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Friday, 28 March 2014

Nobody Is Satisfied With President Jonathan-Bashir Tofa

…Says: Confab Won’t Take Nigeria Anywhere

Bashir Othman Tofa, former presidential flag-bearer of the defunct
National Republican Convention (NRC) and staunch member of the All
Progressive Congress in this interview with selected media men in Kano
condemned President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s style of leadership,
insisting that the country is in dire need of change. He also spoke on how
APC can come out better and stronger, among other sundry issues. was there.
Q: Is it proper to assume that you are an active member of the All
Progressive Congress (APC)?
A: I am active in the sense that I am a member of the party but not an
executive member but a party chieftain because of my age and experience
and comfortable to play the role of an elder statesman.
Q: What is your assessment of the country’s political situation?
A: The political situation requires serious prayers, not just the
political situation but the country itself, so that we can have direction
to enable us scale the hurdles that are ahead of us, so as to be able to
do what is right for the country and for the people and emerge successful.
The bottom line is that we have numerous problems and we need to seriously
think about these problems and find ways to succumb them and do the right
thing for the country, so I think that is the situation for now.
Q: In your candid opinion, what measures do you think the country should
adopt, so as to conquer these numerous problems, so as to pilot the
country to another level of political and economic development?
A: Well, you see the purpose of government is spread to a three open-fold;
one is to harness the resources of the country in the best and most
efficient way and to use these resources to foster the development, as
well as the peace and security of the people of the country and to ensure
that the Rule of Law prevails. These are the cardinal duties of any
responsible government, while it has three tiers, the Executive, the
Legislature and the Judiciary and each of the tiers have their roles in
the government. So, when we say government, it doesn’t just mean the
Presidency, as they are tied together, as it involves the Legislature, the
Judiciary and the Executive. Government as we are aware secures the
resources of the country, either through taxation or through exploration
of mineral resources or other engagements that it has to embark on.
However, making the laws is the responsibility of the National Assembly
and ensuring that the laws are complied with is the duty of the Judiciary,
so you see government is the unity of the three tiers. In that respect, we
have a government and each tier of government plays its role. We have to
make progress and all stakeholders have to play their roles in the best
way possible.
Q: In your capacity as an elder statesman, kindly list your
recommendations on the way forward?
A: Well, the way forward from my perception is for us to first of all to
ensure that we have a credible election in 2015 and to accept the outcome
of the election, as long as we unanimously agree that it is credible.
Whoever that will win the election needs to be supported and must also
ensure that candidates from each of the political parties to the 2015
elections should field credible candidates, who would at the close of the
day do this country proud. We must avoid corrupt people and those who are
not transparent or decent. This category of candidates must be avoided and
the electorate must also elect the right candidates. Once, we have the
right candidates in place, then we can begin to steer the ship of state in
the right direction, so that is the most important thing, so unless we
that, we will never have the kind of government we are yearning for,
government that will be corrupt-free, government that will regard each and
every Nigerian as equal citizens and give him or her the opportunity to do
whatever he or she would do to advance their lives in accordance with the
laws of the land, as well as to advance the lives of their communities in
the country in general. Once, we can have that, then we have done away
with corruption, then can thumb our chest and say that we are on the right
track to real development that this country deserves.
Q: As the 2015 general elections is fast approaching, do you subscribe to
the emergence of a consensus candidate?
A: Well, it depends on the party and what the party’s constitution says,
just like consensus candidature is always good but it has to be a genuine
consensus but if it cannot be a consensus to a minority group, that kind
of consensus will never be successful or see the light of the day because
it will definitely create factions within the party and once we have
factions within the party that feels strongly that it has been wronged,
then the success in the forthcoming elections would be questionable. So
consensus here, if it will be genuine, if it is just, then we have
consensus but the next line says where that kind of consensus cannot be
achieved in primary elections, where people cannot agree on a particular
candidate, whereby the vast majority of those stakeholders cannot agree on
a particular aspirant, then there must be primaries, so that has always
been the condition. In the APC, that is the condition. Consensus is
preferred but justice would be better done if primaries are conducted.
Q: Presently, are you satisfied with President Goodluck Jonathan’s style
of leadership?
A: Nobody is satisfied with President Goodluck Jonathan’s style of
leadership because it’s not even a style. I cannot define his style of
leadership in terms of the appropriate definition of leadership. On more
occasions than not in my opinion, he is absent from leadership. He has
knowingly or unknowingly abandoned that part of his elected role to some
elements, who will never help him. He has people around him, who misadvise
him and are doing the wrong thing and he doesn’t seem to have control over
them. For example, look at all these Ministers that have done wrong, it
has taken him so long to be able to decide what to do with them. In some
other countries, who know what they are doing, even the President does not
need to act because the Minister knows what to do, it’s just to resign, so
long as you have done something which has been exposed which is against
the public interest, that Minister on his own knows that he does not need
to be told but just resign but in Nigeria that never happens. They stay
