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Friday, 27 September 2013

There Are Armed Robbers In PDP


Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Chairman, House Committee on International Economic Relations and Socialist Bloc in the Second Republic, shares his view on the current Peoples Democratic Party crisis with MADU MMERIBEH

What is your view of the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party?

Convener, Coalition of Northern Leaders, Dr. Junaid MohammedThere are two ways of looking at the crisis. If you want to be very charitable, you could say that the happenings in the PDP are a continuation of the pattern of politics in Nigeria. In Nigeria, our politics is not of any principles, good or bad; not of any basic underlying ingredients of public service. People go into politics simply to make money. And when they have made money, they want to make a name. Ninety-nine per cent of people who go into politics in this country just want to make the money. That being the case, you expect the normal behaviour at a bazaar or in a market place or at an auction to prevail in the course of joining the party, and then going around to persuade enough people to support; going around to bribe enough officials of INEC and the police and security services. Since everybody knows why people join politics, they will compromise and get their own share of the cake. Politics is seen as an avenue to power and power to the average Nigerian elite, is a means to accrue personal benefits. You can see that my definition of power, in the Nigerian context, is not far from the definition of corruption. That is one.
Number two, there is a code of conduct even among armed robbers. What I notice is that this very assumption, which I thought was the gospel truth, is not true of the PDP. What obtains is that there are certain classes of armed robbers, within the PDP, who have no code of conduct.
I have always said in the past, and I am consistent on it, that whether you like the PDP or not, whether you like the preponderance of the PDP in the governance of this country or not, you have to pay attention to what they are doing and make sure you understand the implications of what they do. This is because whether you believe in them, whether you trust them, whether you think they are competent, whether you think they are irresponsible, whatever they do will affect the destiny of the people of Nigeria. Nigeria is not just a village or a clan; you are talking about a country with a population of 160 million people. Those who found themselves, by accident or rigging or whatever means, in government have no covenant with the people of Nigeria. They just believe they are there to exploit and steal our money and take most of the money outside the country. You begin to wonder what is going on because you cannot simply disclaim responsibility by saying, After all, it is not my party or I am not a member of any political party. That will be irresponsible and self-defeating. That is why I have always challenged members of the PDP.
Right from the formation of the party in 1998, there has always been crisis. Then we have the current crisis over the performance or non-performance of Bamanga Tukur. Whenever people raise issues of internal democracy in the PDP and discipline within the party, it is usual for the PDP to dismiss such by telling people that it was nobody’s business; that what was happening was a family affair. But I believe that it is not an internal affair because what they do invariably affects the destiny of the people of this country and they have no right to mess us up because they are not better than us. Now, the crisis has become a national one: crisis of legitimacy, of security and of the national economy, each of which can, in fact, derail this country’s political development. Each of these crises is serious enough to destroy the existence of this country as a single entity. In case the actors in PDP don’t know or that they are ignorant of this fact, which is the case, they should remember that no country, from the Industrial Revolution of 1750 to date, has ever broken up peacefully. Every time they broke up, they invariably did so through civil wars. We have had one, which caused the death of over one million people in addition to problems and mayhem here and there. As a politician, I am not prepared to see human lives sacrificed. I believe none of the political leaders in Nigeria is worth the life of one decent Nigerian. The life of one Nigerian to me is more important than the life of any politician in this country because we have been guilty of abuse of power, abuse of trust, abuse of office and we have behaved in this country the way Wole Soyinka said it: ‘This is a country which has been gang-raped.’ That has been the situation.
I am not surprised about what is happening in the PDP because one, I have the experience; two, I have a little bit of history. Whether we are responsible for it or the PDP is responsible for it, we are where we are today and where we are is a position of stagnation. We have a party that has never won election since 1999 till date. Two, this party is composed of leaders who do not believe in democracy; who do not believe in the essence of democracy, which is free, credible and fair elections; the right of people to gather, the right of assembly, the right of people to come and ask for votes, no matter their position, but that they do so peacefully. But we have a party that is the predominant party in the country, which has no respect for the rule of law. They do not respect even their own constitution; they do not respect any of their internal bye-laws. Now, under these circumstances, democracy is impossible because there can never be democracy without the rule of law. We have a party, which believes that bribes are right and they bribe at the most potent, using what they have in their armoury.
