Former lawmaker and Kogi State gubernatorial aspirant, Alex Usman Kadiri in an interview with CAPITAL POST in Abuja spoke on 2020 Democracy Day, Edo politics, Buhari’s neglect of Igala people and how he runs a Northeast government among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Q. What is your outlook on the first democracy day celebration come Saturday after Buhari declared it last year?
A. First and foremost you know I have radical views. I believe celebrating Democracy day on June 12 and celebrating the May 29 handover date is a sheer waste of funds, complete waste of funds in a country like Nigeria where people like holidays and unnecessary expenditure.
I think the two ceremonies can be put together. whether we like it or not, but no Nigerian can wish away MKO Abiola. He fought for democracy, he won his election but somehow he was never installed as president, that is for historians who will tell you different versions of the story, that is number one.
Secondly I think what Buhari can do to keep the memory of MKO Abiola to run his Government in a successful way is for him to kindly read the recent letter of colonel Umar Dangiwa, a relatively young person. All the things he has written and all things he has done point to the fact that he is an upright person. The advice he gave is simple. You don’t need to go to the University to know what to do. Be fair to all Nigerians that is the import of his letter. For him to have written that letter, it shows that he was pushed to the wall because I know he has full access to the President both in and out if office.
I am aware of the role he played to save Buhari when he was not a president. If you can recall the day Buhari’s car was bombed in 2014 when he left Kaduna on his way to Daura. I don’t know anybody who played more prominent role than Colonel Umar to rehabilitate Buhari that time so I think he spoke from the bottom of his heart that Buhari should be fair to all Nigerians. Some person came to visit me yesterday in my house here in Abuja and they were talking and I was just laughing. They are from the Northern part of the country, they are aggrieved that the President is running a North East Presidency. The people complaining are from North west, North Central. Most of the revenue from the Niger Delta crude oil is being used to execute the Bokoharam war in the North east. A good chunk of the appointments almost all the important ones are in the North East. That is what they were talking about. You cannot tell them they are lying because the names of the appointees are there. So what Umar was saying is that the President should know that he is president of Nigeria that is all.
Q. What is your assessment with regards to appointment of Kogi indegenes in President Buhari’s government, particularly, the East?
A. At my age I cannot be playing local politics even though I hold meeting with aspirants and so on. Since this Government came into office in my area Kogi East, it would look like if some people from there offended the President and his friends. They have starved us of everything under the sun. We have complained. We have had two meetings with the vice President on this matter. In the last appointments they made. They appointed people into boards and parastatals, Ekiti State had 7 chairmen and 27 members Ekiti is smaller than Kogi, but Kogi had 3 chairmen and 5 members. I am just using the two. I don’t want to talk about how many people Kano got or Borno got, I am just comparing two States that are about the same size and when you come to Kogi the three people they made chairmen are from Lokoja/Kotokarfe axis.
Nobody from Kogi East and technically nobody from Kogi Central and technically nobody from Kogi West because when Kogi East is talking about themselves they talk about Okun land. Then this new dispensation, he appointed Ramatu Abdullahi as minister from Kogi, again from Lokoja/Kotokarfe and we are expected to be clapping? Some of us have lost face at home and because of insults, questions and answers, I have not gone home for six months. I cannot defend the action of the president, once they see your car, they will start bombarding you with questions that you cannot answer. The Government is demarketing APC in my part of the country. This is the kind of thing Colonel Umar is talking about because I am sure he must have ran in to one or two persons from my area who woukd have told him this story in details. It is wrong, but we see dead people being appointed into boards while the living are looking for these appointments, but they cannot get.
Q. What will you advise further on June 12 as democracy day?
I think any particular day, independence day, democracy day, children’s day, world war II day, mothers day, they are meant to remind us about the sacrifices people made through struggles; some suffered and died for this democracy that we are enjoying today.
What President Buhari did by inviting the children and giving them plaque and so on. It is okay but I think they need to go a step further, get one of Abiola’s children and give him a prominent appointment. I am sure that will assuage the feelings of the family more. What he did the last time may be good for the politics of Bola Tinubu and so on. But I am talking about the main character of this democracy day, what brought it about is a human being called MKO Abiola, he stood up against the military might, whom were his friends. He was not the one they projected to win that election but he won. Both Abiola and his then running mate Bashir Tofa were friends of the military.
They contest 1993 presidential election on Moslem/Moslem ticket yet Nigerians went ahead to vote for them enmass, how do we link that with what is happening in the country today to show that Nigeria’s problem is not that of religion or tribe as the politicians try to portray?
It is not the politicians, it is the elite, there is a difference, I am a politician but I don’t encourage what is happening. It is the elite in our society who use religion, tribe to get on in life. Even from our area you see some young chaps they now keep long beards, wear turbans just to get on in Abuja here, and I say what type of country is this, where somebody has to disguise himself to be able to get on not what he has upstairs. So it is the elite manipulations that we are suffering from.
