Former Governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa is sad over the state of the nation, lamenting that there is nothing in place to protect the weak and the vulnerable. He is also worried that what happened to the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential poll presumed to have been won by the late business tycoon, Chief MKO Abiola, could still recur in the country. In this interview, he among other things, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to punish those who annulled the June 12 election to serve as a deterrent.
By Olayinka Ajayi
On the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day by the Federal Government
Obviously, I was terribly dis-appointed. The President’s speech was expected on May 29 but was postponed till June 12. In his speech, we expected something encouraging, inspiring and something we can rely on in moving us forward as a nation. We also expected something more concrete. For example, we expected this government to investigate and find out what actually led to the annulment of the most credible election in the nation’s history and what punishment should be given as a deterrent so that it doesn’t happen again.
Even right now, we don’t know who will be the president or who would be a senator because the positions are being contested in the tribunal. In two months time, the situation may be different from the position between All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Those that annulled June 12 could repeat the same thing this time because there is no much difference. So, if truly he (President Buhari) is serious, something must be done about the treasonable felony that occurred as a result of the annulment of the June 12 election.
Is punishing those who annulled June 12 not going too far?
There is nothing like going too far in terms of good governance. The point is, is it relevant or not? After all governance is about policies that should move us forward. From 1960 till date, we have not made fundamental changes. The only time we were about to make a fundamental change was during the late Murtala Mohammed’s regime and they killed him barely six months later. That is why I think even the president is discouraged from bringing about fundamental change in the life of the people and the future of the country.
On the absence of former heads of state and presidents at the June 12 Democracy Day celebration in Abuja
Well, it could be for two reasons. First, President Buhari may have threatened them though he does not have the capacity to carry it out. For instance, if he takes the recognition of June 12 further by investigating it, they could be afraid because they maybe involved in the annulment. It was a military affair and most of them held sensitive positions then that could implicate them.
Secondly, two days before June 12 celebration, President Buhari made a very vital statement. He said his government would name and shame all those behind the disabling level of corruption, stealing and waste of resources. Whether we like it or not, it is true that former presidents were responsible for the disabling level of corruption till now. Before the military, there was corruption but it didn’t disable the government from functioning but the military brought the disabling level of corruption since they took over and it has affected governance so they are afraid of Buhari. He could deal with them for being behind this disabling level of corruption.
The third reason may be that they see him as a failure and they don’t want to identify with him. With the status of Nigeria politically and economically, Buhari ought to have hosted world leaders during the inauguration but they didn’t attend themselves but sent representatives because they were all interested in seeing Nigeria move towards true democracy. So the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Britain and the Chancellor of Germany among others, ought to be here but none of them did. It was neighbouring African countries that were out for Nigeria’s favour that were present.
But the Queen of England was represented
I agree; but the Queen is not head of the government. It ought to have been the Prime Minister of England, Theresa May. The Queen can be here as the head of the Commonwealth but not as the head of the United Kingdom.
What does this imply about this government?
It means that international leaders are not encouraged and they don’t want to soil their names by associating with our level of democracy. And that says a lot about what to expect now and in the future.
What about other heroes of the democratic struggle that didn’t show up at the event?
You can’t know them all because they are too many. But it is not enough making June 12 our Democracy Day and honouring Abiola and probably his wife, Kudirat, who was assassinated. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we have two women who behaved in such a way that it honours family life. The wife of the Sardauna of Sokoto, who preferred to die with Sardauna rather than see him dead. Also Kudirat Abiola who did what she did during the struggle, knowing what could happen and eventually happened to her. These two cases are the most fundamental cases that deserve national honour in the history of Nigeria.
What does this drama say about 2023?
It implies we have no reason to expect peaceful change during his second term politically, economically, and socially. We should expect continuation of the status quo. Presently, killings, stolen money and power are the deciding factors in politics and election. And if that is the case, why do we expect credible and enduring change? It is not possible. We are now in a situation whereby what prevails is the survival of the fittest. We are struggling like animals in the jungle as the present situation is the balance of terror. That is what we are facing.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
It is hopeless, if we continue with our low level of standard of public expectation. The standard of our public expectation is so low. Some other people expect much higher than us from their governments, particularly, as far as quality of life is concerned. I mean how do we expect peace, how do we expect justice, let alone democracy which is the sum total of peace and the dignity of human life, and progress? These are the sum total of democracy. We are under a situation whereby all public institutions of a civilian government are regarded as democratic government. If they call what we have now democracy when it is just a question of civilian rule instead of military rule, why are we deceiving ourselves? How do we expect to be prepared for fundamental changes in the lives of the people and the progress of the country? People like Americans, Russians, Chinese, British, among others, have higher expectation but we have something much lower than that. I think we have a lot of work to do. We have population, we have resources, why can’t we do what others did? For instance, we in the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, believe that within 20 years, Nigeria can be one of the five leading economies in the world. With our human resources, we ought to have overtaken Britain rather than the situation we are in today. We ought to be among the five leading countries in the world, which is the position of Britain in the world because we have resources. Britain can’t have and will never have. They took advantage of colonialism to arrive at where they are today.
Do these not justify Obasanjo’s stand that we are heading towards anarchy?
For Obasanjo, you just have to listen to him but dismiss what he says because he has no moral authority to say so. In other words, morally, he is not credible enough to say so because he participated in the negative state of affairs of our dear country. Who was Obasanjo before we campaigned for him in 1999? we campaigned for Obasanjo to be the president in 1999 in all parts of the country the same way we did for the late MKO Abiola in 1993 but Obasanjo messed us up and messed the country up. I am sorry for referring to him like that but I don’t like the role he played when he was in government.
On Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s stand that June 12 is not Nigeria’s priority when people are hungry.
Forget about Atiku. Was Obasanjo not the one that brought Atiku as his vice-president? Obasanjo messed us up by bringing Atiku. So he made Atiku what he became.
But are Nigerians not hungry?
They are and they are showing it. Go to the villages and see what people are going through. Civil servants cannot afford to send their children to school because they can’t make ends meet. A director in a Ministry can’t even educate his children beyond secondary school.
The way forward?
The solution is to change the political, social and economic system controlling development in the country and the political leadership the system has inevitably produced as they are all based on self interest first and public interest second. We should change them to public interest first and self interest second. That is the starting point for social reconstruction of Nigeria. Then, we will have peace, equality, justice and progressive development. Let us work to make sure that the electorate decide the fate and life span of political parties and the fate of election candidates.
In other words, let us have free, fair and credible election that would lead to legitimate governments at all levels.