A former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, explains to GODWIN ISENYO why he will support the National Assembly’s move to remove President Muhammadu Buhari from office and his reported endorsement of Omoyele Sowore to contest the 2019 presidential election on the ticket of the PRP
Why did you ask the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, to use the Peoples Redemption Party as the platform to actualise his 2019 presidential ambition?
I didn’t give Sowore the PRP platform to contest the 2019 presidential election. What happened is this. He told me that he had presidential ambition and that he was going round the country, discussing with all the registered political parties to know what each of them stands for so that he could choose the political party that would enable him to realise his ambition. He said he was here to see me because he was assessing the possibility of contesting as a presidential candidate. I told him that he was welcome and that he could contest on the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party.
What is the implication of your action?
I can’t stop anybody from contesting on the platform of the PRP. The PRP has to be open to everybody. In fact, it’s against the law to restrict membership of the PRP.
Are you saying that you have not given Sowore the automatic ticket of the PRP to contest the presidential election in 2019?
Yes. I can’t even offer him. It is the party that can offer him after the primary election.
How well do you know Sowore?
I don’t even know him. There are two or three other presidential aspirants who want to contest on the platform of the PRP and I don’t know anything about them. We will assess the aspirants when we start the process of the primary election.
Do you think he will fight corruption considering some allegations of blackmail already levelled against him in some quarters?
I don’t know anything about him. I don’t even know his suitability. The point is that the PRP is a political party that is open to everybody. We can’t restrict membership of the party. We can’t even stop anybody from aspiring on the platform of the party. As from now, we will try to find out who he is; what he is doing; his past and so on. We have started the process since he has contacted us and expressed his wish.
But you offered to lead the Sowore’s declaration?
I didn’t offer to lead his declaration. When did I offer to lead his declaration? In fact, if anything, last (penultimate) Monday, I attended the declaration of the National Conscience Party led by Dr. Tanko Yusuf, simply because the NCP is a member of the CNPP (Conference of Nigeria’s Political Parties). So, as a leader of the CNPP, I was there as a witness. As a member of the CNPP, I am obliged to show solidarity with the NCP but that doesn’t mean that we have chosen the CNPP as a platform for anything.
You said PRP is willing to join a coalition of political parties to tackle the PDP and dislodge the APC from power. Does that mean you won’t present a candidate?
The fact that we maintain our separate identity as a socialist party, committed to socialist reconstruction of Nigeria, doesn’t stop us from going into an alliance with other parties so that together, we can do what we can’t do alone. In any case, the history of the PRP is that of democratic alliance. The PRP has always been in democratic alliance with other political parties for minimum programme for Nigerians, covering our national unity, democracy and all-round development of the country.
What will you do if the coalition rejects Sowore as its candidate?
That is not an issue yet because we don’t know him. We are now beginning to find out who he is. The thing is, we have opened the door for everybody to aspire on the platform of the PRP but that doesn’t mean that we have chosen anybody. But in the mean time, we are assessing everybody who is aspiring to contest on the platform of the PRP to make sure that when the time comes, such a person will be suitable to represent us as the PRP’s candidate.
You said the current Nigeria political system has been dominated by corrupt politicians. Are you saying that your generation has failed Nigerians?
No. My generation has not failed Nigerians. It is the system. The system controls all development in the country; that is social, economic and the political. The political leadership was created by the system. So, it is the system and the leadership that are directly responsible for the negative state of the nation and in particular, this level of corruption, stealing and criminal waste of resources.
Are you considering an alliance with the coalition being championed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
Certainly not! Obasanjo is part of the problem confronting Nigeria. What did he do right when he was the President? While he was the President, the problems were there. What did he do about it? Nothing! Apart from this, there are so many people in the Obasanjo coalition that are not compatible with us in the PRP.
Is that why you described Obasanjo’s third force as a ‘kangaroo coalition’ of political jesters who have once failed the country?
That is exactly what it is. Tell me who the members are. They have always been there and they have failed. I don’t want to sound personal.
You once said nobody can become the President of Nigeria without first being a thief or backed by thieves. Can you explain better?
You know it as much as I do being a media practitioner. You know how much it will cost to contest as Nigeria’s president successfully. Who can get that type of money from his legitimate earning? We have estimated that to contest successfully as a president of Nigeria, you have to spend a minimum of N25bn. Is there any Nigerian who can gather that kind of money from his legitimate earning?