Q. The free and fair nature of the 1993 election, the Option A4 was perfect how would you impinge it on Buhari to entrench that as against gun wielding during election nowadays?
A. Whether you like it or not, you will love to hate IBB but he is smart upstairs. Love or hate him, if we had stuck to the option A4 he put in place for that election we would not be where we are today. But between him and his own inner circle of friends they said no, even though the election was relatively free and fair they would not allow the winner to take oath of office. Again it was the elite conspiracy. Elite in the army and in the civilian circles. A country of 200 million would go and register a 100 political parties. In the United States you have the Democrat and the Republican parties, there are other smaller parties but they don’t make the type of noise ours are making here. I believe that with the level of corruption in the political parties now, it is taken that we will be heading for a two party system because APGA is as good as dead, its only enclave is Anambra now.
Q. Don’t you think the June 12 as democracy day should emphasize more on concretizing the electoral process? Recall that there was an amendment that he was suppose to have signed before the 2019 election which he declined which would have changed the narratives for the better?
A. Whether he signs the electoral act or not for me it is not important, what is important is his mind. If his mind is clear and he is for everybody he can even make the current system function. There is nothing in the current rules and regulations that says any Governor should buy guns for every youth in the state to shoot, people kill and maime. The current law can be used to provide a free and fair election. It is the human beings. So whether he signs any bill into law or not for me it is immaterial. The most important point is the state of the man’s mind and those around him.
Q. With almost two decades of democracy can you say the citizens have imbibed the culture of democracy?
A. Certainly yes, it may not be as fast as we wanted it to be but the culture of democracy is inherent in every Nigerian, every Nigerian wants every position to be voted for, whether the election is free and fair it is immaterial every Nigerian wants people to be voted into office to represent them.
Q. As a stalwarts of APC, looking at APC as a Party that is tied to the apron string of Bola Tinubu as a national party leader, every Dick and Harry that is looking for office must pay him allegiance, do you think it is healthy for democracy?
A. Well, my answers are two, one I don’t particularly like Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the way he plays his game. Secondly he was instrumental to the emergence of Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party and he anticipates that his aim for putting him there is when the time comes for the 2023 presidency he must be the one. Let me ask in other climes, if you must go to pick presidential candidate from the west after Obasanjo’s 8 years and we have a cerebral Vice President like Yemi Osinbajo in office should we be thinking of Tinubu?
Something must be wrong with all of us. If the next President must come from the west there is an intelligent and capable person from the west in office already so what are we talking about?
Q. Looking at what is playing out in Edo State where the Governorship election is at the door step, the Godfather/godson relationship between Obaseki and Oshiomhole has turned sour and the rest is there for everybody to see as the last battle is being awaited in the primary, what would say about Godfatherism?
A. Well, the world is a funny place and Nigeria and Nigerian politicians are very funny people. Oshiomhole I met him once after he won election in Edo State, a lady, Tessy Ikimi, younger sister of Tom Ikimi organised a dinner for him in Abuja and I was there and he was there with his friends and Tom Ikimi was there and we told him all about good governance especially as he was coming from the background of a trade unionist; that he was going to deal with human beings with different ideas. He got to Edo, he did well physically until he started insulting people that godfatherism has come to an end, he insulted Anini, Igbinedion the Father, Esama, Igbinedion the former Governor all of them he labeled as thieves, but when he was leaving Edo State was there a fair competition as to who will succeed him? No. I know members of Obaseki family, I worked in Benin for almost 14 years, the incumbent Governor is a younger brother to Gaius Obaseki the former GMD of NNPC, so Godwin Obaseki is from a noble family whether you like it or not.
The appointment issue was the problem between them just like Akpabio did in Akwa Ibom, Akpabio refused to move from Government House after the end of his tenure that was the beginning of the fight between him and Udom Emmanuel. The man is elected, you go and give him a list of 14 Commissioners to be appointed, he thinks the man has no clue as to how a Government should be run, you have the clue because you have ruled them for 8 years then all your structures must continue, that is the fight between them.
The man he called thieve Eze Iyamu is the man he trying to support to come back, we are waiting to see. What he kicked against is exactly what he wants to do and he wants Obaseki to keep quiet? No he will fight to finish. I don’t believe in godfatherism, I am not a godfather to anybody, politicians come here to consult but they don’t come back again because of what I tell them. I always ask them what they have done for their people, what is your bank account. Somebody who cannot run for councillor in his place, nobody knows him at home, he want to run for Governor in Kogi, what kind of self assessment is that?
One came here with a lady sitting in front of the car that had no plate number and I asked him what he does for a living, he said he works for the first Lady, and I asked, as what? He said he looks after her interests. I said the day the first lady changes her mind about him that means he has no job. That is somebody who wants to be Governor of my State. They don’t even assess themselves; this thing I want to do am I worth the trouble? Once they check their bank account they have N10million the next office they are looking for is Governor.
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