I Still Have Faith In PDP – Sen. Ibrahim Mantu

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In the face of stories making the rounds that some top
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, notches may be heading
for other parties, former Deputy President of the Senate,
Ibrahim Mantu, says his fortunes are better guaranteed
in the now opposition PDP, despite the challenges being
faced by the party. He spoke exclusively to nationalTRAIL’s
Jonathan Ipaa in Abuja

 

Distinguished
Senator, what
is the motive
behind this
political
summit in the first place?
Well, I am a politician
who has benefitted from
democracy, and all its
processes in recent time,
and I would love to bequeath
its dividends to the next
generation in a way that
providence will remember
me. Like other politicians of
my contemporaries, I wish
to be counted among those
who contribute towards the
strengthening of stronger
democratic institutions to
the next generation, so that
even the unborn, so that
what we will have on ground
in Nigeria will be in line
with what its obtainable in
the advanced nations like;
the United States, United
Kingdom, France, etc.
To answer your question,
the ideal behind the summit
therefore, is to strengthen
our democracy, make
it functional, stronger,
transparent and accountable
to the people including;
you the press. We want to
bequeath a democracy that
in the hands of the people
through their truly elected
leaders, and strengthen its
institutions for the next
generation.
As you are aware, the
annual national political
summit was declared
open by the President and
Commander In Chief,
President Muhammadu
Buhari, who was represented
by his vice, Prof. Yemi
Osibanjo, in attendance were
also the Senate President,
Senator Bukola Sarki, the
Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Rt Hon.
Yakubu Dogara, who also
presented key note addresses.
This summit is our
own modest contribution
to the effort of other key
stakeholders in strengthening
our democracy. You can see
that it attracted so many
dignitaries, both local and
international across political
party leanings. The former
Interim Leader of Liberian
government, Prof. Amos
Sawyer, the Mayor of New
York, Nigerian top officials,
organised labour, civil
society groups, the media,
every stakeholder, and you.
Who is actually sponsoring
this summit, and how much
does it cost the taxpayer?
We members, participants
all put our naira and kobo to
hold the summit. The Save
Nigeria Group, Africa, is
the platform, and if you can
recall, it is a well known body
accepted by the democratic
world, and Nigeria recognises
it. This is the platform under
which we came here, and not
the taxpayers’ money.
So it is not true that the
APC government is behind
this summit?
Not correct, I am not
aware of any, because we
are all involved. I am of the
opposition PDP, Ghali Na’aba
is a board member of the
ruling APC, we have Mrs
Josephine Anenih, Senator
Hangar, Senator Adeyeye,
ex ministers, lawmakers, the
organised labour, the civil
society, and the mass media,
etc.
But for those familiar with
your style of politics; Mantu
may be on his way to the
APC: What about this hot
story that the whole summit
is aim at providing a platform
for you to defect to the APC
like your contemporaries?
Kai! That is the Nigerian
press for you!! God forbid!
That is not why we are
here my brother; I have
no reason to leave PDP as
being speculated, if at all and
don’t forget, this summit as
I said earlier, is not about
PDP or APC. It’s about the
strengthening of democracy
in Nigeria. You know we
are the giant of Africa, and
most of the countries in
sub Sahara, look unto us for
example, so we have to get it
right for them to follow.
As for your question, I am
a strong member of the PDP,
and like other stakeholders
you see here, we have like
minds, but defection is not
the issue on our table as far
as the summit is concern.
How can I defect from a
party that made me, and for
what reason? Why would
anyone think I would leave
PDP for who and why?
May be for the fear of
being probed and witch hunt
like the fears of most PDP
leaders who have said, Is
it not safer to join the APC
and avert being chased like
some of your colleagues in
the opposition camp under
whatever guise?
I don’t know. I have not
given it a thought yet. I have
no further comment on this
please. Let me tell you, I am
still in PDP, and I have no
reason, or plan to defect to
any political party.
Rather than raise
imaginary questions outside
this summit, let’s dwell much
of this session on some of our
declaration and the frame
work of action for strategic
partnership and corporation
of stakeholders for political
development in Nigeria
which is what I am here for.
Okay, what was the
agenda like, and how will it
benefit the common man on
the street?
We, the stakeholders in
Nigeria’s electoral democracy
comprising leaders, political
parties, elders statesmen, civil
societies and representatives
of the entire spectrum of
Nigerian society, assembled
in Abuja for the inaugural
national political summit
on the theme 2015 General
Elections: Consolidating
the Gains and Building
Positive political culture
for sustenance democracy
in Nigeria organised by the
Save Democracy Group
Africa and other partnering
organisations, are convinced
that the positive attributes
of Nigeria’s 2015 elections
including peaceful conduct
acceptance of defeat by an
incumbent president, the
alternation of power at
the national level, and the
sustenance fight against
insurgency demonstrate
Nigeria’s leadership role in
democratic governance,
and the entrenchment of
democratic cultures and
values in the West African
sub region.
We underscored the
disturbing reality of politics
of attrition and the inability
of politicians including
us here, to overcome the
bitterness of elections and
rise over partisan divide to
promote national unity and
coherence.
It is disturbing and
alarming that insurgency
has continue to threaten
our unity and stability in
spite our continue resolve
for peace and unity. We have
noted with great concern that
outstanding issues of under
representation by the youth,
