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2015: JONATHAN CAN CONTEST -GANI ADAMS

By NBF News
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By TUNDE THOMAS
National Coordinator, Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Otunba Gani Adams, has declared that nothing will stop President Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election for a second term in 2015.

Making this declaration amist raging verbal war between those clamouring for President Jonathan's second term in office and those opposed to it, Adams noted that nothing in Nigeria's Constitution barred Jonathan from seeking re-election.

'There should be no controversy over this issue. The president is constitutionally allowed to seek re-election in 2015. The constitution allows him to serve for two terms, and he is just serving one term in office. Regardless of whatever anybody says the constitution is very clear on this issue. However, it is left for Jonathan to decide whether he wants a second term, or not.'

The OPC National Coordinator also spoke on other national issues including corruption, state of the nation, political parties' performance. Below is the excerpt:

The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan?

It is difficult to assess him for now. But the issue of insecurity has been a great challenge to his administration, especially the Boko Haram menace. The sect's attacks has become a major source of concern not only within, but also outside the country. The problem of erratic power supply has also been lingering. It needs to be tackled with all seriousness it deserved.

The issue of Boko Haram has been causing a lot of problems for Jonathan's government. He has to find a way of tackling the menace posed by members of this sect. The sect's violent activities has been causing a lot of disruption to socio-economic activities across the country. Jonathan also has to do something about erratic power supply. It is disheartening that no tangible results has been achieved in spite of huge sums of money that is being earmarked for the power sector. The state of federal highways is also appalling. Government should do something fast on the ugly state of our roads.

The Boko Haram menace
The best way to handle it is for the Federal Government to dialogue with Boko Haram leaders. The Boko Haram menace can't be solved with force. As we are now, we have about three factions of Boko Haram. The best option for the Federal Government is to dialogue with the leaders of these factions. If government continues to flex muscle and use security apparatus to clamp down on them, the crisis may be prolonged. This is a religious issue, and if the Federal Government is not careful, the way it is handled, more Islamic sects like Boko Haram can emerge to wreak more havoc.

I don't believe Boko Haram crisis can be resolved through force. All over the world, where you have serious violent crisis that involves loss of human lives, it is dialogue that is usually employed at the end of the day to provide solution. As powerful as United States is, they can't suppress Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations 100 per cent. In some cases, the Americans have to adopt carrot and stick approach to deal with the situation. For us to save lives and stop collateral damages being caused by Boko Haram violent attacks, the best thing is to dialogue with them.

Dialogued with Boko Haram
Government has its own machinery it can use to identify leaders of the sect. I believe that where there is a will, there will always be a way. Again, since some Boko Haram leaders have been arrested, those in detention can lead government officials to their leaders hideouts.

Dialogue was used to resolve the problem in Niger-Delta. Before then, violence was on the increase with kidnapping and abduction of expatriates being the order of the day. But through dialogue, peace had returned to the once restive region. I believe the Federal Government should adopt a similar approach to resolve Boko Haram menace.

If not for dialogue option that was adopted in the Niger-Delta, violence on a larger scale including bombing of oil pipelines could have continued. When dialogue was embraced, peace not only returned, but amnesty programme later came up whereby these former militants are being rehabilitated, and some of them have been undergoing various forms of vocational training within Nigeria and abroad.

If the late President Umaru Yar'Adua had not dialogue with the militants, the crisis would have persisted, and Nigeria would have been worst for it. If you can recollect, the militancy in the Niger-Delta was seriously affecting oil production, and our oil exports have been drastically reduced before dialogued option was embraced by the Federal Government and the militants.

Political leaders and Democratic dividends
It is unfortunate that we are still at this stage. This is not the kind of democracy we envisaged when we fought the military in order to entrench civil rule. Unfortunately, most of us that were involved in the struggle against the military rule did so out of genuine patriotism. We put our lives on the line thinking that the new crop of political leaders that will emerge are the type that will lead us to the promised land. But how disappointing has these set of political leaders been? Most of them are self-serving. Most of them have been acquiring ill-gotten wealth. They have completely forgotten about the theory of social contract which makes it binding on them to render service to those who elected them into office.

