Face-off: APC can absolutely win 2015 presidential election – Junaid Mohammed
*Speaks on Jonathan’s chances
*‘Some northerners have no shame’
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, is a fearless man, who shoots straight on matters of national interest without looking back. For that reason, he has come to be admired, and loathed by Nigerians depending on where they stand. Since the controversy over President Goodluck Jonathan’s qualification to contest in 2015 broke out, Mohammed, a Russian-trained medical doctor-turned political commentator and analyst, has maintained his position that Jonathan is not qualified to run in the next election. In this interview, Mohammed also gives reasons why the newly-formed All Progressive Congress (APC) may make waves and why it may fail.
What do you make of the revelation by the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, that President Jonathan signed an agreement to run for only a term?
To me, the issue is entirely a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, matter, which they should also sort out by themselves. It is not a national matter. The entire idea of the so-called zoning or rotation is an issue that the vast majority of Nigerians have never accepted. It was an imposition on the people of this country by some notable personalities in the North and South. It was done by people who, ordinarily, would never have won an election. They had to design the system so that they could go on in a democracy to be deciding who would be leaders in smoke-filled room.
But this is not democracy.
I believe that this argument should be left for the members of the PDP. They should sort the issue out in order for Nigerians to know the truth about what Babangida Aliyu has said about Jonathan and 2015.
This is about Nigeria and the Office of the President
Whatever is the outcome of the debate, whatever is being said by who, the fact remains that zoning and rotation has served Nigeria very badly. Obasanjo was a disastrous as president and when he left, he manoeuvred and brought in an incompetent person as his successor. These people have not delivered and they are not going to deliver.
If you leave Goodluck Jonathan to be president of Nigeria and you allocate every kobo that comes into the consolidated revenue of Nigeria to him and the Niger Delta governors, there would be no development in Nigeria in the next 100 years. They have not delivered and they are not going to deliver. Anyone of them who finds himself in the position of authority using the zoning and rotation caveat wants to remain in office forever.
Democracy and perpetual leadership are completely incompatible.
As far as I am concerned, these people have to leave and leave they must.
Those who are eating from them can come and say whatever they like because for them, what happens today and what they are getting from the Presidency are what matters most to them and not the future of Nigeria and Nigerians. Those who think they can continue to play games with the destiny of this country should be wary because, even if they are too old, some people from their own flesh and blood are alive and well and they would not want disaster to befall them. Nigerians are in a foul mood, Nigerians are very angry. People who witnessed the birth of this democracy in 1999 till date are sad, they are not happy because it has not delivered anything positive to the majority of the people at all levels of governance.
So what happens to the so-called pact reached with the governors by Jonathan?
It does not make sense joining issues with a governor or a non-governor on any issue that was agreed or not because such agreements did not work in the past. I am aware that the first time Obasanjo was to be brought out of prison and made the president by four Generals – TY Danjuma, Aliyu Gusau, IBB and and Abdulsalami Abubakar- when he was being brought out, the agreement then with Obasanjo was that he was going to serve for only a year, not even a four-year term. Obasanjo rubbished that, proceeded to serve one term of four years, did a second and wanted to make himself a life president through the infamous Third Term.
The Western countries who are shedding crocodile tears about what is happening now did not say anything about Obasanjo’s attempt to abuse the Constitution to stay on for life because they were comfortable with him. He allowed them, like Jonathan is doing now, to plunder our natural resources the way they liked. Nigerians must have to come out and fight to prevent us from going under. We may have found ourselves in a situation whereby some miscreants like the Boko Haram, out of frustration, take up arms and then create mayhem for everyone in the country. We have to continue to fight because the issue is so fundamental. If Jonathan wins an election on a mandate on certain set of principles and promises as contained in his party’s manifestoes and programmes and, so early in the day, he is thinking not on the terms of the mandate that he has but of post 2015, it clearly shows that he has no programme; he is not ready to move this country forward as a leader and that the PDP is made up of people who do not know what they are talking about.
As far as I am concerned, there should be no two ways about it. People who made promises must be made to abide by such promises. And even without the promises, the reading of the Constitution will indicate that Jonathan cannot avail himself of another term in 2015 simply because the Constitution provides for two terms for anybody, whatever the intervening circumstance. Secondly, the Constitution provides for people taking the oath of office only twice in their lifetime.
The constitution talks about being elected to an office twice and not about oath taking?
The president proceeding to take oath of office three times is something I cannot understand and they are unwilling to subject the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation. This shows that they have something to hide and they believe that, by propaganda and through the lies of the people being used they can change the Constitution. To me, the easiest way to amend the Constitution is to follow what the Constitution says. Nobody wants to do what the law says and they think they can get away with illegality simply because they are in power. It will not work.
Are you not worried that the North’s desire to take over power in 2015 may be scuttled by northerners themselves who are not united on that score?
