‘Muazu gone, some other exco members must follow’
Says no apology for anti-Buhari campaign
BY HENRY UMORU
The Director of Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in this interview, dismisses the claim that hate campaign was responsible for the loss of President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28election, blaming the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) for it.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) blamed the loss of the party at the March 28 presidential election on hate speeches from some party officials, particularly some members of its Presidential Campaign Organisation. How do you react?
I am sorry that you asked me this question because this is an assertion that I have refused to comment on since the allegation was made. Ever since the conclusion of the presidential election, I have been asked the question you just asked me more than any other and I believe that, for posterity’s sake, it is time to set the record straight.
Everywhere I go. this question of hate campaign is raised and, frankly, I am tired of it. Worse still, some people are beginning to believe the rubbish because we have refused to clear the air. We cannot be expected to remain silent forever when faced with such a grave allegation. This is all the more so because it is my directorate (the Directorate of Media and Publicity) and team that they sought to target, malign and discredit more than anyone else even though they did not mention my name or my directorate. The truth is that I have no hate in me and neither did anyone in the PCO or in my directorate.
We are serious-minded, patriotic, loyal, faithful, responsible and hard-working party leaders, many of whom have been ministers, senators or state governors. We chose to answer a call to duty by our President and made massive sacrifices in terms of time, energy, commitment and risk and stood up for our President when asked to do so. We stood up for the President and fought for him when he was faced with the most vicious, malicious and hateful gunfire that this country has ever known. We fought for him gallantly when he was faced with the most effective and ruthless campaign of calumny that this country has ever known from an opposition that was ruthlessly efficient in all its ways and that was not prepared to spare him.
The truth is that the APC media machine was awesome, yet we engaged them fire for fire and bullet for bullet and I do not regret that. If we had not done so, we would have lost the election by at least 10 million votes than we did. We spoke the truth, we engaged the enemy on all fronts and we not only fought them to a stand still but, also, for the first time since the establishment of the APC, they were put on the defensive. This was a great achievement for which we ought to be thanked and not one for which we should be maligned, misrepresented and insulted. If one or two members of the NWC are so ignorant that they cannot make a distinction between virile political banter and hate campaign, that is their problem.
After they take power on May 29, the APC will begin a formidable onslaught against the PDP, President Goodluck Jonathan, his entire cabinet and those of us who are his political associates. They will try to discredit us and to destroy the remaining vestige of our party and his legacy. They will persecute and malign us in every way. Despite all their promises of peace and harmony, they will try to destroy each and every one of us. That is their nature and we must all be battle-ready to take them on.
We must remain free of acrimony, united and focused and we must throw out the bad eggs in the NWC and prepare for a long drawn war of attrition with the incoming government. In order to survive over the next four years as a party, we must make changes at the top; otherwise we will be utterly decimated. The present leadership of the party, particularly its information organ, has no chance of standing against an APC Federal Government because it is weak and lacks understanding and courage. It will be savaged beyond belief and torn apart because it does not have the stomach, the grit, the appetite or the wherewithal for a long drawn fight.
Those in the leadership are simply incapable of defending the President and his legacies after he has left office. Instead of focusing on their numerous inadequacies and trying to fix them, these same people are hurling bricks at others. Instead of preparing to defend the party faithful and enhance the fortunes of the party members over the next four years, they are making childish and nonsensical allegations and alienating and upsetting many party leaders. They are indeed the enemy within.
‘Ingrates, cowards, traitors’
Their allegation is not only baseless but it is also rubbish and those who made them are nothing but ingrates, cowards and traitors who know nothing about politics, political campaigns, intellectual discourse or political engagement. They are simply trying to revise and re-write history in order to cover up their treachery, weaknesses and inadequacies. They are fueled by hate and envy and, worse of all, right from the start, they had no interest in fighting for our leader and presidential candidate or in ensuring that he won the election.
From day one, all they did was sulk about the fact that a Presidential Campaign Organisation had been set up and that they would not be able to have control of the campaign themselves or have access to the resources that we were given. At every point, they tried to undermine our efforts and sabotage us, but we ignored them and remained focused on doing our job despite their provocations.
If any group of people was responsible for our loss, it was the NWC. They were envious of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation and its high profile. It is important to note that not all of them were antagonistic. Some of them including Uche Secondus, Kema Chikwe, Barrister Jalo, Wale Oladipo, the National Youth Leader did their very best and supported the President as best as they could.
It was an honor to work for President Jonathan and he provided us with all the support, inspiration and encouragement that we needed. If he has not complained about the Presidential Campaign Organisation and all that we did, who are those that are complaining? He appointed us and we are accountable to him and no-one else. He did not complain about any hate campaign and neither did he insult us after we finished our work, so why on earth should we lose sleep over the utterances of one or two frustrated NWC members?