When God answered our prayers in 1999 when the country returned to democratic rule after several years of military dictatorship, we all shouted hosanna, but 14 years down the lane, our new political leaders have not done anything tangible to transform the nation. Nigeria has not been blessed with visionary leaders who can harness the nation's abundant human and natural resources to make Nigeria a true giant of Africa.

It is sad that gap between the rich and the poor continue to be widened. Corruption is on the increase, and the looters of our treasuries are walking the streets freely. However, I remain hopeful that in due course that Nigeria will be blessed with the right type of leaders. Having said this, I still want to restate the fact that the worst civilian government is still far better than the most benevolent military government.

Fight against corruption
I don't support execution. I would be the last person to support death sentence as a form of punishment for corruption. In the past, several innocent citizens have been sentenced to death due to lack of comprehensive investigation. Police used to make grievous mistakes in the course of their investigation. If we are canvassing for death penalty, many innocent lives would be lost.

I would be the last person to support death penalty for indicted corrupt public officers, rather I support long jail term sentences for offenders. However, nobody should be seen to be above the law. The law and the constitution is above any individual. There should be no untouchable in the war against corruption. There should be no sacred cow.

There were even some countries where former presidents were jailed for corruption after the end of their tenure. It happened in South Korea, Chile and even in Egypt, former President Hosni Mubarak is on trial over corruption related offences.

Our leaders should know that power is transient, and that one day they will leave office. I would like to advise President Jonathan to wage an unrelentless battle against corruption. He should strive to write his name in gold by ensuring that there is no sacred cow in the war against corruption.

Jonathan's second term ambition
I think under normal circumstances, Jonathan has the constitutional right to run for a second term. If he decides to run, it now depends on the people of Nigeria whether they would vote for him or not. Our present constitution allows an elected official to run for two terms in office. Jonathan has every right to contest 2015 presidential election. Those two and half years he spent to complete the term of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua should not be counted as part of his own tenure. There should be no controversy over whether he should run or not, he has the constitutional rights to contest in 2015. His fate would however be determined by the voters. Jonathan is serving his first term now, so he has every right to contest for a second term in 2015.

The North and 2015
I'm not saying so. The North like every other region has the right to agitate for a return of power to the zone. Every other Nigerian also has the right to aspire and contest for the office of the president in 2015. Democracy is all about competition, fairness and equity.

My activities
I can never abandon the struggle. I can never abandon the fight against injustice, oppression and bad governance. I still remain a comrade alongside other activists who have been fighting to make Nigeria a better country for all.

Having said this, I want to emphasise this, an organization must be ever ready to apply strategy on whatever it is doing. OPC as an organization is very keen about promoting and protecting the identity of Yoruba people. We are a socio-cultural organization fighting for the interests of Yorubas. So we have to be doing things that will promote and project the image of Yoruba people. It is not everytime that OPC has to be doing things that are only political. What we basically do now is to react and speak out accordingly when we have political and economic issues that affect the interests of Yoruba people.

But when we are not doing this, we engage ourselves in promotion of Yoruba culture. I can't turn myself into a bulldog by barking everytime, even when situation doesn't warrant it. If you do this, a time will come when your statement will no longer carry any weight. This is why I don't talk anyhow.

My ultimate goal
My ultimate goal is to ensure that Yoruba culture is projected to such an extent that coming generations will inherit some legacies about our culture. We want to ensure that our tradition and culture endures, that it survives influences from other foreign cultures. We want to preserve what is our own, and one of the things we have been doing is to promote various festivals in different Yoruba towns, villages, and communities.

We also encourage our traditional rulers to help promote Yoruba culture and tradition. OPC has been actively involved in some festivals such as Olojo festival in Ile Ife, Oranmiyan festival in Oyo, Lisabi festival in Abeokuta. We also have Oodua festival, Oshun Oshogbo festival and Okota festival in my hometown in Ondo State. We are actively involved in these festivals. The financial commitments not withstanding, I will not relent because I strongly believe that promotion of culture is part of the struggle to enhance Yorubas interests.