Although he hails from Ogun State, he is no doubt one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West geopolitical zone and easily the largest single financier of the party in the zone. Buruji Kashamu is the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District at the National Assembly. In this interview with reporters, he spoke on the state of the PDP in the South West and Ogun State in particular. Excerpts:
How would you react to the conduct of the rescheduled Ogun State PDP congress from which you were reported to have been absent alongside other PDP bigwigs?
That charade is an illegality that cannot stand the test of time and the law. Sooner than later, it will be nullified by the court because it was held in flagrant violation of valid and subsisting judgment and orders of the court. It was in realisation of these undeniable facts that the respectable and gentleman Barrister Eyitayo Jegede (SAN)-led Ogun State Electoral Congress stayed away from the exercise. Makarfi and his people then arranged for one Eddy Olafeso who claims to be National Vice-chairman of the PDP in the South West to supervise the contraption in spite of subsisting orders of court restraining Olafeso from functioning in that capacity and participating in the forthcoming National Convention and activities leading to it. Now, they claim to have elected one Sikirulai Ogundele as their Chairman. I wish to serve a notice that even though I know that the house of lies built by Makarfi and his stooges will soon collapse, we are more than ready to challenge this illegality up to the apex court. It won’t stand as darkness cannot overshadow light.
In a couple of weeks the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the party would be out of office. How would you rate its performance?
Candidly, when the committee was formed, a lot of Nigerians felt it would help to give PDP a breath of fresh air and put an end to the culture of impunity and arbitrariness that the party was known for. But alas, it has created more problems for the party than it came to resolve. From Adamawa to Borno, Kwara to Osun, Lagos to Ogun, Oyo to Ondo and even Ekiti, it is the same story. It is embarrassingly unbecoming for a so-called leader and someone who is in office by virtue of the law to have resolved on continued perpetuation of impunity and glaring disobedience of valid court orders and judgments; all for a misconceived presidential ambition. His misguided query to me and subsequent reference to a disciplinary committee despite a court order to the contrary, duly served on him, is ridiculous and vexatious. Giving me query for legitimate acts of my political allies without my direct involvement shows Makarfi as grossly unqualified for high public office. The said query further stood logic on its head by insinuating that I instigated the Police to arrest and charge to court his associates in Ogun State PDP. This is indicative of his lack of proper understanding of judicial process and/or that he has allowed selfishly undemocratic aspiration to becloud his decision-making process. It is trite that courts and her orders/judgments would become outright efforts in ridicule if such cannot be enforced. To expect to break valid and subsisting court orders/judgments without repercussions is foolhardy and dishonourable. It is arising from the aforementioned that I have severally advised Senator Makarfi to discontinue his lawless embrace of impunity as PDP National caretaker chairman so as not to put our party into national embarrassment.
But why do you think anyone, most of all a leader, would want to go against court pronouncements?
Interestingly, I understand that Senator Makarfi is misinforming our respected party leaders and governors that his actions are covered by the National Convention and the Supreme Court judgment which he knows is not correct. His real intention is first to create an unfairly favourable state excos and delegates amenable to his presidential ambition through selectively unholy dissolution of state excos for manipulated replacements. Furthermore, it is selfish reasoning that should his undemocratic acts of deliberate impunity be challenged; resultant disorders might enable him a further tenure elongation to afford him the consolidation of certain victory at the presidential primary. Senator Makarfi is grievously in utopian wishes as we won’t allow any of his selfish desires to manifest. Since his deliberate disobedience of valid and subsisting court orders and judgments are selfishly motivated rather than by our party’s interests, he is being joined in the ongoing lawsuits in his personal capacity for him to effectively take responsibilities for his condemnable acts of abuse of office and contempt of court. By the 9th of December, he will be out of office and the ephemeral nature of the temporary powers he wields now will dawn on him.
One would wonder if you have made efforts to reach Senator Makarfi being a fellow party man and politician…
We did but he deceived us. At some point, he said he would do whatever the court says. One should have been delighted by his most recent response to my several admonitions to him but for subsequent actions taken by him that negate same outright; and I quote Senator Makarfi verbatim, “In this political issue, I really don’t have any personal interest. Whatever the Court decides, we will work with it during the short period we have”. Now, his deliberate refusal to obey subsisting court judgments that predate his appointment, thereby enabling the initiation of subsequent ones in defence of those disobeyed is indicative of his plans to muddle up the polity with multiple cases to create an unnecessary continued relevance and tenure extension for his caretaker committee. A credible approach would have been to honour subsisting judgments that predate his appointment without much ado.
