The gang up against President Buhari is because people are afraid that what they have looted will be exposed by his administration
A former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, has described the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, as the best option for Nigeria in 2019. She also spoke on other national issues.
Restructuring has become a subject of debate among different individuals, groups and organisations in the country with different opinions on it, what’s your stand on it?
I believe in restructuring. But it should be done in a way that it will not lead to the disintegration of Nigeria. There has been too much struggle for the control of power at the centre, but with restructuring there will be devolution of power and a return to true practice of Federalism which in turn will help to diffuse tension. It was military intervention that led to the introduction of the unitary system of government which we are practising now but with genuine restructuring, the nation will return to true practice of federalism as it was done in the First Republic before military intervention which disrupted the system.
During the First Republic, cost of governance was not too expensive like what is happening to us now that we are running presidential system of government. What elected public officers including members of the National Assembly are earning today is too much. What are they doing or what kind of work are they doing to be collecting such jumbo pay? Elected public officers are being overpaid. But once there can be a drastic cut in salaries and allowances of these people, inflation will come down. There is bitter struggle for political power because of this jumbo pay politicians are collecting as salaries and allowances.
The way Nigerians are seeking political power at all cost and by all means is frightening. It is their acts of desperation that eventually lead to do-or-die politics. Nigerian politicians should realise that ultimate power belong to God. It is also God that is the owner of our souls and life. Not only that, it is Almighty Allah that determines who to give power to.
Of recent you have been canvassing for the setting up of a Truth, Restitution and Recovery Commission, what’s this commission all about?
From all indications, the gang up against President Buhari is because people are afraid that what they have looted will be exposed by his administration, and that he may be ruthless with them ahead of the elections. So the intense drive to get Buhari out of office has become deeply intense. This is even not limited to the people at the top but also include civil servants and every other person that has collaborated in destroying Nigeria. All these people don’t want Buhari to be there come 2019. So what I’m proposing is that we should set up this commission, and this commission should be fashioned after the Truth Reconciliation Commission in South Africa where those people that did wrong during the apartheid period came out to confess to their evil deeds, and made restitution.
In the same vein, people who stole Nigeria money and are afraid that they may be caught, and don’t want to be caught, jailed and be shamed will come to that commission and be given immunity from prosecution after they have coughed out what they have looted. Membership of the commission should cut across all divides, it should be all embracing. An eminent Nigerian should chair the commission. I’m also proposing that we should have an economic team that will be made up of pure professionals that will be saddled with turning the economy round.
There is a lot of anxiety as the elections are fast approaching …
(Cuts in) … It is not desirable that President Buhari should hand over this country to those who will loot this nation. It is not that Buhari is 100 percent without any fault but with Buhari we can see silver linen for Nigeria. Those people whose hands are tainted don’t want Buhari back in 2019. But some of these people can’t come out openly to say so. If this kind of commission I’m proposing can be set up, then the 2019 general elections will be less of a do-or-die affair. I know that PDP presidential candidate and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is desperate to become President at all costs, but Atiku should realise that it is not a do-or-die affair. Atiku should not be desperate. And if at all he wants to become President of Nigeria, Nigerians must be convinced that he has turned a new leaf. Right now most Nigerians believe that Atiku is tainted, they believe he is not the man for the job unless we want Nigeria to be classified as a nation of thieves.
I’m not in PDP or APC. I’m not a member of any political party but I believe in Buhari. But I also wonder at some of the things happening under Buhari’s administration. I wonder whether he is the one condoning some of these things. I remember there was a time during Jonathan’s period as president when it was reported that the newspapers Jonathan was reading was different from the ones Nigerians were reading. I hope this is not what is happening to Buhari now.
I don’t see any of these people who have been perceived as looters going away quietly. They are desperate to get power at all cost.
On your reservations about Atiku Abubakar, some Nigerians are saying that it has only been cases of allegations and no proof of corruption yet against him, what’s your take on that?
Let Atiku come out and tell Nigerians how he became stupendously rich. So far he has not done that, but this is the time for him to do it. He should explain to Nigerians why he can’t travel to the United States of America. Then how did he become a billionaire after retiring as a Customs officer? Did he get bank loan? People are alleging that Atiku sold Nigeria off during the privatisation era when he was the nation’s Vice President.