The President commended our efforts and thanked us for all we did after the election. We are very grateful to him for that gesture. However what the NWC said about us is the unkindest cut of all. It is like Brutus’ betrayal of Julius Caesar. It is wicked, uncharitable and unacceptable.
What they need to understand and appreciate is that we will not sit by idly and allow them re-write history or make us the fall guys. The only reason we have not opened up on them is out of respect for President Jonathan and because we want to ensure that our party remains united. That does not, however, mean that we are fools or that we will allow ourselves to be turned into sitting ducks or someone’s punching bag.
The personal attack of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti on Gen. Muhammed Buhari, the president-elect, before the election is said to be one of the things that worked against the PDP at the March 28 presidential election. Do you share that sentiment?
That is arrant nonsense and those in the NWC that said so are cowards and turncoats. They are traitors and they are working for the enemy. Did these so-called party leaders complain when Jonathan was attacked by the APC and Lai Mohammed every day? I find it strange that they are prepared to accept the personal attacks on their own candidate as being acceptable yet they complain when we attack the candidate of the other side. Whose side are these people really on? Fayose was not the only one that focused his attention on Buhari. Many of us did because Buhari was the issue for us and everything about him became relevant. In the same vein, for the APC, Jonathan was the issue and they focused their guns on him.
We did not complain and cry about it like little children; instead we returned fire and responded forcefully. We have no apology for that and we believe that we spoke nothing but the truth and we backed up our assertions with facts and figures. We didn’t just talk but we did our research. We were effective. We have nothing against Buhari but we had a job to do and we did it as best as we could. Those who lacked the guts, the finesse and the capacity to do the job should stop whining and should learn from those of us who are capable of doing it and are prepared to do it for the sake of our President, our party and our country. It is unfortunate that some members of the NWC are pointing fingers and making accusations and counter allegations against senior party leaders after we lost the elections.
They are more to blame for our defeat than anyone else. After losing the elections, the right thing to do is for us to do soul-searching, look within, indulge in sober reflection and serious introspection, maintain some sense of self-respect and dignity, refuse to defect to the other side and desist from giving the other side ammunition to fight us in future.
There is also this allegation that the First Lady, in the course of her campaign across the country, did more harm than good to the party, Do you agree?
Again, this is arrant nonsense. It is the same individuals in the NWC spreading that repulsive falsehood and we know who they are. Those that say so are nothing but serial traitors and malcontents who are not worthy of holding their positions in the NWC. The truth is that the First Lady was one of the most forceful, credible and powerful voices during the course of the campaign and she did an excellent job for her husband and our candidate. She did not hide in the kitchen; like a loyal wife that she is, she jumped into the fray and fought for her husband. Why should anyone complain about that?
This was especially important because the President was under hostile fire from the enemy. She did very well indeed and I take this opportunity to commend her courage. Without her strong contributions and her lending her strong voice to our cause, things would have been far worse.
When things looked bad, it was the First Lady that encouraged and inspired us more than anyone else. Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti was another person that worked so hard for the party and the President. The same can be said about Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, the late Oronto Douglas, Dr. Doyin Okupe and a number of others. I commend them all and I wish them well.
Chief Tony Anenih, Sen. Ahmadu Alli, Nenadi Usman, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Governor Peter Obi, Hon. Minister Turaki, Aliyu Modibbo, Senator Amanga, the Director of Women Affairs of the PCO, the Director of Youth of the PCO and so many other key members of the Presidential Campaign Organisation were other powerful and credible voices that worked so hard for the President during the campaign.
Members of my directorate, the Directorate of Media and Publicity, every single one of them and all the other directorates, also did an exceptionally good job. We risked our lives, we fought a good fight and fought to the end. Our heads may have been bloodied during the fight but they are not bowed. We stood up for our President and our party courageously, unlike those few voices in the NWC who are now using their positions to try to malign us, discredit our efforts, rubbish our personalities, criminalise us and destroy our party.
Instead of leading the party, these few individuals in the NWC were busy doing deals with the APC secretly. We in the PCO were not like those promising PDP aspirants in the states the party’s nomination and ticket. This led to a lot of problems within the party because, in the end, they did not give those aspirants what they promised. Consequently, many of those aspirants rebelled and worked against us during the elections.
What is important to us now is to try to rebuild our party and to ensure that we have cred strong leadership that is prepared to take the in-coming APC government head on and keep them on their toes. We need a new and fresh leadership that is made up of bright, young, strong and intellectually-inclined minds and that is tolerant of dissenting views and differing opinions. We need a new leadership that is open, kind, fair-minded and accommodating and, in order to achieve that, I must add my voice to that of a number of governors and other key stakeholders and leaders in our party who have said that the party’s National Working Committee must go. Sadly, the NWC has become a clog in the wheel of progress.
