12 C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 Politics We rely on the Nigerian people to say ‘never again’ to APC – Babatope Ebenezer Babatope, a former minister of transport, and member, board of trustees (BoT), of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, Editor, spoke on the PDP’s plan to take over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019; why Nigerians must vote out APC; PDP’s determination to return Nigeria to path of prosperity and the hypocrisy of corruption fight by the present government. Excerpts: Beyond your reaction to the declaration by the President on his second term ambition, observers say that the development may have placed a serious challenge on the PDP. To what extent do you think PDP is bothered about the development? Again, do you think your party has a candidate that can command mass appeal? If you followed my response; I said we rely on the Nigerian people to say never again would we allow the APC to return to power; we will never again underestimate the power of the Nigerian people. President Buhari has the right in a democratic system to two terms. For us in the PDP, we are not bothered about the number of terms he wants to stay. We are confident that with the help of Nigerians we will defeat him in 2019. The Nigerian people should join us to send them out because the APC government has failed. It has foisted poverty and hardship on the people and has failed to redeem all the promises it made to the Nigerian people. So, Nigerians are the ones who will ensure that APC does not return. Again, we rely on the supreme grace of God. By the power of the Almighty, APC will not return. The PDP is going to be battle ready; already we are battle ready to sack the APC. God Almighty will lead us. If you are talking about a candidate that will match that of the APC, we have them. Some of the aspirants have made their intentions public while some are yet to do so; but we know them. We have Alhaji Aliyu Gusua, even though he has not declared openly; I am aware of his ambition; we have Atiku Abubakar, we have Sule Lamido; we have Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Gombe State governor; there is also Alhaji Kwankwaso who will soon declare for the PDP. The party will provide a level playing field for the aspirants to go through the process and emerge without issues. And whosoever that emerges, will receive the support of everybody. This is the new spirit and our National Chairman, Uche Secondus is serious about it and he wants everyone in PDP to see him/herself as one. There is no more division in the party. We are going into the election as a united force. Critics say that PDP’s response to the President’s declaration was so mild and unexpected of an opposition. They say that the PDP should have made a bone out of it and reel out reasons Buhari must not be voted again, but your party missed it. What went wrong? PDP did not fail, but we have our strategies. We do not give out our strategy. We will soon come out with our strategy. It is too early to make it public. We are not going to reveal our strategy to them to know where we are coming from and we don’t want to be predictable. But one thing I assure Nigerians is that we have learnt our lesson. Unlike what happened in 2015, we left President Goodluck Jonathan to fight Babatope his own battle, which is not right; this time; we are all going to do the fighting together. Don’t forget that our Chairman, Secondus has openly apologised to the Nigerian people that never again shall PDP take them for granted. He told the Nigerian people that we are sorry and that they should forgive us. It was no pretence; it was a genuine appeal to Nigerians to forgive us. That apology was straight from our heart and we are going to do things differently this time around. Critics also say that the opposition appears dead in the face of obvious maladministration in the country. They point to the absence of shadow government, which the leading opposition ought to be providing. Why is it that the PDP has allowed the APC to operate without any form of vibrant opposition? It is not true that we are not playing our role as a vibrant opposition. We have our style and we know what we are doing. The leadership of the party is alive to its responsibility. Now, concerning President Buhari’s declaration, I have said earlier that he has his constitutional right to contest again. We have many aspirants now showing interest for the ticket and we want to give them a level-playing field for them to compete for the ticket. Now, when we name our candidate you will then sufficiently tell people what we have and can boldly respond to some of these things without putting the chances of any aspirant in jeopardy. We know what we are doing and our Chairman, Secondus, has said it that the process is going to be very free and fair. Many Nigerians today believe that it is not desirable for PDP to return to power no matter how poorly the APC is doing. For such people, any other party could be tolerated, but not PDP. You hear people say that both PDP and APC have failed, and that they are looking to see a credible alternative. What word do you have for those who have this view? My appeal to the Nigerian people is that they should forget the past. We have apologised as a party and promised never to take the people for granted again. My appeal to Nigerians is that we should