•Celebrates his achievements, hopes to do more for Nigeria
•Says those ‘eating in PDP now are doing so because of our sweat’
By Andy Asemota
Nigeria can be transformed into one of the great countries of the world in eight years. This was the position of varsity teacher and capacity building expert, Dr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma, while speaking about his ambition to contest 2023 presidency.
The former Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), founder of Umaru Musa Yar’adua Human Capital Development Centre and President of Pleasant Library and Book Club (PLBC), is a colossus in his field – capacity enhancement.
From May 2016 when his centre started its activities to date, over 75,000 skilled and unskilled Nigerians have benefited directly. Darma, engineer and author of three books, combines his passion for education and vocational training with the functions of providing platforms to help transform vulnerable and less vulnerable Nigerians for the better. The scholar in politics believes he can make Nigeria one of the greatest nations in the world within two tenures of eight years. In what appears unique in this clime, Darma, chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since its inception, vows to remain a faithful of the party until he dies or the party dies.
Looking at President Muhammadu Buhari administration, he said the government is yet to take off, frowning at Buhari’s penchant to shift blames.
The Katsina-born PDP faithful bares his mind on his presidential ambition, credible polls in Nigeria, prospects of the party come 2023 and recent PDP congresses under controversial circumstances in some states. In this interview, he also speaks on his over two decade sojourn in promoting community services and other aspects of his life. Excerpts
What is your view on the congress brouhaha that is tearing the Katsina State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) apart?
Well, the truth is in Katsina State there was no congress. No congress at any level. I say this because before congresses (commenced across the country) there were several meetings –National Working Committee (NWC) meetings, PDP elders meetings, PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings and may be even tens of meetings to fine tune agenda, guidelines and programmes for the congresses. And at each stage, whenever there were such meetings, there were press releases and people like me, who are interested in the meetings but may not be
part of the meetings, knew exactly what had happened during the meetings based on the releases that were issued by PDP itself. So, everybody knew that there were going to be congress, everybody
knew that there were going to be guidelines for the congress and everybody knew, especially some of us who are interested in PDP, that we have the constitution of PDP 2017 as amended in our heads right from page one to the last page. We know what the constitution provides for members of PDP.
In Katsina State, all the guidelines were violated, all the constitutional provisions were isolated and all of the programmes of PDP including the time table that we have for the congresses were violated.
At a particular point in time, those who are interested in contesting for various offices were looking for ways to purchase forms. They came to me severally complaining that they had their money but they didn’t know where to purchase forms. I told them that I equally didn’t know what to do too.
Some PDP stalwarts have gone to court just as many have asked party national secretariat to nullify the controversial congress. Do you align with their stance?
Part of the reason I said there was no congress was because of the court order. The court order issued on 12th of March 2020 said the status quo should be maintained. That is part of the reason I said, surely, there was no congress and the people who went to court are seeking redress because, as I said earlier, all the processes, procedures and the constitutional provisions for party’s congress had been violated.
As an erstwhile don or former PTDF boss, how have you impacted on the lives of people in your constituency or Katsina State?
Well, as a teacher, I devoted and dedicated my time to impacting knowledge at the university level and at sub university level. I was instrumental, while in the university as a lecturer, to creating a committee on Concerned Citizens on Education in Katsina State. The committee, created in 1994, did everything possible to improve the lot of Katsina State students, especially for those at secondary school level to pass their exams with required number of credits to gain admission into the universities.
At the university level, I helped a lot to obtain admission for the qualified students especially at Bayero University where I was a teacher. Of course, in other universities where we have friends as teachers we also helped them to gain admission.
In addition to all those community and professional teachers’ services that we rendered, we also did a lot of things at community level. I was the convener of the Cikin Birini Consultative Forum where we floated a scheme for people who go from house to house to educate the residents on how to improve their hygiene. We rendered a lot of that services while in the university as teachers.
We would return home from time to time, recruit some people and teach them how they could help their communities in organizing health services. When I left the university we still continued with the community services especially in the areas of health services and other things that bordered on education in particular. We continued with EDUCONS (Committee of Concerned Students on Education) in Katsina State and other things that had to do with education.
When it comes to politics, I know that we have really helped so many people to improve their lot because, I don’t look at politics the way people see it or in line with the definition of politics in political science: To gain political relevance, political office or get power in your hand. I look at politics as a way of helping others to become what they aspire to be.
