By Aliyu Dangida
Farouk Adamu Aliyu,Â Â member House ofÂ Representatives for Birnin-Kudu/Buji from 2003-2007, was in the vanguard of struggle against third term bid of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.Â He headed various committees during his stint in the house.
In this Interview with Saturday Vanguard, Farouk ,one of the founding members of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, speaks on the abortion ofÂ third term bid ,Â the mega party, and the amnesty to Niger Delta militants a couple of weeks ago etc.Â Â EXCERPTS:
As one of the anti-third term law makers, how did you scuttle the project?
We were many but not in the majority. The people who wanted Obasanjo to continue were more. But the failure of the third term was sequel to the contribution of journalists and those of us at the National Assembly that stood against it.
So, in a nut shell,Â I think Nigerians are the champions. As I said, at the National Assembly, those opposed to the project were not in the majority, because just before the kick off of the project,Â there was a vote of confidence on Obasanjo by pro-third term legislatures, commending him on the way he handled the budgetary allocations of this country. We knew it was a testing ground. It was put to vote but they defeated us, which meant we are in the minority.
But with the concerted efforts of Nigerians and indeed journalists and above all the Almighty God, we killed the third term agenda of the president Obasanjo.
Were you one of those bribed during the third term project?
IÂ am not. But some were offered money. You know, and everybody knows,Â it was on air.Â AIT covered the proceedings. I was certainly among the people that killed the project. So, I couldnâ€™t have been paid. But yes, it is true.
Supporters of the project were paid a minimum of N50million each.Â Some wereÂ Â offered N250million. I know the former Majority Leader,Â Honourable Abdul Ningi who was with us was offered N400million and Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, N500million.Â And all the money was in cash, not cheque, to support the third term agenda. But they all refused to collect the money.
Why did you reject the money given to you?
I knew it wasnâ€™t legitimate money for me to use. It was blood money and I didnâ€™t believe in the project. I also didnâ€™t believe in bribery, corruption and other things or that I should be paid to do my job. My antecedent has shown that I am not one of law makers that will go and collect money to do anything.
Most people think that some of you were denied tickets to return to the National Assembly in the 2007 general elections because of the role you played against the third term agenda. How true is it?
Yes, to some extent some of my colleagues were hunted by the former government for their stand against the third term agenda, more especially against the anti third term PDP law makers. Because we have some members from PDP who didnâ€™t believe in the project.
But in my own case, I didnâ€™t make any attempt to go back to the house as I wanted to contest for the governorship election in my own state, Jigawa which I couldnâ€™t even get the ticket because there were no primaries.
But that one should be attributed to my own party. So, to me, I donâ€™t blame the PDP for my failure to get the ticket in my party. But yes, it is true there are some members of the PDP who were denied candidature because of their stand against Olusegun Obasanjo.
Itâ€™s widely reported in the media that General Buhari is behind the agitation for the formation of a Mega Party. What is happening?
If you say Mega Party, General Buhari was not the initiator of Mega Party. Some people initiated Mega Party and then General Mohammadu Buhari was invited. I am a member of the Organizing Committee of the Mega Party.
On the issue of the Mega Party, we are talking to Bola Tinubu. We are talking to Orji Kalu. We are talking to disgruntled PDP members. There are six parties that endorsed General Buhari as their own candidate in the 2007 election. We are consulting. We have not foreclosed anything yet. We are going to get the aggregate view of everybody.
The problem with this country is so enormous that people shouldnâ€™t rush, and we shouldnâ€™t be rushed. People should allow us and make sure that we do a meticulous thinking to ensure that Nigeria get the best opposition party which the country is lacking, as at now.
In a very short while, you will get our own stand. What I mean is Buhariâ€™sÂ stock on national issues and what we are going to do. Will we remain in the ANPP,Â or we will go out or will form another party? But as at today,Â as I am talking to you, we are bonafide members of the ANPP.
A month ago, the ANPP held a discussion in Kaduna on mega party. What is its outcome?
You know it is the part of the on-going discussion. Unfortunately,Â and fortunately also, we are Muslims and Nigerians are either Christians or Muslims.
We all believe in reconciliation. We believe in peace.Â We believe in the harmony of this country. Even though we do not agree with 90% of the leadership of the ANPP stand, that does not mean we cannot sit and reconcile.
