In this interview with John Shiklam, Mr. Mark Jacob Nzamah, a former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kaduna State, speaks on the growing discontent in the state chapter of the PDP and the alleged marginalisation of Southern Kaduna people, among other issues. Excerpts: You recently raised the alarm over the discontent that led to the defection of many members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna State, including a former state chairman of the party to the APC. What is the situation? Yes we have our internal problems in Kaduna state. Forget about all these issues of defection to APC. Even if people don’t defect, I can assure you that the discontent and anger of people within the PDP in Kaduna state is enough to cause the problem. Personally I am not defecting to any party, but that does not mean I am happy with the situation of things in the party. I will never change to another party when I know that there is no ideological difference. I can only move when there is indication in the air that the new platform is something different; that there will be internal democracy, that there will be fairness and equity, that state resources will be used for the common good. Nobody is talking about that; all the APC is saying is that PDP is bad and they want to seize power. When you seize power, what do you do with it? But in the first place I know that the APC will not get power with the way they are going about it because the confrontation that is facing the PDP will soon rear its ugly head in the APC when the time comes for them to decide who will stand election here and there. So it is not about moving from one cup of coffee to another cup of tea. It is the same ball game; people just want political offices. What specifically are the problems with Kaduna PDP? The people who left PDP in Kaduna to the APC had serious issues and I don’t blame them as such because unless you have the kind of conviction that some of us have, you don’t solve the situation by changing the vehicle. People have given reasons that instead of remaining in here and be insulted by a party leadership that is put in place and we supported, they will rather move to avoid the insult and possibly be allowed to play some roles elsewhere. It is the same game of seeking respect and recognition but it is not about ideology. People who are saddled with responsibility in the PDP have refused to open arms and accept different shade of opinions where people who hold different views and opinion can come and express themselves. We disagree to agree, that is politics; that is maturity. But we have had a situation in Kaduna where people run this party as a family thing. Unless you are one of those that come to lie down the floor and declare loyalty to them, you will never be allowed to be anything. That is wrong and that is what has caused defection in PDP in Kaduna state. It is not about ideology, it is about people insisting on being respected. It is about people who have played some role in the party being respected. I honestly don’t blame those who defected in Kaduna for their action. Some of us have carried on with the pains and have refused to run out. We will remain in the party and speak our mind without necessarily running away. I don’t believe in running away because the other place you are running to has its own kettle of fish. You come from the Southern part of Kaduna which is largely a support base for the PDP. But the people of the area are said to be disenchanted with the current situation of things in the state. Do you think the PDP will still maintain its grip on the area come 2015? It is going to be slightly difficult because from the Makarfi era, everybody knows that the PDP did not get blog votes from Southern part of Kaduna by magic. It was out of satisfaction that the people of Southern Kaduna voted massively for the PDP because there was a government that was responding to the basic need of our people. These are very simply things – road network, water and electricity. I can tell you that our people are very unhappy that immediately after Makarfi’s tenure virtually everything that was put in place deteriorated, virtually nothing was added. There was no addition to those things that Makarfi left. Instead of a policy of appeasement or discussion, we have a situation where people in government or leadership position make it a duty to insult the sensibility of ourpeople. So we can see discontent and sadness among our people who ordinarily would vote the PDP without asking questions. Today they are asking why there had been no improvement on what was left behind by Makarfi. So I can say without any shadow of doubt that the fortunes of the PDP in Southern Kaduna are highly at risk. This is largely as a result of mismanagement or failure on the part of people in government to build on the foundation that was laid. It is a failure on leaders of the party to play their part, convincing people. We have a situation where party leaders talk arrogantly and behave as if the people don’t matter. You are praising the Makarfi administration because you served as commissioner during that period and because you belong to the Makarfi camp of the PDP in the state? I don’t know Makarfi’s camp of the PDP you are talking about. The truth is that our people in Southern Kaduna are very simple but are very critical. If you don’t work for them, it doesn’t matter which party you belong to, they decisively will reject you. For them, all you need is to work; you don’t need to come around to ask for vote once you work well. I live among the people, I don’t live in Abuja or Kaduna and I interact with them so I know them very well. I am talking about the ordinary people in Kagoro, Zonkwa, Kwoi etc. As a journalist, do an independent investigation and find out what I am telling you. Our people are not happy. Yes, I served under Makarfi as commissioner, but am speaking as a serious member of the PDP and based on realities on the ground. I am not contemplating going to any mushroom political party. But I am saying that the PDP in my state has messed up. If we want to gain and retain our control of the state, we must wake up from our slumber. The people who are in the reins of governance must change the style of managing Kaduna state. Kaduna is not like one of these small states where you can behave anyhow and things get moving, particularly when you are dealing with the Southern Kaduna people. They are highly intelligent and very critical. Even if they don’t talk to you, they wait for the elections. People are going to be shocked if things don’t change. Governor Muktar Yero celebrated Christmas with the Southern Kaduna people. Do you see that as a fence mending effort? The governor is in a better position to say whether that was good or not. But for me, the problem is not centred on the governor or any commissioner coming to celebrate Christmas with the people. It is about administrating the people fairly and justly. It is about the welfare of the people; it is about the wealth of the state; it is about power sharing in the state. These are the critical questions being asked by our people. It is not about coming to Kafanchan and receiving selected groups, selected by your own cronies who bring some people to tell you what you want to hear. It is about what you are doing with state resources; which projects you are working on; which appointments have you given to the Southern Kaduna people. These are the critical questions some of us are being asked by our people. So it is not about visiting my traditional ruler during Christmas. It is about the resources of the state and how you are managing the resources. Have you shown our people respect, knowing that majority of the votes that brought you to office are from our people. I will give you an example. When Yakowa died, it was very painful and we were shocked that the Governor of Kaduna state and the Vice President Namadi Sambo waited until President Goodluck Jonathan reshuffled his cabinet before the very clear marginalisation of the Southern Kaduna people was taken into cognisance. For example, when Yakowa died, the Governor is from the Northern part of the state, the minister was from the northern part of the state, the Speaker of the Kaduna state House of Assembly was from the northern part of the state, the vice President is from the northern part of the state. Everything went on quietly. From the Vice President to the governor, nobody took steps to correct this anomaly until the President decided to reshuffle his cabinet. As I am talking to you now, there is even a plot to ensure that the ministerial slot for the state is given to the northern part of the state. These are very serious issues that should not be swept under the carpet by anybody who is serious about managing Kaduna state. These are the issues that make the Southern Kaduna people unhappy with the PDP. It is important that those at the helms of affairs in the state take note of these things. Will you support your people to vote against the PDP in view of what you said? Our people are highly intellectual and nobody needs to work on anybody to determine the votes. Southern Kaduna is not where you manipulate. We are raising this alarm so that those in charge can correct this glaring anomaly.
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