One of the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Abu King Shuluwa in this interview culled from Daily Trust, shares his views on issues affecting the PDP and why the Tivs cannot allow an Idoma to be governor of Benue State.
Do you see a brighter future for the PDP following the emergence of a new chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mauzu?
The immediate past chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was not our problem; our problem is President Goodluck Jonathan. This country is ruled by Jonathan. This country did not elect Tukur but Jonathan. Most of the things that went wrong had to do with Jonathan not Tukur. He was just a mere party chairman. The whole issue lies in Jonathan coming out openly to declare his stand on the 2015 election. The body language of Jonathan shows he wants to contest but he has not spoken. The moment Jonathan speaks and says he will not contest, then everywhere will be quiet and things will go fine. The president has not spoken but sycophants are going about saying that he should contest and that is where the problem lies. Now a new national chairman has emerged in the person of the former governor of Bauchi State; Mu’azu, but would that solve the problem? People think that once Tukur is shown the way out, the crisis would resolve itself but that is not true. Tukur became a victim of circumstances when he said there should be automatic tickets for National Assembly members. His insistence on automatic ticket for the federal legislators cost him the position as governors connived to remove him. However, Tukur at his age should rest, in fact, he has damaged his name now than it was before. The new chairman too will soon begin to experience problems because he was said to have issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that are not yet cleared. I’m yet to see the crisis in the PDP as being over.
Why do you consider Jonathan a stumbling block to the progress of this nation?
Jonathan’s policies are very discriminative. I don’t know him as a person but his policies are my concern. He selected the youths of Niger/Delta because they carried guns, he trained them to drop the guns and now pays them N65, 000 monthly. Youth ‘corpers’ who are serving the government are not even paid as much but the youths in Niger Delta earn as much. What about the youth in Benue? Do they need to carry guns before they are asked to drop it? The amnesty policy of the government is very bad. It is very discriminative to others. Since, Jonathan became president; the development has been mostly centered in the Niger Delta. Despite the fact that the area is oil producing region and what goes to them in a month cannot even accrue to Benue in a year; the NDDC is also there to cater for the need of the region not to talk of the budget of the ministry of Niger Delta. Have you ever seen a country where a ministry is established solely for a region? That makes some of us to criticize these policies. He should do a general policy for the entire country as a president to affect all the youth because unemployment is a time bomb. Does he expect youths in the North Central to take up arms before he tells them to put it down? Take Benue State for instance, is there any project done by Jonathan’s administration that attracts much budget? When you take his policies into consideration for the fact that it is concentrated on a particular area of the nation makes some of us see Jonathan as a stumbling block. Else how can compensation be given to those who carry gun?
But the amnesty programme started during late President Yar’adua’s administration…
(Cuts in) Just hold it. I’m not saying what Yar’adua did was right. I’m simply saying that the policy was bad. When Yar’adua started it, we didn’t know that it was going to be like that. That the people would be paid N65, 000 monthly, that they were going to be trained and so on, if we knew we would have challenged Yar’adua. How can people be trained in different fields both the educated and uneducated, then they begin to earn N65, 000 every month? What of members of the NYSC who have been trained and sent all over the country and are being given a mere N19, 000 per month? Is it because they didn’t take guns? But the youths in the Niger Delta are been given attention because they took the guns. It means that compensation is being given to those who carry the guns.
How do you view some groups from the North-central zone calling on Jonathan to contest?
Those fronting for Jonathan’s continuity are sycophants. They just started talking now, where were they before? Where was Ameh Ebute? Where was Lawrence Onoja? What has Jonathan done in Benue, Middle belt that Ebute and Onoja are asking him to return? What do they even know about the middle belt? Ebute has been a long time senate president but look at where he is sitting. Must he become a sycophant before they give him something? He doesn’t need to talk good about Jonathan to curry favour given his pedigree in the service of this nation. After all these, what they gave him is chairman of a board. Talk of Onoja, he will be in PDP today and the next day, he moves to another party.
What is your take on the responsibility given to the new PDP chairman to reconcile the five defected governors?
Those governors are gone, they won’t come back because their integrity is at stake. The new chairman would be wasting his time trying to reconcile them back to PDP. Do you think anybody would have respect for them if they return to PDP? They have made pronouncement, they have gone and will not return unless they don’t have integrity. And if you take away five governors, how many are left? You cannot reconcile those who remain but you are making effort to reconcile those who are out? He would be wasting his time trying to reconcile the five governors.
Don’t you think if zoning the next governorship position in Benue is to be considered, ‘Zone C,’ should be favoured?
Generally, zoning favours individuals. As it is in the state today, if we want to strictly follow zoning, we will say the governorship slot should go to Idoma. But the question is that who is that Idoma person that would be acceptable to the whole of us? To be honest, when the Idoma man is at the helm of affairs, he forgets the Tiv man completely. So the argument is that; if you give them governor, will they ever remember the Tiv man? I have been in a board before at the national level where opportunities were given to me, I gave one each to the three zones in the state but it is never like that with the Idoma. Let me say this; it is the fear that Idoma man would take everything if given the governor that is making the Tiv man to hesitate. Otherwise, Zone C has credible persons for governorship. But the fear that they would take everything is so strong and only them can take away that fear. We want a detribalized person, someone who will look at Benue as a unit and pick up his team on merit.