From IHEANACHO NWOSU, Abuja
Former Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, is spitting fire. For him, what is in place in Nigeria cannot be called government. According to him, Abuja is not fending for the people.
The former governor also lambasted the opposition, arguing that the planned alliance by some political parties, ahead of 2015, may not come to fruition because of selfishness.
He spoke on these and other issues.
Looking back at events that shaped 2012, would you say those in power made the country proud?
Categorically, I will say no. At the end of 2012, we are still in the dark. Not only that, we are still facing instability; we are facing mindless looting and wastages. We always see this in Nigeria after rigged elections. We are at the risk of the equivalent of Arab Spring in Nigeria. We are also facing the risk of social revolution. In other words, we are at a stage where we are witnessing negativity on every front. Something must happen.
In view of the grim scenarios you have painted, will you say this government has no direction?
Which government? Is this a government? What we have today is a situation where most people that are in power came to office, from the local government to the federal level, as a result of rigging and not as a result of a free, fair and transparent elections. Those before this government came through that process too. You and I know that elections, since 1999 to date, have not been clean and clear. Obasanjo never believed in a free and fair election and didn’t pretend about it. PDP cannot win election in a free and fair exercise; that is why they keep manipulating election results. But they cannot continue to do that; they cannot continue to foist themselves on the people.
You have stated that what we are witnessing now is a social revolution. How?
Social revolutions have happened round the world and Nigerians are not an exception to the rule. We all saw what happened at the beginning of last year, where people refused to leave the street because of the fuel increase. Things are moving in a direction where one day every Nigerian will decide that enough is enough. The masses are not happy with the way things are going and I know that very soon they will insist that the right thing be done, that elections are conducted in a transparent manner; that those who call themselves rulers stop looting the national resources.
Many people protested in your home-state, Kaduna, over the outcome of the recent local government elections. What do you make of these protests?
Well, the protest was a sign that there were no elections. In most of the polling stations, there were no elections. In some places, where elections were attempted, everything was bastardised. There were cases where elections didn’t even hold in the whole ward. Nobody saw any election officials or materials; yet results came out. There were places where elections didn’t take place until 5pm when elections were supposed to have ended. Results were declared. I will give one example. Even the state electoral body cannot deny it. There was no election at all in one of the local governments.
The question now is when will the electoral body hold the elections in that particular ward? Yet, election results for the whole local government were declared without any election taking place in one of the wards. The selected local government chairman was sworn in. Now, what do you make of this? No election took place in the whole ward, out of 12 wards. How dare you declare results for that local government? Are you saying that the result from that particular ward will not alter the election of the entire local government? Are you saying that it is an excuse for not holding election in that ward? This is not even the worst example. Let me give you another example. We are bastardising our religions. The late governor of Kaduna had a Christian title which is equivalent to a Sheikh. Such a person was not supposed to lie. In spite of what happened in Kaduna State, he and his party came out to say that the elections were free, fair and credible. He was a responsible and capable person, but he found himself in a situation where he had to treat his social conscience the way he did.
There is an allegation being levelled against those of you in the opposition of always going into election with a mindset to win and crying foul when it doesn’t go your way. What is your reaction?
You should know better about elections in Nigeria, to make that allegation or associate yourself with that allegation. You know very well that election results in Nigeria are products of terror. Nobody will complain if he or she sees that things are done transparently and in line with the rules. For one, members of these opposition parties you are talking about are indigenes of this country; they wish this country well and they have no justification to work against the interest of the country. I have heard people make this type of allegation, but I don’t waste my time responding to that because it sounds stupid. It takes courage to watch all the criminal things that take place during elections and accept to endure them. We have not been having elections in this country.
Have there not been improvements since Attahiru Jega took over as INEC chairman?
What improvement? All public institutions in Nigeria have collapsed. Has Jega himself not cried out about the way elections are rigged. Last month, he made headlines for speaking out on how elections are rigged. I have not seen any improvement in INEC.
Jega is asking for more powers from NASS to disqualify candidates. Do you support the suggestion?
He is wasting his time. Things are very bad. They cannot perform. Disqualifying candidates is not the problem. The problem is that we cannot hold free, fair and transparent elections leading to a legitimate government in this country. The PDP government and all of those in the other parties are all imposed. They are all products of terror. No exception. This is the situation in which we are in this country.
Are you saying that the opposition parties are also guilty of imposition of candidates? Does that not lend credence to the view of some PDP members that the opposition taking over power will not bring a change in the political arena?
First, what we should be praying for is that the opposition parties should come together to challenge the PDP. If they come out, that will be a new situation. If they unite, either by merger or a democratically elected alliance, at least, we will achieve one thing and that is getting the PDP out. PDP is directly responsible for all the negative things happening in this country. There is no possibility of correction or reconstruction or even the possibility of any reforms as long as the PDP is in power. I will give one example. The PDP believes in the leading role of the private sector in the economy of Nigeria, as opposed to what we had known, up to the end of the Second Republic. As a result of their leading role of the private sector in the economy, we now have this bad situation. We now have poverty, hunger, unemployment and insecurity because everybody is for himself. We have a situation of a leading role of private interest in everything. We are in a situation of free-for-all today. Today, if you have no money or power, you have no value of any kind. Not even to your family.
