Buhari Can Still Concede Defeat –Nwosu

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Ralphs Okey Nwosu

Ralphs Okey Nwosu, the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), in this interview with AUSTIN OBOH, reviews the 2019 general election and attempts to predict the consequences of its outcome. Excerpts:

You seem to have been protesting since INEC announced the re-election of President Buhari, why is that so?

The 2019 election will remain a sham, and could derail our democracy, and bring about many untoward consequences if the presidential election result that INEC declared stands. We wait to see what the court does. There has been uneasy quiet since after the election. But the spate of killings, destructions, and looting says it all. INEC is in a quandary; they have destroyed documentations from the elections and claim they do not have provisions to safeguard results of elections with the entire budget at their disposal. But rewind, go back to the many lectures and seminars, and meetings with political parties and various other local and international stakeholders who invested so much in the elections. In all their media presentations, the INEC were emphatic on capturing the results from the situation room as they happen. I am sure everyone will see through the deception and fraud going on. They made it clear that the election results would remain intact and that what happened at the polling booths would be electronically captured because of the sophistication of the card readers and data capture systems. Now they are singing a different tune. The Chairman and some of the INEC Commissioners ab-initio felt beholden to the executive instead of upholding the independence of the commission.

Can you elaborate on that, sir?

Atiku won the elections. 80% of Nigerians are aware of this. The streets of Nigeria would have gone agog, would have been electrified, had the right election results been announced in Kano, Kogi, and elsewhere. But what we see now are increased aggression, violence, and protests across the country. Now INEC and all the agencies that colluded to cause this national embarrassment are in hush-hush mode. They have belittled themselves and our nation by their brazen and fraudulent acts. I do not see the big deal that an incumbent president did not win re-election. Buhari did not win, so what? It has happened in this country before. President Jonathan lost election and made himself a global statesman by his ennobling conduct. He was not selfish about power, but mindfully used a bitter situation to promote and leverage democracy and country. People in high position should try to stay very careful, no matter how things turn out in a tenured, constitutional democratic system, how we end says a lot. After all, it is supposed to be about service.

You always see things from a different perspective; can we get your thoughts?

With all the uncertainties and misanthropy in the country, President Buhari could light up the way again by conceding defeat based on the actual results of the presidential election. Buhari can shock the world if he stops the entire judicial process and call up Atiku to prepare to be sworn in. He has enough intelligence at his disposal to know the true outcome of the election. I bet you, if he acts in a way that he brings this whole scandalous electoral fraud, and ridiculous falsehood of trying to cover naked scam, he, Buhari, becomes the hero and the Nigeria rebirth superman. Anything less is self-serving, unpatriotic, and diminishes the man and our country.

The beauty of our democracy is that there are processes of redress if any candidate or party feels cheated?

Sure, the judiciary has a role to checkmate politicians, especially the executive, from undermining the constitution. So, I am glad that Atiku has gone to the tribunal, and from the weight of evidence I know that exists, I am sure he is ready for the case. The judiciary is on trial, and they can stop the reckless behaviour and impunity of incumbents and politicians generally. Politicians need to be taught a lesson in democracy. In our democracy, the President is not absolute as we have been seeing in practice. The Judiciary has to redeem itself. They need to show that they are not an appendage of the executive. In this way they can check the excesses and impunity within our system to save the country. Except such is done we become a fascist state, banana republic, or we fail and disintegrate. It may not take long because we are already at the verge of it.

You sound authoritative? Is this derived from your closeness to the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo?

