Where is the clique?
Of course itâ€™s like a shadow. You go to Ota Farms and find out. You go to Katsina and all the other places. If you belong there, you are sure. If I belong to that clique, you will not be sitting with me and condoling me that I lost an election. But I believe I donâ€™t need to go the wrong way in order to come and do the right thing. I need only one thing to do; to face the God Almighty Allah, to do what is right, identify people with like minds and I continue to do it until I get to the villa. The most important thing is that poverty and hunger is a great teacher to all. Are Nigerians getting the best out of it today?
What percentage of Nigerians can categorically sit down and say I thank God we have got the government that we require and we are forging ahead. Can you tell me what are the programmes of Umoru today and what he has achieved for the nation? You come to my state Kaduna, comparing the resources that â€¦â€¦Sambo has today. Is that what we bargained for? We have nothing to show for in Kaduna.. No programmes to show. I challenge you to go to every nooks and corners in Kaduna; look at how much money was expended on the last Kada Games. We should identify our priorities. Kaduna has agricultural resources.
This is a State that can feed Nigeria agriculturally. We have everything that is required here in terms of manpower, in terms of resources and in terms of what is coming in. Have you seen the magic Fashola is doing in Lagos? When I was going round during my campaign, I challenged the people of Kaduna State and I said in two years time, I donâ€™t need Power Holding Company. I will generate my own energy and I will make the industries of Kaduna functional. They asked for my programmes. The elites of Kaduna State asked me how I intend to go about it. I put out my blue print and they were amazed. Itâ€™s a question of practicality. Does Fashola fold his arms and wait for money from federation account every month to run Lagos State? He is doing wonderful and magical things in terms of internally generated revenue today and the Lagosians, even if it is tasking their pockets, at least they are seeing where their money goes. They are seeing the result for it. So, I pray and wish that there will be so many Fasholas in the 36 States of the federation. I wish there would be a Fashola minded individual sitting today in Aso Rock.
The PDP has failed to do what you want them to do. Which area in the electoral laws do you want to them to reform?
I happened to be a member of the National Assembly. I can assure you one thing: if you ask me what is wrong with the 1999 Constitution, I will tell you that virtually, not less than two or three percent that has something wrong. That is why when they talk of constitutional amendment, what you see springing up is agitation for state creation in every part of Nigeria. They believe that creation of additional states is all that is left out in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
But that is not so. What we are basically lacking is leadership; people who are going to be put in the helms of affairs with clear programmes who can implement the programmes sincerely with the fear of God. If you ask me what needs to be done, then I will tell you. How do you checkmate the issue of money. We put the roofs here that nobody should come and put more than X amount in terms of contribution. But how do you go about checkmating that. How do you get that leadership to emerge? The entire system should go back to a system whereby every community has a way and means.
Then talking about independent candidature, in Nigeria, it is not very feasible because you cannot say you are going to fight the issue of money in politics and at the same time, you are opening rooms for independent candidature, which means somebody with abundant resources as an individual who can do away with existing structures of any political party and have his own and sell himself to the electorates. So, the two notions are conflicting to one another. I am hoping that the electoral reforms should address an issue whereby a leader should emerge through a democratic process as it touches the lives of the community in existence.
The process of electing a leader in Zaria is different from the way and manner a leader is elected in Umuahia. They have their own pros and cons. Some may go by inheritance, some may go by age, some may go by your contribution even to the community. Until we evolve a system whereby individuals will shun money, individuals will shun any corrupt tendencies in whatever office they find themselves, individuals who are identified and committed towards the development of their community are brought forward, regardless of whether they can finance whatever logistics or not. We must evolve such a system that can bring them to the helm of affairs. This is the only remedy that can move this country forward. But a situation where you have an electoral system where you have only a bundle of boxes that can be filled by anybody and there is no crosschecking and balancing, where somebody can write three thousand and before you know it, he adds another zero and it becomes thirty thousand and there is nobody who could really verify.
More than seventy-five percent of the population of Nigeria are not literate and they cannot understand that. If you go to the Niger Delta area where you can travel thousands of kilometers on the high sea or some areas where you have to deliver ballot papers on horses and donkeys, you must allow the people a system that really is traditional to them and the constitution review should be able to reflect that.
People have been talking about the voting system and some are saying that we should go back to option A4. Are you comfortable with the present system we are using?
Certainly not. Option A4 to a certain degree will shy away so many hypocritical tendencies that are there. I am not comfortable with the system we are using now. That is why Iâ€™m telling you that we should enthrone a system whereby individuals are recognized by their own people; where you donâ€™t sit in Lagos or in Abuja and create a system that you feel you can maneuver. Option A4 for instance is a system where an individual will come and stand or you put his photograph openly. If you are for that person, go and stand by his photograph. It is a very transparent system.
