CONTROVERSIAL Second Republic member of House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has said that the North will present a candidate for 2023 presidential election, as zoning and rotation of power have collapsed, and as such any region with the political strength can claim the coveted position.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, Mohammed asked the Southeast to forget 2023, accusing Ohanaeze of collecting millions of naira to support Atiku Abubakar’s presidential election.
Are you satisfied with the conduct of the last general elections?
I thought I would be satisfied after the first election, but later it came to my notice and when I started getting phone calls on the reactions to the elections, within and outside the country, including people who were international observers, I became very disappointed.
When the second round of elections came, all hell broke
loose; during these governorship and state House of Assembly elections, what happened was a complete mayhem; no laws, no order and the people who were responsible for maintaining law and order were in the forefront on mangling the election, and upturning peoples mandate.
So, I’m not satisfied and I can never be satisfied.
The problem with this kind of recklessness on the part of people who are supposed to be umpires and administrators is that they rubbish the name of democracy itself; they rubbish the rule of law and more or less, they turn the whole essence of mandate and legitimacy of mandate upside down.
This is very unfortunate because without a government whose mandate and whole legitimacy is accepted by the people, there can never be law and order. Then, there is a beginning of a cause you don’t know where and when it will end.
When the poverty in the Northeast was grinding, we were complaining that there was massive poverty in the region that we better did something about it, but nobody in government paid any serious attention. When the Boko Haram started in 2009, we know what has since then been happening in that part of the country.
From the Northeast, that mayhem, that illegitimacy that re- fused to accept the legitimacy of the government moved on to the North Central and they are currently in the Northwest, where banditry has been legitimised; anybody can go into the bush and calls himself name, and decides to attack whoever he chooses to attack. People in government have been attacked and some of them have been abducted.
This problem of abduction of people has been in the South- South and Southeast for a long time but the government didn’t do its duty. The primary responsibility of government is the maintenance of law and order; law and order became out of reach for those in government either because they didn’t care or they didn’t know what to do. This is the situation until this morning.
Atiku has gone to court to challenge the election; some people say that he is overheating the already heated polity. What do you say to this?
I don’t know whether Atiku means to overheat the polity, but the fact remains whether he means it or not, the net result of what he is doing is to overheat the polity, and that is unfortunate.
Any patriotic Nigerian will know that when the polity is overheated the way it is being done now, at the end of the day there will be violence; there will be massive movement of people from where they are legitimately working and earning their living to their hometowns.
After decades of independence, we ought to be beyond this kind of ramshackle government, where if you ignite a match, people will start scrambling to go back to their homes.
People used to go to their homes to vote during elections, but this time it was a big progress as people stayed where they live to vote.
I’m about 70, and when I was growing up, election was like a mad house or a psychiatric home. Once election was approaching everybody was going to railway station to but ticket to travel to their homes, but this time around, people stayed be- hind to vote. This is a big progress and I hope it will continue. Why will I leave Kano to Port Harcourt to vote, it doesn’t make sense.
The main issue behind Atiku’s complaint is that he knew that he lost the election, whatever he says or whatever the people who work for him say. The statement he issues or by Secondus and other people who work with him is that they are now accusing and abusing not just those who are in APC (I’m not in APC and I will never be in APC), but also others who have nothing to do with the election. That to me shows that they are very primitive and immature politicians. You don’t have to abuse me if you want me to vote for you.
Sadly, Atiku has been the mastermind of the rigging of elections in this country from 1999, when he and Obasanjo were with the ticket. If you did that kind of thing, you will not be surprised even if you want to believe what you want to believe, you cannot be surprised if people have mastered what you taught them. Many of the APC members decamped from the PDP. We grew up with some of them, we worked with some of them; we married into their families and they married into our families, so it is not something new. We all know the rig- gers; Atiku is the principal rigger. So, he has no moral basis to complain of being rigged out.
He even went beyond the moral norm by hacking into the servers of INEC, and publishing documents, but to mark him up, INEC went and put the real figures for everybody to see. This is very unfortunate for those who claim to be statesmen. You have to know that the most important thing for you and your party is the survival of the country because the connection I have with Atiku is that he is a Nigerian and I’m a Nigerian. If there is no Nigeria where would he go, which president will he be?
I believe he has the constitutional right to go to court, but the way and manner he is doing it is destructive and he is lying through his teeth; the same thing with Secondus and some of the hired hands, hacks who write statements for them. Some of the people who issue the statements don’t even know Nigeria.
You stay in your village, and after school you come to Lagos and then to Abuja, and you start abusing people left, right and centre. These are the kind of people who are causing a lot of problem; there must be peace before you have governance.