You should know me very well by now. I am a missionary involved in a nation building struggle. My politics is different. I am not a desperado and have never been a jobber. Many people may keep quiet for selfish reasons or out of fear, but I cannot keep quiet when things are obviously wrong, and no one can compromise me. Our problem in this country is leadership and elite hypocrisy. This is the truth, whether under military or civilian rule. Check some of the persons who were part of NADECO during IBB and Abacha era; take Tinubu, for instance, what has he done with power in a democracy? Now Buhari ousted the Shagari civilian government as a military General in 1983. And during the democratic government of Obasanjo, Yar Adua, and Jonathan, he pretended to be an apostle for credible and transparent electoral process. Then now that he found himself on the driver’s seat as president, the same Buhari has conducted the worst of elections and refuses to sign electoral bills. As we speak, there are a lot of persons angling for appointments, and playing the ostrich, see no ill and speak no ill of the rotten system because they want to protect their oil well or ill-gotten wealth. This applies to all parties and even non-politicians. You should not have brought Obasanjo into this. I have been around and I have been involved, and I say my mind without fear. President Obasanjo is a human being, he is not God, and not a saint either. But he has shown up for the country like no one else at different times. He has done exceptionally well for democracy and the country. As a military head of state, he defied the tradition in 1979 when he handed power to the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari, berthing the Second Republic. Across the globe, it is rare for military heads of state to voluntarily cede power. You cannot take it away; the former president is a man of destiny.

Many still believe that Obasanjo is to blame for all that is wrong with our democracy?

That is absurd. As far as Nigerian democracy is concerned, Obasanjo remains a recurring factor, and positively so. We tend to forget that leadership does not happen in a vacuum. We lead within a space and time, in organisations or nations, big or small. It must be a human ecosystem, a prevailing environmental conditions, and within a given period. So leadership happens in a context. The contextual space of our democracy today is not what it was when Obasanjo was elected 20 years ago. Until Obasanjo’s presidency, the country, Nigeria, was not able to navigate civil rule beyond the constitutional one tenure without disruption. Obasanjo solved this problem that started from our Independence. Democratic process was disrupted during the First Republic; there was the pogrom, military coups and counter coups, and there was a civil war. The Second Republic lasted from 1979 till 1983. This, I believe, will be very painful to Obasanjo, who navigated that transition as military head of state. The Third Republic was truncated before it even took off. Obasanjo was sentenced to death, and was in jail when the head of state, General Abacha died. For someone to be able to lead and more or less make permanent the democracy we enjoy now, nothing could be a greater achievement; from one term, two terms, and able to orchestrate the continuation of the democratic system till this day. So long as he remains alive, we should expect him to shout and act when things are not going well. President Obasanjo deserves all the encomium. We should not take what he has done for granted. In adopting ADC also, again he has seen what many may not know yet, and I am very proud my party was identified by him. President Obasanjo is not a man with a pigeon-hole mentality. Rather, he is a big picture thinker and a large spectrum operator and leader. Because of his relational capacities, and open nature, he has many funnels to access and process information. So his knowledge base and antennae could be described as broad band. This is also aided by his kindred spirit. No matter what you may say, his very open and kindred spirit magnetizes men and women of all ages, big and small, from all regions, nations, and continents to him. Certainly, a man of destiny, and he is highly endowed. No former president in Nigeria or Africa has had his reach; he is one of the most revered international statesmen. The country, Africa and, indeed, the world has a lot to benefit from him. At his age, he is very much alive, he has a good and deep understanding of issues of state, and remains one of the most patriotic Nigerians of all times. The complexity about him is that he has the advantage of experience and age, and also has amazing youthfulness of heart. Obasanjo can do shaku shaku dance steps more than any of you, and he plays his ayo game with the dexterity of a professional.

Don’t you see a relation between Obasanjo’s ways and Buhari’s government?

The Buhari government is amorphous and clueless. The quality of the team is of concern; propaganda and governance are not the same. They all seem to be missing in action in governance.

