Baring his mind during a chat with newsmen in FCT recently, the seasoned politician stated that the entire exercise was marred with glaring regularities and urged relevant agencies to sanction those culpable in line with electoral laws. He observed that the disease of corruption and inducement infiltrated the ranks of the umpires and participants during the just concluded election and condemned in its ramifications the brazen display and distribution of money at polling units by political parties shopping for votes with the intention to win by all means and at all cost.
He lambasted the umpires and those agencies that were on national assignment and allowed the irregularities to take place pretending to be handicapped. “This evil cannot stand and we must evolve an unconventional approach to it”, he warned.
Question: As a stakeholder in Nigerian politics, what’s your take on the just concluded FCT Area Councils election?
Answer: Elections in the FCT have been very peaceful, with high sense of fairness for the past 16 years. It is not to say that it has been a very perfect one, but it has been fairly peaceful. But this one is as terrible as it could be because it is like saying that there is a difference between All Progressives Congress (APC) and People Democratic Party (PDP). Maybe different human beings of Nigerians that are driving the process.
One can categorically say that the FCT Election is not worth the stuff it is made of. The Independent National Electoral Commission probably is handicapped there. Take the totality of the election you call it one of the worst elections that has been conducted in FCT. Several factors and diseases came into play. Call it disease of corruption, inducement, the disease of the umpires and participants and all that, put them together now you find out why politicians are not performing for the society because politics which is supposed to be an idea driven thing, that people believe in but the poverty, the thinking from the stomach rather than from the head.
It is obvious. INEC seems not to have the power to address the issue. You can categories it in two ways and say INEC, what decision have you taken? You can also ask a very clever question “where the run-offs are taking place, what really happened? What really transpired? What was the crime, face-off, what was the reason for the run-off? What was the behavior of the people who participated in the election? You see, the disease of corruption has been transferred from the old people to the youths, the youth corpers who conducted the election and everybody stands and watch, no person wants to take responsibility. This is one of the horrible elections that is filled with glaring financial inducement. Poverty is all over the place and you make immediate decisions based on what your stomach is telling you.
People seem to think from the stomach and your decision is based on what your stomach is telling you than what your head is saying. Then you go through the election process and you spend money and you think that the person who is spending all these money will do it on charity; no way. He is going to expect his money back and the cycle of poor leadership continues. Probably after the election, INEC will declare the election and I think we will go into the second phase and see how we will go through the justice system and you know like great men, you talk about the journalists and I ask myself, have they done a thorough job, do they have the boldness and the fearlessness to investigate. It moves down to INEC and I say will INEC do a thorough job and have the gut to say this is wrong and then the lawyers and judges; everybody in this society becomes a partaker of corruption and the fear to rectify and put the nation on the right direction, I think to me and others, the election is not close to being free and fair.
Question: As a major stakeholder in Nigerian politics, what do you think really went wrong?
There is this attitude of people believing they can win all the time. Put it on one side, and you think that you are in government and supposed to win, then this attitude comes from people that make up to 99% of politicians who are jobless. Then this attitude of holding unto power and you think that power is not transient. There is this attitude of people saying that this is our own turn because the President is our own.
These are just based on injustice because the president might not be aware, but working with President might play the Presidency and the man doesn’t even know and this is about name dropping. People now think that is where ideas thrive. In a nation that is not driven by ideas, it is driven by poverty and people tend to make temporary decision because of their stomach rather than the future, and immediate decision is criminality and it is imprisonment for you because you have made a choice over X and Y and put it cumulatively. If somebody spends X amount of money during an election, it is not what he declared but what he spent during the election and everybody stands their watching, the first thing he does is to go in there and recover his money to the detriment of the people. Everybody that keeps quiet there, be him the journalist, lawyer, judge and participants are bound to suffer. That is why we don’t have a nation and that is also why what we are driving is monetary induced. That is also why the area councils, apart from the huge allocation they collect, and the accruing revenue, end up doing nothing.
On the activities of political parties, we have information of what really happened, I mean what people did. Even watching at it at the polling booths, do you think that will be objective enough? You see buying over people with little resources, I mean giving them money and making people exposing themselves on what is supposed to be secret election, you know what that means and we are waiting for the conclusion of that exercise and we will get to the real thing. You see INEC has the right to offload and if you take a look at what happened at Karu, Karshi, Gwarinpa and Garki among others, those were the very obvious ones, the other ones I don’t want to dabble into them because it will overwhelm them. That takes me to the Judiciary, let’s assume that you don’t have the resources to go to court, I mean hire a lawyer the case becomes a dead one.
But all these are happening simply because we don’t have a nation, if we do, people should care about what happened. It is such a hopeless situation. How do you face it, it can’t be through due process, the due process thing is a bundle of wahala. How do you do due process thing for an item that is unreceipted? You see the due process thing becomes an incentive for corruption. So what do you do? You have to use unconventional means to tackle it. That is why in some places people give a rot to it because they don’t have what it takes for due process, I hope we don’t get to that stage otherwise it becomes a crisis situation.
I do pity the President for fighting corruption, it is a herculean task for him because it is like chasing a rabbit from one point and it takes off from the other way. It is a complex situation and the cycle keeps going on. What the cycle means is poverty; underdevelopment, corruption and it starts from the electoral process because of monetary inducement and the society is the loser. INEC should make a categorical statement because there is corruption here and you can’t cancel the election without corruption like what happened in Asokoro, where some of the agents ran with the election. An unconventional means should serve as a panacea to this malaise.
Let us agree that the guy who stole your money put up an application indicating that. It would have been an easier task for Economic and Financial Crimes Commission because he used a conventional means. But the guy used unconventional means and the law harps on due process, is it possible?
Okay, somebody who earns about N500,000.00 in a year and an allowance of about same amount and the guy suddenly becomes the owner of housing estates worth about N20 billion. You and I know that he stole the money and the law says due process in getting back the money. Perhaps in the process, part of the more is recovered and dumped in the court, and the people, the real owners of the money are suffering. If we are serious, we should deal with this corruption of a thing once and for all. As For the election in Federal Capital Territory, that wasn’t an election.