women groups and the
vulnerable in governance, are
still key, and these are some
of the areas we debated at this
summit.
How are we sure that the
outcome of this summit
would not go the same way
many others have gone, and
What is the political will, for
instance; this declaration
will it get the National
Assembly backpacking?
Don’t forget that I was a
Deputy Senate President
and Ghali Na’aba was the
Speaker of the House of
Representatives. We still
enjoy respect, and if possible
patronage of the lawmakers.
We are still working together,
and I can tell you, the
outcome won’t be the same. It
would receive the light of the
legislators and the executive
as far as good governance is
concern.
We noted with great
concern that outstanding
issues in the reform of the
electoral process as contained
in the report of the Justice
Uwais Electoral Reform
Committee, and the relevant
recommendations of the
2014 National Conference
are yet to be incorporated
into the Amendment of
the Constitution and the
Electoral Act 2010 (as
amended), and we are
praying that the ongoing
Constitution Review process
by the National Assembly will
ensure its logical passage.
But you were the head of
that committee during your
days. What caused the delay
up to this time?
Well, its dynamics and
priority is tie to the demands
of the government of the day.
For instance, the demand
for states creation, resource
control, increase in elective
and appointive positions for
women, etc, keep growing
in every government, and
this democracy, you can’t
stop interest groups from
agitating for their rights.
We are persuaded that
the civil societies are
representatives of the
people, and communities
have important role to play
in the promotion of the
democratic process which
include election observation
and transparent use and
management of public
resources.
What are the parameters
for attaining all these
set goals, are you sure
Muhammadu Buhari led
APC government will key
into this PDP dominated
political summit agenda?
Well, it’s not about
individuals, it is about
Nigeria and democratic
institutions. The
inadequacies of the Nigerian
educational system which
cannot empower the youth
to engage in self employment
through entrepreneurial and
technical skills in addition
to the minimal role in the
politics and decision making
positions have constrained
opportunities for all round
development of the youth
population.
We like any other citizen
are dissatisfied that the
absence of common values,
uniform standards and
code of conduct for elected
local government officials
have continued to diminish
the performance of local
governance across the nation,
as well as their funding, etc.
It is dismaying by the
continuous delay in the
dispensation of justice and
inconsistencies in their
judgments among others,
and we all frowned at the
incessant use of caretaker
committee by state governors
to govern the affairs of the
grassroots governments.
But the cry has been
narrowed to your party the
PDP for those 16 wasteful
years. Do you share this
blame at the summit?
Gone are the days of
campaigns and sentiments,
we must move forward and
strengthen our institutions.
We challenge stakeholders
across board to make
concerted efforts to revert
to the positive ideals of its
founders which include the
fight against corruption, in
fact, a corrupt free democratic
system in which leaders and
citizens commit themselves
to the values and cultures of
democracy such as free, fair
and credible election, strong
and internal political parties
with respect for internal
democracy and transparent
use of state resources for the
development and welfare of
citizens.
What were the resolves
and the goodwill expected?
The summit under the Save
Democracy Group, Africa,
Nigerian chapter, has agreed
to strengthen the legislature
as the pillar of democratic
governance to enable it
continue to play its role of
checkmating the excesses
of the executive branch,
protecting constitutional
limits of terms of office,
passage of high impact
legislation, and carry out
investigations that expose
corruption and strengthen
institutions and mechanism
for public accountability.
The summit tasked
stakeholders of the political
class, and the political
leadership to eschew
politics of bitterness that
characterises elections, and
work in harmony with other
stakeholders to strengthen
the bonds of national unity
and focus on national interest.
The conference called on the
legislative arm of government
at all levels to urgently carry
out the amendment of
relevant sections of the 1999
Constitution (as Amended)
and the Electoral Act to
improve the electoral process.
The stakeholders demand
that the government must
end the culture of impunity,
tyranny, witch hunt, and
observe the basic tenets of the
rule of law in the concerted
war on corruption and
ensure that monies recovered
by courts of appropriate
jurisdictions are used for the
development and welfare of
Nigerian citizens.
We also charged the
federal government, and
those at the states and
local levels to undertake
a comprehensive reform
of the nation’s educational
curriculum to make
Nigerian youth employable,
and accommodate
entrepreneurial training and
skill acquisition to reduce
dependencies on white collar
employment as it is today.
Save Democracy Group
is calling on the judiciary
to recognise the import of
the Maxim, Justice delayed
is justice denied, and the
need for consistency in their
judgments.
We affirm that Save
Democracy Group, Africa
be made a platform for the
operationalisation of the
resolutions of the Abuja
Peace Accord.
What is the framework for
achieving this?
The framework of action
for strategic partnership and
corporation of stakeholders
for political development
in Nigeria detailed the
responsibilities of individual
stakeholders towards the
realisation of the declaration.
Where we are now, where we
want to be, and how to get there
from here, the benchmarks
that will help mobilise for
effective monitoring and
oversight necessary for
factual assessment when we
return for the 2017 edition of
our summit

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