BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU, EMMANUEL ELEBEKE & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal has said that he cannot stop Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members in the House from defecting to All Progressives Congress, APC.
Tambuwal spoke as the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore said that Nigeria made a costly mistake by adopting the American presidential system of government.
Belgore who was the Chairman at the 11th Daily Trust Dialogue yesterday in Abuja in his remarks also deplored high level of impunity and corruption in the country.
He said: “We made a great mistake by trying to copy the United States of America, when culturally and fundamentally we are different from USA citizens. A lot of anomalies exist in our constitution.
“Our country is known as Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is an anomaly. We have Igwes, Obas, Alafins, and Emirs, who are very relevant to our peaceful co-existence. We do not need to copy America to grow as a country.
“Nigeria can have a constitution that can survive, if we look inwards, culture, manner and way of life. We must have a re-look at our past, liaise it with the present so that we can build a powerful future.
Impunity and corruption
“Due to constant changes in governance, Nigeria has never experienced stability to allow it move rapidly forward. There is impunity and corruption in high places, which have led to instability.” He pointed out that “no two democracies are the same, whether presidential or parliamentary.’’
Belgore said the problem with Nigeria was corruption, saying some chief judges were now romancing with their governors.
“Some chief judges don’t even sit at all. They follow the governors all about. The governor will be opening a clinic in a village and you will read in the newspapers the next day that he was ‘accompanied by the Chief Judge’. These things should not be happening at all.
“People who should not be lawyers are now made Senior Advocate, it is disastrous.
“Nigeria is richly blessed with natural resources and highly populated with very literate people but are constrained by constant attempts by some foreign powerful countries to destabilise it and make it very difficult to govern,” he lamented.
Also speaking at the Dialogue, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal said he cannot stop members of the PDP in the House from defecting to other political parties.
Tambuwal spoke through the deputy spokesperson of the House, Victor Ogene on the theme, “Incumbency and impunity in politics-safeguarding our democracy beyond 2015.”
He faulted those that criticised reading the letter written by members who defected from the PDP to the APC that it was an “encouragement of impunity.”
Tambuwal said: “All of us know that no fewer than four governors had defected from their political parties and issues were not made out of it. If some members representing different federal constituency decide to defect, I don’t think it is right for anybody to expect Mr. Speaker not to read the correspondences that comes to his table. He is first and foremost an embodiment and expression of the will of all members of the house.”
In their different presentations, former President of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Ms. Ayo Obe; former Chairman of the Transition Monitoring group, Festus Okoye and a senior fellow at Centre for Democracy, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim expressed fears over the success of the 2015 general elections.
Okoye said the present dangers facing the country ahead of the 2015 general elections were “the empowering of militant groups and elements, the influx of small arms, the official backing of oil thieves, insurgency and the deliberate and contrived creation of an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.
“This is self-evident in the acts and utterances of some incumbents and their cronies suggesting that they will ‘break the pot’ if they perceive that they may not win the 2015 elections.
“Conversely, there is the desperation of those that want to be incumbents in 2015 using desperate means and measures to get to power and they are also ready to break the pot if they cannot win.”
With the recent events in the country, Obe warned that the season of political violence might be lurking in the corner.
“As we face 2015, it seems as though the Jonathan presidency has been more engaged in battling local terrorism gone international in the form of Boko Haram and the issue of political murder has not regained the heights it attained in the past; but as we approach the next round of elections, the early alarm raised by the Northern
Governors Forum over the Kwankwaso attack betrays a nervousness that the season of election-oriented political violence may be stirring again.
“Particularly now, that in some cases, it will be possible to hide political assassination under cover of terrorist attack.”
Obe noted that the intervention of Jonsathan when Dokubo was arrested in Benin Republic had further strengthened the belief that Dokubo was enjoying the protection of presidency in making inflammatory remarks.
“When one considers the kind of mild comments for which the likes of former FCT Minister, Nasir el-Rufai or Dr. Emmanuel Fashakin have been detained for questioning by the secuiryt agencies, it is difficult for ordinary citizens to reach any other conclusion than that Dokubo is enjoying the kind of impunity that only the certainty of protection afforded by the incumbent can provide.
“We do not know at this point, whether President Jonathan will contest in 2015, or whether the Nigerian people will vote for him if he emerges as the presidential candidate of his party in the coming elections.
“But the impunity enjoyed by Dokubo which cannot be separated from the powers of the president with regard to the security agencies leaves little opportunity for those who might wish to distinguish the electoral fortunes of the President from Dokubo’s utterances.”
Obe warned that if nothing was done to address the ills in Nigeria, they were likely to become worse and could “create the fertile ground in which a thousand lesser acts of wrongdoing will flourish”.
“So if we want to secure democracy beyond 2015, I suggest that we need to take action on these cancers now”, she added.