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Constitutional crisis: How Zik was forced to call Balewa to form government- Daura

Alhaji Sani Zango Daura is one of the founding fathers of Nigeria. In this interview with VICTOR JIBRIN, the elder statesman takes a look at Nigeria from the era of the nation’s heroes, regretting the current situationwhich he blamed on incorrigible leadership and self-centeredness. But he expressed optimism that the country can be good again, if Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is given the chance to solve to the present problems of Nigeria. Excerpts:

On October 1, Nigeria will be 55 years as an independent nation, will you say this is the Nigeria of your dream?

Well, not only of my dream but you could have said does this Nigeria reflect the dreams of the founding fathers? They had a dream for it and that dream is of greatness anchored on the sincerity of purpose by the various leaders then trying to build and encourage a united Nigeria where we will become our brother’s keepers but from what is happening today, you know that we have gone astray. Mainly because the so called leaders today, are not for common men, they are for their own personal interests. Unfortunately, I don’t know why, is it because there is a high rate of illiteracy in the country or is it because the large percentage, the vast majority of the people are poor? When people are poor, you cannot lead them, when people are not enlightened, you can also, manipulate them, telling them half truths hoping that it will be accepted.

So, quite frankly, to me, the leaders of this country after the founding fathers, most of them, I think, have failed and are considered a disappointment to the generality of the people of Nigeria because there is no accountability. If people think that stealing is a legitimate thing to do, corruption is even of large scale and they see nothing wrong in it, then really, we are heading for the rocks. I have seen quite a number of prominent people who on account of simple embezzlement of taxpayers’ money either from what they called cattle tax or community tax, are not only dismissed out rightly but also imprisoned. But today, you see trillions being stolen. Even if they are exposed and cases are established, nobody cares not only to put a stop to it but to sacking those people who stole the money because this is not only criminal, it is accumulation of illegal wealth. What are they going to do with it, if somebody steals N1 trillion or even N1billion or 20 dollars or 30 trillion dollars as recently claimed by Soludo challenging the present Minister of Finance who said she will not join issues with him. All these are not in the character of our founding fathers. Our founding fathers were committed to their people. Yes, of course, there was easternization, there was westernization, and then there was northernization but all these were done in order to give, not to discriminate, an opportunity to those respective regions so that they can come up, so that once they are sufficiently educated, they can compete in the labour market  on equal basis. I think that is the main issue. Today, the federal character provision is there but nobody is doing anything about it. You will find out now that, look at the issue of appointment, if it is the northern Nigerian that is there and his time is up or he is due for second term, he will not be given. The same thing applies to even Yorubas, they will not be given, and instead, somebody from Bayelsa, south east or south-south should come. Such is the tragedy in which today, we found ourselves.  We cannot continue under this type of injustice and inequality between the various components of the federation.

 

The younger generations are worried, what can we do to return to what it used to be?

It is simple. If the focus is the people, then you have to try to have leadership devoid of selfish interest. Go for those who really merit positions. Virtually in every state of this country, you have very highly educated people. Even with the federal character, you can recruit the best. If the best people are recruited for the job, most of these things will disappear. We know that as human beings, we have our own weaknesses, so nobody is perfect. We may make some mistakes but the mistakes should not be deliberate. But today, it is not so. When it comes to election, the parties are there.  In searching for credible candidates, start from the grassroots, local government area, move to the states and then to the federal level just like what happened during the IBB’s transition programme when he introduced new and old breeds. In each local government, there are good people who have retired from service at either state or federal level but not tired, that can still be engaged as chairman and supervisory councilors to give a sort of guidance to those who are coming up because of their experience. You can then select very good promising young men as members so that they will be learning from the experience of these retired people in the process but today it is not so.

The tendency for the teenagers or young men is to enjoy life, marry as many wives as they can, buy very good sport cars, good shoes and clothing. That is their main focus and not the people who are supposed to be the ultimate. Now I can say with certainty that when we came on board in 1968, that is north central state under the military governor of Brigadier Abba Kyari, then a Lt. Col., we were just conscripted into the government even without asking anybody. When we came up spitting fire and brimstone, we created what we called then, administrative areas just to ensure development. We also introduced local government reforms and a committee was appointed for the local government reforms. In a nutshell, that is the beginning of having the local government entrenched in our constitution as the third tier of government. The intention is to get government closer to the people at the grassroots level to know their aspirations and their demands so that with the money that is coming in, they will try to develop the areas along the line as urban centers are being developed.

