Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman is the senatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Kogi central. In this interview he promised to bring federal presence to the people of Kogi Central if elected. He also took a swipe at the ruling PDP saying the party has derailed from the ideals of its founders. Excerpts:
How do feel about your emergence as the PDP senatorial candidate for Kogi Central in spite all odds?
I feel overwhelmed and humbled. I feel very lucky to have gotten the endorsement of the good people of Ebira land in Kogi Central senatorial district to represent them at the Senate. I will do everything possible not to disappoint them if similar support is accorded me to get the final victory in the main election. Having said that, there is no doubt that we feel very concerned about the plight of the people of Kogi Central Senatorial District. In the last two years, for over 24 months, we have been at the drawing table. We have analysed the possibilities of this happening and have looked at the pros and cons.
After the primary, the national secretariat of your party came out to annul the election that produced you as the PDP candidate and ordered a rerun. But you immediately went to court to challenge that decision of your party. Why did you go to court?
We did not immediately go to court. The party had made a guideline that every party member should follow. In the guideline, there were many steps in the process to becoming the candidate. The screening committee is there and the primary election itself, which we won. After the primary election, the appeal panel was set up. We all appeared before the panel. Thirteen of us went into the primary election for Kogi Central senatorial district. Out of this number only one person saw the primary process as being faulty. Incidentally, the man that saw the process as faulty is the man that goes about telling the whole world that he is the anointed candidate of the government of Kogi State. We saw an undue advantage given to him. Yet, we did not complain because we believe in hard work. Having lost at the primary he now went back to anchor on his relationship with the state governor to help him influence things at the national headquarters of the party, which being very respectful of the state governors thought they should do a favour for the governor in my state. At that point, and given the agitation of the people that voted for us – the young men and women in the senatorial district- we knew it was unhealthy and a potential danger if we allow ourselves to go back to the field with this kind of feeling of injustice. So, having followed the process of the party in its laid down guidelines, we were left with no other option than to go court to now interpret these guidelines of the party and tell us whether there was need for the cancellation of an election that was widely described as one of the most transparent primaries in the state and the country at large.
You have always claimed that your victory in the primary was given to you by God through the people. Are you trying to tell us that you really do not have some godfathers from the national level that may have equally influenced the primary in your favour?
If you recall I am the immediate past Special Assistant to Honourable Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole. In that wise you will think that yes, I have some godfathers or at least a godfather. Indeed, I have contacts. We have contacts and that is what makes one a political animal. In all my life I always knew a day like this will come. There are people I met twenty years ago. There are people I met learning from my father. There are people I met on my job as a Special Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. But even at that, I can look you in the eyes and tell you that we had no godfather in this project. All the people we actually thought would come to our aid did not. But because we always knew that in a project of this magnitude God, as indeed in all other projects, has a special role. So, we reserved for God a special role at all times from the beginning. We were in prayers. We were trusting in him. We kept faith in him and indeed God the Almighty proved that with him all godfathers are irrelevant.
Why did you choose to contest on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, a party that most Nigerians have in a way described as a total failure?
It is very simple. Aside the fact that my father is one of the founding fathers of the PDP, when my father died in the year 2000, he died as a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT).But I know firsthand that this is not the vision that my father died with. This is not the vision of the party they formed. Today, the PDP does not represent the vision or the ideals of the founding fathers. However, we shall not let people stand on the grave of our fathers and give them a bad name. Simply put, we are in this race to reform the party. We cannot do that if we don’t stand in there and fight from within.
As a youth, I want to call on all Nigerian youths to come out and play active role in politics. Let us come together and see how the younger generation can play a major part in the governance of the country. We cannot keep recycling the same people who have not made any meaning in the lives of the poor masses of the country. The generational shift in the leadership of the country that we are talking about must be holistic, so that we can move Nigeria to the next level in the nearest future. God has so blessed us with abundant resources in this country that every citizen should be able to live a comfortable life.
‘PDP has derailed from the ideals of its founding fathers’