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Friday, August 7, 2009

The North will not allow vice president to replace Nigeria:Yar’Adua, constitution or no constitution — Daboh

Jonathan can’t take over
• The North will not allow vice president to replace Yar’Adua, constitution or no constitution — Daboh

Godwin Daboh
Photo: Sun News Publishing

Although the 1999 constitution says that in the event of the president’s death or he resigns or removed from office the vice president takes over government, there are indications that the North would not allow this to happen if President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, at any time within his tenure, cannot continue in office.

Revealing this to editors and members of the management of The Sun, eminent politician and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Godwin Daboh Adzuana, said the North would never allow Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to replace Yar’Adua if the latter has to quit office halfway in his government.

He said that if Yar’Adua cannot continue in office, there would be an interim government pending when a northerner is selected as president.

He said; “The North cannot allow Jonathan to complete the term of Yar’Adua. The position here is that there will be an interim government within which somebody from the North will be elected to complete Yar’Adua’s term. We are not giving one day of this administration to the South.”
Dr. Daboh spoke on this and other things.

A large number of Nigerians are still angry about Ekiti. What really happened in Ekiti?
What happened in Ekiti, I will say, is the same thing that happened in 1982. Umaru Shinkafi, who was the Director General of the State Security Services (SSS), told me the reason the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was going to win the election. In an emerging democracy, the party that wins an election is the party in control of the mechanics of control.

It is not whether you are liked by the electorate or not. The political party that is in control of the mechanics of control always wins an election in an emerging democracy like Nigeria.

The Ekiti event was unfortunate because I have seen some of the figures. Like in a particular ward, where there were about 1,900 voters, 4, 000 voted. I believe very clearly that there is no way we can sustain democracy if we do not follow honesty in the discharge of our respective responsibilities. It is very sad. Even if the PDP had lost Ekiti State, it is still in control of the country. You will be talking of PDP not controlling about eight states. The rest are controlled by PDP. I wish the tactics adopted by both parties were different to what they had adopted to handle the election.

Unfortunately, it happened the way it is. I am scared and getting very scared because I have heard some people talk. I have heard them make observations. If we do not stop some of the things we are doing democracy is threatened. We do not want, after these 10 years of struggling, to lay a strong political foundation, to go back to square one.

I want to say that what happened in Ekiti must never be allowed to repeat itself. I’m a foundation member of PDP and I wanted PDP to win elections, but sometimes when you see that the indexes are clear that you may not win an election, you have to accept it. You can’t win against all odds. That is wrong. For me, I am saying that the PDP is in absolute control, even if it loses 10 states in the next election. As you know very well, the opposition has collapsed in most states.

In Benue State, there is no opposition. Every body has joined the government and is supporting the government. You have epileptic occurrences of the opposition in two local governments, Kwande and Oturpo. The opposition has collapsed in Benue and so it is in most states.

My appeal to my colleagues is that we must endeavour not to attract any disruption of the democratic process. What happened in Ekiti must never happen again. I’m happy that the opposition is going to court to seek redress. I have somehow found confidence in the judiciary. I have seen, over the last nine months, positive judicial pronouncements in courts, which have brought confidence back in the judiciary. I’m urging the judiciary to continue to discharge its duties in the form and formats it has been going on. Let’s see what they decide on Ekiti. I am sure justice will be done in the end.

Nigeria will be celebrating 10 years of democracy. Is the assessment of Ekiti not the assessment of our performance in the last 10 years?
My own assessment is that we have made great efforts. Remember, we were subjected to military rule for so many decades and then we are back in a democracy. In a country where you have stable democracy, things are done properly. Look at what happened in England last week. The speaker of the House of Commons had to resign because of £2, 000, but are you not surprised that in Nigeria you have people who are facing charges and are ministers?

We must bring respectability to governance. We must not allow personal interest to becloud our sense of justice. I am warning that corruption is getting higher and higher in Nigeria more than ever before. It is extremely disturbing. A youth corps member was given a contract of N50million. How you do that? She had no company. She looked for a company and brought somebody from Kano, who was given that job. This girl made much money. We must begin to do things that are right and fair and things that posterity can look at and say yes, this generation tried. But I’m very worried over what is happening now and our tomorrow.

Your generation is still in power and control.
Honestly, my generation has failed. I have, for instance, been involved in one way or the other with government since 1966, when we staged the counter-coup, but I have not seen many changes. The people who come from very poor background become billionaires immediately they come into government and the society looks at them and accept as well as admire them.

