This Day (Lagos)

25 March 2009

Nigeria: Yar'Adua Used Reform to Buy Time, Says Mohammed

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But Yar'Adua was misguided. I am not surprised that the whole thing was a waste of time. This goes to prove my point right from the beginning and this is that in life, you don't legislate goodwill or political will. Even if you give man the best laws in the world, if he is not determined to make them work, the laws would fail. As far as I am concerned, the whole electoral reform thing was a con game; it was a fraud. And if you go through the report of the committee, you will see that they had very little to say about the Electoral Act of 2006. This means the rigging we witnessed in 2007 had nothing to do with the laws but with people who were determined to subvert the will of the people. So, we are back to square one. Members of the committee knew the purpose of the whole exercise was to buy time for Yar'Adua to consolidate his hold on power.

Most people believe our main problem is lack of viable opposition?

At a very basic level, politics tends to show people with ambitions. When you see a political system, the first thing you ask is whether the system is run in such a way as to give top grade people the opportunity to run for office. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, it is a money-making machine. People don't join politics because they enjoy the engagement or want to serve. These days, people go into politics to make money. Success in politics is measured by how rich you become. People like us are labelled failures because we don't have money. My two cars are 20 years old. Now, when you talk about opposition, you must look at the quality of the people.

Do you see Professor Maurice Iwu, INEC chairman as the major barrier to the free and fair elections in Nigeria?

I wish I could give you a simple and straight forward answer, but I can't. This is because the issue is neither simple nor straight forward. First, we are assuming that we are in a democracy. The cornerstone of a successful democracy is the rule of law. What does the enabling Act of INEC say about the chairman's tenure? But I know that for every statutory post, there must be inbuilt mechanisms for reconstitution at any point in time. So, if Yar'Adua has the will and determination to do the right thing in the interest of the nation, Iwu would be history tomorrow. If in the course of implementing the recommendations of the reform committee, Iwu is seen as a problem, then he must go. But those who have the powers to force Iwu out would not try it because he knows too much and can blackmail them. Iwu is a peripheral issue. We must deal with the fundamental issue which is that PDP is not interested in democracy or free and fair elections.

But President Yar'Adua professes to be an advocate of rule of law?

It is an empty propaganda; it amounts to nothing. He is not sincere; it is just a slogan, you cannot reform a problem by throwing propaganda at it.

There is this belief that the present administration of President Yar'Adua is not doing enough to fix the nation's problem?

Let me do some juggling based on facts. First, we know Yar'Adua did not want to be president. He was drafted into it by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the cabal which now control him. So, from the beginning, those who put him there wanted a reluctant president; someone they could control. Those are the people in control now. Of course, there are those he appointed himself. These are his old school mates; people who have no political base to stand on. Things are not moving; we are in fact moving backwards. Since Yar'Adua came to power, not a single kilowatt of power has been added to the national grid. Two years into his tenure, there is no progress, so if we have a continuation of this for another eight years, then the country is in trouble.

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