From ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman is former vice president, Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), ex-Economic, Political and Security Adviser to General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Adviser on Politics and Economy to the former SGF, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed (Wazirin Jama’a); and member, National Executive Committee, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
In this interview, he declared that President Goodluck Jonathan had failed the country. He also gave reasons General Muhammadu Buhari failed to win the 2007 and 2011 presidential elections. Excerpts:
Buhari cannot rule Nigeria again
You witnessed what happened during the Buhari regime and that was why Buhari was removed. People who had contracts with government and voluntarily executed the contracts were accused of corruption. We know all the black and white of award of contracts in most of the countries in Africa and even overseas.
What happened was not the business of Buhari to send the people to jail. I remember, Mallam Ishaku Rabiu in Kano was jailed too. Well, we wouldn’t call it jail; they were incarcerated unnecessarily without term, indefinitely. Some of them died from the complications, arising from such an action. Some, who had money, just paid to free themselves, not because the law said so, they paid because they didn’t want to remain there. Hypertension, stroke, diabetes, blood pressure, so many things killed most of those who remained there.
Buhari can be a good leader but he will never govern Nigeria again, for the singular act of incarceration of politicians without reason or cause; for the singular act of causing the reason of ultimate death or early death of most of the people he incarcerated. That is the reason he may never be president again.
The families of those people, who died have decided to connect with God permanently, seeking God’s mercies on their departed souls. You think those families will not make sure they spend all their earnings to make sure Buhari never becomes President of Nigeria again? It is their right to pray, we cannot stop them. But everybody should understand the issue of the law, its applications with the intention of bringing about good governance in Nigeria.
Accepted, Buhari was a dictator but since he was a dictator, he had no business analysing political processes and direction. That is why he too, under the political process, suffered. The reason Buhari has never succeeded is that people only use him as a launch pad to win elections into the National Assembly and other positions. Buhari was a die-hard dictator; he is the one, who convicted the drug carriers and the newspaper men, who exposed the truth.
Between Obasanjo and Buhari
There was a major difference between Buhari and Obasanjo. Buhari has respect for person; he could be rude, very rude but you cannot compare that with crudeness of Obasanjo. Obasanjo’s own is what we call divide and rule. A man, who never has regret for his mistakes. A man that can subject even himself to inconvenience in order to displease people. Buhari will never inconvenient himself, he will never.
Yet, he (Buhari) cannot be President of Nigeria again. Yea! It takes more than being a good person to be President of Nigeria, considering other factors, like human, ethnicity, religion, etc. Even though Buhari had this Decree 9 and incarcerated journalists, those were military days. We are not comparing Obasanjo’s military regime and Buhari’s military regime. We are comparing Buhari as a man and a leader and Obasanjo as somebody, who came to being a Head of State and later a president. It is a question of attitude and we need behaviour, responsibility and attitude in governance. Buhari has them. So, Obasanjo should retire to being a statesman. People like Buhari should be organisers, they should advise the next generation. The next generation is those there now.
In 2011 when I fought for Jonathan to become the President of Nigeria, I fought the Northern establishment. I had quarrel with the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); I fought the former Heads of State because I wanted a regime change. I wanted those old people, who have been part of Nigeria’s leadership in the last 50 years to step down. The result of the last 50 years has not helped us. They were the ones who kicked the civilians away by their coups. Then the civilians and the soldiers who have been in the leadership platform in the last 50 years have not changed Nigeria, it is worst.
What are we witnessing today? Mindless public act of vandalism. Whether you call it Niger-Delta youth restiveness or you call it Boko Haram, whatever you call it, it is pushing us backward. You bring in foreign contractors to come and build your land and you kill them mindlessly, do you want us to go back to riding horses and donkeys? You want us to go back to farming with our hoes, not tractors again?
The Jonathan Presidency
He has a wrong team and a wrong group, whether as executive cabinet or as economic management team. From the week he set up his economic management team, I told Jonathan in the newspapers that these are people, who have conflict of interest in Nigeria’s economy and they will wreck the economy.
On the issue of excess crude account, if you have enough money, use it to develop. The result of the development will improve the economy. You should be able to get all elements of economy correctly, exportation and so many things will happen, industries will pick up, then we can start having a very strong exchange rate and interest rate.
We can never go beyond where we are standing with the kind of interest rate the Central Bank is operating.
The late Professor Sam Aluko did better than these people a hundred times better. These people are not good enough for our economy. They do not know anything other than the book they have read and how it is written in the textbook, both of them. They cannot help the Nigerian economy, because it is formula plug-in that they know. These people are people of letters, most of them have divided interests in Nigerian economy. It is not about books from Harvard, it is about common sense, responsibilities, what we should be doing.
Jonathan should ask himself, from the day he became acting president and these people came on board, what has happened? Has the economy changed? Has anything drastic happened? Nothing! Everybody is milking the cash cow. We need to sit down very well in Nigeria and ask ourselves, what is the way forward? That is where the PDP has failed. PDP is supposed to present economic blueprint for the country, as a party that produced the president. They ought to be injecting these things into the president’s working paper. Do they do it? The answer is no! They don’t even have a manifesto, if they do, they don’t respect it.
Jonathan beyond 2015
The people, who are against Jonathan are so much in his government that they will stop him from getting the correct people to lead him to the Promised Land. The government of today has enough people in the government to dissuade Jonathan from listening to the right people who can lead him to the Promised Land, because they have divided interests. Most of them are helping the , who want to come in to even start their government. Something is wrong.
The Yoruba say, Kokoro to n j’efo, inu efo lo ngbe, meaning, “the insect that is devouring the vegetable garden lives inside it.” The problems of Nigeria and Jonathan himself are inside Aso Rock, they are the kokoro. Jonathan’s problem is in Aso Rock.
Jonathan can use his performance between now and 2015 to convince Nigerians on his status. But I will tell you, even within the PDP, there are people, who want to make sure that Jonathan is disgraced out of office. Didn’t they do that to Yar’Adua?
Presidential pardon for former governor Dipreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State and others
Some people condemned Jonathan’s action but I will hasten to say, they are all wrong. The word pardon shows that the person has already been convicted and he has paid the price for the offences he was found to have committed. So Bulama, the former managing director of the Bank of the North and Alamieyeseigha have paid the price because they were convicted. They served their terms and nobody said we should ask for a pound of flesh.
Even the Bible and the Qur’an have cautioned us on the elements of pound of flesh. If Jonathan wakes up one day and announces pardon for them, we can quarrel about the procedure, not the pardon itself, because they served their terms. I will restrict the rest of my comments to the real thing, what is right and what is wrong. The issue of pardon has to do with prerogative of mercy, human kindness after the punishment. The punishment is there, if they had spent only one day there, they have already fallen from grace to grass and that is enough.