Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa is the Chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Party (CNPP), the first civilian governor of the old Kaduna State and the first state chief executive to be impeached in Nigeria. In this interview with DOTUN BELLO, the usually outspoken Elder Statesman makes known his reservations about the sequence of the 2015 polls as announced by the Independent National Electoral; his view on Rivers State crisis and other issues. Excerpt…
Sir, as the chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Party (CNPP,) how will you describe the crisis in rivers state?
It is quite unfortunate! It underpins the disability of politics in Nigeria. It also dresses down the credibility of the power of incumbency allowing the commissioner of police to mess up the chief security officer of the state. Remember the governor is entitled to give instructions to the commissioner of police, but the case is the reverse, it the commissioner of police that is trying to restrict the governor. I’m telling you how terrible the states of things are, because it happened to me before, when I was the governor of Kaduna during the second republic. The brother of the person I defeated during the governorship election was made the commissioner of police in Kaduna state, just for the purpose of harassing the PNP governor in Kaduna State. It is very, very irresponsible and it is very unfortunate that in Nigeria, someone can do such a thing and get away with it. If the CP is not instructed by the presidency, he wouldn’t have done so. If the CP is in doubt of the governor’s direction, he is supposed to direct the governor to his superior, the inspector General of police not for him to arrest the governor.
Sir, what do you think could be responsible for this actions, if the protector turns around to be the attacker?
It is a popular saying that the misuse of incumbency there is impunity. The president using his power might have instructed the CP to do it; otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it. If there isn’t a misuse of power of incumbency, the presidency wouldn’t have instructed the CP to do so. I am sure the CP knows too well that the governor is the chief security officer of the state.
But the president says he has no hand in the crises, don’t you think the CP can as well take laws into his hands in support of some perpetrators?
Well, if that is so, he should dismiss the CP for outrightly doing so. No! The way things are in Nigeria, no CP can think that he is more important than the governor without being directed from the president. It has always been happening; during the second republic it happened to all non NPN governors, they were all arrested by the respective CPs of their states, of course on instruction of the president. Abubakar Keremi suffered; Solomon Lar suffered, including the former governor of Gongola State. Even governors in the southern states during the second republic were not left out. It is only the honourable speaker that was not arrested.
Which other governors were involved?
The former Governor of old Oyo State, late Chief Bola Ige; Jim Nwobodo, former Anambra State, we all suffered it. All those who are not NPN governors were arrested.
How do you think we can forestall future occurrences of this?
They should know that governors are respectable people; they should stop using their power of incumbency unlawfully. And in situations where they act otherwise, they should pay for it.
Now, Mbu has just been redeployed to Abuja, do you think this measure will end the crisis?
Well, he must be there on promotion, if he isn’t there on promotion, he must have been sent there to do the same thing.
You mean after assaulting the governor, he is been promoted?
Yes, he should have been dismissed, the man actually misused his office, and he should have been dismissed if he wasn’t doing it without the backing of the presidency, but now, he has the opportunity of being promoted few months later, for those unjust acts of his. During the second republic, all the CPs that were used for this act were promoted and compensated for the dirty work they did, they didn’t care…
So, what do you think can be done to bring back peace to Rivers state?
Though the president says he has no hand in the crisis of Rivers state, but without him, all this wouldn’t have happened. So, am saying, that, it is only the president that can bring peace back to rivers state. To undo whatever he has done wrong. And the best thing is for the national assembly to step into this matter and send a delegate to investigate why the commissioner of police arrested the governor.
Are you saying that the national assembly is doing something about it, or that they should?
The National Assembly can do something about it, I believe the house is in a position to do that and they are actually doing something about that, from their countenance you can tell they appeared worried with the development in Rivers state. But what I believe should happen is that, someone should send a petition to that effect, so the house could summon him to explain his misuse of office.
Is your body CNPP doing anything about it? I mean writing a petition to that effect?
No, no, it is not the responsibility of CNPP to do so. CNPP has two clear objectives, one to protect registered political associations and aid political associations seeking for registration as a political party, to monitor the government in power and the electoral body at national and state levels. Secondly, to promote creditable standards in the way political activities are carried out. To ensure stability in the country and to make sure nobody or groups of persons take over power by force in this country. These are the objectives of CNPP, and we cannot do otherwise.
What do you think is the major cause of Rivers Crises, is it Governor Amaechi’s defection to APC?
Anyway, individual member of CNPP may get involved in this issue, but I believe it’s enough for CNPP, to limited itself to these two objectives as a body.
Recently, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar joined the APC, what does his moves portend for the party?
You see, there are two things in stock here; at the root of defection is money politics.
Who is giving who money?
There is this general perception about money being power, that is, if you are rich and powerful, you can do and undo.
No, I am talking about individuals that are defecting, they already have more than enough, they can do whatever they want. They can leave one party and go to another one, anytime they choose. So, Atiku is rich and powerful and it doesn’t matter wherever he decides to be, so far he is in the deciding section.
Presently now sir, the former Kano state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shakarau has been speaking on Tinubu and Buhari seeming hijack of the APC, what is your take on this?