So, I kept on with that and helped people into the university as I sponsored lot of young people at primary, secondary and tertiary levels by awarding them scholarships. I awarded a lot of people scholarships and when I was a commissioner, I also instituted a foundation that offered vocational training to many people.
In essence, I provided education and training services free of charge and gave people a token take off capital for their businesses. I have given about 25, 000 people what I think they required to help themselves to a good start.
When I became the PTDF Executive Secretary, you know the major roles of PTDF are education and training; I personally expanded the activities of PTDF to accommodate more people with scholarship to study abroad. By the time I left PTDF, I engaged more than 10,000 Nigerians to study abroad or in the country and close to 1000 of the figure are from Katsina State. I still have their list and their numbers. So, that is part of the contribution we rendered to Katsina State as at the time I was in PTDF.
When I left the agency, everything I got from it I saved. You know PTDF is in the petroleum industry, so its salaries and allowances were fat and huge. I saved my allowances and added my severance gratuity. I also had some savings and contributory pension scheme. At the end of my four years, I got about N25m as my contributory pension scheme and I put them together and I came and established this centre called Umaru Musa Yar’adua Human Capital Development Centre.
At this centre, from the time it began till now, about five years; we have been able to train over 75, 000 Katsina indigenes. We train people in more than 25 skills and all of them free of charge, from tailoring to computer web design and things that are of daily need in the society today. So, in just five years, we have been able to provide education and training to 75, 000 students.
Each time I look at the achievements I recorded in five years, I almost cry because I feel in the five years I have achieved my life dream which means I can still achieve more and more and more. And probably I can achieve more than 10 times my life ambition. So, I thank God that we are able to do this.
As PDP stalwart, what would you say is responsible for the protracted feud in the party, particularly since 2015?
Are you talking about Katsina State?
Yes, it’s my focus.
You see, one reason I actually feel we should do the right is because I love my party. You see, people complained before 2015 but I did not complain. What we saw was not right in our party. We lost all the elections and no single seat was won.
In 2019, we said we were going to rectify things; we kept on having meetings upon meetings. I think between 2015 and 2019 we met over 150 times simply to make PDP work in Katsina State.
Just at the eve of when things were to happen, some very few of us deviated because they owned the party or they thought they owned the party, they went and did what they thought was good for them.
Unfortunately, what they thought was good for them was not good for the majority and at the end of the day, what did we see? We saw what we did not like.
So, in 2015 we saw what we did not like and in 2019 we also saw what we did not like. And I attributed all of those things to doing things that were not popular, doing things that people didn’t like and going against the people. If you go against the people, certainly you will see what you did not like.
So, at the end of the day, what will happen is that in 2023, if we do not do the right things, we would definitely see things that are not right. That is the law of karma; the law of retribution. To me, I want things to be orderly, done according to rules and regulations. If you do that, whatever comes out, is your fate.
There are insinuations that some Katsina PDP leaders do not care so much about outcomes of elections so long as they are at the helm of affairs. Do you share such concern?
Well, I will not actually say that I believe that. Some of us in PDP, even the leadership of PDP, still want PDP to win elections but I should tell you this: you don’t just wish things and they happen. You have to work to make things happen. If you just wish and stay at home, your wish will not make things happen.
In PDP in Katsina State, it’s just that they make it such that if you don’t subscribe to what they believe, you are not part of them; you are an outcast, you are a rebel. It means the PDP in Katsina State is considering every single person a slave without a voice. Someone as big and as old as I am with six degrees you can’t just give me anything and I will take it; that is impossible. You can’t just tell me, take this; this is what we are going to do. Who are you? So, as far as I am concerned, we have a lot to do with PDP in Katsina state.
People’s view should be respected, that is the only way we can have a golden PDP in Katsina state.
Given all that you have experienced in PDP, why are you still in it?
Well, my philosophy of politics is not about looking for position or using politics to get money. My philosophy of being in politics is not different from what I have been taught by Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’adua in the university that in whatever positions that God destined me to get, I should do my best to help the society. If I leave PDP today and go to anywhere and I get a position, it is my destiny. God destined that position to come to me. So, even if I am in PDP, it will come; that is one.
Number two, I still remember, when I close my eyes, how we slept inside cars in Abuja and other places between 1998 and 1999 to get PDP working. I was one of the very few people who are now left; only three of us are left in PDP today, who went to collect PDP flag. Any other person that is eating now in PDP is doing so because of our sweat.
