Barrister Edaghese Mathew is the National Organising Secretary and the Director, Contact and Mobilisation of the Africa Democratic Congress (ADC). In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he spoke on sundry issues. Excerpts…
Between competence and the incumbency factor, which do you think would work for President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid?
The question of competence or lack of competence of President Muhammadu Buhari is a question whose answer is thrown in the wind. Competency is determined or assessed by the output of what you make with the assignment you are given. I will answer your question by asking you a question: does this country, the way it is now, look like a country that is competently governed? If your answer is in the affirmative, we do not need to ask if Buhari is competent.
His incompetence is shown in every segment of our lives as a nation. The economy has become poorer. Is that a foot of a competent leadership? If that is the situation, the answer is that we have gotten worse than we were when he took over the reins of power in 2015. Then it is very obvious he is incompetent as a leader to manage our economy.
Again, take a look at the insecurity situation, has it been ever this bad where killings with impunity has become a state policy, a situation where the President came out to tell us that we should be praying when our country is being invaded? According to him, we have been invaded by foreign mercenaries and bandits, and the security chiefs are doing nothing. All they are doing is politicking and telling us to be patient with them and they have not been able to show us which of these bandits had been captured, arrested, prosecuted and dealt with according to the laws of the land.
I think the incompetency goes beyond Buhari. One is right to posit that the entire administration that he is leading, it is an incompetent administration and Nigerians are the victims of this maladministration or lack of direction. It has never been this bad, he is making a joke out of the serious business of governance, and no nation can make progress the way Nigeria is presently structured and led.
What do you think can be done to change the situation?
Nigeria’s destiny lies in our hands, but the people willing to mortgage their destinies by selling their votes is disheartening, a people who are resistant to freedom are impossible to liberate. So I advised Nigerians especially those who are into the habit of selling their votes to their oppressors to desist from doing so, because they are actually feeding on their flesh. If you sell your rights, you are a lesser being, you are no longer human, what makes a human being is his human rights. If that right is sold, you are just a lower animal.
Using Ekiti as a case study, don’t you think the incumbency factor will come to play in 2019?
Yes, the incumbency power was put into reckless use as displayed in Ekiti State where a seating governor was treated like a common criminal and security details withdrawn, which is unconstitutional. It is an act that is not known to cultural democracy. It is an aberration to our laws to act like that. This act is considered treasonable, that was a coup in Ekiti when you stripped the chief officer of a state of his security details and had him beaten up with a broken leg as it was paraded on national television.
Look, that is nothing but a shame of a nation. If it were to be in a civilised society, those behind that criminal act would have been charged for treason. Treason is not only when you overthrow the President of a country, treason is when you overthrow the constitution of a country. When you act in violation of the constitution of a nation you have committed an act of treason. So what happened to Ayo dele Fayose in Ekiti is a treasonable act, and those behind it should be made to face the law.
The APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, recently boasted that all opposition parties in Nigeria would go into extinction. Is that possible in a country of 180 million people?
This not the first time Oshiomhole is saying that. Even when he was the governor of Edo State, he was in a running battle with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). When he said it, Nigerians glossed over it thinking that he was just drunk with power, but the truth is that his first outing as the national chairman of the ruling party, has become an international embarrassment. If that is the way he wants to go about leading his party to dubious victories, then we are celebrating anarchy and tyranny, democracy cannot be mixed with tyranny, democracy is democracy, tyranny is tyranny. And those who make tyrannical utterances and pronouncement are actually announcing a coup against our democracy.
What is your take on the use of thugs to intimidate voters?
If you look at the reports of international observers and local observers that monitored the Ekiti election, their reports are damming, they said it fell short of global standards, that vote buying and selling happened under the watchful eyes of the security agencies, who were there to act out the written script of their masters.