You have stated that even in states where the opposition parties hold sway, it has also been balance of terror. If this is the situation, where will the hope come from?
If the opposition, which is not better than the government in power, doesn’t change the system of development all in the country and the particular leadership produced by the system, which is the leadership made up of corrupt people, if this is not changed by the government or the opposition, then something might come in. We have experienced this before. We have experienced continued instability; we have experienced military coup. Now, we may experience something more decisive, a social revolution. Take the case of this election and what the government, at the federal, state and local government, will always say after their elections. They will say that if you are dissatisfied, go to tribunal. Now, can anybody go to the tribunal other than the person who is in control of the government and can steal government resources to cover the legal cost?
Let me tell you; we have just had the local government elections in Kaduna State. Do you know that any aggrieved candidate for councillorship, who wants to go the tribunal, will have a minimum of N5 million? In 2011, we wrote a petition against House of Assembly election. When we went to the tribunal, we were told that for every petition, we have to pay N400,000 to the tribunal. Now, who can go to the tribunal when he disagrees about elections? For this local government election in Kaduna State, do you know that the conditions are prohibitive because the electoral body required N200,000 each from every local government chairman and N50, 000 for every councillor?
Now, let us start with a councillor. Who can contest as a councillor? If you are not from a rich party, can you afford N50,000? The worst part of it is that if the opposition parties in Kaduna State unite, they can defeat the PDP, but they will never unite. I will give you an example. In Kaduna State, we are the only political party that is active and has the resources to oppose the PDP. It is either PDP, CPC or the PRP. But attempts were made to bring about an alliance between the CPC, PRP and other political parties, which can defeat the PDP and check the consolidation of reactions in Kaduna State. If that is what we can do, it is an achievement. The state will be open for real competition and performance. But the political parties won’t agree. The CPC wants complete take-over of the political parties. They don’t want alliance. They are not satisfied with a democratically elected alliance to defeat the PDP. The same thing is happening around the country.
With this scenario you just painted now, do you think an alliance between the opposition parties is possible?
It is not possible. If we want to defeat the PDP, whether we like it or not, all the opposition political parties, whether they control state governments or not, should come together and rally behind ACN. ACN has advantages that no other political party has. In the first place, if we assume that ACN developed from the Action Group to what it is today, we know that there is articulation of politics. We know there is relevant performance there. We also know there is a record of combativeness. We also know that there is a control of a base from which to fight. Which other political party in the opposition has that advantage? If you really want to defeat the PDP, you have to put emotions aside. Whatever happens, ACN is the true opposition. ACN is the alternative government we have, as of today. Now, if this talk will result in that, it will be better for Nigeria. For instance, if CPC says no, even when they have only one governor or if the ANPP says no, even with their three governors, can they defeat the PDP? If we really believe that the PDP is not performing or we believe that we have to get the PDP out, then we really need to come together. When you come together, you must have a rallying point and have a leader, because you cannot create anarchy. Whether you like it or not, it is the ACN. Now, are they prepared to rally round ACN to encourage us who don’t control anything to rally around them and get the PDP off our back? If we are prepared to do that, then we are not better than the PDP.
Gambari recently blamed northern leaders over the Boko Haram insurgency. Do you share his views?
First of all, I am not a northern leader. I am a Nigerian leader. I have never associated myself with any region. People are actually saying that the PDP and Jonathan are behind Boko Haram. Jonathan has confirmed that there are members of Boko Haram in his government. His government has been infiltrated by Boko Haram and up till now, he has not been able to reveal their identities. This means he actually tolerates them. The implication is that Boko Haram is not an Islamic movement. Jonathan has prophesied several times about the end of Boko Haram.
How can you predict the end of a violent movement if you are not the author of it?
Let me tell you, this Boko Haram may have started as an Islamic movement, but that changed when the leader of the group was murdered by the Nigerian government. Immediately after the murder of its leader, Boko Haram was hijacked by some political interests. That includes the Federal Government. There are other possibilities. The United States wants to ensure that their prediction for the disintegration of Nigeria happens by 2015. They have a motive for that. America cannot tolerate the potentials of Nigeria the moment she has the right leadership in few years’ time. There are also possibilities that these thieves that control all sectors of the Nigerian economy around the country want Nigeria to disintegrate so that they can get away with what they have stolen so that nobody can question what they have done.
There is also another possibility. The northern oligarchy, which is very strong, no matter what you do, because they are the strongest political post in Nigeria, feels aggrieved by what Jonathan did by taking over power from them against the decision of the party.