Do you see Buhari’s second term differ- ent from the first?
No. I don’t.
On the record, I read where he said that this time around, his government will be an all in- clusive one. That to me is very fundamental because when I started speaking in 2015 about the manner he put together his government, all these boys in the presidency and others who go about collecting money from ministers and others, started attacking me, issuing statements whether I know what governance was all about.
Many of them don’t even know the his- tory and the genesis of what they were talking about. When I raised the issue of Amina Zakari they kept quiet; when I raised other issues, they kept quiet.
After three years, on the issue of Amina Zakari, they came out to own the statement, they now say that Buhari and Zakari were only related by marriage. If you go and marry somebody’s relation are you not related? His statement is a confirmation that he knows that his government is nepotistic, comprising his relations, in-laws etc.
To make matters worse, every of these appointments, not only that it was not done on merit, but it was given to the least competent person, and where their incompetence became glaring, nothing happened to them.
The statement he made to me is that he accepted that the way and manner he went about making personnel changes in personnel choices was wrong, and in the end it is the country that suffers it. When you make an appointment without merit, you are unfaithful.
He also said that this time around he is go- ing to be tough and he is going to put people where they belong, so that they can do good job, etc. This is an admission that the people he has in the last four years have not done a good job and to make matter worse, he has lacked the courage to sack them. If you have the pow- er to hire somebody, by implication, you also have the power to fire him. If you give a man a job, and he cannot do it, ask him to go because it is a political appointment, there is no capital punishment.
You cannot give a man who clearly is not capable, no matter the issue – or is it because of nepotism, or it’s because he is your friend, or your in-law, or your friend, nephew or niece.
PMB’s handlers say you were so criti- cal of the president because you were frus- trated that he didn’t give you any appoint- ment. True or false?
We have been friends since 1967, at the outbreak of the civil war, before I travelled to Soviet Union for further education, and there was never a time I asked him for any favour, and I want you to quote me directly, and let him tell if I have ever asked him for any favour, or for any member of my family or friend or relation.
Secondly, the military government came and threw us out of power; but one of my closest friends among the military and among people generally was General Babangida. When I started speaking the way I started, it was public, Babangida came out openly to say that I had never asked him for any ministerial appointment, or any other appointment, that I was his friend and still remain his friend in spite of our differences. As I’m talking to you now, yesterday (Monday), I was with him in Minna over break fast. If he had not been honourable enough to deny that that I never asked him for appointment, then their analysis would have continued.
Therefore, this time around when I started with Buhari, another friend, people, especially from the South kept talking, not knowing the relationship between Buhari and I. Well, they can say what they want to say. If I want an ap- pointment, I believe I’m qualified as any other Nigerian living or dead.
Secondly, I will never be a member of any party that Buhari is involved with, be it ANPP, CPC and APC.
Many people had asked me to join any of the parties where Buhari is; I told them that I would never share the same party with him. I told them that Buhari is not a politician. I’m not a member and would never be a member of APC.
If you are not a member of a party what makes anybody think that after he won the election that I should go round and say give me an appointment. I’m not that kind of per- son. I don’t believe that even those who are shameless can go and ask a leader of a party to give them appointment when they are not members of the party in the face of thousands of party members who have not been given anything.
I’m not a member of his party and I have never attended a single political event organ- ised by him from 2002 when he joined APP until today.
He cannot deny me. Off the cuff, I can tell you ten favours I did to him and I challenge him to tell me one favour he has done to me.
Babangida’s security chief, Gusau jailed me; I was detained in Owo, Ondo State for over three months. One can say that Babangida who was the head of the government detained me, it doesn’t matter. However, I survived and I have maintained my integrity and I have been able to talk to anybody; to talk to those in power. They say I’m looking for ap- pointment, what appointment?
Let me tell you, if I were in the dream and I decide to have an appointment, I will not take it from Buhari.
Those who are saying that I was looking for something from him don’t know me. He, Buhari knows how useful I am to him. I took him to the United States twice – CIA, State Department, Capitol, Congress, National Security Office, etc, and I took him to UK once, and he didn’t beg me to do it.
I know in a country like Nigeria, it is difficult to trust people who say they were doing this thing not because they were expecting any benefit but because of the sake of the country.
It is very unusual to hear of a Nigerian who talks of Nigerians hating Nigeria; everybody is after something, but there are few people in this country of over 200 million, who still believe in this country, and can come out to claim their faith in this country.
