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NASS must give serious attention to Obasanjo’s letter – Kanti Bello

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was recently reported to have said there might be no election in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states as a…

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was recently reported to have said there might be no election in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states as a result of insurgency. Though it has reversed itself on this. What is your view on it?
I hope Jega was misquoted. He is not saying there will be no election, but that if the state of emergency persists, there might not be election in those states. Of course you can see that it will be to the advantage of Jonathan’s thinkers to see that they retain the state of emergency permanently in those states so that elections do not take place there. This is because they are not PDP states. The states politically belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It is believed that Mr. President will not get up to 25 per cent of votes in those states; that is why they are planning to do that. And they are using INEC. I think it’s not going to be acceptable to Nigerians.
We expected that before 2015, government should do whatever it wants to do in those states and restore normalcy. Are they saying that there is no hope of stability in those areas forever? This is not acceptable to right-thinking and patriotic Nigerians. It was an unfortunate comment by Jega and I hope he was not trying to read the script written to him by the PDP. If so, it’s an unfortunate situation. In any case, I lost confidence in him long ago. I find his actions and inactions very funny. For instance, the Anambra election completely shattered my hope with regards to INEC. It is unfortunate that they are saying the election was free and fair, even when somebody was caught tampering with it. They did not have the gut to say the election was no longer valid, simply because it had been negotiated that APGA should win. I think it is unfortunate for this country, and I have little hope in INEC.
But we are going to defend our votes somehow. People are fed up, they want free and fair elections, and Jega should not disappoint them. I think he should withdraw the statement that election may not hold in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The federal government should come out and tell us if they want to continue this state of emergency. They should also tell us if they have no way of stopping the insurgency in the next one year. Are they telling Nigerians that government is incompetent to stop the insurgency in the next one and half year? Then they should let us know their plan. What do they plan to do? Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are parts of Nigeria and we cannot allow the areas to continue to be destabilised. No patriotic government should allow this unless they have some information we do not have. Our hope is that the insurgency will be nipped in the bud.  
 
Are you alleging a plot against your party in the states?
Yes, that is true. We have a year plus before the elections take place. Even if we are to do it in January or February 2015 we have a year and three months before then. Why do we have a state of emergency that is renewable after six months? The essence of state of emergency is to correct the abnormality. Now, somebody is telling us that there will be no end to the insurgency, even when six months and another six months are added. Only an idiot will say that this is not a plot. It is a clear approach to edge the APC out.
Why didn’t they declare a state of emergency where they are stealing our oil in Bayelsa? They may think it is their oil, but it’s my oil too, including the one in the sea of Bayelsa. It is enough economic danger for the president to declare a state of emergency in that area and not in Adamawa. The state is relatively stable and the only reason is that Adamawa borders Borno State. But are Bauchi and Gombe not bordering Borno? They are PDP states. I think enough is enough.

Obasanjo’s letter to the president has continued to generate reactions from the public and across the political divide. What is your view?
This letter is a very serious thing.  People have been saying that when Obasanjo writes this type of letter a change of government usually follows. We are in a mess. We have reached the lowest ebb as a nation.  This is a nation that somebody will just sit down and divert N8 trillion. The custodian of the money, the Central Bank of Nigeria, its governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi admitted that. If your farm manager said he had only received 12 out 20 bags of your harvest, you are bound to be worried. This nation is bound to be worried. In the letter, Obasanjo said the most worrisome is our democracy. He also said he hoped Jonathan would not be the last president that would leave a legacy of destruction for this country.
Let us look at it critically. I am afraid. If this type of letter was written some years ago, say before 1999, we would have started hearing, “Fellow Nigerians.’’ I hope it would not happen.
If it is true that the president is recruiting hired killers and that 1,000 politicians have been marked for elimination, as Obasanjo said in his letter, then I think every right- thinking and even unpatriotic Nigerian should be worried. I just hope we are not returning to the 1966 era. It’s a dangerous situation. Based on what the former president said, Nigeria should not be pushed into a war because somebody wants to rule us by force.  
Obasanjo even advised the security agents not to allow the commanderiin-chief to use them. Can you see the danger? I’m worried that even the 2015 election is in jeopardy. Should the president decide to use the armed forces and refuse to conduct elections in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, as well as destabilise Katsina, Sokoto and Kano while also refusing election in Oyo and probably Lagos, where do we go from there?  
I’m not saying he will, but if you look deeper into the content of Obasanjo’s letter, that is the worry that will start getting into your head. I love Nigeria and this country should be allowed to be stable. Obasanjo made it clear that the man is ruling this country based on tribe. His little tribe of Ijaw in the Niger Delta, made up of one million people or there- about cannot be dictating to the rest of this country. I think we really need to thank Obasanjo. I may not be his lover but I respect him.  No matter what his reason is, he is a patriot, he loves this country. A lot of talk is going on now; people are beginning to ask questions. What is happening to northern leaders? Why didn’t they comment? Obasanjo has made a comment and he even said that he shared this view with Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar and Theophilus Danjuma. We still look on to these people as our leaders. For goodness sake, let them come out and say something. The ordinary masses of this country are looking forward to hearing from them. They want to know if what Obasanjo said is true. These people fought the civil war to keep this country together, they cannot allow somebody to come and destroy the lives of millions of people in Nigeria.
I’m not advocating civil disturbance or anything, but as leaders, if what Obasanjo said is true; what is the way forward? Are we going to allow this country to disintegrate as Obasanjo is saying, and the people to be murdered? Are we going to allow it? We expected Gowon and Shagari to talk as well because they have a duty to the average Nigerians. So Babangida, Abubakar and Danjuma should tell us what Obasanjo said they shared with him about the situation in the country. After all, the constitution recognises the fact that you cannot rule this country by force.
It is the duty of the National Assembly now to investigate the alleged N8 trillion that is missing. They should start the impeachment process and ask him to explain this. Imagine the issue of the cars that were purchased by the Minister of Aviation.  In any civilised society she ought to have been sacked a long time ago. There are lots of other allegations against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and nothing is done about them. Look at the oil subsidy issue. The National Assembly should live up to its responsibility; they should understand that they have the mandate of Nigerians. It is their duty to begin investigation into these things. It’s not an ordinary allegation, what is the National Assembly doing about it? This country was handed over to them intact as elected representatives of the people, they should not destroy it. They should ask Mr. President to defend himself on Obasanjo’s allegations; he should not keep quiet because they are very weighty.   

