Danjuma Mohammed is the national chairman, Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD). In this interview with MBACHU GODWIN, he speaks on the just concluded general elections, the task before President Muhammadu Buhari and other national issues
What is your view of the 2019 general election?
It is the best election conducted in the history of Nigeria. INEC was independent, there was no influence by the ruling party or presidency on the commission. INEC exhibited full independence. This was seen when INEC postponed the election without the knowledge of the President. Secondly, the ruling party has been having running battles with the umpire, which wasn’t the case in the last dispensation. INEC excluded the ruling party from participating in election in some states likes Rivers and Zamfara. It couldn’t do this before now, if any body feels otherwise, let them come forth with evidence. So the election, in my estimation, was free and fair even though there were little skirmishes here and there which were purely because of the attitude of some politicians.The presidential election was keenly contested.
What areas do you think INEC should address in future elections?
The use of card reader is yet to be at it’s best. INEC should improve on the technology. Secondly, in terms of distribution of permanent voters card, INEC should do more. People should have access to their voters card. INEC can reach people through their telephone line to collect their PVCs or device a strategy to make sure people get their PVCs before next general elections. It is important that INEC gets the issue of permanent voters card right, this in my view will reduce election rigging and litigation.
Looking at the leadership tussle for the National Assembly, do you agree with those who say zoning of the principal offices will help to stabilise our democracy?
Political parties really have no choice rather than to allow zoning. It has been done at the national level and it has brought stability and peace to the nation. When the president is from the north, the vice will come from the south. Even though it is unconstitutional, parties have agreed to it and it has been working since 1999 when the country returned to democracy. For me, if zone A for instance, should have president, zone B should produce vice president; there should be a consideration for other zones to fill other positions in line with equity. When it is skewed towards one zone then it is no more zoning and I will not support it. If you say one zone should take two slots you will be isolating a particular zone except when a zone has no persons or criteria for that position.
There are calls for the de-registeration of political parties that did not win any seats at the just concluded general elections, what is your take on the issue?
I don’t agree with that call, such calls come from those who are ignorant of the political system. The presidential system which the country operates allows for a multi-party system. Multi-party system opens up the democratic system and it’s healthy for democracy. When you deregister political parties you narrow democracy. It is unfortunate for the out going National Assembly to initiate that, it shows their ignorance of the system. The Constitution allows for the freedom of association, you should be free to associate with any political party of your choice and not for one to be imposed on you, there should be multiplicity of parties for people to exercise their Constitutional right, so it’s a call in error and it’s unconstitutional.
President Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated for the second term in office soon, what are your expectations for him?
Buhari should do more in terms of dividends of democracy. He did very well that was why I stepped down for him and he was voted in for the second term in office. I expect him to reconcile the nation. Some unscruplous politicians have polarised the country, so he should ensure that his appointments are balanced. He did very well in the election, especially in the South-south and South-east. In this second term, he should do more in the fight against corruption, infrastructure and agricultural development.
Will your party appeal the court ruling on the omission of it’s logo in the just concluded general election?
We were in court because we were omitted, the judgment was not in our favour, the National ExecutiCommittee of the party will meet and take a decision whether or not to appeal. When the decision is taken by the NEC, we will make it public through the media.
There are allegations that you stepped down for President Buhari in the 2019 election for peculinary interest, how do you react to that?
It is not true, I can only speak for myself, I don’t know of others. I stepped down for him based on my conviction that he will do better, so it has nothing to do with any monetary gain. You know Buhari’s antecedent, he does not give money to any body, let any one come with evidence to the contrary. I was in the Villa to draw support for him, it’s beyond money, it’s national interest, we couldn’t have supported him in any other better way than that.
You are a stakeholder in the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) what is the problem with IPAC?
The problem with IPAC is purely political interest. When the council was concieved, we didn’t expect that it will be a political tool. IPAC now became impotent because of certain political interests. IPAC isn’t supposed to have factions, it is not supposed to canvass for any political party or candidate. By any arrangement IPAC has not met it’s objective, although for the first time it has a national office, we have to improve. For me, taking IPAC to support government or opposition is not the objective.
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