They have much to learn from what the leadership of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democratic Party did in the U.K. a couple of weeks ago when they resigned after losing election to the conservatives. Sadly, the NWC members are ignorant, otherwise they would have resigned. They are ignorant of the fact that when people lead a party into defeat, they must resign to make way for others. And when people tell them to resign, they threaten them with suspension or expulsion from the party, forgetting that there is life outside politics.
Not only have they refused to take the path of honor by resigning, they are also throwing bricks at those of us who raised the PDP flag and fought a good fight. It is sad and unbelievable. In some other country, these people would have been lambasted morning, day and night for their effrontery and ingratitude and for their inability to provide strong and decisive leadership. Yet here we just pamper and manage them and shy away from telling them the bitter truth. The truth is that the NWC has to go and I add my voice to those of Governors Aliyu Babangida, Sule Lamido, Ayodele Fayose and that of so many other people including the overwhelming majority of governors, party leaders and elders. I am saying that there needs to be a change at the top if the PDP is serious about forging party unity, restoring its fortunes, redeeming itself and winning any election in 2019. I do not want to rock the boat out of respect for our President and our party elders, otherwise I would say a lot more that will shock the nation and the party faithful. I have a whole file on it which we compiled during the campaign. Two members of the NWC specifically were actually working for the APC. Their job was to destroy our fortunes, pass on our secrets, create discord in our ranks and undermine the efforts of the PCO in the media campaign. That is just one shocker and there are plenty more.
‘Don’t vote for an infidel’
The time to talk is not now though that time will come. You will be shocked by what we know about these people and their sordid efforts to stop Jonathan and betray their own party. We do not have to say too much publicly at this point but, at the appropriate time, we shall do so. Let me also say this. When they accuse us of a campaign of hate, was it the Presidential Campaign Organisation of President Goodluck Jonathan that went all over the North just before the elections and told all those worshiping in the mosques that to vote for President Jonathan will be a vote for an infidel? That is what you call a hate campaign and we did not indulge in that.
It was the APC that indulged in that the Friday before the presidential election. Was it the Presidential Campaign Organisation that kept on speaking about President Jonathan and his family in derogative terms and insulting him from morning day and night? The answer is no. We did not do that. It was the APC that did that. Their hatred for President Jonathan and all our candidates and our party was unmitigated and unrestrained. The APC were the ones that started and indulged in personal attacks and hate campaign and those that will now say, from within the ranks of the PDP’s NWC, that we started it, have clearly lost touch with reality. Again looking inwards, was it the Presidential Campaign Organisation that first coined the phrase Janjaweed and Taliban party and labelled the APC as the Janjaweed and Taliban party? No it was not. It was nobody in our campaign organisation but rather it was somebody in the National Working Committee of the PDP. Is that not what you call a campaign of hatred?
Yet that same person who created, coined and used that phrase has the nerve and the temerity to now accuse the PCO of indulging in a hate campaign which, according to him, led to our loss at the polls.
You accused some of the NWC members of secretly working for the APC. Can you substantiate the allegation?
That was what was going on and that is just a tip of the iceberg. They resented the fact that the President had his own campaign organisation right from day one because they wanted to manage the campaign themselves. Yet the President, in his infinite wisdom, said no because they had failed for two or three years before that time and he wanted his own team for the campaign. There is no presidential system in the world where a President going for an election will have the leadership of the party, the NWC, running his campaign organisation. It is never done.
You must have a Presidential Campaign Organisation of your own and that is what happened. It happened in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and it has happened again in 2015. The President chose that course and we fought a good fight, so for the NWC to turn round and try to blame us for their own inadequacies and the mess that they created is absolutely absurd and unacceptable. Had it not been for the efforts of the Presidential Campaign Organisation and the fact that we fought an aggressive, efficient, focused, disciplined, virile, proactive and strong campaign and had it not been for the fact that we returned every bullet the APC fired at our candidates fire for fire, we would have been completely overwhelmed and we would have lost the election by at least five to ten million votes.
Look at the hard work that elders like Chief Tony Anenih (the PDP Board of Trustees Chairman and the the Presidential Advisor to the PCO), Senator Ahmadu Alli (theD-G of the PCO) and Professor Tunde Adeniran (Deputy D-G of the PCO) put in. At their age, they were all over the country risking their lives every day.They guided us and led us with grace and with boldness, supporting and encouraging us all the way. Without them, we would have achieved nothing. Yet after all that, someone or some group of people who should know better will come and attempt to denigrate our collective efforts simply out of envy and frustration.
Culled from VANGUARD
‘Muazu gone, some other exco members must follow’