By Ismail Omipidan
…Says Jega’s INEC too lousy to guarantee free, fair and credible poll
Second Republic member of the House of Representatives and Russian trained Medical Doctor, Junaid Mohammed, has declared that blood would flow on the streets of Nigeria, should President Jonathan insist on running for the presidency in 2015.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun from his base in Kano, the former lawmaker, who chaired the House Committee on International Economic Relations and Socialist Bloc, argued that it was wrong for anyone to suggest that the clamour for power to return to the North in 2015, was coming from the North alone, insisting that there abound more agitators in the South-west, in this regard, than there are in the North, adding that “I can tell you today that there are more agitators in the South-west, for power shift to the North, than there are in the North.
And they are doing this because they believe in justice and fairness. If you have faith in a system, you must ensure the system runs fairly and justly too. Apart from the issue of fairness and justice, the South-west knows that it has a lot to lose, should it allow the country to plunge into any political upheaval.
Lagos alone, accounts for 45 percent of our national economy, and my friend, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is aware of that notorious fact. So the South-west cannot fold its hands and watch one irresponsible and incompetent leader lead the country into an avoidable political violence. Common sense tells the South-west that it would not be in their interest for this country to convulse again.”
He also spoke on the recent clampdown by EFCC on some governors and other issues of national interest.
The closest President Goodluck Jonathan has come to saying whether or not he would run in 2015 was to say recently that he was under pressure to run. Should he run?
First and foremost, I do not believe he should run. He should not run, whether he is under pressure or not. He is his own man, therefore, he should be responsible enough to take that decision, and not to bore us with the irresponsible statement of saying he is under pressure. He should stop playing with the destiny of this country. He is humble enough to know the consequences of his action, should he insist on running. But let me warn that he should not do anything that would plunge the country into avoidable anarchy.
Quote me, if Jonathan insists on running, there will be bloodshed and those who feel short-changed may take the warpath and the country may not be the same again. His running will amount to taking about 85 million northerners for a ride and that is half of the country’s total population. So, there will be bloodshed.
But we don’t pray to get to that level, before his ethnic and tribal advisers pull him back.
In case these advisers are unable to pull him back, what are the options available to Nigerians?
The option is to pile up pressure, to ensure that he does not take the country for a ride. Nigerians must be prepared not to allow him force any political upheavals or violence on us, because that will be the consequence, if he fails to listen to the voice of reason.
At any rate, on the three criteria globally used to measure preference for a leader, this man has got none of them. They are competence, integrity and acceptability. On competence, you journalists know this better. President Jonathan is incompetent. He has got no integrity, because he is also corrupt and irresponsible.
On acceptability, apart from his few ethnic and tribal advisers, who are urging him to contest, Jonathan today is not acceptable to the generality of Nigerians. So on all these three counts, he is nowhere, so on what basis is he going to run? Answer me, I am asking? So like I said from the onset, in order to avoid political upheavals and violence that his action would cause this country, it will be in the best interest of Nigeria for him not to run. And history will surely be kind on him, should he decide to take that path of honour.
Since you are saying he should not run, is the opposition, as we have today, a viable alternative?
I want to be careful, with my choice of words. What do you mean by viable alternative? Was Jonathan a viable alternative before 2011 election? Or was late Yar’Adua a viable alternative before 2007? It’s after you have tested someone that you know whether the person is a viable alternative or not.
It’s you journalists that use those words. I am a politician, and I have been in it for about 40 years now, therefore, I won’t succumb to that choice of words.
Having said that, if there is going to be a free and credible election, I don’t mind if Jonathan runs, because I know he would be roundly rejected by Nigerians.
But the last thing you want to guarantee in a country where the police have suddenly become an arm of PDP’s militia is a free and credible election. You don’t win election by using the bullets. So we are in a Catch 22 situation.
With what we have seen so far under Jega, INEC cannot guarantee a free and credible election. INEC is very corrupt.
Where do these leave the North which has been clamouring for power to return to it in 2015?
It’s wrong to say it’s only the North that has been clamouring for power to return to the region in 2015.
I can tell you today that there are more agitators in the South-west, for power shift to the North, than there are in the North. And they are doing this because they believe in justice and fairness. If you have faith in a system, you must ensure the system runs fairly and justly too. Apart from the issue of fairness and justice, the South-west knows that it has a lot to lose, should it allow the country to be plunge into any political upheaval.
Lagos alone accounts for 45 percent of our national economy, and my friend, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is aware of that notorious fact. So the South-west cannot fold its hands and watch one irresponsible and incompetent leader lead the country into an avoidable political violence. Common sense tells the South-west that it would not be in their interest for this country to convulse again.
Come to think of it, Obasanjo was unfairly and undemocratically imposed on us by a few Generals from the North, using state resources to fund the PDP in 1998. I am not a member of the PDP, but I was in Jos (at the convention that produced Obasanjo, as the presidential candidate), and I knew Obasanjo never won the primary; it was manipulated in his favour.
But we thought Ekwueme was decent enough to challenge what transpired. Instead, he was doing ‘paddy paddy’ with Obasanjo, until recently when I read the interview he granted one Hausa newspaper.
Now, because of the way Obasanjo came in, when he was leaving too, he gave Nigerians, a mentally and physically sick Yar’Adua. And after Yar’Adua, we now have this nincompoop as president. I gave this background because there was no justification for having Obasanjo in the first instance. It could have been anybody from the South, thrown up through a credible process, not by a few Army Generals.
So, as I was saying, if Jonathan insists on running, there will be violence in Nigeria if he wins, because he can’t win a free, fair and credible election. I don’t speak for the North, but I believe what the north wants is a competitive process, where the game of number comes to play and the North has the numbers. If there is going to be a credible election, Nigerians will not bother, because for me and for most Nigerians, the process is more important than the result. But these present people cannot guarantee that.
Look at Anambra. Is that the kind of a thing we want to see in 2015? A situation where PDP which is the party at the centre, is giving thumbs up to a process that not only disenfranchised more than half of the registered voters, but also disenfranchised its own candidate and his entire family. Is that fair?
This is why I said from the beginning that Jega’s lousy INEC, with highly partisan people in the country, with the police, as PDP militia cannot give us a free, fair and credible election where Jonathan is a candidate. So, to avoid chaos, Jonathan should just take a bow and leave in the interest of the country.
On a final note, what do you make of the recent clampdown by the EFCC on some governors, especially from the North?
First and foremost, I have not seen the details. So, I will not comment until I see the details. But there is a pattern emerging, in that only governors from the North, especially those who are opposed to President Jonathan’s 2015 ambition, are the ones being hounded.
Whether there is a credible allegation for hounding them is another thing. Now, the immediate consequence of this for the EFCC is that it will discredit and politicise its affairs. Once you politicise an institution such as the EFCC, you are bastardizing the criminal justice system.
Now, the EFCC is headed by a northerner. So the slant being given to it is that these people are being hounded by their fellow northerner. But I want the chairman of the EFCC to know that one day, he would be removed.