As a former senator, do you have confidence in the National Assembly to do this?
It is not a question of confidence, it is of necessity. Even when I was in the Senate we had a doctrine of necessity. Now, another doctrine has come, and they should start by asking the president to explain what is happening to Nigerians. The lawmakers should defend the sovereign integrity of this country. Whether I have confidence in them or not, they are the only option left democratically. We have to do things in the right way. They say if you don’t make peaceful change possible you will make a violent one inevitable.
Nobody wants a violent change. I don’t want anything to truncate this democracy. It’s even in the interest of the National Assembly that our democracy should not be destroyed. They should not keep quiet over Obasanjo’s letter to the president. Tambuwal’s comment that Jonathan’s body language is condoning corruption is not enough. A former president has come out to make some weighty allegations against the president, so it’s no longer a matter of body language. They cannot afford to keep quiet.

Are you a party to the position that Mr. President should not contest the 2015 presidential election based on an existing agreement with the North?
I am not part of that. If there is any problem with regard to Jonathan running in 2015 it is the fault of the North itself. How many of us came out boldly to look at the constitution of the PDP and say, “Mr. President, you are wrong, you should not run?  I was one of them. That was why I was the deputy director of IBB’s campaign team. Not because I’m a tribalist or a sectionalist, no.  There is a constitution of the party which clearly states that the presidency should be rotated between North and the South. The matter was taken to court and the court interpreted that it was the turn of the North, so somebody from the North should continue, not Jonathan. At that stage we should have stopped him, even from the PDP. That is what I have been advocating because that is the truth. But we have allowed him to break that law, the law that even makes the party strong and creates fairness. Unfortunately, Obasanjo was one of the architects that helped that law to be broken. With the strength of votes, even within the PDP, the North we are talking about could have said no, just as I said, but I didn’t get support.  
It is not that I don’t like Jonathan, I have nothing to do with him, but the law should have been followed. If he broke the law and won and likes to do it a second term, why are you now saying he cannot. Why not? I don’t want hypocrisy, we should be honest people. He can run but we will beat him. That is democracy. But he should allow a level playing field. He should not use the security agents to scuttle the election, and Jega should do what is honest.  If there is free and relatively fair election, there is no way Jonathan can win the election in 2105.  This is because even a fool in the country wants security and is against the corruption that is everywhere now. Our economy is in a shambles and we are at the bottom of our own dignity as a country. No country can afford a situation where a minister bought a car of N255 million. In the first place, the vehicles are highly inflated and there was no reason for it. Till now they have not done anything about her.
Where are the people that stole fuel subsidy money? The matter is dead. Ordinary Nigerians know that there is no security in the country. Those who live in Borno know better. How then can you vote Jonathan? Nobody will vote him in Yobe, Borno, Kano, Adamawa, Bauchi and other places where there is no security. It’s not because we are tribalistic, but because we need the security of this country. So how is he going to win?  There is no way.
 
Are you saying the APC is a better option?
It is not a matter of better option, it’s a necessary option. The PDP has taken us to the lowest pit, and since we are at that level, somebody has to lift us up. The only party that can remove Jonathan is the APC. It’s the necessary alternative. When you think of viability, is there any other alternative? The only thing is that APC must play to the rule itself so that it doesn’t fall into the same lousy way the PDP has fallen. We know there are patriotic people in the APC; it’s the party for Nigerians, regardless of their antecedents. Nigerians are looking up to the APC for salvation.  
Greedy politicians must be stopped because people expect a change in this country. People expect corruption to be stopped, they expect better a security system, and the APC must be ready to provide them. But we must be careful not to dress a hyena in a sheep’s skin. Some people are likely to use the APC to deceive the masses. The masses have agreed with the APC, they have hope in the party. The party must start by electing honest leaders, those who have the fear of God, not the greedy ones that are thinking of themselves only. Right now, there are some in positions of responsibility that are eyeing positions in their various states, even in my own state in Katsina. If you are given a leadership position and you want to use it to advance yourself, it’s not acceptable to some of us.
 