An Arewa youth leader, Shettima Yeri- ma, in a recent interview, said that Buhari wasn’t the candidate of the North for the 2019 election, and that by 2023, the North will present its own candidate. How will you reconcile this when people are saying for the sake of equity and justice, power should go to South?
Shettima is my friend, even though I didn’t read the statement, but let me state my view. This idea of zoning and rotation has been a tragedy for Nigeria because it can deprive Ni- geria of getting a better leader. That being the case, whosoever wants to claim it, let him go.
Look at what the Afenifere said that next time it would be a Yoruba person. Their under- standing of rotation is between the North and the Southwest, or Northwest and the South- west. That cannot be.
Now the contradiction, which they invented about zoning and rotation, has now collapsed, and now they are looking for lies to tell to deceive us.
Otherwise, how can you say that we now have a president who is from the Northwest and his deputy, who is from Southwest, and hat next time it will be the turn of the South- west to produce the president of this country. What are we talking about?
I don’t want to hear about this equity and justice, that is sheer nonsense.
The people, who abused this equity and justice, are the people from the Southeast because whatever we are talking about, in a democracy you cannot circumvent voting figures.
You can say it is time for my people. We will not vote for you and let’s see what hap- pens. I said it in one of my statements, look at the way the people of the Southeast voted during the last election; they have a humongous collection of votes and they all voted for Atiku, and they expect somebody to come from his own area to vote for them.
If you want other Nigerians to vote for you, you better look for other Nigerians and make a choice. Maybe, in 2023, Kanu will come and force all Nigerians to vote for them. Democra- cy is a question of give and take; you vote for me and I vote for you, that was what Michael Okpara used to say. You don’t vote for me and maybe you think that by abusing me on the pages of newspapers that I will vote for you. I will not. If I come back into active politics, it will be because of that. Let us see, for abusing people how they will vote for you.
Look at Ohanaeze, how they are duping people; they collected millions from Atiku. Let us see 2023, by the grace of God, which candidate they want to produce.
There are over 232 ethnic groups in Nigeria, how can anybody be a candidate of a group and expect to be voted by the others. You pressmen you have a responsibility to enlighten people. I want to see how they will pick the candidate from Southeast in 2023.
Some of us traditionally, we don’t talk too much, but don’t imagine that we will keep quiet and do your own bidding, it will not happen. See what is happening now, we have started the second term of Buhari’s administration, but today, people are scrambling for 2023, and the Yoruba are saying that it is their turn. How it’s their turn, I don’t know.
We keep on making this mistake of agitation of, ‘it is our turn’ over and over again. Af- ter all, somebody says the classical definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
This is what I see happening in Southeast; you don’t vote for anybody, you only vote for who gives money, also those who say they are in APGA; all those who belong to the Igbo faction of PDP. They should think back and think of their own generation of those who are promising and who are educated and who don’t see politics as trading. Politics is not trading; it is a serious matter.
Both Buhari and Atiku are from the North, was it wrong if Southeast or South- west supported one of them?
It doesn’t matter, but what matters is that there was a candidate who can run the coun- try; is he acceptable to the rest of Nigeria or rather than just an ethnic group?
If you check the figures from the election of 2003 until 2015, Buhari has never won his home state of Katsina. You can see that the fact that he came from Katsina was neither here nor there. His own people couldn’t vote for him in three elections.
But what happens in Southeast is that you have people who enforce their Igbo hegemony on other people by violence, and if the election doesn’t go their own way they go and produce Kanu and IPOB.
I remember former President Jonathan be- ing persuaded by the Yoruba that the Sovereign National Conference was going to be by ethnic groups, I pointed out to them and I remember that Murtala Nyako also pointed it directly to Jonathan that if you do that it won’t work. Like in Taraba, there are 72 ethnic groups and in Adamawa, there are also 82 ethnic groups, while Yoruba has only one ethnic group, and all of them speak one language and one culture. How do you equate their representation at the Sovereign National Conference with that of 82 from Adamawa and 72 from Taraba?
You can see people talk rubbish; they don’t know what they are talking about because they don’t know themselves. Will they accept it if you say that all the Hausa should bring the same number of people with the Yoruba because they are each ethnic group, but there are other minor ethnic groups in the North. So, let’s see what happens.
How do you want the composition of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly?
Frankly speaking, I have nothing but contempt for the entire eighth National Assembly, and the way I see them now, everybody is agitating that it must not be this man; it must be him. They are all positioning themselves for positions of principal officers of the NASS. The Ninth Senate will be business as usual, they will move round, and collect money from the budget and all sorts of criminal things.
It has now become a pattern, anytime they are clearing budget, the ministry, agency or department must bring money, which must be shared.