By Lawani Mikairu
Comrade Olufemi Aduwo is the National Coordinator of Rights Monitoring Group, RMG. He was one of the civil society members accredited to monitor the last gubernatorial election in Anambra State. He speaks, in this interview, on the forthcoming National Conference, the suspension of the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, among other issues. Excerpts.
What is your view on the forthcoming National Conference?
It is a good development. There is nothing wrong in dialoguing especially in democracy, but my fear is that some of the delegates going to the conference may not see themselves as federalists. I want to urge them to see themselves as federalists and not as regional leaders or militants who want to get things they want 100 per cent. If you are looking for 100 per cent and you are able to get 20 or 30 percent, I think such a person should move forward because, even in the most democratic countries, we still have internal crises.
Some issues are very germane to the continuous survival of this country. For instance, the issue of religion has been recurring in our society even before the amalgamation of the country in 1914. Also, the issue of resource control is a major concern. My advice is that people should go in there as federalist and propose things that can move the nation forward.
Some civil society groups are condemning their non-involvement in the conference. As a civil society coordinator, what is your take on this?
We have hundreds of civil society groups in this country; out of them, how many can be selected as delegates? Mr. President asked the stakeholders in the civil society groups to submit names. It is very easy for the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, or the Guild of Editors to forward their names to the Presidency, but the reverse is the case with the civil society groups.
What I discovered is that when the Presidency asked us to submit names, more than 300 non-governmental organisations, NGOs, applied and about 550 people were selected from the NGOs and, from this number, you are only going to select 24 delegates.
Before you can come to the National Conference as a civil society member, your expertise and relevance must be considered and I think this is part of the issues the Presidency will consider before nominating anyone to attend the conference on its behalf.
What is your opinion on Mr. President appointing most of the delegates?
I don’t think that statement is totally correct. Each governor is appointing three delegates which makes it over a hundred while the Presidency is appointing about 71 out of the over 400 members. So, it is neither here nor there. If you look at it critically, other professional bodies like the NUJ, Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and National Association of Nigerian Students, among others, are the ones going to elect their own representatives.
If Mr. President appoints even all the delegates and they are credible Nigerians, so be it. We will still get there, but if Nigerians themselves select criminals, we will still get the same answer.
President Jonathan has been visiting the emirs, obas and several other people to seek for support for 2015.
Don’t you think this is too early especially when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has not given the nod for political campaigns?
Campaigns, rallies and visits not the same thing. Mr. President visited the Emir of Kano, Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Lagos and many others on security issues. None of them will tell you that Mr. President sought his support for 2015 and, even if he has done that, I think Mr. President is entitled to it.
Several governors do this with impunity and violate the electoral Act disguising by organizing rallies to welcome their political godfathers. Politicians do this because the punishment is minor. The fine is just N500,000. which any of them can easily pay, but in fairness to Mr. President, what he has just done was to consult the elders and rulers in the country who are directly connected to the people. We can’t deny the obvious fact that we have challenges in this country especially security issue.
What is your comment on the suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, barely a week after the allegation of missing $20bn from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC?
At the beginning, Sanusi told the whole world that $49bn was missing from the NNPC account, but when they met at the Senate, he said it was $10.8bn and, suddenly, the money became $20bn. The question people should ask him is that at what point did he get to know about the missing money? Was it yesterday, last week or even last year? Why is he raising the alarm now? Why these variations?
As the chief monetary officer of the federation, Mallam Sanusi has showed to the whole world that he is not a part of this government and, over the years, he has always presented himself as a Mr. Saint.
The easiest way for anybody to become acceptable to the people overnight is to call the government names.
How can the CBN governor spend N150bn of the people’s money on charity? And the major sum of the money is for a section of the country. Right from the outset, Sanusi knew he won’t be reappointed. What we should ask Sanusi is that, with all his reforms, what is the state of the banking industry in the country? You are cannot be in a government and rock the boat.
In 2015, Nigeria INEC will conduct elections into various positions in the country. Following the Anambra election debacle, do you have confidence in the ability of the electoral body to conduct acceptable elections?
In 2010, I served as a board member on Anambra State election; that was the first time election in this country was not conducted by INEC. Section 160 of the Constitution empowers Mr. President and INEC Chairman to approve a board to conduct election on behalf of INEC and the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, put in place electoral board in that year in which I was made a member.
Then, some politicians accused me of working for a particular political party and candidate.