… SaysAtiku would have been better leader
Though General David Jemibewon (rtd) is no longer in active politics, he is still very much concerned about certain developments in the country.
Speaking on the sideline about the 2019 general elections, he expressed the view that the opposition PDP would serve the interest of Nigerians better than the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
As a former Minister of Police Affairs, you pioneered the idea of community policing. In view of the current security situation in the country, what would you suggest as a way of strengthening citizens’ involvement in security and intelligence gathering?
Of course, when you talk of security, it is not just a job for the police alone. The police secure the society, they secure the community. So, for security to be effective, the citizens must be seriously involved. The Police Force is one of the establishments set up for the purpose of ensuring security. The people must, therefore, be at the centre of efforts to ensure total security. That is to say, the citizens must be so organized that they collaborate with the police and other security agencies. They must be prepared to give information to security agencies; they must be prepared to give total support in whatever way it is necessary to ensure that they are their own security. In this regard, education, training, commitment, and so, on are very necessary ingredients in ensuring effective security of the community. Therefore, members of the community must be as keen, enthusiastic and as interested as the establishment that is put up by the government for the security of the citizens. As they say, charity begins at home. In other words, people in the community must give support to the police and other security agencies. They should be in the forefront of making their job easy.
Electioneering towards the 2019 general elections is already on. What is the way to ensuring that elections hold in a peaceful atmosphere?
One, violence cannot be completely eliminated. Some reasons leading to violence may not necessarily be political. But political electioneering provides the ground for people to score points particularly if there have been disagreements. Two people will disagree if they don’t see face to face. You could control such disagreement, which often times extends to violence. But where they cannot meet, there is no way there can be violence. The man is Sokoto cannot fight the man in Lagos. Electioneering period provides opportunity for people to meet with people whom otherwise they would not have met. This is why generally crises get out of control during political campaigns. What I am trying to say is this: whether there is politics or not, there will be occasion when there is insecurity arising from arguments here and there. It is only that during political campaign that it is more frequent. I think what will happen really is to call on leaders to do it according to the rules. There are rules guiding elections, let people obey the rules, let leaders show leadership by example, and by educating their followership that politics is not fight to the finish. Those who don’t win today may win tomorrow. Those who win must also realise that they are occupying positions on temporary basis. So, education comes in.
People have been campaigning for the emergence of Third Force in the political space. Is there any new thing you expect this so-called Third Force to bring to the table for the good of Nigerians? This is bearing in mind the fact that the coalition may eventually turn out to be an amalgam of dissents from the two leading political parties.
There will always be a Third Force. And a Third Force may not necessarily be those forces you know today. People who agree today may disagree tomorrow. I think that is what democracy means; people having opportunity to belong to any political group of their choice. Whichever force is in the position of leadership should do that which is right, that which will please the citizenry, that which will please the electorate. I don’t think there will be a time when people won’t disagree. As they always say, it is good to disagree to agree.
And to say that Third Force can’t bring new idea, I don’t agree with you. There are reasons people hold certain ideas. And when those reasons don’t exist anymore, they should be able to have the opportunity to change their mind. If, for example, some people get together and decided this is what we are going to do when we get to government and on getting to government they failed to do it, then those that are not satisfied in that group should have the opportunity to opt out and coalesce with people of like minds who are interested in promoting peace and understanding which they believe will lead to progress and development. If there is any effort to prevent such group from coming into being, that then becomes undemocratic.
The nPDP who defected from the original PDP in the run up to the 2015 general elections and joined forces with other political parties to form the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are now aggrieved, threatening to dump the party if certain conditions are not met. As a former member of the PDP, did you foresee this happening?
Honestly, I don’t know. You know in a political situation, 24 hours is a long time. There are three classes of politicians. There are those who are in politics for the development of society and go into office to do the best for the country. There are also those who take politics as business. For such individuals, development of the country is not their priority.
Since they see politics as an enterprise, they don’t really mind whether they kill or destroy so as to win election. For them, politics is business and in business, profit is the main objective. Then, there is the third group who has the belief that politicians are not good people and so members don’t care whether the situation changes or not. They believe whichever party is there, the result will be the same. It depends on which of these three categories the people you talked about belong. My thinking is that those who are out for the good of the society do not see what is happening to be in conformity with what they are in politics for and, therefore, decide to leave. I want to believe, subject to their strength, they could make great impact. But their strength is very important. I just pray that we salvage our country by getting men of good character.
The PDP is now better repositioned with the new National Chairman. Do you see it in a good stead to unseat the APC-led government?
