Friday, April 25, 2014

‘Nigerian Political Class Is Irresponsible And Selfish’
Federal Republic of Nigeria military spokesman. Map shows areas hit by
Boko Haram attacks.

Saturday, 26 April 2014 00:00
Written by JOHN AKUBO

Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a Second Republic lawmaker and Kano delegate at the National Conference, spoke to JOHN AKUBO in a telephone interview on the state of the nation, especially on the recent exchange of letters and accusations between Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako and the Presidency.

WHAT is your view on the recent allegation by Adamawa State governor, Alhaji Murtala Nyako of genocide against President Jonathan?

They are demonstrating their incapacity to be responsible and this irresponsibility has been at the core of all the problems Nigeria has been going through. I however disagree with you on the choice of the word ‘class’ because ‘class’ presupposes a group of people who have identified, articulated and pursued their own interest. That is, they have already gone through the motion of being exhaustive to find out what is in their own interest as a group. This presumes some coherence. The Nigerian political class is irresponsible and incoherent. They are incapable of articulating their own interest not to talk of pursuing the national interest.

   All that you say and others are likely to say can be subsumed under the rubrics of class irresponsibility because a class that has failed to emerge for over 50 years and that has failed to evolve in the same period and that is unable to articulate strong interest and pursue the same is certainly irresponsible. And the word class cannot be used to describe it.

   Yes, there are people who claim to be politicians, there are members of the elite that pretend to have the interest and future of the country; I have not seen evidence of these people behaving like a class because they are not a class, they are irresponsible. They have been unable to evolve a bipartisan approach. If you say the class structure can be divided into only two groups, you are not being real and you cannot be taken serious. This is a class that is tilted across the board along many false lines. There is the purely economic false line, then the tribal false line, sub-tribal fault line, the linguistic false lines and the other interest groups who are promoting capitalism. So, you cannot be talking of a class, which can be assessed or determined by what it is representing and what it will pursue. These are just a bunch of confused, opportunist, irresponsible, anti-electoral and anti-historical people.

   Talking about the exchanges between President Jonathan and some other leaders, there is only one constant factor through all these: this irrational behaviour has always emanated from the President himself or his spokespersons. I am informed that in most of these excessive, exuberant languages, the President has been instigating them to go on the attacks.

   If you tell me it was Goodluck who coined the reply to Obasanjo, I will say you are not speaking the truth because we knew how the reply came about. We know how Rueben Abati was able to corner some people and get the response. The president said no they should wait but later they came back with the same response.

  Now, I don’t know if the President is above mistake or is above the law. Agree or not agree with Obasanjo, what he raised were germane issues that have to be replied and in replying them, one has to be careful with the choice of metaphors. That was not evident in the reply that was drafted by those who drafted the reply to Obasanjo.

   Looking at what happened in Kano, Kwankwaso does not support Jonathan. During the PDP convention, he made it clear that he was not going to support Jonathan. When Jonathan emerged as the candidate of his party, Kwankwaso refused to campaign for him to the extent he influenced voters in Kano to vote for Buhari and that is why Buhari garnered over 1.5 million votes in Kano.

  Now, for him to think he can treat Kwankwaso not just as an opposition, but as a nobody is completely anti-democratic; that is not how to build constituencies within a party or within the country itself. Whether you like it or not, Kwankwaso is the freely elected leader of Kano people. To alienate or punish him is punishing the Kano people.

  Besides, if Nigeria is made up of 170 million people, you cannot expect everybody to respect, love you or take your word like that of a god.

What is your disposition to the accusations and counter-accusations between the PDP and APC over terrorism?

  Ordinarily, I will not like to comment on Olisah Metuh because he is quite irresponsible. As spokesperson to the party in power, that position demands certain responsibilities from you and one of such is not to play loose on the side. It is not good to intimidate people or go about insulting people because you are in a siege mentality. Within the PDP and the Presidency, there is this siege mentality that everybody is against us so let us latch out at everybody. That is not the way you grow a political system and that is not how to build a nation or build a country. If somebody in that position makes that kind of careless allegation against the APC, it is up to him to provide the fact because the country is also entitled to such facts in order to know who is irresponsible.

  If the APC decides to defend itself and employ such tactless language, you can only imagine the possibilities. If this is the kind of behaviour from people who claim to be in charge and believe they have a mandate to govern, then we are in very big trouble. What would you expect from people who don’t have a mandate? If the PDP wants to continue to rule this country as a single party, then they are not talking of democracy but one party totalitarian democracy. Nigerians cannot accept it and I can assure you it is doomed to fail.

What is your reaction to the recent issue of Governor Nyako and President Jonathan?

 Again you are paying much attention to pronouncements. Do you swallow hook line and sinker the rubbish coming out of Marilyn Ogar, the spokesperson of SSS director of propaganda and misinformation or are you prepared to swallow that of Brigadier General Caleb Olukolade of the Defence Services Information Bureau. They have been misleading people and have been misleading themselves. Unfortunately, the danger in propaganda is that more often, people end up in believing what the propaganda is. That can be dangerous. They believe that when you tell a lie often enough people would believe. When they are mishandling and misusing the security situation as an alibi to steal the country dry and deny the presidency the means to develop, they are misleading the President to believe the situation is getting better whereas it is getting worse. The situation has gotten out of control.

  For over two years and a half, I have been saying that there is no military solution to the problem of Boko Haram insurgency; there has to be a political solution. Before now, they claim they would not negotiate with terrorists. Now, the government is not only willing to negotiate with terrorists but they are saying they are prepared to continue negotiation. That is an indication to me that this thing has failed. It has failed because in the first place, there was no sincerity on the part of the government.

  Secondly, some elements around President Jonathan believes he can use the rules of the insurgency to win international public opinion especially the western countries that are gullible, and that he can also use the rules to muscle through government and misbehave and still wriggle himself back without election, getting a tenure elongation through the back door under the guise that the security situation is dangerous to conduct a free and fair election. These the Nigerian public cannot accept because the man is not doing well; he is incompetent and inept in handling very sensitive issues especially issues of security and national economy. And there are some characters who claim to be in alliance with his tribal group, especially from the Southeast, who today control more than 47 per cent of the key economic positions in the country. They are only doing that to enrich themselves.

The rebasing of the Nigerian GDP places us as the top country in Africa and we are celebrating the fact that the GDP has been going up at the rate of over 7 per cent for the past four or five years. Is this not enough to justify the re -election of Jonathan?

  None of these events is the direct effect of the policies of Okojo Iweala or President Gooduck. We are benefiting from certain economic situations, which were the cause of our own policies. They say a fool and his money are easily parted; a man who has been lucky in politics can easily part with his Goodluck. At the end of the day, we are going to find ourselves in a very messy situation because the economy from all indication is not doing well and is set to be getting worse and we should be ready for a melt down.

  As far as I am concerned, nothing has been done in security and in the economy. In his inaugural address to the national confab, he did not mention the issues of security or the mismanagement of the economy and the fact that the country is facing a very uncertain future because they were not important to him. We have to be careful with what to believe from these characters because propaganda alone does not run a country, it does not put food on the table and it doesn’t create jobs. It is not in the interest of this country for the president to continue being president unless there is some kind of phenomenal change in the way he and his people maintain a focus on these issues I have enumerated.

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