Some chieftains of your party are afraid that the governors who defected from the PDP may hijack the party from them. What does this portend for the party?
It all depends on the leadership. If they are honest and sincere, we will end up building a party that is based on honour. But if they allow some big persons within the party, especially those who are there because some people feel they should be there to manipulate their states when they should be working for the North, that will be dangerous. However, some of us will not allow this kind of nonsense, that much I can assure you. We are in the party to correct the wrongs in this country, not for personal gains. And we are determined to make sure the correction is done.  
 
The PDP is asking the court to declare the seats of the governors who defected to the APC vacant. What is your view on this?
What do you expect from the PDP?  They are so lawless that they cannot remember easily that there is already a Supreme Court judgement on that. Well, their chairman, Bamanga Tukur is my elder brother. I respect him till tomorrow, but I wonder why they don’t respect court orders. It’s not beyond them to go to any judge to manipulate judgement because the judiciary is in a mess. You are not sure of the kind of judgement they are going to come out with. I had a criminal case against someone who tried to slander me in Katsina. I took the case to the Sharia Court, which is the easiest and supposed to be honest, but after making our submissions, typical of the PDP, the government of Katsina State informed its attorney-general that it wanted to take over the case. We said no, so they went through the High Court twice, but they were kicked back. They said we should go and finish the case at the Shariah Court. We have finished our evidence, but they could not defend it. They asked the chief justice to write a letter for the case to be transferred to another court. I left the case in limbo there; I will pursue it later.
It is a shame to violate a citizen’s right. This is typical of the PDP. They can get a judge to do anything even when there is a Supreme Court judgement already. What I expect the Supreme Court to do now is to order the courts not to hear the case because it has been settled. The judiciary will be ridiculed if anything to the contrary is done.  If they are sincere: what happened to Isa Yuguda from ANPP in Bauchi when he defected to the PDP?  What happened to Zamfara governor, Shinkafi, Adamu Aliero and Senator Bala Muhammad? The FCT minister dumped the ANPP for the PDP, yet no case was instituted against him. But when the governors from the PDP left for APC they are now crying foul. Have they forgotten the Supreme Court judgement on Atiku Abubakar? Why did they shamelessly go to court? We have reached that stage where there is no reason for us to allow the PDP to destroy this country.
 
Some House of Representatives members have defected to the APC, making your party the majority in the House. Is this part of the game plan against the PDP in 2015?
There is crisis in the PDP, and it is only a lawyer like the one who took the governors to court that can come and say that what they have done is wrong. I think we should understand that even justice is by precedence. You cannot create justice today and another justice tomorrow. There is already a settled case. Unless you put it in the constitution that movement is not allowed. There is simply no case for anybody to go to court. So anybody who wants to move should move, it is a free world. Even our own creator says the world is free, you can move as you want.
 
If General Buhari decides to run for the presidency again, will you support him?
Yes, I will support him. Do you know why? I’m not supporting him because he is General Buhari but because he is going to fight corruption. If you remove corruption in Nigeria today, over 50 per cent of the job is done. Stop people from stealing the money, oil theft, to oil subsidy scam, non-remittance of funds to the treasury. When you do this there will be some money for the education of our children, for the health system, for infrastructure. And jobs will be created. Is General Buhari corrupt? From available evidence, he is not. That is why I will support him. Give this old man a chance to do four years. I don’t see him doing eight years. He is 71 years old now. You need people who have the guts. We are doing it to correct the wrong. Buhari will not be president and steal oil money. What is he going to use the money for? Even when he was a young man he did not steal. I’m not corrupt, that is why I’m free to say all these. When I was young, five of us were chief executives at the steel sector. When Buhari took over they investigated all the executives of the company, and out of the five of us I was the only one who was cleared, not because I’m from Katsina but because I was not corrupt. I was investigated for 18 months by five different panels. My other four colleagues were retired or put in jail, but they found me clean. I will support Buhari because he is not corrupt and together we can change things. He should be given the chance to help this country.

What is the chance of the APC 2015?
As a Muslim I believe in destiny and that everything is in the hand of Allah. But I am also a practical realist. From what I know, if elections are not massively rigged in 2015, the APC will win very comfortably. There will only be a hitch if the APC does not follow its rules and guidelines to ensure that only people with some level of decency are allowed to contest. Once it keeps to its guidelines and does what is right, I can assure you that the party will form the government at the centre as well as in many states. There is the need to change this country for good.

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