Therefore, his rumoured presidential ambition is certainly the motive behind all these unthinkable illegalities and undemocratic clandestine moves of Senator Makarfi. Frankly, he needs to fear the Almighty Allah that gave him this chance appointment by being fair to others and ensuring to be seen as not being influenced by personal interests while all his actions indicate desperate manipulations to the contrary. Makarfi seems to forget that no matter how hard human beings try, God’s divine wish shall prevail! And if he is sincerely without personal interests in these matters; why is it difficult for him to work with the existing structures and obey subsisting court judgments/orders and thereby redeem his image by issuing a public statement to the effect that he nurses no presidential ambition in 2019. Ideally, operating with a clear unpartisan mind, Senator Makarfi would haveab initio sought sound legal advice over the status of the state excos he inherited, especially those with court judgments which were submitted to him and accordingly make objective decisions on the rightful solution while carrying all parties to the disputes along. This is better than committing scarce party funds to engage senior lawyers to fight valid state excos on behalf of his cronies so as to unfairly supplant them on legitimate excos he selfishly and illegally claimed to dissolve. By the special grace of the Almighty Allah, no matter how difficult and selfishly fixated Makarfi proves to be; he shall be eased out of office without any further elongation and injuries to our party while we protect our democratic rights.
But Senator Makarfi does not come across as a lawless person…He looks cool, calm and easy-going… (Cuts in)
Don’t be deceived. You don’t judge a book by its cover. I used to think so too until I got close to him. Given his education and exposure, one would have expected that he would act differently and refined. One would have thought that Makarfi shouldn’t be this seemingly uncoordinated and arbitrary, acting illegally with egocentric logic. Even though psychologists say people’s background tends to influence their behaviours, he cannot be seen to be behaving like motor park touts who are laws unto themselves. At his level, he couldn’t ordinarily indulge in illegal activities and impunity just for the fun of it. Therefore, promising to ultimately obey “whatever court decides” upon deliberate contemptuous actions leading to unwarranted conflicts and unnecessary lingering litigations is a disservice to the party and glaring abuse of office. That would be unfortunate and unfair repayment to the civilised system that threw him up. In that process, avoidable calamity might have been irreversibly visited on our party and the society. Isn’t it even ridiculous that Senator Makarfi takes his caretaker committee as if it is the same as the conventional and constitutional NWC of the party? Was his mandate at creation not to organise a credible convention for elections into national offices? Before then, a validly constituted NEC of the party had ratified majority of these state excos. Why then against the NEC ratification did Senator Makarfi dissolve valid excos if not selfishly motivated?
Why do you think a man whose leadership position was secured by the court would want to go against court judgments and orders?
Senator Makarfi is deliberately mischievous by wanting to force bitter pills that he and his colleagues won’t ever dream of taking, down other people’s throat unfairly. If they could go as far as the Supreme Court for justice, how would they expect those with valid judgments even before their judicial vindication to now fold their arms while they rubbish them and their court judgments with impunity? They refused to realise that political parties are creation of the Nigerian laws and belong rightfully to Nigerians. It does not give some selected people the right to constitute themselves into any untoward claims of ownership. Being privileged within the PDP today doesn’t translate into ownership or rights to perpetrate illegality and vindictiveness over others.
