people and you will see what is happening. The APC is accepted as a party here by our people. Whatever little value we came in and added to is helping us. And by the grace of God APC will win Nasarawa State next year. We are not unaware of what the PDP led Federal government is doing. We don’t have the kind of money they have. We also know how people are called to Abuja and given money to cause problems here, this is in the nature of developing politics where people see nothing wrong to use even public funds to promote the course of their party. Whatever rules are there as regards party donations are not being adhered to. Take the campaign that is going on now, a situation where INEC is absolutely clear of the fact that general campaigns have not started, embargo on general campaign has not been lifted but we see Mr. President junketing to various parts of this country doing nothing but campaigning from zone to zone. If a smaller fish does so he may fall foul of INEC’s guidelines. Why do we have double standard in this country? These are the advantages that the PDP has at national level with the weight of incumbency they enjoy. But you should distinguish rented crowd, crowd for sale from real party followers.
Your former deputy Mr. Labaran Maku is now the leader of the PDP in Nasarawa and he is leading this onslaught on the APC government here, what is your relationship with him right now?
I have said this very clearly many times. My politics is not about individuals but about issues. I don’t discuss Labaran Maku in terms of his coming to limelight and governance, I invited him and appointed him my commissioner of Information in Nasarawa State and subsequently he became my deputy. If Labaran rises to become the President I thank God for him but we are his roots here, he started from our stable here. I don’t want to make issues about him. For me, he is one of us, a citizen of Nasarawa State I see him as a brother. We were in the same party before and he is a minister from Nasarawa State and naturally he will want to deliver his state to his party. It is a natural expectation. I don’t begrudge him for that.
Will you say that Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura will survive 2015?
I have every reason to believe by the grace of God we will deliver an APC government in Nasarawa State and we will deliver an APC president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2015 by the grace of God, not just Almakura, the presidency will also be APC. I assure you of that by the grace of God.