No, that’s not true. Presently I am still concerned about the fact that most PDP governors have joined APC. And has Shakarau complained that five governors of PDP have joined APC, if he hasn’t complained about that, why must he complain about Tinubu and Buhari hijacking APC. Seeking your personal opinion at this junction, what do you foresee as the future of APC presently? The APC has tremendous opportunity of winning the election in 2015.
You sound so certain about this? Do you have any reason for this assertion?
Yes, with the look of things, but they have a very hard work before them. They should not take things for granted, because, PDP is very much on ground. PDP controls so much vital aspect of the nation, that they cannot get rid of them just like that, it requires tremendous work. They have to inspire Nigerians to prefer them to PDP.
Concerning the letter written to President Goodluck Jonathan by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
Oh, I said quiet a lot about it. It will say that the letter from the former president Obasanjo should not be dismissed, because, Obasanjo was the president of Nigeria on two different occasions. Also, Obasanjo is the godfather of president Jonathan, with these two reasons, Obasanjo’s letter should not be dismissed, whatever anybody says about Obasanjo, it should not be dismissed, at any time any day. That letter is about Nigeria, all the thirteen points. That letter should not be ignored just because you hate him. He should be taking seriously.
Can you please tell me your expectations for 2015 polls?
If election takes place at all, which I doubt. I doubt if it will be better, because the condition under which the 2011 election took place was not free, fair and transparent. That condition still exists; it still exists, and is not transparent.
What were those conditions?
In the first place, no serious planning and the ballot papers are no different from the ordinary papers you can just pick on the street to do whatever you want. Our ballot paper has no serial number. With these, repeating itself again as it did in 2007 and 2011, it is sure. It would be quit worse. It was a clear case of malpractices those days, and nothing was done about it, it can still repeat itself in 2015. During the 2007 poll, General Mohammed Buhari meet the tribunal, he consulted INEC to give him necessary documents that will serve has evidence to back up his claims with the tribunal, but they refused to give it to him. And INEC chairman was supposed to be the chief security officer of the polls for the country, is there any proof presently that this coming election will be of any difference? Everybody knows the type of rigging that has been taking place in Nigeria, and it should not happen again.
But recently, INEC released the guideline for 2015 poll, are you faulting any of these guidelines?
There are two issues that INEC will use to rig the elections; first, INEC said that the presidential elections will come up first. Now there are two issues, if INEC were after free fair and transparent election, which is what will lead to a legitimate government; INEC will not do something which will bring a bandwagon effect on the election. Secondly, INEC having change the sequence of election instead of making the presidential election last, they make it first for 2015 election. If they want to do a credible election, they ought to explain to Nigerians the reasons for doing so, in order to carry people along with the change process. Till date, the electoral law has not been passed, unlike before, whereby electoral laws are passed before the election. But in the case of this election, they are not going to pass the electoral law before the election takes place, which is not suppose to be so.
To start with, I am not one of them, if they are relevant, they wouldn’t have divided into four groups. Why must they be divided into four groups in the first place, it shows there is no harmony among them, and there can never be government. Why the continuous talk about the northern allegiance? Why continue to talk about the northern government when the caretaker of Nigeria has now been changed for the better. Now, the president is not a northerner, yes we agree, but if you look at the composition of the federal executive council, and the appointments made, you will find out that though the north may not have the presidency, the north is still relevant. The vice president is a northerner, the senate leader is a northerner, the leader of the house of the representative is a northerner, among the governors there are some seasoned governors. So what is there? I know there are some genuine grievances in the north, for instance, the educational development that is affecting the north and the south. The President can as well use his own power to bring that to an end. The people in Niger delta while asking for resource control had been able to get a fair bargain why can’t the North use this opportunity to ask for free and compulsory primary and secondary education? They can go as far as asking for free post secondary education for all Nigerians? Instead some federal government agencies around are saying they want the North to produce 1,000 engineers, can the North produce one thousand engineers with the present state of things?
But why, is it not possible?
I believe it is achievable, all they need is training. If you can get the best hands to train them, it is achievable. While the people of Niger delta are asking for resource control, the North should be able to say, we will consider your request for resource control, but we want the education of our children in exchange. The varying level of educational development between the north and the south, which made the north onlookers in the national arcade, is what has made it impossible for us to have peace in Nigeria. To have peace, in Nigeria, the government would have to provide freepost primary and secondary education for the Northerner and every Nigerians. There is enough money to do that, enough! All they need to do is to stop this stealing; there will be enough money to fund the education. .
Sir, in general, what is your expectation of Nigeria in the nearest future?
My expectation? What I believe and can see now is that, Nigeria’s unity is concrete, despite all of the problems. It is even so now more than what it used to be before.
You mean despite the insurgency and chaotic situations around us?
Exactly, how many ethnic crises do you hear about lately? Did you hear about the division of this country again? They hardly exist, but just a few. Now what everyone is particular about is coming together to become one, for the collective progress of Nigeria as a country.
You mean we are now one, not ready to split, to make the nation move forward as one?
Yes, it is concrete and real. And I have one observation that Nigeria is the largest growing economy with integrity in the whole of Africa; one of the biggest potentials in the world. Any trace of dishonesty seen in Nigeria will discredit the country before the entire world.