Well, in politics, you cannot rule out people who are playing to the gallery to be on the side where oil is fatter. One of the tragedies about the North and the whole of Nigeria is that we face solid interventions in our bid to produce credible leadership. Many people feel they can make noise and try to be at the right place at the right time. They can say anything and do anything just to make money no matter what happens to their name and image. Some of these people (northerners) do not have shame. They have no ideology; money is the driving force. But what we should do is to sort out these people and isolate them from damaging our collective interest.
Nigerians must respect the will of the majority of the people and not zoning and rotation. Nigeria is too big and complicated for any take-over. There is no option to democracy.
You can see what is happening in the army today when the Chief of the Army Staff is saying that it is now their turn and you wonder who was there before. But, clearly, you can see that even the military is cautious in appointing people who have sense of justice, sense of proportion and sense of overall interest of the nation.
Is that why the North is jittery?
Not really, but certain developments in the country give one the feeling that some people are out to fight the North for no justifiable reasons. Look at what the Chief of the Army Staff is doing in the Nigerian Army, which used to be a place of respect. He came in as a junior brigadier and because he is married to the cousin of a power broker, he has been kept there as the COAS and he is trying to turn the Nigerian Army into an Igbo army.
That is not fair. The Chief of Army Staff has explained the changes in the Army? Igbo are the only ones who get promoted; others are not. People of the North and the Southwest are the majority of the people of Nigeria and the army must reflect the composition of the people of Nigeria. Kano has a population of over ten million and Lagos (has much more). But you only give them 200 slots in army recruitment while Abia with a population of two million gets over 400 because the COAS comes from there.
I disagree! The COAS even gave data to back up the fact that he is not discriminating or there is anything of such as you are alleging?
I’m saying the COAS wants to change the complexion of the Nigerian Army. If he thinks he can continue to do what he is doing and the president cannot call him to order may be because Jonathan may not know much about the military and his advisers cannot help him, let us wait and see the result. We have a very serious problem because, even within the South, he is doing a great injustice, even within the five Igbo states and to the people of the Niger Delta, who, in fact, made him the COAS. And in spite of what this man is doing to the armed forces, he is now the defacto minister of defence.
What do you make of the recently formed All Progressive Congress, APC?
I believe in democracy and in a democracy that can promote good governance, we don’t need more than two strong parties. But, as far as the APC as it is currently being negotiated is concerned, I have my fears. I am a good friend to both Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Ahmed Tinubu, who are the gladiators in the new party. But the APC must be formed and judged by elites and ordinary people alike not on the basis of personalities in the party; it must be operated on the basis of its own programmes. In all the negotiations so far, I have not heard a single person talking about the programmes of the APC. We have had a history in the past where when almost all Nigerian political parties had very similar political programmes. That was fraudulent. Any attempt to base APC on the basis of extant known capitalist principle, which is now causing problems in the Western world, will not help and will not be of any assistance to Nigeria.
It has failed even in the Western world. Throughout history, capitalism is crisis-prone.
We saw what happened when IBB introduced SAP.
Any attempt to manage the economy using known classical capitalism will fail woefully. APC should come out and make the APC a decidedly left or centre party, that is; the party believes government has an important role to play in the running of the economy. They also need to know that government should initiate programmes to protect and defend the poor at all times.
APC must note that there are certain areas of governance that government must continue to handle because they do not easily subject themselves to market forces like education and health. Infrastructure must be in place before we allow capitalist government.
In any case, such must be regulated capitalism not the kind of the capitalism that people will come to make money because, given our penchant for corruption, we are going to find ourselves in a mess.
But Buhari has been a head of state before and he seems to know what to do if he emerges as president in 2015.
Buhari is still a greenhorn as far as dealing with issues of ideology is concerned because most of the statements he made, which caused him a lot of trouble, were made by people who are right-wingers or more like fascists who wrote things for him and he went ahead to read them and found himself in big trouble.
As long as those people continue to write speeches for Buhari and he continues acting on those speeches without knowing the implications and understanding what they mean in practical governmental terms, there is going to be a lot of problems.
The fact of the matter is that Buhari is being invited and cajoled by the ACN only because he has concrete people on ground, grassroots support. But Buhari’s grassroots support has never been translated into concrete electoral victory. He can come and join them because they want to reap from what he stands for, but in terms of governance and in terms of driver principles, it is the ACN components that will run the APC show. Unless we have people who are sincere and ready to work for the overall interest of Nigerians, APC may flop.
But can APC win the next election?
APC can absolutely win election in 2015 and take over from the PDP; there is no doubt about that. Buhari alone won all the elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The European countries knew that Buhari won those elections, but because they were uncomfortable with him, they denied him the chance to rule Nigeria. Nigerians must stand up and work with APC, but Buhari must be more knowledgeable and less naïve and those characters in ACN must learn to be more straightforward and they must understand that they can no longer run a tribal party in Nigeria in the 21st century. They must not try to dominate the new union either in the government or in the party. But whatever happens, it is better to have APC confront PDP than allow small mushroom parties to simply confront it because they will continue to rig election until God’s kingdom comes.
* Interview conducted before the court cleared President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday for the 2015 presidential race.