The name, Mallam Balarabe Musa rings a bell in political circles in the country most especially in the North where he served as a former Governor of Kaduna State and presently, as the National Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Conference of Nigeria Political Party (CNPP). In this exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP’s SEFIU AYANBIMPE recently in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, he talks about President Goodluck Jonathan’s plans to re-contest in the 2015 presidential election, his interest in aligning his party, with the merger of opposition political parties and other national issues.
Let’s look at the President Good luck Jonathan administration in the last one year, what is your own assessment?
Well, it has not achieved what Nigerians expect because the administration has not solved any of the problem inherited, it has made things even worst, for instance, what have they done about this level of corruption and criminal waste of resources and thieves are getting away with their crime, what about this insecurity, nothing is being achieved in terms of even reducing of this level of insecurity.
Some time ago, there was an insinuation that President Goodluck Jonathan is going to re-contest for the presidency come 2015 which generated a lot of controversy, what is your take on this?
Jonathan is undermining the intelligence of Nigerians, he is not performing and yet, he wants to re-contest, what for?
What is your advice for him?
Jonathan should abandon the idea, he should let Nigerians choose the person that can rarely perform, he cannot perform, I know, he just spent one year in elected office but he has been in government virtually for five years, as vice president, acting president, unelected president and now elected president.
I want to tell you that in Nigeria, vice president is very important in our system, for instance, the role of vice president in the Nigerian political system is appreciable by the constitution and also by the practices, with the experience in Nigeria, the president always give Vice President the sufficient power like what happened during Obasanjo’s government.
If you look at it actually for five years, there is no indication that Jonathan can change anything; in fact, the indication now is that Jonathan may be the one of the problems of the country, even part of the problems of the country.
In addition to that, some sections of the country have been advising President Jonathan not to re-contest again while some sections urged him to contest? What is your own view to this position?
What I want to say is that we should forget whether Jonathan should contest or not but by the constitution, that is the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and still invoke in the country, he is entitled to contest.
What people are saying is that PDP has this zoning arrangement, it should be respected and obeyed, the decision of the party but in a situation like ours, it has done quite a lot of good for Nigeria in the sense that it had given each section of Nigeria the sense belonging, I know the system is undemocratic, but at times, in democracy, the democracy can be tampered with in the supreme interest of the country because it’s a means to an end, not to an end in itself.
So with the level of immaturity of the political leadership, it is safer to continue this zoning for some time which I know that it is PDP that formalized the arrangement, that arrangement has its merit by giving section of Nigeria, a sense of belonging.
Now, that the issue of zoning, power shift and soon, have been in existence in Nigeria consistently since 1959, Nigeria would have not achieved independence in 1960 because the 1959 election was fixed to make sure that the British government were handing over to a government that could survive.
If the crisis that erupted in 1959 had not been solved, that means, Nigeria would have not achieved independence peacefully and even if they achieved independence, the country would have been in different regions by that time, the North, the West and the East. I
f they had not agreed for instance waiting for the North to get ready for the independence because the West and East have prepared for self government and independent and the most of the problems being faced then were solved through this method because the leaders of that time had much better than the one we have today, they did everything in the supreme interest of the country, waited for the North to get ready to have independent together, where zoning and power shift sustained Nigeria, why can’t we continue with the zoning arrangement for some time.
For instance, if the June 12 1993 election had not been annulled, I think by now, Nigeria would have gotten it right democratically, and we would not need this zoning arrangement because 1993 presidential election was a demonstration of Nigerians to choose their president themselves, it is demonstration of Nigerians to unite the country but of course, the enemies of the country did what they did with the annul of June 12,1993 Presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola and that rarely increase the political problems of the country, if we want progressive democratic changes and peace, we should shun away the negative system of the country by changing the present political leaders of this country.
The northern part of the country believe that they should produce the next president of the nation come 2015, in your own view as one of the progressive political leaders in the country, which section of the country do you think should produce the next president?
I am not concerned about the section but we now know in the North that let the best person emerge as the president of the country and it is very simple if we rarely know the level of instability in this country. If we rarely know the negative thing of the nation and we are concerned, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is our problem.
PDP is the problem of the country; it is the same tradition of the party that controls the political power since 1960, NPC, NPN, NRC, now called PDP today.
They are the same political group and these are the problems now, if the PDP produces a presidential candidate from the North and we don’t think such candidate can perform, after all, the PDP is not the only party that can nominate candidate for presidential election in Nigeria, other political party will nominate candidate rather if other candidate choose by other party is the best, they should unite and defeat the PDP.
