In this interview with ALLWELL OKPI, the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, Taofik Gani, dismisses the merger of the opposition as no threat
The opposition has maintained that PDP is afraid of the planned merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the CPC and the ANPP. Is there truth in that?
I can tell you that the leadership of the PDP is not bothered at all by their merger plan. I think they are capitalising on the fact that Nigerians are quick to jump at any new thing. So, that the merger is likely to bring about a new thing is only a fantasy. PDP is not bothered at all. PDP is the only party that has clear party structure in the country and we control majority of the states and majority in the National Assembly. You win election by looking at the number of people carrying your banner at the local government, the state houses of assembly and of course the governors. As far as PDP is concerned, they should go ahead and form the merger. If it succeeds good, but for it to succeed against PDP is just an imagination. They are just dreaming. I think their merger plan could spur PDP to dominate.
But do you think the plan would succeed?
There are different characters involved in the merger. The leader of the CPC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, is very moral. You cannot compare the attitude of Buhari with that of the national leader of the ACN, Bola Tinubu. If you look at the other people who are interested in the merger, you would see that they have very different ideas. The national leadership of our party is not interested in thwarting the arrangement because we don’t see it as a threat.
Looking at the result the 2011 election, the CPC won states in the North and the ACN controls the South, are you sure their combination won’t be a threat?
ANPP is the same as CPC. Even before CPC pulled out of ANPP, ANPP was already disintegrating. PDP was already winning the states back from ANPP. Even governors elected for under the banner of ANPP, were already decamping to PDP, when they saw the wind blowing. Talking about the CPC, it has only Nassarawa State. And we all know what happened in the state. It was the internal crisis is the PDP that resulted in CPC winning in Nassarawa, just like it happened in Ogun State. For ACN, it did not win the states in the South-West through the ballot. They got them through the Court of Appeal and we all know how it happened. People have always voted for PDP. That they are controlling the states does not mean that the people want them.
The opposition has said it would be easier for them to win if PDP fields Jonathan, citing poor performance as the reason. Do you agree?
They have spoken as a disillusioned opposition that does not believe in the tenets of development. Otherwise, how can an opposition say that President Goodluck Jonathan would be a bad candidate? The President of China has come out to say that in the next five years, the world would focus on Nigeria’s economy. And for the first time, we have a President that has guaranteed us a credible electoral process. In fact, they want to form merger and contest election because they are confident that their votes can now count. President Jonathan remains the best candidate that PDP can have. Even if the PDP comes out with a template that disqualifies President Jonathan, I can tell you that anyone that PDP brings out as candidate would still win. I think Jonathan has tried in terms of reforms. Power has improved. There is development in the agricultural sector and so on. I think they don’t want President Jonathan to contest. And I’m sure, that is because they are against a person from a minority group being the President. For allowing a person from the minority to become President, is a credit for the PDP. All these other parties would not do that.
Apart from the presidency, don’t you think the merger would challenge PDP in the states?
ACN is now a bad product. In fact, the reason they are forming this merger is that the ACN has been exposed as a party of pseudo-democrats and a party of people who do not like development. So, the only way they can help themselves is to rebrand and change the nomenclature of the party.