They have been bribing justices of the Supreme Court, all the way down to the customary court and the Alkali court. Judges were not only given bribes, they were used as conduits for bribe. Election petitions period in Nigeria has now become a captivating season for judges and where they are caught, they were given slaps on the wrist. If the money taken can be shared widely enough among those who are responsible, the matter dies a natural death. The judge will just resign and disappear from public view. Don’t take my word for it. Retired Supreme Court judges have come out to say that openly. I heard the late Justice Kayode Eso, in particular, who said billions of naira were given to judges in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal as bribes. Not one serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal has come out to deny this. Nothing has changed in the judiciary, but I am enormously encouraged by the courage and moral rectitude of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria. She is the only one. How many people are there in the judicial system or the criminal justice system that are not corrupt? We have the lousiest police force in the whole world. How many of these people are real democrats? How many of them care about the fate of this country? How many have the guts to say no to injustice? As I am speaking to you, the police who are supposed to be custodians of law and order are making Rivers State ungovernable. What is happening in Rivers State is not caused by politicians; it is the police–the Inspector-General of Police, some of his colleagues at the headquarters and the lousy Commissioner of Police in Rivers State. They are making Rivers State ungovernable and nobody is doing anything about it. This is the police that will oversee the affairs of the next election! We also have a situation whereby the State Security Service is run like a personal recruiting militia for the President. We have a woman whose name or position has never been mentioned in the constitution dictating what will happen, not only in terms of security matters in her own state, but in terms of sale of government property–national assets like the Enugu Disco Company.
Who is that lady?
The First Lady, Patience Jonathan. Please, don’t waste my time. You know who I am talking about. If PDP is in crisis, the country is 10 times in more crises. The question to ask is: Can we continue like this? The answer is no. Then who will cure PDP? The PDP cannot cure itself. From 1999 to date, we are talking about 14 years! If the PDP cannot correct itself internally, which party is there which can correct the PDP or present itself as a credible alternative to the PDP? None.
But we have the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is a mega-party. Don’t you believe APC can take over power in 2015?
In a democracy, there is nothing called a mega-party. It is an undemocratic concept because democracy recognises one man, one vote. It recognises universal franchise; that is what is called democracy. But you have people, who have stolen billions of money from the public treasury in the party and who can afford the infrastructure for setting up a political party. Do you expect those people to come and offer you selfless service? You are just deluding yourself.
I am sorry the picture I see is very gloomy. I don’t see any improvement on the horizon. If you are against PDP and you want to oppose PDP, you cannot use PDP’s methods, which have rotation or zoning as its most dangerous item. Now, they are clever enough in the APC not to bring out the issue of zoning or rotation. What the APC has decided to do is dress up the principles of fascism and extreme capitalism as a progressive party. Now, we have had that from the same area (South-West) throughout the history of this country. The Egbe Omo Oduduwa came from that area; the Action Group, a tribal and a fascist party, came from that area; and the UPN, a fascist and a tribal party, came from that area. So did the AD, another fascist, tribal and sectarian party.
We have to be very careful when somebody who does not believe in anything, in a cause like socialism, comes out to say he is a socialist simply because he wants to come into power. I believe that no democrat can sincerely say that he believes in zoning and rotation. Let me tell you how they sat down in secret and zoned out the key positions in APC ahead of 2015. One, they decided that the presidential candidate was going to be zoned to CPC. CPC is a one-man party formed by General Muhammadu Buhari, exclusively for his own ambition. He had joined other parties before: APP and ANPP. He set up the CPC purely for his personal ambition. That is all. There was no single principle anybody can tell me that this CPC stands for. If Buhari decides tomorrow to leave APC, whoever believes in CPC will go with him. So, Buhari’s component of the CPC, which has one state (Nasarawa), will get the presidency.
The position of the Vice-President has been zoned to ACN, though they have a total of six governors. When you look at a party with six governors in a strategic area like the South-West, which is the most economically advanced section of this country, ceding the presidency to a man that did not and could not deliver his own state–Katsina–then you can see that they are not serious.
The position of the national chairman has, again, in secret been zoned to the ANPP. The ANPP as you know has three states–Borno, Yobe and Zamfara. If we are to realise this joke about the zoning policy of the APC, which is not being admitted but everybody knows it is working, it means that they will have a president of the country in the name of Buhari and you are likely to have another northerner, a member of the ANPP, as national chairman. If this twisted logic of zoning in the APC works, the South-East will ask:‘What’s up?’
We should stop deceiving ourselves. If we want to practise democracy, there are certain non-negotiable principles we must adhere to. Rightly or wrongly, the Nigerian public has not been able to think nationally. We have not been able to vote nationally or behave nationally. Maybe it was their fault; maybe the elite have been manipulating them. There is no area CPC won elections except in Nasarawa. There is no area outside the South-West, Edo and Anambra where the ACN won an election. There is no area outside Zamfara, Borno, Yobe and somehow, Kano, where ANPP won an election. So, we have to be realistic. They should not believe that because Buhari is in CPC, he is the Alfa and the Omega that can deliver the North. If they want to be mischievous, they should pray that the PDP leads to the formation of more parties because some more parties need to go into APC to make it a credible force. I don’t see the APC as a credible force.