In 1993, all the political forces and parties which were forced to go into the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican convention (NRC) in particular some that were forced to go to SDP, they were there because it was only two political parties in Nigeria then, what happened to the political group that is in existence before then, they united and joined SDP, they organized with discipline and foresight.
So, if again, PDP decides to nominate a candidate, whether he comes from the North or anywhere, Nigeria has matured to the level that political parties can come together and support a candidate for presidential election, we tried it in 2011 and failed that does not mean that they cannot try it again.
Let’s also look at the planned merger of certain opposition parties. Do you think opposition candidate can defeat the PDP in the next presidential election with the level of their tentacles spread across the country?
Yes, opposition can defeat the PDP candidate, it is possible because people do not want PDP, it is because of the weakness of the opposition that the people could not stop the PDP from rigging the election, as you see, PDP cannot win any election but they can rig the election and this time if we elect a capable candidate and they annul the election we have to tell them they cannot go away with it.
The Congress of positive change (CPC) led by General Muhammadu Buhari and Action Congress of Nigeria led by Asiwaju Bola Hammed Tinubu with some other progressive political parties are trying to merge as a way to form alliance to present a formidable candidate for presidency come 2015 presidential election. I will like to know if your party is part of this arrangement.
Our party was not part of the arrangement but three (3) parties are part of the arrangement, they are ACN, CPC, and ANPP. To me, it is a good move and it will help but I want to advise that the talk should not be limited to only these three (3) political parties, if they allow only three political for the merger, they may make the mistake of the past, CPC thought that because of the popularity of General Buhari, they could rely on that alone to beat the PDP, they went to the election alone but in naked and what happened after.
But this time, this talk between the ACN and CPC should be extended to include ANPP, Labour Party, APGA and other political parties that are not control any state government and have credible leadership, because that is the main focus, even other party should not be ignored by saying how many are they, let them have sense of belonging, if we do that, definitely we are going to have success at the end of the day.
We should avoid the mistake which made the merger talk between the ACN and CPC failed in 2011, if we have a situation like this, the greater political party needs is to bargain to get political power, and we should rally behind that party.
For example, the 2011 election, it appears that CPC because of the popularity of his acceptance by the North, it’s means of gaining political power, therefore, other political parties that control only one state also have bargaining power, these other parties that even did not control a state neutrally behind CPC simply because Buhari and CPC itself don’t realize that ACN in particular has a bargaining power for future, if they could come together, we could not see what we saw in 2011.
If ACN and CPC agreed, it would have been difficult for PDP to rig the 2011 election. For instance, in Kaduna state, during 1979 election, PRP won the election, I did not have a kobo in the bank, so what we did was that all the political parties that oppose the NPN and they were three (3), including the PRP, they were four came together and defeat the NPN in a simple majority.
I will like to know again, if your party is ready to be part of the ongoing merger talks of the ACN, CPC and ANPP to form an alliance political party, if they extend the invitation you?
Of course, why not. For instance, we are on our own because PRP is different from other political parties in Nigeria, we can align ourselves with progressive political parties.
If for instance, the political parties like ACN, APGA, ANPP, CPC coming together, PRP would not wait to support them and that is what we did in Kaduna State in Second republic and it worked, even in Kano, old Gongola ,Borno, Plateau, in fact in all the states won by PRP, GNPP, and Other. If not for the merger, UPN would have won in these states.
The issue of insecurity particularly in the Northern part of the country, what do you think we can do to put it under control?
I want us to be realistic, the whole country is facing the security challenge, the case of the north is only worst, that is only in the case of Boko Haram but if anybody in Nigeria said that if we can solve the problem of Boko Haram, the problem of insecurity in Nigeria has been solved, it is not true and it is capital no and foolish Nigeria will say so. Insecurity is everywhere in Nigeria.
What about kidnapping, organized violence? And once these continue, there is still insecurity in the land, I want us to talk about insecurity in Nigeria and give particular attention to the place where it worse, Boko Haram and armed robbers are even worse of it all.
Do you support the negotiation with Boko Haram?
About ninety percent (90%) of Nigerians support the negotiation with Boko Haram ,this negotiation is necessary because the government is weak and Federal Government in particular is weak and it lacks moral and popular legitimacy to find alternative than to negotiate and it cannot achieve anything by relying on the army, it will not augur well.
The strong that based on the wishes of the people cannot avoid than to dialogue and negotiate. I want to tell you that the in war or civil war, at a point, they go to negotiation after they have fought and they could not solve the problem.
It is very important that you have to know whom you are negotiating with because if you are negotiating with Muslims and turned out not to be, you are even in more trouble.