The question to ask is if you deploy as much as 30, 000 policemen excluding DSS, excluding the military, civil defence, excluding navy to monitor an election in a state as little as Ekiti and yet people could operate with so much impunity and recklessness…;
There were ballot box snatching, papers destroyed, people intimidated and chased away in front of security agencies. The question you should ask is under whose authority or what was the brief given to the security details while they were being deployed in Ekiti, was it to go and ensure there was subversion of the electoral process? By their conduct, that appears to be the instruction, if not, they shouldn’t have allowed such terrible act to take place under their watch.
Some Nigerians see President Buhari as highly tribalistic in the way he handles national issues. Do you share the same view?
Buhari’s policy of nepotism, and tribal patronage is no longer news, the news is that, why is Nigeria tolerating that under a democratic arrangement? We have a Federal Character Act entrenched in our constitution, we have a National Assembly that ought to check the excesses of the executives arm of government, we have the judicial organ, why is it that Mr. President is getting away with this act of impunity unchallenged? The question you should ask is why are the citizens docile? Why are the legislatures scared? Why is the judiciary being cowed? We experienced military dictatorship of which Buhari was an active participant, he truncated the Second Republic through a military coup when he overthrew the Alhaji Shehu Shagari–led administration and took over power by the force of the gun.
Now many years later, the same man has resurfaced as a democratically-elected President, but his attitudes and actions do not suggest that he believed in democracy. And would a democratic system with all the organs in place tolerate that tyrannical tendencies and actions of a supposedly elected democratic President? That is the question we have not answered as a nation. Can we juxtapose tyranny and democracy and pretend that we are operating a democratic system? Buhari represents what democracy is not and we as a people must learn to say no, we are a country governed by laws, ours is a constitutional democracy, it is not to be operated as a kingdom where the proclamations of the King are laws.
Nobody is above the law, not even the President of the country. If you operate outside the law, it beholds on all of us to reject such actions condemn and resist it. Resisting tyranny is lawful, complying with tyrannical activities is illegality. We should not be seen to join forces with those truncating our democracy.
Some retired Generals seem divided over Buhari’s ambition. What can you say about this?
Look, it is not only the Army Generals that are angry with Buhari’s leadership failure, the real victims are the average Nigerians who have become exposed to killings without protection. In fact Nigerians are exposed to protected killings by protected killers. If the Minister of Defence could go on air and tell Nigerians; ‘why would the Fulani herdsmen not kill when you block their right of way? How would you feel if they block your access to the waters?’
What is your opinion of the R- APC?
To ask if those who are opposed to this democratic aberration whether they are project to see the light of the day, is to ask the question if our democratic experiment will survive this tyrannic onslaught against it by the Buhari-led government. If that resolve to correct the aberration is seen as a plan that would fail, we are invariably saying that the democracy that we fought for with our lives and blood has been conquered and pocketed by tyranny. That is the only explanation to give to that expectation. Those who say Buhari and his bad leadership should give way for a leadership that can produce results, we should not wish that, it would be a bad thing to wish.
Do you see the fight against corruption as genuine?
The anti-corruption fight is nothing but a gimmick to silence dissenting and opposition voices. It is no longer the news, the question we should actually ask ourselves is; is Buhari really fighting corruption? To fight corruption in the manner he is fighting is corruption in itself, because you cannot be fighting corruption by being corrupt, so in the logical sense of it, President Buhari is not fighting corruption. The issue of Maina is a clear example of how this government claims it is fighting corruption. So I leave the rest for Nigerians to decide whether this government is really fighting corruption. Buhari must tell Nigerians how Maina found his way into this country. Now let me ask, is there any corruption that is as bad as that?
What difference is the ADC going to make if voted into power in 2019 polls?
We are totally committed to give power to the younger generation. We have discovered that those our fathers have failed this nation in governance. People want a change, and I make bold to tell you that in 2019, many things would be unfolded. The APC at all levels have failed this nation including Edo State. The Nigerian people have had enough of this government of deceit; it is time to take our destinies in our hands. If we sell it now, next generation to come would not forgive us. We cannot be cowed again, enough of these bad leaders. We are tired of policy of broken promises; there is no success in an ocean of failure. As far as I’m concerned, APC is a monumental failure.
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