What we are practicing today is secret balloting and itâ€™s hidden. We should make it as democratic as ever. What is obtainable in Europe â€“ secret ballot system, or in other advanced nations cannot be obtainable in a third world country like Nigeria where we are neither here nor there. Some of our leaders will believe that we can rub shoulders with America in terms of electoral process. But some people believe that we are not yet there in terms of enlightenment, in terms of understanding what are the electoral laws. Letâ€™s go back to where we are as a third world country. If you want Mr. A, you can put a cup and say whoever wants to follow Shaaban should join a queue behind that cup.
Are you advocating that system?
I am advocating that system because it will checkmate people coming to eat from here and eat from there.
Is it not too local?
It is local but that is where we are. It is local but it will produce honest leadership.. At least it will take us somewhere. From there we can evolve. When we are able to get people who are dedicated, maybe we can look at the way and manner… Maybe in the next fifty or hundred years, then the nation can say that system is too local and we can now advance. Itâ€™s like learning to run when we can hardly crawl. That is where we are today.
Let me ask you one fundamental question that is making the rounds now. Aruwa was said to be the candidate of the ANPP. They are saying therefore that you have no locus standi in the first place to challenge the election of Governor Sambo. How would you react to that?
Anybody who says that is either ignorant of what is happening in ANPP as a party. We went through primaries. I campaigned in the nooks and corners. The then Chairman of Kaduna State happened to be a blood elder brother of Senator Aruwa. We had a kangaroo and stage-managed primary election but we swallowed it. They said Aruwa had a majority vote by twelve votes.
What do you mean by stage-managed?
It was stage-managed in the sense that we were counting the votes when the Chairman became furious, began to kick the boxes and even carried some of the ballot papers and chewed them. He was beating up people. After driving everybody out, all I did was to call the people that are representing me to walk out of that place and allow them to do whatever they wanted to do. They said his vote is higher than mine by twelve votes. He had two hundred and something and I had one hundred and ninety-something. We were about five contestants. I was in Saudi Arabia attending my lesser Hajj when I was called upon and told that the EFCC has come up with a white paper and Aruwaâ€™s name happens to be there and that by the partyâ€™s constitution, once there is a problem with the candidate, the next personâ€™s name is to be substituted. I was called upon to be substituted.
He went to court and fought it vehemently but the party was not willing to change because they were not ready to gamble. So many documents and papers were emanating from so many quarters, indicating him as somebody who is bankrupt; so many drug related cases and all kinds of papers were flying round Kaduna, which he could not challenge. Even his qualification, the secondary school he claimed to have attended, they went to thatâ€™s secondary school and they could not find his name among the list of the graduands there. The same thing with primary school. All these papers officially were flying around. Even the way and manner he left the Airforce as a driver at the Airforce, all the papers were there presented. So, we realized it was too much of a gamble and the people in Kaduna state believed it was too much of a gamble.
There was this calculated attempt by the PDP when they realized that he can no longer be the candidate, to ensure that the wrong person should be imposed on the party or the party should not have a candidate. The fighting I actually did was not with Aruwa but with the PDP, which was using Aruwa.. I continued doing that until when INEC came out with my name and I was called upon alongside all the party gubernatorial candidates in the Northwest and were given the flag in Gusau, which was aired live by the electronic media. Even at that, I was not left alone. I was fighting internally within my party and I was fighting the ruling party of the state.
No sooner than we filed our case before the court and said we have our authentic and official INEC results than somebody was declared a winner. What happened? Even when they were declaring that result, I went to the office of the returning Commissioner and asked him how he came about some of the results he was announcing on the radio because these are the official local government results signed by your various returning officers. How did you come about this result. It was live on the radio and Kaduna State people could hear me.
Some places he was mentioning result, they had not even seen one single ballot paper. Yet you are mentioning the result. I told the Commissioner not to bring chaos in Kaduna because Kaduna has witnessed so much bloodshed, both religious, economic and what have you and what you are trying to do is that you are only inviting another anarchy. Our people are law-abiding. I will not call the people to the streets. Do what is right. Allow your INEC officers who are being stopped by military tanks to come so that you can collect the results. You sent them to work in various Local Governments. Then collect the results and tell the people of Kaduna State the correct thing.
Even when we went to the court at the lower tribunal, Aruwaâ€™s issue surfaced again and we went through a court process, debates upon debates for three months until when the court came out officially to determine who the authentic candidate was. So, the issue of im