It shouldn’t be. If a whole speaker of the House of Commons could resign because he collected £2,000, what is happening here? Everyday you take the newspapers and you read about a governor getting 100-count charge of fraud involving billions of naira. When you go to function you see this same person, who is assumed to have corruptly enriched himself sitting on the stand. What doe it mean? If you are accused of an offence it presumed that you have an explanation to make until you are clarified. You may be exonerated at the end. We must entrench probity. If we want the democracy today to survive, we must change our methodology of doing things. The political class must change.

I must have to shamefully admit that in 10 years of democracy we have failed. However, we have succeeded in some cases. I am a foundation member of PDP. The PDP will be in power for the next 20 years because we are in control of the mechanics of control. The opposition is not in a position to put its act together. If the opposition is able to put its act together and forget its differences and unite, they could snatch power from PDP. It has happened in many countries of the world.

However, as I said earlier the person who wins an election in Nigeria is the political party in control of the machines of control and that is what will continue to happen until we Nigerians decide that enough is enough.

My generation must apologise for entrenching rigging in the Nigerian polity. We made that mistake. We should allow the will of the people to prevail. Unfortunately, this generation that is trying to take over from us is more vicious, more corrupt than ourselves. I can see the indexes. They are a desperate generation, but we have no choice but to hand over power to them.

Is that why your generation has failed to effect the electoral reform you promised us?
The electoral reforms are would to be effected. The president has sent the Uwais report to the National Assembly. You see the reaction of the National Assembly on the day the report was brought. There is definitely going to be a change. Nobody can stop electoral reforms. There much be a change. It is when you are effecting a change that you have equity and fairness. What we need to carry Nigeria forward is equity and fairness, not might. We the founding fathers of PDP have been pushed aside. The people in control of PDP today are not the founding fathers of PDP.

In 1998, when we met and resolved to form PDP, we intended it to become the political party that will be comparable to the Democratic Party in America or the conservative party in England. That was the vision we had. The original founding fathers have all been kicked aside. Joiners are the people in control of the PDP at all strata. I believe that something is going to happen. One thing I know is that Nigeria must change, whether we like it or not.

What happened to President Umar Yar’Adua? When he came up, some of us thought he was going to make a significant change.
I know President Yar’Adua to be a very cautious human being. Particularly, when you are dealing with an environment, like Nigeria, you have to adopt caution as a weapon to protect yourself. Quiet honestly, some of the things the government has done, I wish they were done differently. I know that he has been putting so many things in place, which he will start implementing from his third year in office. A lot of committees were set up by the Federal Government silently, in almost all aspects of our national lives.

From June, the government is going to introduce a lot of dynamic changes that are really going to positively affect Nigerians. President Yar’Adua has not been very healthy and this has affected his performance. As you realize that most of the times he ought to be at a function, he is represented by somebody. I can assure you that President Yar’Adua is going to surprise Nigerians, starting from his third year. He will not disappoint Nigerians.

Does it mean he was not prepared if he was just setting up committees for the past two years, expecting to start performing in the third year? Does it mean he will be there for eight years?
The position here is that Yar’Adua inherited a disjointed administration that didn’t have focus and direction. He has to fix these things. It is taking time to, first of all, remove the rot. You can see that a lot of ways things are happening differently. Something when you rent a house, when you move in you discover there no water, toilet and many things are missing. That is the kind of environment that Yar’Adua found himself. Fundamental things are going to happen in the next one year and that will have a profound positive effect on the whole country. I agree with you that he has been slow.

Would you then endorse Yar’Adua for the second term because you said earlier he is not healthy?
In 1999, we agreed that there would be a rotation of North-South. The South took eight years and the North is going to take eight years. That is not negotiable. I want to say that very soon the president is going to tell Nigerians whether he has the capacity to go on or not. If Yar’Adua decides to go on, the North will allow him to continue, but if, on the other hand, he knows that his health would not allow him to go on, the North will decide and give Nigerians an acceptable candidate.

The only person, who can be sold by the North, both internationally and nationwide, is Ibrahim Babangida. He will step in if Yar’Adua is not going. Atiku’s time has expired because he can’t return to the PDP. Only the PDP can win the presidency. No other political party can win because we are on the ground and in control of the mechanic of control.

Do you honestly believe IBB will win election in this country?
We have carried out survey in the last two weeks. We have results coming in from the six political zones. The results show that over 70 per cent of Nigerians are ready to have IBB back in Aso Rock.

What exactly is happening in Benue State as there seems to be a realignment of political forces?
We have a political leader of Benue State, in the person of Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswan. We had a former leader, George Akume. Obviously, you know when there is a transfer of power from one group to another group, there is bound to be a form of reaction and that is what has happened. In Benue State now, we have absolute political harmony and peace. The whole of Benue State has decided that the present government must have a second tenure in 2011.

