Why we should re­think pres­i­den­tial sys­tem – Makarfi

The Na­tional Chair­man of the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) and for­mer gov­er­nor of Kaduna State, Se­na­tor Ahmed Muham­mad Makarfi, re­cently spoke to news­men on the state of the na­tion, his eyes on the pres­i­dency, and his col­lege days, among other is­sues. E

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Ibra­heem Hamza Muham­mad

Daily Trust: First, as a man very ver­sa­tile, some peo­ple have dif­fi­culty ad­dress­ing you ap­pro­pri­ately. How would you rather be ad­dressed - a for­mer teacher, banker, lec­turer, gov­er­nor or se­na­tor? Se­na­tor Ahmed Muham­mad Makarfi: Well, I’m not par­tic­u­lar about ti­tles. What­ever name or nomen­cla­ture any­body gives me as long it is one that I have earned and my name is at­tached to it, I will an­swer. Peo­ple are free to ad­dress me by which­ever one they choose.

DT: You are ad­vo­cat­ing for the abo­li­tion of the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, why is this so, and what’s your op­tion?

Makarfi: I still stand on that. Maybe not par­lia­men­tary, but quasi-pres­i­den­tial sys­tem, be­cause the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem gives ab­so­lute power to one per­son at ei­ther the cen­tre or state, as such, di­a­logue is eroded. In the par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, you must ne­go­ti­ate and if you don’t, even your party can kick you out as the leader in one sit­ting, and tran­si­tion from one head of gov­ern­ment to an­other is easy with just a vote in the par­lia­ment rather than a gen­eral elec­tion. Nige­ria has been find­ing it very chal­leng­ing tran­sit­ing from one gov­ern­ment to the other be­cause it has to be through gen­eral elec­tions or nat­u­ral cour­ses like death or im­peach­ment. And we wit­nessed death in one in­stance, we are not pray­ing for that for any­body in of­fice or even out of of­fice, though we all must die one day. I main­tain that we have to con­sider if it is wise to deal with the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, the par­lia­men­tary or quasi-pres­i­den­tial sys­tem. In the par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, ma­jor­ity, if not all of the cabinet mem­bers are also elected, so if you sack some­body he sim­ply goes back to his par­lia­ment. He can even stand his or her ground be­cause he or she was elected be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to head a min­istry, un­like in the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem where it seems as if the pres­i­dent is do­ing them a favour. So, let us con­sider the op­tion.

DT: Ob­servers say you have a good record as Kaduna State gov­er­nor, and many ad­mire your role in the PDP, do you have any am­bi­tion to be­come the pres­i­dent of Nige­ria? Makarfi: This is a de­vel­op­ing sit­u­a­tion, it has not reached the end, so no­body can say who is in and who is out. I be­lieve ev­ery­body is con­sult­ing ap­pro­pri­ately and has a calendar and agenda.

DT: You were a sea­soned banker be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics, and still lec­tured in the univer­sity, how did you cope with bank work and lec­tur­ing? Makarfi: When we were in the univer­sity, we were given part-time

teach­ing jobs in the then newly es­tab­lished day-schools and when I was work­ing in the bank, I taught ‘Prac­tice of Bank­ing’ and ‘Fi­nance of In­ter­na­tional Trade’ to di­ploma in bank­ing stu­dents from 1987 to 1993 in the depart­ment of ac­count­ing at the Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity, Zaria. DT: We learnt you have many tra­di­tional ti­tles, but ac­tu­ally how many? Makarfi: I am sure I have more than 35 tra­di­tional ti­tles which were con­ferred on me across the coun­try.

DT: You at­tended the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Col­lege Enugu, how did you get there? Makarfi: When ad­di­tional Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Col­leges were es­tab­lished, those that passed the com­mon en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion up to a cer­tain grade were in­vited for in­ter­view in 1973. It was a nor­mal school ad­mis­sion, noth­ing spe­cial. DT: Were you the only one from your area? Makarfi: I was the only one from Zaria Emi­rate, but there were many from South­ern Kaduna. And those from the North were more than those from the western part of the coun­try.

DT: How did you feel about your first day in school and your stay in the col­lege en­tirely?

