By Emmanuel Daudu
In this interaction with Abuja Business Reports, former presidential aspirant of Sustainable National Party, SNP, discusses about trending issues within Nigeria’s political ambience.
You were a presidential candidate under Sustainable National Party, so what was the experience?
Yes, it wasn’t a smooth sail within the party because we lacked the resources to mobilise for our elections and told ourselves the truth.
What’s your take over the supreme court judgments over governors?
In the last couple of days, we have had reports from the supreme court on different states but it looks as if no one is interested in other cases that other parties retained but some people are more interested in the ones that the APC took over but we are also forgetting that places like Oyo was almost being upturned but then the governor of the state, Makinde, retained his position. So, I think we must be fair in our concerns and try to create some level of atmosphere where there can be stability to progress forward.
With regards to the case of Imo state verdict, the supreme court clearly stated that there were certain polling units that weren’t collated for many reasons because there were disputes at the time, and Hope Uzodima lost at the tribunal and Appeal Court but finally the judgement of the supreme court was that as long as there were registered voters on the register, the accredited voters based on the card reader machine was just a tool to authenticate. However, they still had to collate from other Local Governments and polling units and by the time that was done, Hope Uzodinma had an upper hand above the other candidates.
In reference to a similar situation, we can look at what happened in Rivers state in 2015 where Gov. Nyesom Wike lost both at the tribunal and Appeal Court but got justice at the apex court which ruled that he had people who had voted but as a result of the failure card readers in some areas, they decided to use the register to support the argument that he had votes and after the collation, he won the election. So, it’s just a repeat of a similar situation but away from the supreme court judgment, I was in Imo during one of the hearings in court and I remember how a few people were telling me how the election process was disorganised and how the judgement was a bamboozled and Ihedioha was announced for whatever reasons.
There was an expectation that there was going to be a court situation that might upturn the situation or the result that was previously announced. Surprisingly, anytime we have this kind of situation, we keep blaming INEC but we always forget that the polling officers, collation officers, returning officers, RECs and others involved are not INEC staff but adhoc members who only support the process and these are the people who take the results to INEC whom the commission believe in the authenticity of their submissions because of their offices such as the professors. These people read out the results themselves and INEC accept them as the right figures. So we shouldn’t blame the electoral empire at all. Besides, the trust of electing our leaders should be on the people; the role we partake in during the process that leads to the announcement of some certain individuals. Do not forget that most of the people that go to fight on the queue do it on their own accord for favour from preferred candidates. So we must try to employ ways of doing away with such situations through sensitisation on the minds of the people so as to inform them that when they take to violence at the polls, they might never get the right leaders of their choice.
I contested for presidency in the last election and all political stakeholders were invited several times by the INEC to deliberate on elections and everyone of us aired our views independently. So, I really think the electorates should take responsibilities for inadequacies of the outcomes.
Can you say the judgments of the supreme court have so far been fair?
The judgement of Sokoto and others were fair I guess and every other states that the PDP won were on merit too, but all the states that APC won were based on falsehood, I suppose.(laughs) It’s all politics but we on our own part as Nigerians must be able to manage it so as to keep our country together. Every country stands based on one fundamental criteria called the judicial system under the rule of law. Once the judicial system is not respected or seen to be inadequate, you are about to loose your country. And you can see that Gov. Wike even congratulated the Imo APC because it was the same process that got him victory in 2015.
Yes, the PDP has every right to be concerned but has no right to rubbish our judicial system. I rember that before the current Chief Judge was appointed, a lot of people were complaining that he was been forced through the echelon of the judicial system but again, what we must know is that the last CJN, Justice Onnoghen was removed, even though we had some concerns about the timing because it was close to the last elections, we should not forget that there is no right time to act when it comes to justice. Obviously, there were allegations over Onnoghen’s misdeeds but one thing I’ve noticed about Nigerians is that they didn’t want to talk about his misdeeds but the timing.
My point is that it is not a question of whether Justice Tanko was from the north because in the hierarchy, he was the next. Note, I’m not supporting anybody on any side of the divide. I am simply calling for a united Nigeria and merit in delivery of our duties. If we are all asked to trace our ancestry to its roots, we might not even know where they migrated from, yes! And the worst thing that happens to Africans is that we are actually killing our own blood, thinking we are fighting the enemy, which the only way out will be to identify the true enemy so that the continent can progress because most African countries are still indebted to the colonialists, after cheating them for so many years.
Why did you defect from your party?
Yes, I emerged the flagbearer for Sustainable National Party, SNP, and before the 2019 elections, I did endorse President Muhammad Buhari which caused a lot of backlash, not just from the opposition party but even many young people who felt I had gone in the opposite direction from our original plan as a generation but I did not. In the build up to the election, we needed to be realistic.
