The immediate past caretaker chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, has said that his party will wait for the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to emerge before presenting a strategy to defeat the candidate, insisting that any candidate, including President Muhammadu Buhari, will be roundly defeated by the PDP in the 2019 general election.
He was also of the view that the current administration has shown great incapacity to respond to the prevailing socio-political and economic challenges in the country.
The former governor of Kaduna State made the assertions in an exclusive interview with THISDAY in Abuja on Monday.
When asked if President Buhari still has the moral right to seek re-election in 2019, in view of the seeming overwhelming security and other challenges in the country, Makarfi said that morality was an individual decision, but was quick to add that any candidate, including Buhari, presented by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would be defeated by PDP.
“Morality is a decision of the individual; I would rather look at it from the legal perspective. From the legal perspective, President Muhammadu Buhari is qualified to seek re-election. Of course, some people will call on him to re-contest, while others will tell him not to contest,” Makarfi stated.
“But irrespective of the candidate the party presents, whether it is Buhari or any other candidate, he will be roundly defeated by the PDP in 2019. We are waiting for the candidate to emerge before we present our strategy to defeat such candidate. It is not the business of our party to determine the candidate of the APC or any other party.
“You have also mentioned the socio-political and economic challenges in this country; the federal government is overwhelmed with the challenges, it has never been worse than this before.
“The security situation is worse, there are security crises everywhere. Our economy is very bad. The activities of insurgents are becoming alarming,” he added.
He observed that if what he read in news reports yesterday that the Islamic State in West Africa network had infiltrated the country and was operating under the cover of cattle herdsmen, the country was in for the worst in terms of insecurity.
Describing the situation as “a huge failure” on the part of the federal government, Makarfi said nobody would be talking about the deadly activities of militias in a country where a government is proactive.
The PDP chieftain continued: “We ought to have detected it and prevented it from happening. That is the duty of any responsive government.
“Again, I don’t know how easy it was for you to get fuel to come here? As for me it was not easy. I had to wait for hours to buy fuel at the filling station.
“The prices of foodstuff have gone very high, and where they are available, where do you get money to buy them? Basic infrastructure is not available, parents cannot pay their children’s school fees.
“Yet, people were busy celebrating the Abuja-Kaduna railway project. Just a few days ago, the train broke down inside the busy part of town—at the heart of kidnappers’ domain in Kaduna, and passengers were exposed to danger.”
Elaboration further on the prevailing insecurity created by killer herdsmen in some parts of the country, Makarfi said every Nigerian was currently threatened by the criminalities of the herdsmen, whether they are foreign or local herdsmen.
“These killings must stop; solutions must be provided by the government. Where cattle routes are available, they need to be retraced. If we need to create new ones we must create them. Whatever solution that can solve the killings must be applied immediately”, he added.
“We need to go back and find out why the herdsmen were before now law abiding. For now, because of the suspicions across the country, you can’t say you are going to set up cattle reserves in all states.
“But there are some areas you can do that and the government must do the right thing.’’
Makarfi advised the security agencies to enforce the necessary laws when anybody commits a crime and deal with criminality expeditiously to serve as deterrent to others, saying where it is a cross border issue the federal government needs to reach out to neighbouring countries for solutions.