During that period, most of the nation’s companies were sold to people who couldn’t manage them when Atiku supervised the privatisation exercise. Some of these companies were sold off when they still had funds and were still viable. The facts are there as to what happened during the privatisation era under Atiku’s watch. All these are in public domain. Under Atiku’s watch, Eleme Petrochemical Industry was sold off. It was also under his watch that Nigeria Fertilizer Company (NAFCON) was sold off. Aluminium Smeltering Company, NICON Hilton, Sunti Sugar Limited, Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, Osogbo, Bacita Sugar Company, if some of these companies are still being run by the government, they would have provided a lot of jobs for the unemployed. Some of these companies are dead. This is why I get annoyed when some people claim that it is under Buhari that many Nigerians are out of jobs. This is not being fair; the problem long started before Buhari came on board. The rot has been there. It has been building up over the years. Under this commission I’m proposing, we should also list all Nigerian companies and projects that could have made Nigeria great but which were grounded. Who are the officers responsible? Who are the architects of the problems of these companies? Everybody involved should come forward and release whatever is in their hands.
Although I also have my reservations about ways some things are going under Buhari’s administration, he is still far better to lead Nigeria. The way some retired Nigerian pub- lic officials live when they travel outside the country, how they spend money, you wonder whether they were once salary earners or whether they were retired civil servants. We need to address some of these issues in order to save this country.
On the issue of Lagos State and 2019, what’s your take on the governorship?
The political impunity that took place in Lagos State with Governor Ambode being denied a second term ticket by APC may prove costly for the party. Imagine when Lagosians believe that Ambode is doing well, and were thinking of him going for a second term, and then all of a sudden the APC accused Ambode of not being a party man so he was denied the second term ticket. Sanwo-Olu was brought in to replace him but APC should realise that it is only APC members that are with them. If APC leaders should go round the streets of Lagos and feel the pulse of the people, they will realise that the average Lagosians are not with them. Their decision on Ambode may cost APC Lagos State, especially if the issue is not well managed.
Many Lagosians like Ambode. Under him VIOs were not allowed to terrorise Lagosians, same also goes for LASTMA, but then APC party leaders opposed Ambode. However what APC leaders should realise is that in 2019 it is not only APC members that are going to vote. When they say Ambode was not behaving or acting like a true party man, what does APC leaders mean? This will cost them the vote of Lagosians. Average Lagosians are not convinced about APC accusations against Governor Ambode.
Although the impunity is in both APC and PDP, APC is however better because of the Buhari factor. There is hardly any difference between PDP and APC. It is a mixed bag, a potpourri. Other political parties are also no better.
Recently, a body of Christian elders led by retired General Yakubu Danjuma implored Nigerians not to vote for either APC or PDP in 2019 arguing that both parties had ruined Nigeria, and that Nigerians should vote for another party, what’s your reaction to that?
But tell me, do we have any other alternative other than PDP or APC? Although INEC registered over 90 political parties, how many of these parties have the funds to project themselves. It is only PDP and APC that have the financial muscle. The country is in a mess. The so-called alternatives are not there, and even if they are there the zoning arrangement has put them off. Again these new parties don’t have money for campaigns and mass enlightenment. An enlightened public will not vote a bad person into office.
About 40 political parties have decided to form an alliance with PDP to face President Buhari and APC in 2019…
(Cuts in) I don’t see the alliance succeeding against Buhari. The so-called alliance is all about self interests and not in national interests. The alliance is for selfish reasons and I don’t see it working.
On the issue of resurgence in Boko Haram attacks, what do you think is the way out?
Boko Haram issue can only be tackled with sincerity of purpose. We are not being sincere on the issue, and unfortunately as a result of our insincerity lives are being wasted to insurgent attacks.
Who is not being sincere?
The military leadership, who is taking inventory of ammunition and equipment being used to fight the insurgents? What about the training of our soldiers? What about the manning of our borders to check the influx of illegal immigrants? Don’t we have informants that are being paid to spy on the insurgents? It is unfortunate that the Boko Haram matter is being turned into an avenue for making money by some people.