I probably had a team of people that were never politicians but we were so realistic because we spoke the truth and at that time, it was glarin that a youth was going to win the presidential election. But don’t forget that we had a pact where all young candidates met and deliberated to throw their hats behind one person. It didn’t work out because everybody wanted to become President. Even people that knew they couldn’t get votes from major states and there were still sentiments over tribalism.
Nigerians were expecting a northern president in 2019 and I remember that I had discussions with people like Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and I told them emphatically that we could support a northerner who may not win but it would give all of us credibility for our own support in subsequent elections.I’m a realist and always honest when it comes to politics.
When I looked at the two major presidential candidates in the 2019 election, Muhammad Buhari and Alh. Atiku Abubakar, I knew I had to support one of them whom I can defend for posterity sake and if former Presidential Obasanjo had spoken about Atiku in the manner he did for so many years, it baffles me that all of that has been forgotten. So, I choosed Buhari because I did see some positivity in his administration. There are certain things that this government is doing now that might not yield any results now but hopefully in the future. I kept saying before the 2015 elections that we would go through tough times for Nigeria to be fixed, a mindset would be recovered and people will start thinking straight.
Look at the waste of our resources, it does not happen anymore. For instance, Treasury Singular Account, TSA, which people said was introduced by President Goodluck Jonathan, has been improved on under this administration which is part of continuity in policy and one of our major problems had been the abandonment of good policies by succeeding governments.
One of the major concern outside the Book Haram had however been the emergence of the herdsmen which some people are using for ethnic and religious divides which is not helping anybody because whether you want to talk about Amotekun which the south is proposing against criticism from some northerners, which the question is whether the north has cleaned up all its insecurity? We supported this administration because of some of those issues and I pray that they improve on the plans on ground to move the country forward.
When we visited the vice president to endorse President Buhari, we presented our manifestoes and honestly speaking, I’m seeing some of those things happening which shows that it is a government that is ready to listen. So, I said to myself that the only way to keep afloat in politics is to be relevant in the process. Look at some of us that contested for presidency in 2019, one of the biggest is now in controversy for what some people will term treason. I watched a video where he said he was going to make sure that Buhari and the DSS doesn’t exist but the only way you can make such happen is through the ballot. Besides, all of us from other parties outside the APC and PDP were only able to raise 183,000 votes, so I knew it was not yet time to convince our generation since we lacked adequate resources to run effective campaigns to create huge impacts on the youth.
Are you in support of Operation Amotekun?
Yes, I’m in support of their motive and any security apparatus that is out to fight for people and keep them safe. We do have states around who have instituted their own security apparatus at the state level but the case of Amotekun covers a whole region which will definitely raise a red flag and concerns from the centre, judiciary and even the police. It will be as easy to say Amotekun is bringing out what the government doesn’t want Biafra to bring.
People keep saying the north is not happy over the incidence but the Attorney General of the Federation, Justice Abubakar Malami has been the one raising concerns about the operation and I’m sure that his point is to see a working document that supports the institution of the apparatus in the south west. It is good to note that the case will be going to court which is the last resort mostly in a growing nation like ours since it is the only authority that can define the activities of the operation. I think the leaders of Amotekun should rather sit with the Attorney General and explain their modes of operation. It’s simply a matter of politics.
Recall that during the introduction of Sharia Law in Zamfara, they approached President Obasanjo with their documents which he approved, but how strong is the law today in Zamfara or elsewhere?
Rumours have it that you are related to the president, is it true?
(Laughs) No, I’m not related to President Buhari. I am from Kontagora in Niger State while he is from Daura in Katsina and we are not related in anyway. In fact, the first time I met in him was when we were endorsing him for a second term, when I told him about more representation of youths in his government.
Your prediction of the 2023 elections
Well, it’s still too early and unclear but I would like to see many new faces hold grabbing the mantle of leadership to bring in new ideas. I recently watched a video where the PDP presidential candidate in the last elections, Atiku Abubakar was explaining why he will still want to run for presidency again. He openly declared that he isn’t stopping any young person from contesting. He complained about the security situation in the country, which he blamed on the retention of the service chiefs whom he claimed have nothing new to offer.
But for me, even Atiku himself has nothing new to offer because he is going to be 77 in 2023. At this stage, he and other old politicians should be looking for young and vibrant people to mentor and see how such individuals can lead the country.
Do you have words of advise to the youths?
I want to tell the youths that anytime they collect money from politicians, they should be sure that they are going to recover the money from you at an interest rate only he or she can determine because you are culpable.
Is there any strategy we can put in place to avoid money bag campaigns?
I think that has to do with the government pulling as many people as possible out of poverty because when people have financial security and independence, they will not need stipends from politicians, like the PDP supporters did recently, boarding trucks to smash themselves. That was a clear display of people who have nothing else to look forward to and it was wrong to board them on trucks in Abuja to show that they have supporters. Come to think of it, same people would still collect money if offered by the APC, since they are just there to be bought.
Elections in most developing countries are run by money but we lacked the resources for our campaigns or to change the mindset of the people against money politics.
Are you recontesting for presidency in 2023?