In fact, we are praying and hoping that the reconciliation of ANPP willÂ succeed. If it succeeds, letâ€™s remain in the ANPP. But if it doesnâ€™t, like I told tell you,Â we of the Buhari stock cannot continue to remain in the ANPP- If Ezeoke remains the Chairman of the Party; if Kumo remains the Secretary of the Party, and if some of our governors do not believe in opposition.
We are not enemies of the PDP. We keep telling people we are not enemies. But if our leaders do not believe that, we should remain where God has kept us: that is elections were conducted, flawed, as testified by everybody, and we went to court. The court said we have had election, and we have accepted the judgment of the court.
But we donâ€™t believe in it. Which means we are law abiding citizens who want their country to progress. If our party will not remain as opposition…. Look, they said we lost the election. The court was confirmed that we lost the election.
Why should we join this government to continue to maltreat the Nigerian public? That is our main grouse.
We donâ€™t believe the leadership of the ANPP believes in opposition, credible opposition in this country: certainly, people of character, people of intelligence, people that have Nigeriaâ€™s interest at heart that will challenge the PDP,Â not in violence,Â not in brigandage but on issues. So, until such time when we have such kind of leadership, that will be the reason why we will remain in the ANPP.
Nigeria is 49. How would you assess its journey so far?
It is a complete failure.Â Nigeria at 49 is a complete failure; one complete failure of the elite, I inclusive; complete failure of the ruling political elite. We, the politicians, keep blaming the leadership. There has never been a consistent leadership for 10 years. The military have never led for 10 years. But the civilians have led for 10 years.
If you look at those of you that are from 30 upward, you have come to Nigeria to suffer, because you donâ€™t know the good side of this country.
People like us who are above 40 and 50, we know when Nigeria had libraries, when in my place, Birnin-Kudu, there was a library, where,Â as a student,Â I could go to library, borrow a book and I knew when government was paying transport money for me.
I knew when you could put a child in Kano in a train to go to Calabar and go to school. All these things have gone.
So if you look at what is happening now, Nigeria is a complete failure, and unfortunately, the politicians have made it worse because Nigeria has never witnessed suchÂ corruption in its entire life. Even the military have never ruined this country economically that we the politicians have done.
We cannot call the military jokers but you can call us the politicians jokers. Last week, there was a conference in Pittsburgh, of 20 developed nations. Tell me,Â among the 20 countries, which of the countries Nigeria is going to overtake in the next 20 years?
The least country there is Indonesia, and tell me how Nigeria can unseat Indonesia in the next 20 years?
So, these are the kind of jokers we are talking about, a country without figures. We donâ€™t know what we are doing as at today. Failure of the leadership or a failed state, everything has failed in this country. This is the sum total of Nigeria at 49. Let me take you back to the issue of in sincerity among us politicians. Some weeks ago, the Attorney-General of the Federation came out to say that… In fact, before that, there was this crisis of Boko Haram.
Before the crisis of Boko Haram, the Inspector General of Police was given an acting appointment, the present IG, as an acting Inspector General of Police.Â The Boko Haram issue came up when the people were complaining that the leader of Boko Haram was killed.
He came out to say no, he was not killed, it was during gun battle. But it was proved to him that no, he was executed by the police along so many other people. What this government is supposed to do is to resign. But it went on to confirm Onovo as IG. This man presided over the execution of Nigerian citizens, unarmed Nigerian citizens.
The President himself even travelled to Brazil a week after such on ugly incident took place. Look,Â this is the kind of insincerely I am talking about.
What is your impression of the Niger-Delta debacle?
Well, there are two issues to this one. As I told you, there is always wisdom and it is good to extend hand of friendship and peace to fellow Nigerians.
If we are all called Nigerians, and the President has sworn on the Holy Quran to deal with all of us the same. I think the government has not been fair to others in the country.
It is on record that this government is the only government that considers the plight of the Niger-Delta more than any other government. You have to give them that credit.
But this is the same government that refused to sit down with our lecturers who were on strike for three months. Who are not carrying out any arms. These are the same people, I mean the same government who sent in military and police to go and annihilate the Boko Haram sect.
They are Nigerians. I donâ€™t think they deserved such kind of cruelty. Why didnâ€™t the same government go in a peaceful manner? Or how come the intelligence agencies didnâ€™t know about Boko Haram? How come it was allowed to act the way it acted?
To me, it is a complete failure of the intelligence community and lack of sincerity on the part of the government in dealing with one section of the country, different from another.