There are so many people who have not done anything for PDP in their entire life but PDP has built them in its 21 years of existence. There is no single thing that they have ever done for PDP but they have been eating out of PDP in those 21 years. Nobody in Katsina has eaten like them, in fact, even in the country, only one or two people enjoy PDP much more than they do. I hope you get what I am saying.
So, as far as I am concerned, I can’t leave PDP because my own brand of politics is not “eat and chop politics.” So, I am here to help people whether I get political office or I don’t; I will do my best to help people.
Like I told you, in the last five years since I left office about eight years ago, I have already helped 75,000 people and I don’t know
how many I will continue to help. So, it’s not about moving from one political party to another. I am in PDP, either I die or PDP dies, that is it.
Sir, speculations are rife that you are nursing governorship ambition while some observers believe you are eyeing senatorial or House of Representatives seat. What is your ambition come 2023?
My political ambition come 2023 is to make Nigeria the greatest country in the world in 8 years. So, my political ambition is to become the President of this country. I’m not nursing a small ambition. I am nursing an ambition to make Nigeria the greatest country in the world in eight years and I have the agenda set out.
Of course, certainly, I don’t know how it will be possible but I believe in God to make it possible. I know and I have studied this country since I left office till date, again and again. I did two Ph.Ds, dealing with advancement of this country. For example, I have studied poverty and related issues and again I have studied so many things.
When you talk about poverty, you are talking about the economy; you are talking about social, family issues and the rest. So, as far as I am concerned, my ambition is to transform this country to one of the greatest countries in the world in eight years.
Against that background, what is your take on the nearly five years of PMB administration?
Well, it’s very difficult for one to give his take on Buhari administration. To me, I believe, the administration is yet to take off.
After almost five years?
Yes, because up till now, the Buhari people, through who we hear about the government policies, are always shifting blames. They shift blames to PDP because PDP did this and that. So, it means they are yet to understand what exactly to start doing for the country. When they finish blaming the party, then they should start doing their own work for all to see.
Even insurgency or banditry in this country, the administration blames others for it and you see the leaders providing solutions through radio and television instead of tackling the scourge. So, as far as I am concerned the government has not taken off.
The next general elections are about three years away, what should Nigerians do to have credible polls?
That is very important. First of all, Nigerians should do away with sentiments. In 2015 and 2019, more or less, emotions and sentiments directed people on whom to vote for in the state and even at national level. People voted for candidates based on whether the candidates are from their tribes, from their religion or from whatever not because they were sure those candidate would be able to deliver.
It is very, very important for people to divorce that from their minds now. We must be able to vote for people because of their credibility, integrity and their know-how. We must vote for people because of their sincerity and honesty not due to a bunch of propaganda thrown at you.
Of course, propaganda is part of politics, but the issue is that it’s thrown at human beings who have brains. Use your brain; we have to use our brains. Of course people will say Nigerians are politically ill iterate. No, I don’t think so, I think Nigerians are really politically literate but what we will have to do is look at how sincere political offices aspirants are and vote for honesty and sincerity.
I want a situation where Nigerians should in 2023 ‘shine’ their eyes very well, and vote for people who will really work for them, not people who will start blaming others, not people who will say they cannot perform because the country is a terrible country.
You can’t be 70 year old or more in a country and you never knew whether it’s terrible or not until you took on the mantle of leadership. It’s not possible. So, whatever it is take on the mantle of leadership, having known that the country is terrible.
That is why I am trying to call on Nigerians to allow quality to be their watchword when they want to vote in 2023. They should vote for people with knowledge, not people who are going to give you examples of China, Japan or USA. They should vote people who are local in their thoughts but global in the way they appreciate things: think locally but act globally. These are the people who we definitely need in 2023.
Do you think PDP still have what it takes to wrest power from APC in 2023?
Yes, when PDP does the right thing, definitely we are taking over in 2023. All we need is to do the right thing. First and foremost is to follow laws and orders. Secondly, if we set an agenda or a programme, we should ensure that we get the programme to its logical end without diverting our attention. I quite believe that we need to put our heads together and do the right things.
How else can one describe Dr. Mutaqha Rabe Darma?
I am an engineer by training and I teach in the university; I still teach operational research in the university. I am an industrial engineer with a PhD in that field and another PhD in operational management to be specific. I have other degrees when it comes to education. I have series of papers and currently I am writing one. I have some three books; all are academic books. Teaching is my passion. That is what I do now. I was born in the 60s, 1965 to be exact.