By Oyinatumba Cynthia
Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Muhammed Abba-Gana has stressed the need to adopt the electronic transmission of results to forestall a looming danger in the country. He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the precedent set by former President Goodluck Jonathan to successfully handover to a new administration in 2023.
Nigeria should adopt electronic transmission to avoid looming danger -Abba Gana
As an elder statesman, what are your reflections about the state of affairs in Nigeria especially with particular reference to the political class?
It appears that the Nigerian political class at least most of us, are refusing to change our attitude to politics, government, ethnicity, religion, region & regionalism and even business.
We are in a way, willing the end and denying the means to achieve the very end we all desire. Instead of putting our heads and hands together to find solutions to our existential problems and crises facing all our peoples we appear to be chasing or looking for the utopia – the non-existent ideal/perfect society.
The things we want right now are: How do we get critical mass of good leaders at all levels of government and even the organized private sector and the civil society and the media. We are not at all giving enough attention to this important matter of leadership recruitment process. When things get right, it’s because of leadership and when things go wrong, it’s because of leadership. So leadership recruitment process is a very serious matter in any country or society.
Again, the political class, all of us, should contribute to ensuring that a culture of free and fair election is established in our country, Nigeria, the largest black nation in the world.
Because of our status and esteem in the world, we should stop behaving like the so called “Banana Republic”. We should also worry about our poor record in providing security of lives and property as now obtains. Another important task for the political class is to find solutions to the unacceptably high levels of unemployment, hunger, severe poverty and income inequality.
5. Another equally important matter to receive the attention of political class is how to provide affordable basic education, health care, housing, transportation, food, electricity, and water supply systems etc., The lack of adequate portable public water supply is really embarrassing. Nigeria is blessed with all sorts of fresh water sources which can be utilized by properly investing in the sector by all levels of government. More people have died from cholera in the last few years than Covid–19 and yet malaria and our water born diseases are receiving less attention & funding than the Covid–19.
6. Again, it’s very important to remind all members of our political class that politics is not a job for those who are not well tutored and with highly refined character. Politicians get elected into leadership where they are entrusted with power and state resources to be managed on behalf of all the people not just their supporters or those who voted for them. Therefore, responsible politics is not a game where only subterfuge, treachery, acrimony etc., brings success. Accordingly, unless and until we get our politics right, we cannot get all other things right.
How do you feel about the mistrust among the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria? Is it part of the failure of leadership?
Former President Obasanjo truly operated an all-inclusive National government without leaving any interest group or ethnic group transparently behind. The PDP as a party didn’t lose anything. That was why there was unprecedented peace, unity, security and general prosperity in the 8 years of Obasanjo’s presidency. I was FCT Minister for about 2 & half years under former President Obasanjo. He just directed me to take care of all Nigerians from every state. Deliberate pursuit of winner takes all in an economy dominated by government expenditure and activities at all levels will naturally exclude/leave behind millions of Nigerians.
Again, if a highly partisan Federal Government not like former President Jonathan, supervises the crucial 2023 general elections, the integrity of elections will not be acceptable to large majority of Nigerians. This is why the electronic transmission of results must be properly agreed and put in place in good time. This would help reduce tensions on massive election rigging. The National Assembly members have enough time to do the right things, to avoid all the political minefields and looming dangers. It’s timely to remind NASS members, INEC and the ruling APC that the 1st Republic of Nigeria, the 2nd Republic of Nigeria under President Shagari, June 12 election annulment all resulted in the collapse of Federal Government of Nigeria.
Therefore I strongly advise President Buhari not to allow the inordinate ambition of any politicians in his ruling party, APC, to overuse the power of incumbency. And terminate our longest democratic dispensation. Historically in Nigeria, unreasonable/unacceptable election victories resulted in unimaginable security and social crises. Therefore, President Buhari should simply do on May 29, 2023, what former President Jonathan had done to him on May 29, 2015. He should handover a peaceful and united Federal Republic of Nigeria to the next democratically elected President and not a nation in crisis and in intensive care unit under the care of United Nations consultants.
What recommendations do you have for the amendment of the 1999 constitution?
I would like to make the following recommendations to the 1999 constitution amendment. North–South rotation and rotation among the six geopolitical zones of the position of the President and two Vice Presidents to be provided for in the constitution. This will take care of the concerns of the three major ethnic groups and all the minority ethnic groups in both Northern and Southern parts.
Also, rotation of the position of State Governor among the three Senatorial districts in every state to be provided for in the constitution. We have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot or our national economy cannot take the economic burden of creating many states. Let us ensure proper functioning of the existing 36 states.
Again to really and quickly establish democratic order and culture at the LGA/grassroots levels, state electoral commissions nationwide should be abolished and INEC to take over all elections in the country. It’s dishonesty at high level to assume that the state electoral commissions are really independent. They are not strong enough to resist political control and interference. As about 50 percent of the population of Nigeria live in the LGAs, we cannot afford to kill democracy at the LGAs and pretend that democracy is alive and well at the state and federal levels. Democracy is organic; it cannot be dead at the LG level and alive at the Federal level. Local Government autonomy with coordinating role in respect of development planning for the State Governments to be provided for in the constitution.
Also, meaningful and important roles for our dear Traditional Rulers to be provided for in the constitution. We definitely need them in the governance structure and value chain.
May Allah guide all our leaders elected and appointed at all levels and sectors along the right path. Amin.
Long live The Federal Republic of Nigeria.