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2011: Those fingered in Halliburton scandal should be stopped -Buhari

You were reported to have said that whoever was involved in the Halliburton scandal shouldn’t be allowed to vie for any elected office. What would…

You were reported to have said that whoever was involved in the Halliburton scandal shouldn’t be allowed to vie for any elected office. What would you say about this?
Corruption and bribery as Nigerians know is what has been crippling the country. Since leaders at all levels from the local, state and federal government  are found to have been involved in corruption.

What do you think are the reasons why the corruption issue remains endemic and hard to treat, as many leaders are being accused for it?
Well, there is a proverb in Hausa, Ruwa baya tsami banza (literally, no smoke without fire). For example the Halliburton scandals and PTDF case, in America and other European countries because they have seriously established laws on money laundering to other nations, the issue was discussed at US Senate and those who bribed Nigeria’s leaders and workers were detained. If those countries punished the people and companies involved, why can’t we also punish those said to have been involved in the scandals?

But General, some people would say that EFCC is making efforts on these issues.
What is the essence of that effort if some countries have punished those who bribed the Nigeria’s leaders and Nigeria hasn’t?

You blamed politicians in 1983 for not accepting defeat. As a person who was a head of state and two time presidential candidate, what is the problem of election in Nigeria?
The problem with election is that the rule of the election is not being followed. If you take 2007 for example, I contested for the presidential seat and lost but I went to court challenging that the election was not done properly. I was not the only person that challenged the election. International and domestic election observers said they had never seen that fraudulent election than a of 2007. There were some who said they monitored election in 49 countries but Nigerian election was the worse.

Some people were saying that one of the election problems in Nigeria was INEC Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu. But now he has been removed.
He isn’t the only problem. There must be others. Even a president of a nation is usually blamed for most of the problems because he is the leader.

What are the major things that must be faced to ensure free and credible election? 
You know the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua when he was sworn-in said there were irregularities in the election. He said he would investigate and he did it. That is what we called Uwais’s report which former Chief Justice Muhammad Uwais submitted. What was supposed to have been done was the report should have been taken to National Assembly since it is the law making body in order to pass the report because it contains what will bring credible election. Firstly, the independent candidate    should be allowed to contest without belonging to any political party but now the law says you must have a party. 
Secondly nobody will be sworn-in if his election is pending in court, until judgment is passed whether he wins or otherwise before he will be worn-in or court to order a rerun election.

But don’t you think that there will a problem before the judgment is passed?
 No, it is agreed that the judgment time should be limited.

General Babangida has declared interest to contest for 2011 election, don’t you think that you should leave the race for the young generation?  
If this is necessary, those who think the issue is disturbing them should come and change it.

What is your opinion about General Babangida’s interest to contest for the presidency?
My opinion doesn’t go beyond what the constitution says, that is whoever is 18 years old, sane and wants to contest let him come out and join the race.

What do have to say about what some people say that you are hard to bend or compromise?
Hard to bend on what?

That you don’t compromise on some political issues.
Yes. What I want is that people should be allowed to elect the person they want. If you bring issues like corruption and managing public treasury to serve people, for example if someone says whoever mismanaged the treasury should be punished because this is what they law says, then you will be called unbent.
If a person becomes a local government chairman, governor, or president he will pocket public treasury. That is the brevity in politics. I don’t believe in that.

People say because of your ideology some politicians used that opportunity to win election and later disassociate themselves from you. Hence you should leave politics.
This is their right and that is the flavour of democracy, everybody has the right to choose. If for example we go to local governments campaigning for some politicians, and after they have  won  the election they   later decide to leave the party, it  is their own right because the constitution doesn’t prohibit that. If the constitution disallows that, we would have taken them to court.

Some people say there are detractors in your campaign group TBO (The Buhari Organisation) who seize your popularity. How true is that?
I don’t know the truth about that because I was the only presidential candidate in 2003 and 2007 who visited 34 states and Abuja. I went to some states more than twice. TBO did not prevent me to see Nigerians.

What they say is there are some TBO members who you over trusted that you cannot see their faults.
(Laughter.) This makes me laugh. I laugh because as politicians, there is no reason that I should not get somebody I trust.

Do you think your new party CPC would succeed in 2011 elections, because when you were in ANPP there were  problems and misunderstanding.
Those problem in ANPP are the reasons why we opted out and we said it at the time we left it.

Will CPC make an impact in the 2011 general election?
Yes it will make an impact because we formed it. We will stand by the constitution of the party and what we promise to deliver if we are elected. I make a reference to 2003 election in Kano and 2007 in Bauchi whenever the issue of election comes. If Nigerians want democracy they should reflect what happened in those states but if they take it as a joke, nothing much would be realised.
People would want to know, will you contest for the presidency election in 2011?
It depends on my political party. I want people to understand that we should be obeying the rules. But we don’t like a situation where rules are set but some people are violating them.   

If I understand you, you will contest for the presidential election?
Yes if my party gives the mandate.

How do you see your possibility of winning the election?
If the rule will be followed like Uwais’s report. By God grace, I have the strength to go out and campaign again

What is you specific massage to politicians?
The politicians and community leaders should educate people about the importance of democracy. We are in an era where people should be allowed to choose those who will represent or govern them. They should support them to be truthful and just.  Public treasury should be used in health, educational sectors and water, infrastructure and security.
We are in democracy but if people don’t like it we should go back to the traditional system of government since in the country’s history states have their own traditional rulers. 
 People should elect those who can govern them if not they will be with be in slavery because the country is blessed but there is no water, good roads, infrastructures and health. Therefore if Nigerians don’t like slavery they should wakeup in 2011.

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