Finally, I believe that a political party must stand for something. Importantly, it must have clear and laudable policies. It must clearly tell us what it stands for in terms of running the national economy and the role of the government in it. Yoking us with some small boys, who have been partners in the crime of selling our national assets, is not going to change anything. There are areas of the policies which should be elaborated so that when people vote, it will seem to be a rational vote. It is not just a question of INEC being bribed to go and stamp the ballot papers or the police being bribed to go and cause confusion so that people will run away. This is going on so far and may continue, but someday, it will backfire and when it backfires, it may not do so peacefully; it may have to be so violent.
The PDP has commenced a peace process. The two warring factions have given rigid conditions for truce. Do you see peace returning to the PDP?
I don’t know because I am not exactly good at making predictions. But from my experience in dealing with a series of crises in my own party during the Second Republic, I think the PDP crisis has crossed the line. They have gone to the point of no return. But because of the economic interests that are at stake, because of the crimes committed and bound to be committed, they may still pretend that they are together, and go along with the joke that PDP is still a party up to 2015 or thereabout. At the moment, I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or maybe, they know better than I do since I am not a member of the party.
Former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar is leading the breakaway PDP. Is he leading this group as a strategy to realise his presidential ambition?
My preference is not to talk about Atiku’s personal ambition because frankly speaking, it is an issue for those who are in PDP and who are desirous to contest the presidency on the PDP platform to talk about. I don’t know and frankly speaking, I don’t care to know. It is up to them to either allow Atiku emerge through a democratic process, that is, leaving their culture of brigandage and allow him contest the primaries and emerge, which is impossible. The current situation in the PDP indicates that nothing is certain any more. Nobody can say that because I have a party and it is a big machine, not even a political party, but a very big rigging machine like the PDP, then I will become the president in 2015.
Even Goodluck Jonathan is currently not in control of the majority of the party. He is not in control of the majority of the states, not even in the South. The largest state in the Niger-Delta is Rivers with a population of five to six million. He is not in control of Rivers. He is not in control of Lagos, he is not in control of Ondo, he is not in control of Oyo and he is not in control of Kano. He is not in control of Kaduna aside from the fact that the Vice-President is from there. Namadi Sambo did not win election in his own ward. Kaduna State has six million people. Today, the governor of Katsina State can only come back at night. Two months back when he wanted to give out his daughter in marriage, the ceremony could not hold in Katsina because of a security report. They had to move it to Goron Dutse here in Kano, at Isyaku Rabiu’s mosque. There are mosques in Katsina, which are over 200 years old, yet he could not, as the governor of the state, be guaranteed enough security for his invited guests. Katsina has a population of six million and Jonathan is not in control there. I can’t see anybody who is controlling any of the political parties beat his chest and say if there is election today, I am guaranteed rational votes. Then, the medium-sized states. If there is going to be a free and fair election, I don’t see how Jonathan will win in Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Jigawa, Niger, Kwara and Kogi. What is going to be the arithmetic? And if they attempt the rigging pattern of 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, there will be violence in this country. If they do that in 2015, there will be violence that may lead to the break-up of this country. The PDP as a party has failed and it will require a revolution to push it out. Yes, a peaceful revolution if it is possible, and violent if it is necessary.
The composition of the G-7 PDP governors is over 95 per cent North and one of their demands is that President Jonathan should dump his re-election bid. Some are asking for power to return the North. What do you make of this?
What is the northern hegemony you are talking about? The northern interests are run openly. The vast majority of northerners are Muslims and we do not believe in secret cults. We do not encourage secret cults, even the so-called Kaduna Mafia is just a name. Their members are known to the public and it cannot be said to be a secret cult. The whole thing about the so-called northern hegemony is a myth. People joined PDP because the party says Our mantra is zoning and rotation. And when it is time for power to rotate and some people are saying no, you are saying northern hegemony. If it is northern hegemony, so what? It is the same hegemony, which on a platter of gold, handed over power to a southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999. And now, tell me, what the North gained? Go and interview some characters with inferiority complex about being a northerner. I am a northerner and I am proud being a northerner. I apologise to no one for being a northerner. I am not a member of PDP and I don’t believe in zoning and rotation, but I believe that every northerner, like any other Nigerian, has the right to seek the highest office in this country. I believe there must be rule of law. I believe those who made promises will deliver on those promises. Those who deliver must be acknowledged to have delivered.
Tell me what Goodluck Jonathan has done for this country to warrant this propaganda that anybody who is against the North should now come and support him whether or not he has done a good job. That is not my idea of politics.
As a northerner, can you support a presidential candidate from the South, who appears capable of leading the country?
