By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU, JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA — FORMER Minister of Science and Technology, Major General Sam Momah (rtd), yesterday advised President Goodluck Jonathan to sacrifice his ambition of standing for election in 2015 for the common good of the nation.
General Momah, who gave the advice in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, also said the 2015 elections will be a watershed in the annals of the country as it will determine the future of Nigeria in the next 100 years.
He said: “The 2015 presidential election is very crucial because in a presidential system of government the president is very symbolic and connotes what you are, and so we must try and get the best for our country come 2015, because it will be a clean slate after Lugard gave us the first slate in 1914 and now we are going to give ourselves another clean slate in 2015.
“We must decide how to make up Nigeria, and everybody must be ready and give the best, anybody that does wrong should be told — putting sentiments apart — and we have the power to do that, and not for somebody to come and do that for us, if not 170 million Nigerians will perish.
“I am saying that we must get a leader that understands this and let us put sentiments apart, a leader that has that vision and passion to deliver and take us to the next level.
“Anybody that does not understand that will never give us what we want. We the followers must also vote for the right man and be there to defend our votes, and before we vote anybody we must tell him what he must achieve based on the mandate you are giving him or her.
“Some people want to express their freedom of association, and they are free and it is purely their own choice. What I am saying is that if it is their choice they should not take advantage over Nigerians, and be sure that they really come to serve and sacrifice and not for themselves.
“I had always said that President Goodluck Jonathan has the right to seek re-election, he should exercise his constitutional right to seek re-election, but I am of the view that he should now get above that political level.
“In essence, I am saying he should move a bit higher above being a politician and become a statesman. By that I mean being a statesman, you can at times sacrifice your own right for the common good.”
“Therefore, I feel that because of this gentleman-agreement they have between the North and South, we started it and let us end it peacefully. I believe it should end by whoever comes in by 2015 so that there will be nothing like North-South business.
“Of course there is nowhere in the constitution on where a leader should come from, because God may decide the leader should come from the North and we may go and fix it in the South, and meanwhile we are blaming God for our woes.
“So God has a way of doing something, and by the time we start to place restrictions, and in my book (Nigeria Beyond Divorce, Amalgamation in Prospective), I talked about federal character that it is not decent.
“I am advising that by 2015, leadership should come from the North and the matter should be closed, and essentially to make for peace because they have a gentleman-agreement, in the South Obasanjo did eight years, unfortunately Yar’Adua died.
“I am saying that Jonathan has constitutional right to seek re-election, but to elevate himself to a statesman he can and should please forgo, conduct a credible election for Nigerians and bow out.”
The former minister, who served under the regime of late General Sanni Abachi and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, said the crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was the consequences of trying to go contrary to a gentleman’s agreement allegedly entered into by President Jonathan and some governors from the North.
He further suggested that leadership in the country should be based on merit, rather than zoning, adding that this should take effect after the North had completed its own turn.
“Let us make leadership to be on merit, because this zoning and turn-by-turn in leadership business is not good. I am saying that the initial mistake has been made, the South had its own turn and let us allow the North have its own turn.”
Commenting on the security situation in the country, the pioneer director of the National War College, Lagos, said declaration of state of emergency in the country was not the best for the international image of the country, although he acknowledged that the emergency rule in the affected states had helped to curtail the insurgence.
He said: “Since state of emergency was declared, at least, it has whittled down the effect of militants or terrorists.
“But state of emergency was not the best but it could solve the problem. You can hear that Boko Haram has started accepting amnesty, and definitely the impact is there and we hope that they can call it a day.
“State of emergency does not portray Nigeria in good light before the outside world, and I would have wished that state of emergency was not and Boko Haram never existed.
“Security is best handled by prevention. That is, making sure that the so-called evil doers were not allowed.
“I believe that Nigeria will be more secured if there is more justice. We have high youth unemployment, even those that are working are under-paid, and things would have been better but they are not.
“So, if we don’t do what we should do on time then it starts smoldering. Politicians should be just and show people that somebody is thinking about you even though you don’t implement what they desire.
“My message to my fellow countrymen is, let politics be service, because politics is not to make money and get paid as source of livelihood. Let it be essentially service; they should have their professional calling and serve the people at various cadres that is what politics is all about.
“Politics in Nigeria should be without bitterness, and not to go there and make enemies. I believe that the lessons of the past should be left for the past and let us have a clean slate, which we can write something good about this country.
“Nigeria has been left behind by other countries that started with us. In West Africa we are second to the last in terms of Human Development Index, HDI, we are only ahead of Sierra Leone, and yet we suppose to be the regional power. Our politicians should have these facts and use it.”