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Al-Makura feeding fat on local govts. allocations—Iliya

Yunana Iliya, State Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Nasarawa State, in this interview with CYPRIAN AJAH in Abuja, says that the PDP won majority of the local governments  in the recent council poll in the state but that Governor Tanko Al-Makura used the executive powers at his disposal to subvert the election and deliver some local governments to the All Progressives Congress.

WOULD you consider the conduct and result of Nasarawa State local government election satisfactory?
The Nasarawa State local Government election that was held on 22nd March, 2014 was a caricature compared to what elections are known to be. We saw many things that never happened in any responsible, credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria. The returning officers that were charged with the responsibilities of collating the result were called by the Chairman of Nasarawa State Independent Electoral Commission (NASIEC) that PDP has swept the whole local governments in the state. He withdrew all the officers who went to collate the results. In local governments where the returning officers could not get the information about the withdrawal, they collated the results and all those local governments were won by PDP and they were issued certificate of returns. Of six of them, only four were sworn in as local government chairmen. When we put up the results of PDP and APC, we discovered that PDP swept the carpet and that is why they withdrew all the returning officers of the local governments. Those local governments were later hijacked by the APC Governor, Tanko Almakura, and they announced them in favour of APC and declared them as such. Today, PDP has only four local government council chairmen in the state. According to APC, they said they have nine. We are in tribunal challenging the result.
What the recall of returing officers the reason PDP lost the majority councils?
Initially, 10 local governments ought to have been announced but six were announced by the electoral commission and six were issued certificates of returns. The returning officers of the other five local governments ran away, they were nowhere to be found. Before we knew what was happening, they had announced the result in favour of APC.
What have you been doing to retrieve your mandate?
We have gone to the Tribunal to exercise our right because that is the body that has the right to upturn what was wrongly done.
Do you perceive a repeat of this in 2015 governorship election in Nasarawa?
We are hopeful and optimistic that such will never happen again because the election will not be organized by Tanko Al-Makura. It is not his electoral body that will organize the election. No matter how pressured INEC may be, the election will be far better than the local government elections. Those that are going to be returning and presiding officers will be drawn from different parts of the country, particularly, the NYSC members who would not want their lives to be threatened because of one man's ambition. We have seen situations where some NYSC members were killed because of the selfish ambitions of some politicians in some parts of this country. We hope that INEC headed by an erudite scholar in the country will not bury his head in shame only for him to seat and watch things like that happen.  We have always called our members in the state to know that the battle we have engaged with Al-Makura is a battle to finish because the upcoming election is an election that Tanko Al-Makura will not be there to dictate and his electoral body will not be there to withdraw the electoral officers when PDP will be winning. The people of Nasarawa State have resolved that APC is not a party to be. They have resolved that PDP will come back in 2015. We have 20 members out of 24 in the House of Assembly. We have five members in the House of Representatives and two senators out of three representing the state in the National Assembly. Virtually everybody in Nasarawa State is PDP. We are only working with a goat with sheep head walking around the street of Lafia.
What if Governor Al-Makura defects to PDP, will you give him the ticket in 2015?
Everybody has the freedom of association. If Al-Makura decides to defect to PDP, he is welcome but he is not defecting to the party as the flag bearer for 2015. As popular as PDP, is if we field him we will lose the election. But if he is coming as a floor member to join the line, he will be accepted.
Does it imply PDP have settled for a candidate in 2015?
There are aspirants that have been going round making consultations for them to become the candidate of PDP but it is too early for anybody to say that this is the person that will fly the flag of the party. We don't know how many of them that will aspire at the end of the exercise. By the time the programmes are unveiled by the party's national headquarters in line with INEC time table, our aspirants will emerge.
There is speculation that Governor Al-Makura has not released funds for the newly elected local governments' chairmen, why?
It is not a speculation, it is a fact. Al-Makura is feeding fat on the local government allocations that accrued to Nasarawa State. Ever since they were elected and sworn in, no money has been allocated to them. Yet, there are allocations coming to the local governments and the state. He refused to release funds to them on the ground that if he releases money, PDP council chairmen will use the money to fight for the stolen mandate the Governor took from our party. He is starving them of funds to make sure they don't have resources to fight at the tribunal. He is making a mistake, very soon we are going to institute a case against him to ensure that local government funds are released at when due. There is no way he will be collecting the money for the local governments and the SURE-P funds and leave the chairmen as glorified caretaker committees. He does not pay them salaries, he only give them N1million only. He said that he wants to cut down their salaries and the salaries have been worked out by the Fiscal and Mobilization Commission. In Nasarawa State, so many things are wrong. We were thinking that after the election, things will improve but what we are seeing today is like we are going back to the worst. Local Government Chairmen were elected to complement the efforts of the governor, now they are waiting to make use of the funds so that they will be remembered for having executed projects during their tenures. We are considering taking him to court to explain to the world what he is using the money to do whether it is not the right of the chairmen to make use of money that was allocated to them by the federal government. With what is happening in Nasarawa State, people could be forced to a level of taking up to arms. Al-Makura lost Lafia Local Government to PDP, showing his unpopularity. ? PDP won in Lafia Local Government with 108, 000 votes while APC came at a distance with 45, 000 votes. He went to the extent of asking his hoodlums to destroy any bill board belonging to PDP.
From the terrorism ravaging the country, do not see Nigeria going into disintegration before 2015?
If I say so, I will be a pessimist. There is no country that has not a paid a price in one way or the other in the process of development. It is unfortunate that the kind of price the country is paying today is coming at a time we have a leader, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, that is ready to revamp the economy of this country. He has come with a vision to bring back our railways on tracks, constructing and maintenance of our roads and revive the agriculture in the North. The power sector has also improved. Unfortunately, this is the time those that feel that it is their birth right to be in power have come to sabotage President Jonathan. If it were in the developed world, all that Jonathan has been doing would have been applauded. Politics is treated with issues in the Western World but in Nigeria it is sabotage. You build here today; tomorrow they destroy it to make sure that you did not make any success. But all those that are behind it are already known. It will be on record that no president has done what President Jonathan has done for this country. Whether the enemies succeed to truncate this administration or democracy in Nigeria, the fact remains that history will have it that a Christian minority from Otueke Town in Bayelsa State ruled the country and this was what he was able to achieve for the country. It is only those that don't like development that hate Jonathan and clamour for his removal. Whether the country is going to be destroyed or the administration will be truncated before 2015 is left for God to decide. There is God and we are watching.

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