‘Jonathan’s Response To Buhari’s Victory Was Statesman-Like, But He Is No Statesman’
How do you view the response of President Jonathan to the election results?
I actually felt like calling for a press conference on that Tuesday when he called Buhari and congratulated him because I had imagined that the contrary would have been tragic for the country because there were pockets of resistance by antagonists who could have unleashed terror on the country. Even If Jonathan had won, and Buhari waited for the election results to be announced before congratulating him, there would have been a serious backlash. Thankfully, that did not happen. But that, whoever won had the courage and statesmanship to call the winner and say ‘congratulations’ before the announcement of the results was concluded saved Nigeria lot of problems.
As a student of history, knowing what happened in 1959 after general elections, knowing what happened in 1966- 1967 after the counter coup and knowing what happened in Ondo state during Ajasin-Omoboriowo saga, I knew what would have happened if the results were announced and there were silence on both sides. And because Jonathan took advice – of course he must have been advised by several stakeholders – even though that was the first time he was being his own man because all along he had appeared like a weakling, he fooled all of us. We thought he had no sense of history, given his antecedents in the last six years. But that he was able to accept the election results, I think we should commend him. And I wanted to say ‘thank you’ for saving about 5000 lives that could have been lost immediately after the announcement of the election.
I also want to commend the prayer warriors, Christians, Muslims, animists and traditional religionists who had prayed fervently for months to avert any after-election pogrom in the country because I think their prayers were answered by Almighty. So because he had done that, I almost went as far as saying all his sins should be forgiven despite the fact that the nation’s treasury was depleted during his administration, and allowing terrible women who were daylight robbers to work with him, and despite the fact that he tried covering so many atrocities that were committed under his administration.
I wanted to say that as far that moment was concerned, his entire sin should be forgiven, but it was not for me to say that, rather it was for Nigerians and posterity to say so. Notwithstanding I was really impressed by his response. I know from the intelligent reports that there were hawks urging him not to accept the result of the elections, but he chose to ignore all of them. That he could summon such courage at the most critical moment in Nigeria history, and choose to be his own man was commendable.
Would you say that singular action is sufficient enough to describe President Jonathan as a statesman as many people have chosen to describe him now?
I don’t think that action alone confers on him that prestigious title of a statesman. In one of my write-ups, I said his response was statesman-like, but he is no statesman. They are two different things. I don’t think the President has behaved as a statesman all along in the last six years. The actions that were carried out under his watch were not actions that a statesman should condone, especially the abuse of the military institution. No statesman would drag his country’s military into politics. And he was so brazen about it. What he did in Ekiti, Osun, Rivers and Imo as reported in the media and the rumour that several thugs were given military uniforms, an allegation that PDP has not yet denied; all these would certainly put a minus on President Jonathan’s claim to statesmanship.
What connection does your group has with Buhari?
You won’t believe that I had not seen Buhari all my life, and I don’t think he will recognise me from the crowd. But his picture has been on my phone since 2011. But I believe that Nigeria needs to be rescued, it is not just question of change. Because of the way we are going, I blew the alarm that we are actually on our way to Somalia. After the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991, the country has not had a central government since then. And I fear that if that should happen to Nigeria, we would be in serious soup. With about 180 million people, there is no country that can take refugee from us. So I have been speaking on different TV programmes and writing on pages of newspapers that we were on our way to Somalia. And the man who could rescue the country among the candidates is Buhari. He has the discipline, the charisma, confidence and the stamina and also enjoyed people’s affection.
Those who are against him are those saying he jailed some people in the 80s when he was the head of states. He jailed people who were very close to me too; I mean he jailed Bola Ige. I remember always visiting Bola Ige at Agodi prison, but that is not withstanding, I believe that Nigeria needs a strong hand on the lever. In fact, for me, it was short of calling for a coup. There was so much money in the hands of the Nigerian political elite that only a divine intervention or military coup could stop them. Politicians owing oil blocks, controlling 30 billion dollars, there is no way a honest man can fight those ones through elections. Therefore I see it as a task that Buhari needs to be supported in order to mobilise our people towards rescuing the country.
That is what informed my forming of the Global Intelligentsia. I put a call to a few of my friends in Canada, Australia, and Asia and suggested the idea of forming a group that will wok essentially for the emergence of Buhari as president.
The group is largely constituted by academics, not the hoi polloi.
Our engagement is more of ideas, logistics and intelligence, but the members also contributed some money into the cover of the campaign. . When they were going to postpone elections we are the first to sound the alarm about it. We also had the fear that they may cancel the results of the elections and hand over to the interim government, and later to the military. We asked them which military they were going to hand over to.
There are three distinct military formations in Nigeria: the Jonathan’s military, the Nigerian military and the military that were neither here nor there.
In concrete terms, in what way did GI’s contribution assist the victory of General Buhari?
I think that we will be ascribing too much to ourselves, an action which may amount to self-flattery. And that is why General Buhari also has to be careful because several people will be crying that they were the one that made him win because as the saying goes, ‘success has many fathers, failure is an orphan’. We cannot come out and beat our chests that Buhari victory is due to our efforts. What we could rightly claim is that we also made our own contribution intellectually. And we also reached out to our people in Europe, America, and Asia, and ask our members to influence their family members back in Nigeria.
What is the expectation of Global Intelligence for the incoming government?
As a matter of urgency, we expect the government to fix the challenge of electricity in the country. Though this cannot be done overnight, but they can go about it from day one. And the easiest way to do that is to decentralise it, which the present administration has done half-heartedly. Take the power generation out of the exclusive list and let every state bear the responsibility to generate its own power. The catch here is, if FG announces, say by May 29, that that first three states that celebrate one year of uninterrupted power supply, the federal government will give those states one billion naira each. I am sure within a year, miracle will happen in the sector.
The second of course is to tackle insecurity. And the way to do that is to send a word to the National Assembly to immediately pass the bill to decentralise the police, and establish the state police, if possible local government police just as they have it in the United States. We had it before 1966. There is no country in the world now that has centralised police except Nigeria, none. Not even Ghana, or Togo. In Canada where I have lived for the past 20 years, almost every city has its own police. And they still have the federal police including US. There is no reason why Nigeria should be having 360,000 police force headed by only one man. According to the international police to population ratio, 360000 is not even enough for Lagos alone.
What should the Nigeria do to redeem its image in the international arena?
We need to address the issue of poverty. By poverty, I don’t mean economic poverty alone, it includes mental poverty. If you see the way some Nigerians argue you wonder if they have brain at all. Nigeria must free itself of mental poverty and spiritual brainwashing that we have suffered for generations. We also have to solve the problem of massive stealing.