Makarfi: My first day in school was mem­o­rable be­cause the pioneer head boy, now Engr. Bill Anaka, wel­comed me and ac­com­mo­dated me in his outer room. His ac­com­mo­da­tion was like a room and par­lour. He now lives in Makurdi. We are still in touch. Some won­dered what was so spe­cial about this young man who was be­ing tak­ing care of by the head boy. Though I come from Makarfi town and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, I had been vis­it­ing cities in my pri­mary school like Zaria and Kaduna. I was not dis­ori­ented by the size of Enugu or the mix-up of peo­ple be­cause there were Ig­bos and Yorubas in my pri­mary school in Makarfi, but it was dif­fi­cult get­ting used to the food but as a child, if you are hun­gry, you eat, I didn’t find it dif­fi­cult as­sim­i­lat­ing. DT: And how about your un­der­stand­ing of the Igbo lan­guage, how did you cope? Makarfi: It was an of­fence in the school to com­mu­ni­cate in ver­nac­u­lar. Any lan­guage other than English was un­ac­cept­able and that was to foster unity. How­ever, when we got to the mar­ket in Enugu, we picked Igbo words, phrases and sen­tences, but it is a long time now and I am poor in lan­guages oth­er­wise I would have learnt sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional lan­guages. DT: You had class­mates, can you re­mem­ber some of them? Makarfi: I re­mem­ber all my class­mates from pri­mary, col­lege and univer­sity

and I am in touch with ma­jor­ity of them, but I will not name any, so I don’t of­fend the oth­ers. DT: Has your legacy in the PDP been de­vel­oped and sus­tained? Makarfi: Ab­so­lutely, but every­one has his or her own style. How­ever, what con­fronted us is not the same thing con­fronting the cur­rent lead­er­ship and I be­lieve they are do­ing what needs to be done, as a num­ber of things may not be open to the naked eye, but I be­lieve sooner than later, peo­ple will see the re­sult and the hard work put into it.

DT: You must have helped many peo­ple, how do you feel when those you as­sisted abuse your char­ac­ter and lega­cies?

Makarfi: I don’t ex­pect the peo­ple I as­sisted to power to give me any­thing back in re­turn. I tol­er­ate peo­ple, and it is up to peo­ple to look at me with re­spect. In life, we reap what we sow. All the ac­tions I took in re­spect of as­sist­ing any in­di­vid­ual in the past, I did in good faith and I don’t want to start look­ing back to say this or that per­son has done some­thing neg­a­tive to me. It is hard but it is part of life and it has hap­pened.

DT: Some­time past, the ABU Teach­ing Hospi­tal was closed and re­lo­cated to Zaria from Kaduna, as a for­mer gov­er­nor of the state, how do you see it? Makarfi: Uni­ver­si­ties have one teach­ing hospi­tal and Kaduna has the Nige­rian Air force (NAF) Base Hospi­tal, 44 Mil­i­tary Hospi­tal, Na­tional Psy­chi­atric Hospi­tal, Na­tional Eye Cen­tre, Na­tional Ear Care Cen­tre (NECC) and Ba­rau Dikko is for Kaduna State Univer­sity (KASU). Kaduna has not lost any­thing.

DT: When you were gov­er­nor, you ex­pe­ri­enced crises in Kaduna State and crises are still re­cur­ring in the state and na­tion gen­er­ally. What do you think about this?

Makarfi: It is un­for­tu­nate, we have lost many lives and prop­erty but the fed­eral gov­ern­ment must make sure that the killings stop, as it is its re­spon­si­bil­ity. Nige­ri­ans need to live peace­fully with one an­other, gov­ern­ment must cre­ate, en­force and sus­tain peace. It beats my imag­i­na­tion why these killings are con­tin­u­ing but it is gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to stop it. It should pro­vide an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the econ­omy to grow so that peo­ple can find jobs to do. If peo­ple find jobs, crime will re­duce. DT: You must be a very busy man. How do you un­wind? Makarfi: I am a very busy per­son in deed, so I try as much as pos­si­ble to or­ga­nize my pro­grams. I sched­ule ad­e­quate time for pol­i­tics, busi­ness, fam­ily, friends and so­cial events. I like re­lax­ing with my fam­ily to talk and up­date one other.

DT: Peo­ple say you have main­tained one tele­phone num­ber de­spite hold­ing sev­eral po­si­tions, why do you choose to do so? Makarfi: I have noth­ing to hide, which is why I keep my num­ber. If I am free, I pick your call, if I am not, I can­not pick and I re­ply when I am free. I am not run­ning from any­body. DT: Does any of your chil­dren fol­low your foot­step as a politi­cian? Makarfi: I don’t know, time will tell, but they are all young and en­ter­pris­ing boys and girls, and I am proud of them.

Sen. Ahmed Makarfi

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