Former deputy leader of the Senate, Senator Jonathan Zwingina was Director General of the hugely successful Hope “93 Campaign of Chief Moshood Abiola. Zwingina who is one of the leading political leaders from Adamawa State in this interview ventilates on recent political developments including the contentions of some northern political leaders against President Goodluck Jonathan. Excerpts:
Are you going along with Governor Murtala Nyako to the APC?
Let me first and foremost say that it is not entirely correct that my State, Adamawa State is going to the opposition. What is happening is that the Governor and a few of his supporters have indicated interest to go to APC. For those of us who know the politics of the State very well, the Governor had always actually been in the opposition because as of fact, I know that in the 2011 elections, while all of us were running round fighting for the President, he was very actively supporting Gen. Buhari’s presidency, together with his Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries who came down to the Local Government where we were working.
So, we have always known that he was there. But soon after that election, he was the first Governor to come to Abuja to greet the President and we obliged him. If after the election he has seen the light to come back, we are ready to welcome him. So, he will not be a stranger in the APC as he’s just gone back home.
As to whether some of us are with him, I will like you to observe what happened in the last bye election that took place in his own Local Government for one of the two House of Assembly seats. In that bye election, the PDP defeated the candidate of the Governor.
He had a candidate in one other party whom he fielded and all his Commissioners and officers in government campaigned for that gentlemen and he brought a section of the law enforcement agencies that were loyal to him in that election. But we mobilized effectively and defeated the candidate of the Governor; we had 14,000 votes and the Governor’s candidate had 7,000 votes.
The PDP candidate emerged the elected candidate. That is the measure of the size of Adamawa population behind him. I agree that he has supporters but they are not in the majority and he is not going with the State. He is going with a few of his supporters. I can tell you as a fact now that most of his key operators have declared support for the PDP and they are not going with him. He has the right to go where he wants and I give him that right. But he also should be aware that we who are the majority in the State have the right to pull the majority of the State in the direction that they want and that direction is the PDP, which is where we a
Where does former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar stand in this? Is he with Nyako?
Right now, I am not sure whether they really are together. I have seen a number of meetings of the APC together with the G-7 or G-5, but I have not seen the former Vice President. So, I do not know to what extent that one can say they are still together. But I would also want him to know that Adamawa has been consistently PDP.
People have left and come back, but the bulk of the State has been consistently PDP. Even at a time when the former Vice President left, the PDP won the election. Nyako’s victory on the platform of the PDP is not his own making but the tradition of the State. The State is predominantly PDP. People can exit and re-enter, but the bulk of the majority of the State is PDP.
Are you in agreement with the agitation of some of the northerners that power should shift to the North in 2015?
As to whether power should come back to the North, I concede the right of the North to want power to return to them, just like I concede the right of the President to want to run for a second term for which he has a constitutional right. However, it is the zone and the President that strikes the most alliance and the larger support base that will eventually get the ticket. It is not by threat or by compulsion that that alliance can be built. It is through persuasion, dialogue and give and take. The language of some elements in G-7 is a language that is very anti-Northern interest because you seek to scare away people, rather than to endear people to their cause.
Talking about allies looking at the political configuration of Nigeria, how will you look at the APC?
The South-West alliance with the North as represented by the emergence of APC is based on convenience and this seems shaky, untestable and never lasting. As someone that is also fairly familiar with South-West politics, I not only was a student there, but I played politics as a student there but I was in the UPN and I was in the same campaign outfit with Chief Awolowo as far back as 1979, I was also the campaign manager to Chief Olu Falae and I was the campaign manager to Chief MKO Abiola and I delivered June 12, so I have a fair idea of the direction they take.
The South-West is the most sober political block in Nigeria and they strike their alliances based on pure political calculations. When the time comes, they will calculate the direction of their votes based on national interest and based on the ticket that will give them peace and order and based on what they see that will promote their interest because right now, the South-West is not quite ready for the Presidency, both from the history of Nigeria and the history of their leaders.
So, they are not going to do a do or die in the presidential election. If they find the Goodluck Presidency will promote the peace that they have had and does not threaten their governorship ambitions, they will be better advised to settle with it than any other presidency. The Goodluck Presidency is not a vindictive presidency and has not taken advantage of any group and has not in any way created hatred among the communities.
Do you consider Gen. Buhari as a threat to the PDP in 2015?
Gen. Buhari, with all due respect, is not a viable presidential material because he has lost the Presidency thrice. In the US, if you lose once, nobody allows you to come back. To lose three times and still desire to come back, for Nigerians to resolve three time to reject you, unless you say they are foolish, which they are not. For Nigerians to resolve three times and reject you and you keep coming, then you need another interpretation of the resolve of Nigerians.
I’m sure if his advisers are honest, they will advise him that look, the electorates that rejected you three times must have a good reason to do so. I respect him as a leader but I do not think that these are the times for a Buhari presidency. These times require a younger and more vibrant President that will connect with the kind of leaders that are coming out of the world. Gen. Buhari did well when he was a military President but he serves better when he is in the military. I don’t think these are his times.
You can see examples in the CPC. Even in Katsina where he comes from, there were two candidates and he could not resolve the two of them. Bauchi went into election with four CPC candidates, not even aspirants. If this is the kind of inability to organize the home that will be visited on Nigerians, its no wonder that they have said no three times and I’m sure the fourth time will be a more resounding No. You should not humiliate a leader like that with too many no’s. You should save him the honour of being a former President and not be repeating too many no’s at his face. It doesn’t do him any good because he could go to his grave very unhappy.