‘Jonathan Can Make A Difference In Nine Months’
I received it with sorrow, because the loss of any person is a matter of sorrow, particularly a person known to be the leader of the country and the President of the country. All we can now do is to pray for the repose of his soul. And I pray that Allah forgives him, and may his family and Nigerians generally be able to bear the loss as the will of Allah.
I also draw the attention of those he left behind that is all of us in Nigeria, to take a lesson from his loss. I also appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to devote the rest of his term for the purpose of correcting what went wrong in the state of the nation, as much as he can.
This is because while we campaigned for him to be the Acting President and now the President, based on the provision of the constitution and the need for an effective President, which he has got now, we will be looking at how he will complete the rest of his term of his office.
Now that Jonathan has secured the full powers of President, do you think the little time he has left in office is enough to make any difference, politically and economically?
Of course, he can! An Executive President, which he is, is capable of doing a lot even within 24 hours. In this case, he has virtually about nine months. He can make the difference.
Look at what the difference Gen. Murtala Mohammed and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari made during the short time they were the Heads of State in Nigeria. Jonathan, with a longer period and a better clarification of the state of the nation, could do much more during the rest of his term.
Why do you say politicians and the rest of Nigerians should draw a lesson from the death of Yar’Adua, and what are the lessons Nigerians can draw from his death?
The lesson is that he accepted a responsibility, which for obvious reasons, he could not carry out as President of Nigeria, because of ill health.
There are so many other lessons, like for instance, dealing with this disabling level of corruption, stealing and waste, which need someone that is healthier, capable and prepared to make sacrifice.
He announced his intension to reform the electoral process, which brought about his Presidency and even established an institution for that. And until his death, he was not able to do anything capable of giving the impression that there would be a better electoral process and free and fairer elections in 2011.
President Jonathan may be face an uphill task of conducting a credible election in future, because of the challenges of the past, particularly the roles played by dubious politicians. With 2011 around the corner, as the leader of opposition parties, do you have hope for a credible election under Jonathan?
No, I have no hope that there will be a free and fair electoral process and election in 2011, in spite of the promise of Jonathan when he became Acting President.
This is because free, fair and transparent election and an electoral process for that purpose need conditions, and these conditions hardly exist in Nigeria.
He can try his best, as he promised, because you know free and fair election and electoral process are vital promises he made, even before the international community, when he became Acting President, but his best cannot be what his party, the PDP, can tolerate.
If he wants to do more than that, what he should do is to go the extra mile now that he is President of the country and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, and the chief executive of the country, as prescribed by the constitution.
Now that he is an effective President, and because of the negative state of the nation, which he is fully aware of, and the bankruptcy of his party, the PDP, if he wants to make the difference, which he should during the rest of his term, then he should see himself and behave accordingly as a President heading an interim administration for the rest of the term.
He should see himself not as a partisan President; he should distance himself from his party as much as he can, because that party is at the root of the problems of this country, and it is in a mess.
The constitution is behind him and Nigerians can be behind him. If he becomes non-partisan, he will able to perform and correct what went wrong during the rest of the term of his office, which is on May 29, 2011.
How would you assess his promises to impact on the polity and economy?
First of all, you know Jonathan made the four promises, not as a leader of the PDP, because the party has a Seven-point agenda. Now he made a personal Four-point agenda, and these are good.
There are areas he should be very careful about. One, he should stop the tendency of bringing back into government those who had been convicted for offence against the nation. He should distance himself from those facing court and anti-corruption agencies on the issue of corruption, stealing and waste of public resources. He should distance himself from those who have not yet been convicted or even facing investigation, but who clearly have a lot to answer on their past conducts in office.
He should distance himself from people like former President Olusegun Obasanjo. There is the fear that for one reason or another, he has soft spots for fugitives and Nigerians in exile. He should be very careful about that, because he cannot accommodate those people and still claims that he is pursuing an anti-corruption campaign.
No government and no executive head in Nigeria can succeed without pursuing this anti-corruption campaign creditably.
There is the belief that thuggery and use of money to influence elections in Nigeria may make next year’s elections the same like those of the past?
You see, those engaged in thuggery during election do not do it because they fancy it or because they are evil people. They do it because the conditions in the country make it necessary for them to do that.
In particular, two conditions corrupt money politics. These are poverty and hunger in the country and general marginalisation of the people. As long as thieves continue to be the leaders of this country and continue to keep stolen money, this money will be so available to them to buy everyone and do anything.
I will give you one specific example that can explain everything. A minor public functionary in the form of chairman of a parastatal was convicted and is now in prison for stealing N84 billion, he was sent to jail for two years. He even has the audacity to appeal. Not only that, not a kobo out of the N84 billion has been taken away from him by government.
This means this convict, even while still in prison, may contest next year’s election and become the President of Nigeria. Now, if that happens, and it may happen, it means the country will be confirmed as not just a corrupt state, but also a state in which thieves are the rulers, because their money power can do anything for them.
Again, giving the example of that person, out of the N84 billion, he can keep N42 billion for himself and donate N42 billion to his party and the party will eventually nominate him as its presidential candidate.
In the event of the party not nominating him as its presidential candidate, he can stand as an independent candidate and use the N42 billion to campaign for the Presidency. And if you know Nigeria, under the present circumstance, in which every Nigeria has a price and you have problem only if the price is not right, he can become the president of this country.