But today, it is a common knowledge that the so called local governments administration, they only collect and share the money and nobody can challenge them. Even when you challenge them, nothing happens to them. That is the unfortunate part of it. There are so many people who are qualified and ready to serve the people but because he has no money, people will not vote for him. However, the case of Buhari is different.  People will say Buhari is not giving money but people are all out for him because they have seen a quality in him and that is what makes them to be interested in him – the quality of honesty, the quality of law and order, and the quality of no nonsense leader whereby anybody who breaks the law must be sanctioned. There is that commitment in him to the people. Today, that is what we are looking for. So, for a return to the past, all you need to do is to get the right people into the right places.

Another thing today, unlike before, is that the governor, the president assumes the party leadership. But during the time of Shehu Shagari, though he has all the powers as vested in him by the constitution, he did not abuse those powers. To him, the party is supreme, likewise the governors. In those days, no governor was appointing or nominating candidates for appointment of minister. Instead, the issue is tabled before the state executive committee of the party. It is the executive of the party that will sit down and look around and nominate three names and then forward the three names to Mr. President who will send it to the senate for screening and confirmation. Our boss, President Obasanjo, is the architect of making Mr. President as the leader of party so that he will be the person to dictate. By extension, it goes to the states level where the governor too assume leadership of the party, putting aside chairman of the party.  It is a question of what the leader wants. This was not the case during Shagari. As we move forward, if a leader wants real democracy, he should adopt what Shagari did. In his time, whenever the party caucus met, it is the party chairman who presides over the meeting, not Shagari, Mr. President.

What do you intend to do, now that we are at a cross road, to avert the looming possibility?

I believe, in spite of all the manipulations, Nigeria will still remain united. You can see it from Buhari’s candidature that in 2007 and 2011, it was recorded as a northern affair. Even within the north, a number of governors were not with him but today, almost all the whole people of the country are united behind him because the country is sick and the only person that can heal it is Buhari. That is why the north and south, except pocket of oppositions in some areas, are genuinely united behind him. That shows the commitment of Nigeria to remain one united country. I want to give you an example. In 1964, there was a constitutional crisis when we had a similar arrangement as of today. We had two political parties – APGA and NNA. NNA was composed of Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and Niger Delta Congress (NDC) which was part of the south west then while APGA was composed of, for the first time, NCNC, UMBC and BYM. BYM, NEPU and UMBC are from the north. The APGA, before the general election of 1964, returned 18 unopposed candidates. The following day, NNA returned 68 unopposed candidates. From there, APGA felt humiliated and defeated even before the general elections. So, they vowed not to enter into that election and they boycotted that election but because there was a strong leadership then and the people were for the country, the election, all the same, went ahead. The whole north conducted the election but the whole south, except in Ikorodu, boycotted the election. Ikorodu was the only constituency of Chief S.O Benson that conducted the election and he won by 120 votes. The question of forming government was something else because one part of the country boycotted the election. Zik, then the president, refused to call Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, to form government. As I said earlier, at that time, we had prominent people of influence and integrity that when they speak, they were listened to and respected. I remembered vividly, at that time, I was a student in the university of Lagos but very apolitical.  The then Chief Justice of the Federation, Sir Adetokunbo  Ademola and Ibekwe, a member of the supreme court judges went to Zik, looked at him and said Zik unless you want to cause crisis in this country, you have no constitutional power to refuse to call upon the  Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa to form government. Zik accepted and complied. Because of that intervention, he called Balewa. Balewa then formed the government and ordered election in the other parts of the country where it was not held, hence the rise of a broad base government. But of course, that led to civil war. It is only Obasanjo who is talking. If these people have come together and team up with Obasanjo, the crisis we are into would have been a history. So, what we are lacking today in Nigeria are people who can be listened to.

 

Before now, have political leaders and leaders of thought in the north met with your counter parts in the south-south to discuss this political problem that is facing us?

 

 At one time when Obasanjo wanted to extend his tenure, we formed what we called Northern Union under the chairmanship of Dr. Olusola Saraki. One of the areas we visited is Yenagoa. There, we met Edwin Clark. We spent a day or two there and we made our positions clear to them when we met them that we wanted Nigerian president of northern extraction and so, we are not conceding to them. At that time, they gave about five names but the name of this gentleman, the current president, is not even there for vice president. Like I have said before, in any part of this country, elders are there but they are powerless because they are not listened to. We are limited and powerless. We can only talk and advise.  For people with money, they think that money is an end by itself. Therefore, if you have no money today, you are nowhere. But then, as I have said before, Buhari has no money but some people are with him because of his integrity.    