You said there was hardly any politician that can legitimately raise the kind of money required for presidential campaign in Nigeria. Did Sowore tell you he will be able to raise such fund?
I didn’t ask him because the situation doesn’t arise. He just expressed his ambition; and by the law of the country, we can’t reject him. We have started knowing him and assessing him.
What is your opinion of the planned moves by the National Assembly members to remove President Buhari over the purchase of Tucano fighter jets?
The truth is that we need something more than an impeachment process to correct the situation in the country. Impeachment is a constitutional and legal process to remove public officer that has failed if the condition set out is followed. However, in the Nigerian situation, it is difficult. I don’t know if the legislators can successfully remove President Buhari because he is in a better position to prove impeachable offences against any member of the legislature. There are allegations against members of the legislature and the President is in the position to provide evidence against those who have cases to answer among the National Assembly members. Recall that there are now cases against the leading members of the National Assembly in courts.
Do you support the impeachment against the President or the lawmakers should adopt another strategy to make the President follow due process?
If the grounds are clear in accordance with the constitution, let them (National Assembly) go ahead and impeach the President. I will support such action.
What do you think of the invasion of the Senate by hoodlums who also stole the mace?
It shows the level of the political crisis in the country. It shows that there is a serious crisis between the legislature and the executive. This is serious because the legislature, executive and the judiciary form the government. And if each member of the government cannot cooperate with one another, then it’s a serious matter.
What does this portend for the nation’s democracy?
There is no democracy. We are just deceiving ourselves. Where is democracy with what is happening in Nigeria? We are just talking about civil rule as opposed to military rule.
How would you rate the performance of the current APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari?
I have always said that the (Buhari) government has failed because it has not been able to fulfil its electioneering promises. It has not corrected the mistakes that existed before it got into power. It is not better than its predecessor. I remembered hearing some leading members of the APC right from the beginning, saying that if they failed like the PDP, which gave them the opportunity to be in power, they should be treated the same way Nigerians treated the PDP.
But you once said there was no alternative to President Buhari considering the calibre of those jostling for the Presidency. Are you still holding to that view?
It is now a different scenario because as it is today, we are talking about qualitative change and relevant change! We will go back to what PRP said in 2003 that Nigerians should decide who they want as the President of the country. This is because the issue of money has made it impossible for the right person to emerge. We are talking about the cost of campaigning to become a President. We are talking of an estimate of N25bn. Now, who can, from his legitimate earning, spend that amount of money to be the President of Nigeria.
The President just declared his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election. What do you think of this?
He is welcome. It is his right. He is welcome and like I said, the PRP is going to have its own presidential candidate that it will support. We have not decided who yet but we are engaging ourselves in the process.
President Buhari recently said a lot of Nigerian youths do not want to work because they are uneducated. Do you agree with him?
I think the President is wrong. The Nigerian youth are not lazy. And if they appeared to be lazy, it is because they were made to be lazy. The youth before 1970s in this country, were well-trained and they performed well. They were well-trained by their own parents, society and the government. The youth then received quality education but what quality of education do they get today? So, the youth nowadays have not been trained to take over like their predecessors were trained to take over. Gen. Yakubu Gowon was a young man when he became the head of state. The same thing also happened in the First Republic when young Nigerians took over the leadership of the country as civilian administrators. Today, there is problem of poverty and unemployment caused by government and this had made it difficult for parents to give the best education to their children.
Do you agree with the submission of a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, that the Nigerian Armed Forces are colluding with the rampaging herdsmen to kill innocent Nigerians?
This is mindless and to some extent unexpected of him. I think it has reached a level that a person like him who has always been in the system and who has benefited from the system more than anybody, to say such a thing.
What is your advice to the Federal Government about the killings currently generating tension in the country?
It shows the weakness of government and leadership because this is avoidable. The government is weak and careless and some of them are benefiting from the crisis because the states and the Federal Government as well as the international community are pumping a lot of money into security and in the process, a lot of people misuse that money for their own purposes. It’s a way of making themselves rich. So, some people will never allow the crisis to end because they would lose.
What do you think of the current government’s fight against corruption? Some Nigerians believe that the fight is selective?
There is no real fight against corruption in this country. For how long have they been fighting corruption? Do we see the real success? There is evidence that the government is being selective in the war against corruption.
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