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Nigerians should decide on IBB – Omoruyi

By Gabriel Enogholase, Benin
Prof     Omo-Omoruyi,  former  Director- General of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), a political scientist and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin in this interview  advised the PDP to adopt the Republican of America’s option in dealing with whether Jonathan should contest or not.

He also said that Nigerians should not prejudge IBB in his bid to contest the 2010 presidency. Read this and his other comments on national issues.  Excerpts:

Omo Omoruyi

Seventeen years after annulling the only free and fair election in the historyof  this nation, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida wants to test his popularity by seeking to contest next year’s presidential election. What is your reaction to this?

It is a free country. He is also a free citizen and the country will judge. But don’t forget that the country will also forgive people. Whether Christianity, Islam or anything, they are very forgiving. And so, maybe, he is working on that, that the country is a forgiving country,meaning that he can appeal to them, whatever the situation is and I think he is doing that already. So, we should not prejudge him.

The annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election remains one of the ghosts that will continue to haunt him. Don’t you think that Nigerians would want him to atone for the June 12 annulment and the Okigbo report on the Gulf-war oil windfall for which he has not offered any explanation?

Again,I will go back to my original answer.Nigerian people are fair-minded people. They will determine who is a credible candidate based on factors they would take into account. Some of these factors they would take into account.

So, that is my way of looking at it. I believe that if A goes for an election or ask people to vote for him or her, Nigerians would ask questions.So,it depends on his answers to those questions. Then, they will determine whether to vote for him or not to vote for him. I don’t want to prejudge anybody, to say look, some people said you did this, you did that. Nigerian people will determine  whether we want this man or not.

How do you see the strident calls on President Goodluck Jonathan to run for next year’s presidential election as against the zoning formula of his party?

You know, I will use two answers that I got from various persons. One is by Chief Barnabas Germade. Gemade,the former National Chairman of  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that there is a divine zoning. Somebody else, that is, Chief  D.S.P. Alamieyisigha said whether Jonathan can or cannot run is a just natural design and so on.

So, again that is the way I see the matter. It is not for me to predetermine whether he should run or not. President Jonathan himself has to tell the country why he wants to run or not. Let me tell you one issue of discourse.

The Americans in 1776  never anticipated that they would have a ticket of  un -elected president and  vice-president. So the Nigerian constitution never also anticipated that we would have a ticket of   un-elected, president and vice-president. So, this situation has arisen.

So, what we have today is what the Americans had in 1974, un-elected president and vice-president, i.e. Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller who was my governor in New York State at that time. If you want the full story, I will tell you. Richard Nixon’s Vice-President was Spiro Agnew who was to be impeached because of the problem they had.

The point is that he was part of the builders then of the Unite States, and so he resigned. Spiro Agnew resigned and Gerald Ford who was the Minority Leader then in the House of Representatives was picked as the Vice-president to Richard Nixon. Nixon then ran into problem with Watergate and of course, he too resigned instead of being impeached. Gerald Ford became the president.

Gerald Ford then picked Rockefeller, then Governor of  New York State  as the Vice president. So, that is what we have today, the same situation of an unanticipated. The president fell ill, he left the scene, the Vice president took over.

The president picked Namadi Sambo and you now have two un-elected president and Vice president who have never fought a national election. Just as Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller had never fought a national election.

That is number one. Number two, when it came to nomination, Roland Reagan wanted to challenge him, he said, you should not run because you were just there as a stopgap. The Republicans said, no let him run. So, he ran in 1976. So, we have the same situation today where we cannot really prejudge. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must look at history and forget about their zoning. You see this situation that has arisen, it is their best bet, it is up to them, it is not up to me.

So, this is where I will say, behave like the Republican Party of the United States in 1976 that stopped Roland Reagan from seeking the nomination. But when Gerald Ford left after he lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980, Reagan came into the picture. The fact that you are nominated does not mean that you are elected.

So, Jonathan knows what to do to seek the mandate of the Nigerian people. If he is to do that, he knows what to do and he can win. Mark you; the PDP is only one party. There are 50 other parties. So, if they are talking about zoning, they did not say that there is a constitutional matter, there is nothing they called the Nigerian Constitution supporting zoning, no. That is my honest view.

Seventeen years after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the issue has remained in the minds of Nigerians. Would you say we have fared well politically since then?

I have always said that the issues that led to the annulment are still with us. Those issues are real, those issues are cogent, until we addressed them,  Nigeria will  still be groping in the dark. Some of those issues include the so-called zoning. Nothing much has changed and we are still grappling with the past. We have to address them.

When you don’t allow the interplay of political forces to determine who becomes a candidate. Interplay of political forces; take a state like Edo State, who was the representative of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that challenged the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and so at Jos.

He is from one small place in Owan Local Government Area, Chief Femi Okun. Have you people forgotten that he is not from “a majority group” in Edo State? He was the one Chief John Odigie Oyegun and others supported as their flag bearer at Jos. It was not by zoning. So, that is what to me is called inter-play of political forces.

If we allowed that work, then we will make progress. We can and I believe we should.

The Jonathan Presidency just has one year in office. Which area of the economy do you think that he should improve upon or set the process that could be improved upon by any government that succeeds him?
Well, you came here, we don’t have light and the man said that his number one goal is power.

And he is the Minister of Power. I have not had light since 2 a.m. and light just came about less than an hour ago, so, this is something which he must work on, if he can guarantee us at least power for half a day, we shall have made progress because sometimes, we don’t get it for a whole day. So, he said that he would work on that. Let believe that he is going to.


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