 

 

Politics Thursday, page 4 Pix Ladoja, Folarin, Ajimobi

Oyo: Battle of second term amongst cousins

Bolaji Omosanya, lbadan

The political terrain in Oyo State has always been of great interest in Nigerian history and to political observers.

Moreso, happenings in the state in the past, particularly in the First Republic created national ripples that led to the first military incursion in Nigeria. This was as an aftermath of the power-play orchestrated by the then ruling Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), using Late Samuel Ladoke Akintola against his mentor, the Late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The wild, wild West imbroglio which followed not only reverberated in the Western Region then but had national repercussions.

Well, Awolowo never got a second term at the Premiership of the Region then, which office was located at Agodi Secretariat and still is after the creation of Oyo State by the General Murtala Mohammed/General Olusegun Obasanjo military administration in 1976 and no helmsman in the state since then has had a two-term run in that office.

This, however, is no news to followers of the state’s political records. However, one of the  new things is that the battle line and the war for the number one seat in Oyo State is now drawn amongst three cousins, former  Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja of the Accord Party, former Senate Leader and PDP stalwart, Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin and the incumbent Governor Senator Abiola Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). There are others such as former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and the greenhorn, Engineer Seyi Makinde to mention a few.

There have been many subterranean moves by political gladiators in the state before now to ensure that they  carry the day in the 2015 gubernatorial contest.

For the incumbent Governor who lost in 2007 to Akala in controversial circumstances even through the elections petitions tribunal as the candidate of the then ANPP, immediately he assumed office  as Governor on the platform of the ACN now APC, he consulted widely and extended arm of fellowship to his elderly cousin, in the person of Ladoja who allowed some of his accolytes to serve the administration until they fell out.

Perhaps, it could be said that politics is not considerate of filial ties and is determined by personal interest and the push by one’s supporters to better able to accrue to themselves political gains.

A pointer to this can be deciphered from an interview Ladoja had with a national paper late 2013 in which he said that his bid to return as governor of the state was not out of desperation but as a result of popular demands from ‘my people.’

He said then that he was the one  who recommended  Ajimobi to his supporters in 2007 and 2011 and that’ they have come  to realise that l could serve them better.’

Ladoja also had the extra grouse about demolition of some road-side structures by the Ajimobi government, without compensation and ready alternative.

Another cousin, Senator Folarin was also rumoured to have supported Ajimobi in 2011, due to the influence of Senator Lekan Balogun when Akala felt too big for the political shoes he inherited after the transition of the strongman of Oyo State politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu. Balogun and Folarin were then and still members of PDP.

Political expediency and PDP’s current attempt to gain back lost ground have succeeded in pitting them against each other.

Akala on the other hand had in the past worked against his former boss, Senator Ladoja during impeachment saga of which the former was beneficiary for eleven months before the Supreme  Court’s determination otherwise, though it later led to Ladoja leaving PDP for the Accord Party.

The real issue of the  moment are two; whether Ajimobi will be the first governor to have an un-interrupted eight years in the  state or Ladoja and Akala now with the Labour Party from PDP when Folarin became party’s flagbearer; and which of the two are given the opportunity after some years out of office or Folarin or Makinde who are first-timers in the race.

But the battle remains that of the three cousins: Ajimobi, Ladoja and Folarin.

 

Politics Thursday page I brief, contd page 4. Pix- Jega

INEC recorded 95% percent on card reader test-running.

Kwasu Alhamdu

The spokesman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State, Mr. Femi Akinleye has said that the commission is fully prepared for the  general elections after the successful test-running of the card readers.

The commission tested the card readers last weekend in 12 states across the country including Lagos to demonstrate its use and how it will be deployed to detect impersonators during the voting exercise by March 28.

Speaking exclusively with Daily Times, Akinleye lauded the general success of the card reader testing 95% recorded and reiterated that there is a backup if card readers fail for the general election.

Also, he disclosed that INEC registered 5.9million voters in Lagos with 3.7million already collecting their PVC while 400,000 PVCs are yet to be brought to the state adding that 1.8million cards are yet to be collected by the voters.

He added that the extension of the deadline for the collection of the PVCs to March 22nd, would give all residents who were yet to come forward for their cards the opportunity to do so.

Mr. Akinleye further said INEC is fully prepared for the general election as it has already distributed non-sensitive materials to its local government offices while the sensitive material are in the vaults of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) till Election Day for distribution.

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