put and the President allows them to continue. Look at what happened with
the Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro and look at what is also
happening now with the recruitment exercise in Immigration. It seems that
the President is supporting them; they say he is a friend of this and a
friend of that, who is so strategic, all these shows that either the
President is not aware or is absent of his responsibilities or that he is
irrelevant. That is the impression that the President gives to so many
people not only in Nigeria but even abroad.
Q: Now that the President has kick started the National confab, are you
confident that the outcome will take Nigeria to another level of
A: It will not take Nigeria to anywhere, it will be discussions, they will
discuss and earn their N4 million per month and will write their report,
which would be jettisoned, just as so many other reports. As I was telling
some body in an interview like this, what you would have done, which would
even be much better was just to appoint some 50 wise men and women into a
committee, retrieve all the previous reports and conferences that have
been held, let the wise men review and consolidate them into one single
report and hand it over to the National Assembly, that would have been a
better thing to do, so that the National Assembly that have the
responsibility to amend the constitution and make other laws will look at
these consolidated or synchronized report and take action. This conference
has no legal authority to do anything, no body elected them, they are only
nominated people, some of them are very good people but they have no
authority as the only authority they have is from the President but not
from people like you and me which is to talk, once they talk, then the
talk is compiled in paper, then we have lost N7 billion in binding the
report would lying somewhere where nobody will remember it. But some
people, like I heard that a former governor is suggesting that we should
be given more time to do this work, that two more years should be
extended, so that the term of all the President and all the governors and
the legislature should be extended by two years but this is even a
criminal suggestion. It is criminal to suggest that the constitutional
provision should be suspended by who, by what kind of law by what kind of
fiat would you suggest that a constitutional provision, which says that
the President has only a four-year term. This is a criminal act that he
was suggesting that the country should undertake, which it can’t happen.
You cannot alter the constitution to achieve that purpose, so you see
right from the beginning, some people are flying a kite, showing that they
are a hidden agenda to all these. If we not careful, these can cause
seriousness problem even to the democracy. People would not just accept
some people to do whatever they like to do with this country. This country
is to big which have been existing together within 100 years and some
people are attempting to destroy it. This cannot be acceptable, so anybody
who is trying to introduce some sabotage amendment or action would be
resisted and not acceptable.
Q: The lingering question of insurgency in some parts of the North has
been threatening the corporate existence and unity of the country. What do
you think is the solution?
A: As I earlier told you, the purpose of the government is to ensure the
security of lives and property of its citizens and the incumbent
government is not performing that role. So, it is not performing the
functions for which it was formed, so this is a very serious issue. It’s
not just insurgency as every section of this country has it’s peculiar
problem. Most part of the North, there is this problem of insurgency. In
some places, it’s the problem of kidnapping, while in some other places,
it’s the problem of highway robbery and in some other places, it’s the
problem of resources, in some places, it is the problem of restlessness.
There is no single part of the country that is grappling with one problem
or the other. Every section of the country has its own peculiar problem
and we have to seat as Nigerians and not look at other peoples problem but
look at our problems collectively and say look we have all these problems
here and there, how do we resolve them. Whatever happens to the North East
happens to the entire country and whatever happens to the South East
happens to us here, so we have to see ourselves as Nigerians. We should
not insist that this is the problem of the North East or this is the
problem of the South East but say that these are the problems that Nigeria
have. Once we consider that is our collective problem, then we can
collectively find sit down and see the best way to solve them but as long
as we insist that a particular problem is some other people’s problem and
not ours, then the problems cannot be amicably resolved. If you say that
it is Armed Forces that would resolve the problem, these Armed Forces are
not from space, they are Nigerians. So how can you tell a military
Commander, who is from the South East, knowing that he would probably be
killed in order to solve his problem. So, these problems are our problems
wherever they occur and we have to see them as such because that is what
makes us Nigerians, not just Easterners or South Easterners or North
Westerners and so on.
Q: Do you have confidence in the forthcoming elections to be conducted by
INEC and what is your advice for the conduct of a successful election?
A: I have confidence in the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega but
he can only perform his duties if he is given the right equipment and
resources to do it. If he is denied or given the resources late, then he
cannot do the job. Also, if people are trying to sabotage him because they
do not want him to do the right thing here and there, then we cannot have
it. So it’s not just INEC alone, it is the government and the people that
have to cooperate and support INEC to conduct the right and acceptable
election but if we fail to support INEC and if the government fails to
support them, then how can they perform their function. Nobody can perform
his functions satisfactorily, no matter his good intentions and experience
if he is not given the right tools and support to perform their role. So,
we should not be having the impression that INEC cannot perform the job.
Let’s give what they require and see whether they cannot perform its role
or not.

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