We met and reexamined his activities in the last two years and discovered that he has affected the lives of everybody. You go to Makurdi today, all the streets are tarred; the same with Oturkpo that has never had any tarred road. You go to Gboko, the headquarters of Tiv people; the streets are tarred. There is rural electrification. They are communities that had never been linked before, but they are now being linked. There is peace and harmony among the elders. There is generational change. The people in Suswan administration are performing wonderfully. We met two weeks ago and all the elders said that the young man should have a second tenure. Gabriel Suswan is going to have a second term. This is not negotiable. Nobody is coming to challenge him in the PDP.

Michael Aondoakaa will not contest for the governorship. No PDP person from zone A, where the governorship is from will come out to contest. The Idomas are waiting for Apa State. Apa State, hopefully, will be created very soon. The Tiv people are not prepared to concede the governorship to the Idomas at this stage, simply because we are 70 per cent of the population and in a democracy the majority always carry the vote. The Idomas have got the president of the Senate; they have got the SSG. We the Tiv people will remain in control of the government house until 2015. Thereafter, we give it to zone C, which is Idoma speaking area, if Apa State has not been created.

Do you think it is possible to create state under this environment, even as the South East has a genuine case?
We have enough states for the country. I don’t think we need more states. Why the South East does not have more states is because of disunity. The Igbo people are the strongest people in Nigeria. I travelled to Cameroon border. In one village, there were 58 settlements. Out of these, 41 were Igbo families. If the Igbo were united, they would be carrying the torch for Nigeria. Unfortunately, it is not so. Who is the Igbo leader today? Every of them wants to be a leader instead of them to choose one person and say this is our leader. In Benue State, we have got a leader in that young man. He has brought vision and development to the state and we don’t want a change until 2015.

The Igbo, under Ohanaeze, should meet and present a leader, somebody who can speak for them. We in Tiv land have found out that we have not been able to make progress because of disunity and we are trying to put our act together, forgive one another and select a leader, because since the death of J.S. Tarka, we have never had any leader in Tiv land. You need somebody who will be a beacon for each of these major ethnic groups. That’s why the minorities are in a better position than us.

Also, the Hausa Fulani, who is their leader today? Likewise the Yoruba. This is a national problem.
However, in Orji Kalu we have seen the glimpses of a leader because he has positively touched the majority of the people. That is what leadership is all about. He didn’t inherit anything, like some of us. But today, by dint of handwork, he has achieved so much.

For Benue, we have a leader that has proved he is a leader. We have somebody who we are working with; we have a young man who is respecting elders and a young man who is sure of second term. Benue is one of the few states that the governor is sure of second term. The Senate president and the governor are working harmoniously.

Agreed that the North will have eight years under normal circumstances. However, if for any reason, God forbid, that Yar’Adua becomes indisposed, will the North allow Jonathan to continue?
The North cannot allow Jonathan to complete the term of Yar’Adua. The position here is that there will be an interim government within which somebody from the North will be elected to complete Yar’Adua’s term. We are not giving one day of this administration to the South. We will only allow Jonathan to be there till a replacement is found. It is not a constitutional matter; it is fairness.

Is it not inviting anarchy if for any reason Yar’Adua announces today that in stepping down because of ill-health, and the vice president does not step in, in line with the constitution?
Jonathan will be there for a short time. The North will only allow Jonathan pending when a replacement for Yar’Adua is found. I am not talking of probability, because such a thing can never happen and I don’t want to even think of it. Yar’Adua has recovered completely. He was sick, quite all right. Don’t you all get sick?

Are you in support of military option as Niger Delta?
I believe that this government has made a lot of efforts to prevent what is happening now. For the first time a Ministry of Niger Delta was created to address the injustice that the people of Niger Delta had suffered. But there are these young men who don’t want dialogue but confrontation. The people in Niger Delta are less than five million and they are confronting 140 million people. Government had to react, but I wish it was not this way because I have seen pictures and it is horrible. I’m appealing that the government and the military to find a peaceful way out of this. It is unfortunate.

I cannot condemn it because Nigerians were briefed before the action were taken. The military said it cannot wait to see its people being kidnapped, tortured and killed. I’m appealing to the people of the Niger Delta. They should know that the Niger Delta Ministry is a platform for them to resolve all their grievances. Let us stop the arms conflict, go into dialogue and find justice in Niger Delta. There is going to be peace. You can only have peace where there is equity, justice and fairness for everybody.

The Sun

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