Mallam Moyosore Jaji, a public affairs analyst and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in the first term was hindered by intra-party squabbles. He is optimistic the second term will be fruitful.
How do you see the just concluded 2019 general election?
We have to first thank God that despite the apprehensions before the exercise, whether they are contrived or real that the polls have come and gone without any issues relatively speaking, except for the pockets of isolated violence we had here and there. But judging by the size of Nigeria and its population, one can say we had a successful election. If we are awarding marks, I will score the conductor, which is the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), may be 70 per cent pass mark.
Some Nigerians have accused INEC of partisanship and in fact of rigging the election for the APC. What is your reaction to that?
The kind of politics we play in Nigeria does not give room for the loser to congratulate the winner. However, we must understand that politics is a game of intrigues and I can only have a competitive edge if I’m smarter than you are. Therefore, one is not surprised that some people feel they have been cheated. But there is an opening for such people to seek redress in the court of law. I am very glad that somebody like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has gone to court to challenge the result of the presidential election. Let’s wait and see how his case will pan out.
But, when you look at Oyo State, the APC was in charge, but due to some internal crisis, the state now has a PDP governor-elect. They see that one as free and fair, but anywhere they lose, they say INEC rigged for the APC.
Governorship elections in five states were declared inconclusive. The PDP is leading in four of these five, what will you say to the accusation that the APC wants to adopt ‘the Osun Formula’ to change the tide when supplementary election is held on March 23?
Politics is a game of numbers and the results are determined by what we call technically, first past the post. If for instance you have five votes and your opponent has three votes, you have won. Talking about Osun, what happened was that the INEC in its wisdom found out that there were compelling reasons to declare the first exercise inconclusive and therefore fixed another date for a supplementary election. And, when you are doing this kind of analysis, there is something called intervening variables. Between the time the election was declared inconclusive and the date announced for the supplementary election, the two parties, the APC and the PDP made moves to perfect their arrangements for winning the election. I know that a PDP delegation led by Bukola Saraki met the then beautiful bride of Osun politics, Otunba Iyiola Omisore, the APC delegation also met with him. The carrot the APC offered him must have been juicer than what the PDP offered him, and that was why he directed his followers to vote for the APC, that was what happened. Those who are involved in the inconclusive election should put their house in order. We were never told why the presidential election was shifted from February 16 to February 23, but my personal interaction revealed that the opposition had planned series of violence in some states. I don’t speak for the APC, I speak in my personal capacity, but I know that some statements made by Atiku were reasons for concern. A situation where he went about saying that as long as he is alive that he will make sure that his opponent will not secure a second term, how was he going to do that? It is only an irresponsible government that will sit, fold its hand and wait to see what they will do.
President Muhammadu Buhari said before the election he will congratulate only himself and nobody else…
(Cuts in) I’m a politician and I will tell you that I will not waste millions of naira in an exercise I know is winner takes all. What Buhari was asked is whether he will congratulate the winner, not necessarily Atiku. The question was, are you going to congratulate the winner? You must also bear in mind that the election did not involve only Buhari and Atiku. There was Kingsley Muoghalu, Omoyele Sowore and many others.
You see, there is what we call conscience. Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio said that ‘conscience is an open wound that only the truth can heal.’ I’m sure where ever Atiku is, if he has a conscience, his conscience will tell him that there is no way he could have defeated Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigerians had the chance of comparing the two. Some people were there for 16 good years. When they were in power, crude oil was selling at a very high price consistently for many years but at the end, there was nothing to show us they did with the money that accrued from the sale of crude oil. All we had was tales of how public funds were embezzled. In the case of Buhari between 2015 and 2019 despite the hiccups here and there, we can see things he has done and we believe that in his second term he will do better.
President Buhari performed woefully in the South East. Do you see any repercussions in terms of appointments?
What Buhari did then was a slip, he spoke before he could think of the repercussions and I’m sure he must have been corrected afterwards. You cannot force people to vote for you, but you can use moral persuasion to convince those who hitherto didn’t want to vote for you to have a change of heart. Between 2015 and now, I’m sure Buhari did so many things in the South East to convince them that this government is about everybody. Maybe the time has come too for the South East to start thinking of a national party, not a regional party like the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). APGA is only in the South East. The APC is everywhere, PDP is everywhere. I’m sure with the involvement of people like Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in the APC now, whatever belongs to the South East in terms of development and appointments will be given to them.
As it is, Nigeria is going to ‘the next level,’ but the current level is very discouraging. What should we expect?
The level we are in today would not have been this bad if not for the centrifugal forces that existed within the APC. These forces were fighting from the centre and spreading to the periphery and in the process destroying everything.