Take for instance their handling of the Ogun PDP exco matter. There are valid and subsisting high court judgments before their emergence as caretaker committee members. These judgments are with direct orders on the INEC and the Police. These public institutions are expectedly bound to obey court judgments. Given inaction of the caretaker committee members and non-response to multiple letters and entreaties by the judgment creditors; another recent court order was obtained to ensure they comply with the judgment for them to allow the rightful delegates attend the last convention. Instead of obeying the court order, Senator Makarfi and his colleagues hid the order and misdirected the party’s NEC into approving their proposal for that particular exco to be illegally dissolved. Furthermore, they disobeyed a recent court order by disallowing the rightful delegates to attend the convention while they got them replaced with some illegal delegates. They then got the so-called assemblage termed convention of our party to dissolve that same Ogun State exco whose rights the court sought to protect. Does that make unbiased sense to you? When someone goaded others to dissolve a validly elected state exco claiming that the PDP National Convention is supreme while that exco has a subsisting judgment in its favour which stated that the exco shouldn’t be dissolved with accompanying orders to INEC and the Police to enforce the judgments; who then do you expect these public institutions i.e. INEC and Police, to obey? Is it Makarfi’s directive, backed by a somewhat PDP convention resolution, in disobedience of valid and subsisting court orders and judgments emanating from judicial enforcement of the provisions of the Nigerian constitution? All these deliberate actions in contempt of valid and subsisting orders of courts makes me wonder if members of the caretaker committee consider themselves as being above the law. Or are there provisions in our statues that guarantee that they cannot be charged for contempt of court? I hope and pray that we won’t have to unavoidably get to the stage of having to put these misconceptions to judicial tests as a verification of the sanctity of our laws and judicial system.
So, what is the situation with the South West PDP as of today?
To be honest, Senator Makarfi and his people are just complicating issues for the South West PDP in particular and making progress difficult for PDP nationally. The recent Supreme Court judgment that the National Convention is supreme, though sacrosanct, is inapplicable to current matters and could not be an override to the Nigerian constitution. If Senator Makarfi now chooses, as of administrative style, to subject his “supreme convention” thinking to judicial tests rather than allowing common sense to prevail; then blame nobody for refusing to be foolish by relinquishing their rights to his avoidable impunity.
The PDP, as a party in those inglorious days of impunity, had travelled this route Makarfi is following before. That was what led to the Araraume and Ameachi gubernatorial tussle anomalies! Then his predecessors were manipulating the Supreme Court judgment that it was the exclusive preserve of the National exco of political parties to submit candidates’ names to INEC; just as he is now flaunting the supremacy of the National convention illogically. The national leadership of our party was then arbitrarily submitting candidates’ names against due process. Unfortunately, some of the undemocratic substitutions succeeded but not in Ameachi’s case! I wish to assure Makarfi that by the grace of Allah same shall be the outcome of the illegal assaults on the South West zonal and Ogun State excos. In those embarrassing situations, the Supreme Court had to ultimately come down hard on our party with ugly dent to our party’s democratic status. Why would anyone want to take us back to that ignominy when he can still seek sound legal advice and take advantage of same now, to avert the ugly recurrence of the undemocratic shameful past?
Furthermore, aside of the potency of the subsisting judgments; by neither responding to several letters written to him by the legitimate Bayo Dayo PDP Ogun State exco nor even embracing the decency to call both parties to the Ogun State dispute together for reconciliation but rather strangely, choosing through his actions to take side with one side of the matter without fair consideration to that side with favourable court judgments is like bringing the national leadership of our party from her enviable arbiter and administrator status sheepishly into the battle arena as agents of some local interests friendly to him against the authentic state PDP exco. This is untoward and unjustified in this modern day democracy.
Someone should tell Senator Makarfi that it is dishonourable to be foolhardy and insist on making these glaring errors to the end. His actions at this critical point in the life of our party are vital but currently unfortunate. Please, Senator Makarfi, don’t as a result of egocentric considerations turn the PDP into a southern party of your choice by circumventing the ambitions of other prominent northern colleagues given your current chance position. The thinking that he could pick the party’s presidential ticket through current pandering to select southern leaders shall backfire! Even if he manipulates the primary and emerge flag bearer, does he think that the PDP under his leadership with such a manipulated outcome can that win elections? I think it is better not to disadvantage the North and other Northern presidential aspirants and diverse major national stakeholders across the country, which Senator Makarfi’s current delegates manipulations and abuse of office could jeopardize their rightful interests and could possibly frustrate out of the party or prevent others from joining. Does Makarfi think that our party can win elections without a correct synergy freely formulated among Nigerians without hindrance as he now seeks to constitute? Makarfi should be enjoined to let transparency and democratic fairness prevail during this his short tenure that already is constitutionally an aberration in PDP. Importantly, he should not destroy the PDP in the South West and/or put the party in the zone through avoidable political dislocations. Our people are much more enlightened than the previous PDP outings in the South West during which time even a lot of our so-called victories were judicially reversed while in some instances; impunity and lack of internal democracy drove away members who ultimately contested and won on other platforms.
