, leading Peoples Democratic Party's presidential aspirant says when the presidency was zoned to the South in 1998, it was to solve the issue of June 12.But now that the South-West has been placated through the election of Obasanjo as president, it would be improper to still talk about zoning elective positions in PDP.
...Barnabas Andyar Iorher Gemade, 54, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, came calling to keep a date with Newswatch as its guest on the magazine's summit recently.
For more than two hours, the engineer-turned politician fielded questions from Newswatch
voice came out strong as he
went down memory lane narrating his
experiences as the first indigenous managing director of the Benue Cement Company
active participation at the constitutional conference and his
interest in the 2003 presidential race. Gemade
period of service as the managing director of BCC
as one of the most challenging periods in his
life."I think my years at BCC
have been one of the most spectacular years in my life because the challenges that greeted me on arrival at BCC
in 1985 were such that no one could believe it was possible for us to achieve anything," he
said.This, he said, was because when he assumed duties as the deputy managing director of the company, about 30 expatriate engineers and the then managing director resigned from the BCC thereby creating yawning gap in the management of the company.
was not deterred as he
quickly re-organised the company and brought BCC
to the golden era when its production capacity rose to 91 percent of installed capacity. Asked when he ventured into politics, the Gboko-born civil engineer told Newswatch that his interest in partisan politics developed in January 1993 when he was sworn in as minister of works and housing by General Ibrahim Babangida, the military president of Nigeria . He had a good opportunity to meet with key political figures from all parts of Nigeria . Not surprising, therefore, he became the national chairman of the Congress for National Consensus, CNC, one of the parties registered during the Sani Abacha transition programme.
Some Nigerians have often accused Gemade
of being one of the politicians that sold out to Abacha by adopting him as a consensus presidential candidate.The renowned politician, however, told Newswatch
that there were a lot of misconceptions about his
role in the Abacha consensus candidacy charade.
In clear and unambiguous terms, Gemade
that the politicians never endorsed Abacha to succeed himself."Abacha was not adopted as a consensus candidate.Abacha adopted himself as a candidate," he
The political guru, however, explained how the political leaders, including himself were terrorised and hoodwinked into declaring Abacha as their candidate which he
said was resisted. Gemade
also recalled the circumstances that led to his
being removed as national chairman of PDP
in the political chess game that involved President Obasanjo and members of the inner caucus of his
was, however, happy that Audu Ogbeh, who was brought in to replace him has not allowed the same clique to use him to manipulate the impending primaries of the party.
Reacting to his
insistence that he
would contest the 2003 presidential election even though it has been zoned to the South, Gemade
said it was not the arrangement.He
said when the presidency was zoned to the South in 1998, it was to solve the issue of June 12.He
believes that now that the South- West has been placated through the election of Obasanjo as president, it would be improper to still talk about zoning elective positions in PDP
. Born on September 4, 1948 in Mkar, Gboko, in Benue State , Gemade was educated at the Ahmadu Bello University , Zaria where he studied civil engineering.He later left for Britain where he earned a masters degree in the same field at the City University , London . He is an associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers as well as member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE.
The Interview Barnabas Gemade, engineer, former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and presidential aspirant was at Newswatch Summit recently.
After a gruelling two-hour interview with Newswatch
spoke on various national issues.Excerpts: Newswatch
: We would like to take you all the way back to your childhood.What kind of childhood did you have? Gemade
: I had quite an interesting childhood, being born to a missionary family and in a relatively poor environment.I had parents that were working with the missionaries mainly in the education and medical services departments.My father was a medical auxiliary staff, having trained from the Northern School of Hygiene
in Kaduna . My mother was a teacher, mainly of the Adult Education services of the missionary department in Mkar, the headquarters of the Sudan United Mission at that time.
Because of my father's profession, he
worked in a number of clinics and finally settled as a medical sub-superintendent in the Leprosy Settlement Christian Hospital
in Mkar.And that is where I was born and that is where I lived all my early years and also went to school.
: I think it was mainly because my father also had an opportunity to do some kind of schooling even though he
did not go that far.At least, he
was able to finish primary education and also did medical auxiliary training, and, that was very significant.And he
himself had this opportunity because his
father, who is my grandfather, decided to send him along with his
mother to the hospital.His
mother was ill and he
was sent to the hospital along with her
to help because he
was more or less the younger child of his
mother and this afforded him an opportunity to begin primary education.When he came to Mkar from Konshisha Local Government where we originally are from and once he had the opportunity and got my mother whom was also there with her own mother, also sick, she too had an opportunity to do primary education and teacher training for adult education.She became a teacher.
These were opportunities that were open, that is why I was a candidate of education at the time and had the opportunity of being put in school. Newswatch
: How many of you in the family, and how many went to school? Gemade
: Ours is quite a big family.My parents had 13 of us.The first was a girl, she
died at birth.Then the 12 of us that followed, six boys and six girls, we were all living up till last year when two died.Incidentally, the last two.The first 10 are still alive, five boys and five girls and all of us have gone to school. Newswatch
: What position are you in the family? Gemade
: For now, out of the 12, I am number two.And I am the first boy.My sister is a teacher up till today.She is the head of department of home economics studies in the College of Education in Katsina Ala, herself having studied up to university level.She has a masters from the University of Calabar.
Of course, all the others are involved in their own businesses and their own areas of studies. Newswatch
: Are you the only one in politics? Gemade
: Yes, for now I am the only one in politics. Newswatch
: Are you attracting some of them into politics? Gemade
: (Laughter) I don't believe it is out of place, eventually.But for now, none of them is really coming out.But they assist generally from their various positions.Most of them are working and they assist in whatever they can but they are not yet fully involved in politics as it were. Newswatch
: What influenced your decision to study engineering? Gemade
: At youth, I was a kind of child that was inquisitive.If I got hold of anything, I always wanted to see the inside of it to know why it is what it is.And if it is a kind of toy, I always wanted to know the mechanisms under which it works.So, they began to call me an engineer right from youth.I was making all kinds of toy things with bamboo, pieces of metals and bottle tops as it is usual with many kids, even till today.When I went to school, my most favourite subject was mathematics and there, again, a lot of my mates would say, you love maths because you have an engineering mind.You are going to be an engineer, I didn't take all these very seriously as such but somehow, I maintained my interest in those areas and when I went to secondary school, I offered mathematics as the most important subject and when I went to high school, I offered mathematics as well as the main subject along with Physics and Chemistry.