not make the mistake of returning the APC to power. It will be a costly mistake that would destroy this country. Voting the APC again is easily giving themselves up for another four years of misery, poverty and everything that is negative. APC government has foisted poverty on the people. It will be in the interest of the Nigerian people to reject the APC and give the PDP their votes. We have learnt our lesson and we have asked for forgiveness. We also appeal to fellow Nigerians that they should remain calm. I assure you that we will return the country to the path of prosperity once again. The APC has rolled out two lists of looters and is also promising to come out with another one that it claims with surprise many Nigerians because of the calibre of people whose names are there. What really do you think about the lists or are you among those that think it is an ambush to cow members of the opposition? How many people have been tried in the court over corruption allegation in the country? It is all about propaganda. Who are those on that lists? Once you return money, you are pardoned and become one of their own, or once you move over to their party they strike out your name. They promised to fight corruption but corruption lives in them. They claim they are clean but we are all operating in the same political market and we know who is corrupt and who is not. They are just deceiving themselves and some Nigerians who do not understand their antics. They even included the name of Uche Secondus and said he is corrupt, can you imagine that? Corrupt how? They know they are just playing game and we know them also. You talked about APC entrenching poverty in the land; do you think that the PDP has the capacity to return Nigeria to the path of prosperity if it wins election in 2019? We have more than capacity to make Nigerians happy again. Nigerians can today testify, having felt the impacts of the two parties. Ours was a positive impact; today they are getting negative impacts. We will come back with greater strength. We are ready. We are battle ready. We know that the APC also has a few fighters among them, but we are ready for them. The man in Osun- Governor Aregbesola is a fighter; Bukola Saraki is a fighter, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a fighter, but we are going to defeat them this time around. APC appears to have powerful propaganda machinery. They say that in politics all is fair; Since Olisa Metu left as the publicity secretary of your party, nobody is giving the ruling party sleepless night by way of verbal engagements the way the party is doing to the PDP. Why is it so? Does it mean PDP has been frightened into submission? Very soon you will give us a pat at the back because we are preparing and coming out with some programmes that would bring to the front burner the inadequacies of the ruling party and the Nigerian people will see clearly that we know the weaknesses of those ruling them. We are coming. We are coming out with programmes that will shock Nigerians and at the same time, interest them. All that we are asking for is that the media should also be fair and give the opposition the necessary voice.
Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 13 Politics 2019: APC blasts PDP’s GDI for mobilising Rivers’ people abroad for Wike IGNATIUS CHUKWU The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has blasted the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for using its wing known as the Grassroots Democratic Initiative (GDI) to persuade Rivers in the Diaspora to return Governor Nyesom Wike. The party said it received with rude shock the latest plot by GDI to waste and plunder the hard scarce public funds of Rivers State by embarking on a project of mobilising the indigenes of Rivers State abroad to re-elect Wike. The party stated that for GDI to embark on this act of the re-election of Wike only confirmed the group’s legendary acts recalling that it was the same group that was used in 2014 to perpetuate insecurity in Rivers State; used to molest some northern governors that came to Rivers State in 2014 to sympathise with the then Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi over his ordeals in the hands of Wike and also used to harass, beat up, molest and dislodge over 11 key PDP members that wanted to contest the 2015 governorship election under the PDP platform at the party’s national secretariat at Abuja in 2014. The APC was sad that a pastor and the convenor named Egba B. H. Egba, could say this: “Governor Wike has brought relief to Rivers State students who are on scholarship studying various courses abroad”. The party asked, “How could Wike have brought relief to Rivers State students that were stranded after unilaterally stopping the scholarship scheme meant for their studies abroad? It is unfortunate that Pastor Egba who is behind this latest plot has succeeded in exposing himself concerned about his stomach and ready to do anything to justify his source of income”. The party in a statement circulated on Friday in Port Harcourt by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, the Media Con- Governor Wike try in the third quarter of 2017 according to the latest data released in Abuja by the National Bureau of Statistics. This implies that for every 10 persons in Rivers four are without anything doing. Affirming the position of the National Bureau of Statistics