Can you compare the composition of government of Nigeria under the presidency of Obasanjo, Yar Adua, and Jonathan, and that of Buhari since 2015? Again Buhari seem to be comfortable with fuelling division. Can you imagine another president from any other region playing Buhari’s kind of ethnic politics? To show that Buhari has caused so much strife for Nigeria, just imagine that a southern or a middle-beltan president follows in Buhari’s footsteps and simply juxtaposes the government structures and personnel in favour of his/her ethnic group or region, filing slots of ministers, security council, government agencies and parastatals as skewed as they are at present. A security structure where no one from the North- East and North-West is part of, or the judiciary so composed. So, this kind of politics will only undermine Nigeria. We must start to have leaders to unite us. No head of state has taken the rest of the country for granted as the Buhari and APC administration. Not leveraging our diversity has been one of the major challenges of the APC as a party and government. They struggle in many other areas, but their seeming cluelessness of the fact that the strength of the country is in its diversity, and it is as good as its weakest constituents create all the tensions in the country today. And they will attack every other Nigerian except themselves for their failings. During the Jonathan presidency, all parts of the country had their fair share of federal presence and patronage. Obasanjo and Yar Adua’s governance structures are clear testimonies that our country has gone far beyond where APC inertia-government has dragged us. Please, do not try to compare President Buhari and the former president. They are opposites and miles apart. Obasanjo believes in and thinks Nigeria, with Buhari and, especially with his recent performance, there is nothing. As a military head of state, his colleagues ousted him, and as a civilian president, he has added nothing to our democracy and country than trouble and division. There is only one way he could reverse all this. I said it before, he should shun all those power-hungry persons around the villa and do the right thing. I pray for him and hope he takes this window. All the hard knocks associated with Obasanjo’s time from 1999 to 2007, looking back, you can see a man using wisdom and strategies to overcome whatever the albatross there was with civil rule in Nigeria. Obasanjo’s leadership may be a complex hybrid, but people must give him credit. Even the so-called third term attempt, he still scored; he let the National Assembly find and use its power. The National Assembly has not been able to assert itself since our Independence. But Obasanjo made them to assert their power as is proper in a tri-cameral polity. He is a very strategic person; I will not be too surprised when he finally opens up on some of his actions and their strategic import. By 2015, civilian government has already gained the rhythm of a stable democracy. There is no other way to explain what Buhari and the APC have done with the presidential election, rather than self-serving, egocentric, and abuse of presidential power. This brings our democracy and country to a shameful crossroads after the statesmanship display of President Jonathan. The only saviour we look to is the judiciary.

The way they deal with the recklessness may privilege our democracy.

To continue our democratic journey, the judiciary now has a chance to assert its powers just as the National Assembly did, although they have done so at the state governorship and legislative levels. Governors Adams Oshiomhole, Peter Obi, Mimiko, Aregbesola, and Fayemi recovered their mandates in 2005, and 2007. The Judiciary must exercise due power in presidential election without fear to make our democracy stronger, and earn its rightful place in the governance tripod. This Prof Yakubu Mahmood’s INEC has been disgraceful. As the Chairman, he allowed critical decision of an independent electoral agency to be warehoused by people in the villa, working with El-Rufai, Oshiomhole, and Tinubu to manufacture and doctor results. By so doing, as chief executive of INEC, he exposed his subordinates, lieutenants’ to all sorts of abuse, manipulation, and torture, making some to mortgage the organization and their conscience, and destroy their career for dirty money. The democratic system has grown beyond this kind of yeoman’s job. The constitution and our country were violated. He owes the people a serious explanation and apology.

The APC and PDP, we hear, have zoned the Presidency to the South- West and the North respectively, what do you think?

The Igbo question is what Nigeria must deal with. It is the most crucial matter on the table now, outside the rigged and fraudulent elections. Unfortunately, the APC national leaders and the incumbent president lack the leadership and vision to address this problem. They think power for power sake, and are too consumed by self-righteous parochialism to think of the good health of Nigeria yesterday, today, and tomorrow. At this stage of our nationhood, no ethnic group can dominate the others without causing serious dislocation. Any person having such agenda is not thinking well for the country. We should be strengthening the bond of unity and building diversity values into our culture. I have not heard of PDP 2023 plans. But El-Rufai and Tinubu cannot be president. The North-West has served two terms with Buhari’s first term. Yar’Adua served one term. The South-West has done eight years. The North-West should be careful and exercise restraint, even their northern brothers may become disillusioned with them if they wish to dominate the rest of the country, and continue to want to take more than a fair share in the Nigeria enterprise. Good governance, and leaders being deliberate in promoting diversity in governance, will help the country. Continued parochialism will kill Nigeria, lead to tragic end and obvious ugly consequences. The North-West and the South-West regions cannot afford to come from their Olympian position to become the cog against building a great and united Nigeria. After two terms, one of the other regions, especially the South-East, deserves the Presidency. I say the South-East not only because I am from there, but because it sends a strong message for the Nigerian project. Equity is critical. We need complete closure to all past mistakes and we have to move together as a country. It benefits the whole.

Source: independent.ng