His current indulgence of arbitrary negotiations with select leaders favourable to his presidential ambition with subsequent allocation of state structures to them undemocratically is ridiculous. No matter the concealments through some obnoxious guidelines to fake fairness cannot work. A quick appraisal of his manipulative actions in the SW would validate my admonition and expose the foundation of the calamity that he is labouring to lay in the South West. First and foremost, in flagrant disobedience of subsisting court order, Makarfi chose to recognise and deal only with the court-disbanded South West zonal exco. On what basis did he decide to do this? Is his caretaker committee of an appellate jurisdiction over Nigerian high courts? Could that also be by resolution of the national convention that he is disobeying those valid court orders and judgments too? To make the matters worse, aside also being comical, he sent me a query for not forcing these people to endure his illegal assaults on their rights. These are people that have written several letters to him, explaining the facts of the issues without any form of response from him, let alone an invitation to any reconciliatory meeting. I wonder if he takes our democracy as having semblance with the military arrangements.
In Ekiti State, Makarfi handed the party wholly to Fayose against considerations for wider interests of other major stakeholders. While one is not against the honouring of our governors, this should not be in total disregard for democracy as Makarfi is doing. Now that Fayose has arbitrarily and unilaterally appointed the PDP gubernatorial candidate of his choice, is he happy? That’s ironically the kind of injustice and unfair imposition that I assisted this same Fayose to resist and by Allah’s grace we surmounted when he was aspiring to become governor. Would Makarfi also now subject the sidelined party men in Ekiti State to disciplinary threats as he is doing in Ogun as certainly they are bound to resist? It would be of comic interests to see his reactions to the unjustified exclusion of his caretaker committee colleague- Dayo Adeyeye by Fayose in Ekiti State. Our party men are today scattered and disillusioned in Ekiti State and generally now in disarray. Actions with toga of military control and impositions can’t result into electoral victory except the elections are to be rigged. When they are unfairly manipulating others, they claim it is to ensure party unity. I hope he will now appeal to his caretaker committee member – Adeyeye – to forgo his gubernatorial ambition for Fayose’s illegal imposition. I can assure Makarfi that Adeyeye would rather leave the PDP for another party as he did the previous time, if Makarfi can’t address the injustice before leaving office.
In Oyo State, the outcome of Makarfi’s visit is the two chairmen that the so-called congress produced on Saturday. Some months back, Makarfi visited the state in collaboration with his sectional allies in the South West. He complicated the Oyo State conflict by initially handing power to the minority. In further classical manipulation, he arbitrarily allocated control of Oyo State PDP caretaker committee’s control to these negotiated returnees as if our party did not exist before in that state before they came back. I hope Senator Makarfi can now appreciate why I’ve been advising that he should be transparent and provably equitable in his dealings without all these opaque manipulations.
In Osun State where we are good to win the next gubernatorial elections, Makarfi’s actions now constitute the impediment. He has tampered with that state’s party organ to favour his friends and litigation allies during the national leadership tussle who are in embarrassing minority. At first, he claimed the ward and LG structures and existing delegates are to be preserved while only the state exco shall be affected. For inexplicable reasons other than partisanship, he has discarded all party structures and set up a caretaker committee to conduct fresh congresses. Interestingly, he put a long-standing friend of one of the contenders perceived as his ally from Ogun State and also a nominee of Otunba Gbenga Daniel as the chairman. Similarly, the 100 per cent OGD-nominated Ogun State caretaker committee that he sought to illegally create was capped with an Osun-born childhood friend of OGD! All these are less than transparent. However, the majority in Osun State have decided to deliberately put Makarfi through the operational difficulties and make him see the futility of executing his desired minority impositions.
Makarfi should be advised to leave his presidential ambition for the Almighty Allah who crowns whoever pleases Him. He should let his attainment of office of caretaker chairman be a blessing and of democratic progress for PDP rather than these catalogue of adversities and democratic retrogression being created. I sincerely still anticipate that Makarfi will afford his tenure that opportunity to make required corrections of these glaring mistakes, impunity and undemocratic acts.