Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Dr. Mohammed Bello Magaji is a senior lawyer, a retired military officer, as well as a University lecturer. He is the former chairman of Kaduna State chapter of Labour Party (LP). He is currently on sabbatical to Uganda where he lectures law at the University of Uganda, Kampala.
In this interview, Magaji who is on holiday in Kaduna, advised President Muhammadu Buhari on how to go about the selection of his ministers for the second term in office, adding that Buhari’s choice of his cabinet members will either make or break his government.
You were once state chairman of Labour Party (LP), Kaduna chapter, a political party that is supposed to have the support of most civil servants in the country. What went wrong that the party could not make impact in the last general elections?
Labour party was meant to be a worker’s party but for some reasons it didn’t make the desired impact. Initially, at inception it impacted on the polity because of party leaders that had direction as to where they intend to move the party. This led to it winning a state in Ondo. However subsequent leadership squabble leading to a factionalised party did great damage to the ability of the party to make any meaningful impact in subsequent elections especially the last general elections. The refusal or failure of the workers to regard it as their political platform due to their loyalty to state governors contribute towards the diminished fortunes of the party.
Members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejoiced over Supreme Court judgement that gave victory to their party in Zamfara State. What is your reaction to the judgment?
Supreme Court judgment over Zamfara elections is a watershed. It once again brings to the fore the need for political parties to adhere to internal democracy. It further shows that dictatorial tendencies of perceived and so call godfathers is gradually downplayed. It is a most welcomed decision and moves the bar of our democratic growth forward. Giving effect to the Supreme Court’s decision brings to fore the need to amend the electoral act. This is to forestall the ugly situation where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reissue Certificate of Return to those who were victorious at the court and withdraw the earlier ones issued. This would be averted if the Act provides for stay of issuance of certificate of return till pending cases heard and judgments delivered.
Atiku Abubakar of PDP is still in court with President Muhammadu Buhari over the presidential election result. Do you see light at the end of the tunnel for Atiku and PDP?
Well, Atiku’s pending case at the election tribunal is what I will not comment on as it is before a competent tribunal. However I feel whichever way it goes it will enrich our democratic experiences.
Most Nigerians are saying that the country is going through rough and tough times under Buhari, especially, on insecurity threatening every parts of the country. Are you also of the same view?
There are indeed hard times and general insecurity in the country. I completely associate myself with the view that Nigeria has never had it worse in terms of insecurity and difficult times. This is the worst in recent times and in my over 60 years as a Nigerian, things have not been this bad. Almost all parts of the country are confronted with one security problem or the other. And unfortunately my zone the North West seems to take the lion’s share in both hardships and insecurity.
I think some of the ways out of the present insecurity is to first of all overhaul the security apparatus particularly the Service Chiefs, declare a state of emergency in the security sector in the county and then draw from the advice of past military experts who have a great deal of experience to bear on such issues.
Whether we like it or not, some politicians are already making moves for the 2023 presidential slot. Do you see the North producing a presidential candidate against Buhari’s promise that the West should produce the next president?
I don’t have much to say on 2023 presidency. The choice or anointed candidate by President Buhari goes to no issue if the performance of his presidency is anything to go by. The fortunes of any person who he will anoint will only be made easy if he performs well in the next four years. Remember also that the PDP as a political party reserves the right to pick its presidential candidate from any part of the country. So you know what that means; it means that the North has the right to produce a presidential candidate in 2023.
What manner of ministers should Nigerians expect from President Buhari as he settles down for the second term in office?
Going by what we saw of his former ministers who have performed below expectations, I hope this time around he will go for people who are tried and tested particularly technocrats with the ability to deliver as against party persons who are bereft of ideas to move the country forward. His selection of ministers will make or break him and his party.
June 12 has been declared Democracy Day by the Federal government without declaring the winner of that presidential election. What is your view on this?
Personally, I feel that the president should go forward and declare chief MKO Abiola president posthumously even if notionally. This will give effect to the declaration of June 12 as democracy day.