the party notes that under Wike’s evil administration no Rivers State Indigene has been employed into the Civil Service instead those employed like the 13,200 Teachers employed by Amaechi were sacked. This is the character that Pastor Egbe and his group are campaigning for. The party reiterated that any group that embarked upon the re-elec- Amaechi, minister of Transportation sultant to Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, the state chairman of Rivers APC further stated that nobody who loves Rivers State and her future will take this group serious in its wild goose chase of re-electing Wike come 2019. The party asks, “How on earth could Governor Wike who ensured that our civil servants and pensioners are not paid their entitlements when due but prefers to give them loans, could not provide any employment to any Rivers State son or daughter throughout his three years of misguided governance; turned Rivers State into Rivers of blood and Port Harcourt from the garden city status to Port Harcourt city of garbage and dustbin; ensured that all the industries and facilities put up by the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to reposition the State as an emerging great economic power in Africa are either vandalised or rendered redundant will be re-elected if not to invite disaster to the State.” The party further stated that under the administration of Governor Wike, Rivers state stands out as the worst in areas of unemployment with highest unemployment rate of 41.82 percent in the countion of Wike whose administration in Rivers State has brought more harm, hardship and shame to the state than any other administration since the creation of the State in 1967 should be considered as a great enemy of Rivers State. “Based on these facts, the party urged the entire Rivers State indigenes to unite and team up with APC to salvage the State from the hands of misguided elements currently destroying and ruining the State come 2019.” APC has quality aspirants – Chukuwemeka Eze The APC has however said it considers itself as the Wike did not stop at some of the above crimes against Rivers State, he ensured that all the modern and model schools constructed, completed, and operational by the administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi are kept under lock and key; and to complete his destructive act against the educational future of our youths beautiful bride and sole platform through which Rivers State will be liberated from the shackles of the demonic, bloodletting, misrule and bad governance currently the lots of our people under the watch of Governor Nyesom Wike. The party noted that with the cream of seasoned technocrats, political leaders, bureaucrats and some of the best brains of Rivers State considering the party as the only platform to use to actualise their dreams for better and greater Rivers State the liberation of the State is now more feasible than ever. The party not minding the numerous high class candidates desiring to fly the flag of the party; she pledges a level playing ground to all her candidates during the primaries. Revealing how Wike has allegedly ruined the economy of Rivers State, the party expressed sadness that the Songhai farm located at Bunu-Tai/Ban- Ogoi in Tai Local Council covering over 314 hectares of land that was introduced after studying the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, Benin Republic, including the Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm (SRIF), which is 20 times the size of its prototype in Porto Novo and the biggest agricultural training project/ programme in the country, has been vandalised and put out of use by Wike’s administration. The party notes that the Fish Farms at Buguma Andoni, Ubima and Opobo with total production capacity of these farms at 5,000 tons per annum all commissioned and operational before Amaechi left office in 2015 have been rendered redundant by the Wike’s administration. As if the above harms were not enough, the Banana Plantation Development Initiative aimed at the cultivation, production and export of banana for commercial purposes in partnership with San Carlos Nig. Ltd with about 6,000,000 boxes of banana produced annually and marketed locally and internationally with 2,000 hectares of land acquired for the project at Khana and Tai LGAs were all destroyed by the Wike’s administration. With all these diabolical acts, Wike has destabilised the goals of most of these industries that include creating employment opportunities for the people of Rivers State, promoting enterprise development especially amongst the younger generation, promoting research in new agricultural techniques and varieties, encouraging skills transfer and adopting appropriate technology by local farmers, enhancing agricultural production and value addition, building interest in commercial farming, and facilitating agro-tourism in the state. Wike did not stop at some of the above crimes against Rivers State, he ensured that all the modern and model schools constructed, completed, and operational by the administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi are kept under lock and key; and to complete his destructive act against the educational future of our youths, he ordered the sacking of all the 13,200 Teachers employed by the administration of Amaechi and stopped all the scholarship schemes both foreign and local.