Why not? I will work for that person. But who tells you I have a northern candidate I am supporting? I don’t have any. Or you just assumed I am already supporting someone’s candidature because I have a certain name, a certain religion and I come from a certain part of the country? That is not how I do my politics. Throughout my political life, 95 per cent of my friends and members of my family have not been in the same political party with me. People know I am close to General Buhari, but I have never belonged to any of the political parties he belonged. I have told him the reason in private and I have told him the reasons in public, I think in 2006, at the meeting of the so-called supporters of his at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja. My politics is different from my personal relationships. If a candidate comes out who is better, even if he is from the South, I will work and vote for him. But from the evidence I have seen so far, given what Obasanjo has done and what Jonathan is doing, northerners will least expect justice from a non-northerner in the current political atmosphere. We are not fools. In life, there is such a thing called reciprocity. If somebody does you a good turn, you should do him a good turn, if not a better turn. What has the North got to show for giving out power, free of charge? Obasanjo or the PDP did not conquer us. It was not a war whereby we are conquered and we have to accept whatever is given to us. Jonathan did not conquer us and God forbid, I don’t see how the Ijaw people can conquer us. We willingly gave out power. We realised we made a mistake and now we are determined to get back that power from anybody.
You said you don’t believe in the political ideology of General Buhari. Why?

Tell me his political ideology.
He is generally known as Mai Gaskiya, the honest one…
I see. In politics, you think it is a man of truth you look for? I look for a leader who is intelligent and with decent education. That is very important to me. A leader that has a good track record of competence and integrity. And when I look for a political leader, I want to be comfortable with the people who are around him; people who can be judged by their previous performances in previous roles. Now, these are judgments I have to make and I believe, the judgments Nigerians have to make. I want to make it very clear to you that these are the considerations I have for supporting or working for any political leader in this country. I don’t care whether he is a Muslim or a Christian; I don’t care whether he speaks Hausa. I don’t care whether he comes from the North or the South and I have never believed in zoning and rotation. I will not support a leader based on mob sentiment, based on misconception of life. And if they say you are the voice of the talakawa, how do you relate to the talakawa? I knew the man that was the voice of the talakawa and I knew how he lived. Aminu Kano would not put a stand-by generator in his house. I cannot count how many times I went down with malaria when I visited him.
You said Buhari is called Mai Gaskiya, the man of truth. What is Mai Gaskiya? If you analyse that phrase, you will find out that it is nothing. Analytically, it is useless. Let me tell you, nations, like individuals, grow. Nations grow, in the process they outlive systems, they outlive leaderships. We are living in the 21st century when virtually every child is computer literate. If you are looking for a leader to lead those boys, it must a leader who relates with them, talks to them. What is important is how many people today go to bed without food to eat, how many people are suffering from lack of education? Already, we have 12 million children of school age not going to school. No city has reliable water supply in Nigeria. Look at what is happening in the economy. We are talking about economic growth of about seven per cent, if you trust Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, but I don’t trust her and what this bloody scoundrel in the CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, says. There is a certain concept in economics called growth without development. If the Nigerian economy is to grow 10 times bigger than what it is now, what is the benefit to you, what is the benefit to me and the common man on the street? There is a need to diversify the economy by investing honestly and sincerely in agriculture. We have failed to do that. It is a pity that we have not had leaders who realise that the way to economic redemption in Nigeria is not through making noise. It is by getting people who will make sure that we revitalise agriculture. Oil is a wasting asset; the areas of the Niger-Delta producing the oil are already destroyed.
Anybody who is a leader and wants to contest in 2015 must demonstrate that he has some sterling qualities. So, you have to give me a good reason why I should support Buhari. If I am convinced, I will support him to the very end. But you should know that I am not a tribalist, I am not a religious fanatic and I am not a hypocrite. I believe that to move a nation forward, you must invest in its young people, you must invest in its own economy and you must learn to carry people along. You must build a coalition, build a consensus. I am not going to say because somebody is from the neighbouring state, I must support him. I have never done that in my life.
Briefly assess the performance of President Jonathan?
In one sentence, he does not have the capacity to be the President of Nigeria. It is unfortunate he came through this arrangement and he benefitted enormously from the arrangement of zoning and rotation. And I believe until we do away with zoning and rotation, we are likely to have a slide.
Based on Jonathan’s performance, he has no right to continue to lead this country because we are not slaves. I don’t believe in mediocrity. Yes, the North has produced leaders that were not perfect, but we have never produced a leader as hopeless and as mediocre as Goodluck Jonathan.
How can the country get out of the clutches of underdevelopment?
I think since 1975, I have been talking about one concept—the elite consensus. There must be a political consensus among the elite that Nigeria can surmount its problems and move forward. Without that elite consensus, there is no way this country can transform into a nation and move forward. Right now, Nigeria is not yet a nation.
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