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Yar’adua ’ll not be good candidate for PDP in 2011 – Hon. Farouk Aliyu

When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in charge, he came up with the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and started with the Rural Electrification Programme…

When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in charge, he came up with the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and started with the Rural Electrification Programme (REP). But over two years now, President Umaru Musa Yar’adua has refused to fund the programme all in the name of trying to investigate Obasanjo over the alleged theft of $16billion. But findings have shown that Obasanjo did not steal the money meant for power. Recently, similar contacts that were awarded by Obasanjo were awarded by Yar’adua; which if his (Yar’adua’s) administration had continued with that programme, the anticipated 6,000 megawatts would have been in place by now and we would probably have been anticipating 10, 000 megawatts by December this year.

You said Obasanjo did not steal money meant for power. Are you saying the power probe was unnecessary?

Absolutely there was no need for the power probe! Yar’adua was never part of the government of Obasanjo. Therefore, it is only fair for Yar’adua to ask Obasanjo to give explanations on what happened. It is only when Obasanjo refuses to give necessary explanations that probe and investigations become necessary.  

As the minority leader of the last House of Representatives, why in your view is the opposition so weak in the nation’s polity?

It is because of the selfish interests of politicians and the way the parties are constituted. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was formed as an association of those who mattered, all in a bid to remove the military from power. Even the selfish interests of those in the opposition have not helped matters.  In my own political party, the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), for instance, we were confirmed by the court to have lost the 2003 and 2007 elections even if we don’t believe so, we had to accept it. Because of hunger and personal aggrandisement, most people in the opposition believe that they cannot checkmate the government. These are people who don’t consider the interest of the nation. Nigerians, for example, have seen clearly that the leaders of the ANPP have no interest in the country because, as a leader of the ANPP, you don’t have to put your son in the so-called Government of National Unity (GNU) to get contracts.

The nation has just celebrated ten years of uninterrupted democracy. Is there any cause for celebration?

To me, it is ten years of uninterrupted civilian rule because there is a difference between civilian rule and democracy. Well, apart from what happened in Ekiti State and other states where re-run elections took place, I think President Yar’adua is better than Obasanjo in this regard because Obasanjo demonstrated abysmal disrespect for the rule of law.

The National Assembly has been berated for low performance. From your own experience, what factors are responsible for its low performance?

There are several factors, but it is largely due to the lack of capacity on the part of the lawmakers. You find out that most of us who have been in the National Assembly don’t know what we are there for. The worst thing is that most of us don’t believe that we don’t have any capacity either educationally or in terms of capacity building. Lack of dedication is another factor. The interest of most of the lawmakers in their assignments is not in consonance with the interest of the nation.

Some governors and politicians in the country are canvassing for Yar’adua’s second term. Do you think he truly deserves a re-election?

To me, I don’t care because, if it is a matter of performance, the PDP would not be in power now. With the way this country is going now, especially with the so-called electoral reforms, Yar’adua could remain the President forever because it is not elections that take place in the country, it is the elite who decide who becomes the president by hook or crook. So, whether Nigerians want Yar’adua to continue or not, by the time the PDP fields him, he will be re-elected because there are no tangible things on the ground to show that there would be electoral reforms that would enable Nigerians to choose their President and other elective officers the way they want.  

Are you saying that if Yar’adua eventually succumbs to pressure to run for a second term, there would be no odds against his re-election?

What I am saying is that in a true democratic dispensation, Yar’adua would not even go near election because he has failed in all ramifications. If you take his Seven-Point Agenda through which Nigerians can judge him very easily, he would score zero. He has not done anything. The only thing Yar’adua probably has succeeded in doing now is fighting the militants, which is not part of his agenda. As far as I am concerned, Yar’adua’s two years in office has been a failure, and if nothing happens between now and the next two years, he should be ashamed of himself accepting to run for a second term.

Specifically, what are the likely factors against him in 2011?

Inconsistency in his policies. For instance, last year, the then Minister of Power assured the nation that there will be 6, 000 megawatts by October last year, but that did not happen. Now, they are still talking about that. So, inconsistency and insincerity are going to make Yar’adua ineligible for re-election in 2011. In his inaugural speech, he admitted that there were flaws in the election that produced him and promised to do something about it. Everybody believed him. He was insincere because he probably made that speech just for nerves to cool down so that Nigerians would give him a chance. We gave him a chance. He set up the Electoral Reform Committee headed by Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais. The Committee came up with the aggregate views of Nigerians and he turned it down. He then set up a white paper committee, another committee that threw away most of the vital parts of the ERC’s recommendations. The President is simply inconsistent. Look at the agricultural policy.

Last year, they said they were going to pick six contractors to supply fertiliser. They did, but it failed. So, these are some of the factors that will work against Yar’adua if he chooses to run for second term.

What is your take on the plan by the opposition parties to form a mega party?

It is good and bad. The good part of it is that for this democracy to continue, we need a viable opposition that can check the government in the right direction. But the sincerity of all of us in the opposition is doubtful. Truly, it is only the Action Congress (AC) that has stood up to this government everyday commending or bashing it with statements. If the AC can be a national party, it can be an opposition that people should rally round. The same thing applies to the ANPP without its present leadership.

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