To be honest with you, I am not too sure that APC is better than PDP. There are good people on both sides. But when you put the totality of the whole thing together and compare, I am not too sure APC is particularly better than PDP. And I sympathise with Buhari because, one, he doesn’t know the people he is working with. Two, those people he is working with don’t believe in some of his major policies. It is not like the military where you follow the leader. When you talk of corruption, idea of his followers is different from his own idea. So, you could see the conflict under his leadership. And it is not because of his incompetence. He is a very highly competent person and incorruptible. But then, he doesn’t know those who are working with him. These are some of the reasons we are not making progress. If PDP is to do well at all, if PDP wants to make an impact, the person I could see as having the potential for great things to happen is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The best person under whose leadership we can hope for a better performance is Atiku. It is unfortunate that the man has been messed up. If there was no misunderstanding between Obasanjo and this man, if we had followed a systematic succession plan, this country would have been better than now. If PDP is given another chance, the leadership under which there can be progress and peace is under Abubakar.
And my reasons are very clear. One, he is a gentleman. At the moment, he is the person who can talk to some people in the East, some people in the North, some people in the West. Peace is very important in a country. You can’t just go and bring one isolated person that is not known across the border. People need to have confidence in the leadership.
And I think that man has the quality. He has friends in the East, he has friends in the West, he has friends in the North. Even though they gave him the tag of corruption, it has not been proved. He has employed thousands of Nigerians. He has one of the best educational institutions in the country. He has been involved in every sector of the economy and the development of the country and he is comfortable. Nobody has given me any bribe to promote anybody. But I think if there is any hope for PDP, then they should vote that man. For me, if I am to stick out my neck today, that is the only person I have confidence in.
Another person I have in mind is the former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido. For me, the best for now is former vice president. Next to him is Sule Lamido. If PDP really wants to win, it has to be one of these two people. If PDP can put its acts together, the development of this country is better achieved with PDP being in control of government.
But you seem to disagree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has dismissed Buhari as incompetent.
(Cuts in)…Obasanjo must be judging whosoever he is judging against the criteria set out by him. But I have just explained the areas where people may think he has not performed up to expectation. And the reasons are very clear. One, Buhari is operating under a democratic system. He cannot just go out and say this must happen. He must convince his followership why what he says should happen. It is not like the military. Two, they are probably comparing Buhari to when he came as head of government through a coup. This is not military, this is a civil government. So, even when he believes in certain things, he must convince those who work with him to believe in what he says and to work towards the objectives he set out. Three, when he was Head of State, Tunde Idiagbon was his deputy. In the army, the deputy is actually the person who does all the jobs for the boss. But the boss must make sure he sets out policies to be followed and once that is done, everybody on line of leadership knows what exactly what to do. He doesn’t need to be reminded. So, we have what we call standing order, operational standing instructions. You wake up; you know what to do whether the Commander is there or not. My assessment is that Buhari doesn’t have that luxury. When Buhari came, it took him long time to get his ministers in place. Even after appointing the ministers, the first six months he didn’t know the name of some ministers working with him. He never knew them. Probably some people recommended them to him. These ministers too didn’t know Buhari, they didn’t know how to relate to him. So, it was not a smooth beginning. And when you don’t start well, you don’t end too well either. Obasanjo has opportunity to make comparison because he was head of state under military rule and also served as elected president. So, they gave him total support. He knows more than 90 per cent of those he called to serve and those people too were prepared to give their best and they did give their best. Don’t forget people like General Danjuma (Rtd), people like Bola Ige, you can continue like that. Now, tell me, can you really count people with such great competence, people who really came out for the good of the country in this government? So, Buhari doesn’t enjoy the luxury that Obasanjo enjoyed when he came in as president in 1999. Go and do some research and look at the quality of personnel that Obasanjo picked and compare them with the quality of those that are there now. May be that is what Obasanjo is looking at.
Obasanjo’s Coalition Movement has fused with ADC as a political platform to bring about a change of government. How far do you think he can go with his change agenda?
Changing government must be qualified. Changing government for the development of Nigeria is necessary and desirable. But changing government for the sake of changing is of no meaning. Assuming that change is successful, those who will take over government will be Nigerians. Have those Nigerians changed? Are they not still Nigerians? What are their objectives? To go to government to do what? To take whatever is left or to build on what is left? So, we need to know whosoever is changing. Whether it is Obasanjo or not Obasanjo, what is the objective of the change? Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. I am not saying that the government there now is the best. When PDP was there, everybody was advocating for a change, we have seen the change now. So, we must modify this change. Is it for good or just change for changing sake? I cannot foretell the future, but I am not too sure of the change they are talking about. If it is Nigerians that will still be in the Third Force, are those Nigerians ready to do the right thing? Like I have personally observed, each time there is a government in Nigeria, people want a change. Once there is a change of government, they start singing the praise of the previous government. The new government will be worse than the one they changed to.
My question is: change for what? Ten years ago, we complained that we were not comfortable. Today, the situation is worse. Look at education sector, I have a small school and I found out that parents didn’t have money for their children to return to school. This is the time we should be thinking of what will happen in 20 year’s time because the result of not going to school today will start to show in future. When we had money during oil boom, we didn’t spend the money well. Look at the insecurity, we don’t think ahead. We should be looking at the crisis these little children in the North-east who are now being kept in the IDP camps will cause in the future. What happens when they come of age? You have children who don’t know who their parents are or where they come from. While we are solving today’s problem, we must be looking into the future.