GET READY FOR REVOLUTION-LEMU
Long before Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led Presidential Panel on 2011 post-election violence submitted its report, a Kano-based social critic and Second Republic federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had declared in the media that Nigeria was ripe for a revolution, insisting that the country's present situation fits into Lenin's definition of a classical revolutionary situation.
But Mohammed was never a member of the panel, neither was he privy to the reports and recommendations of the Presidential panel. But the panel also in its report submitted to President Jonathan, was emphatic that current happenings in the country, if left unchecked, could lead to a social revolution.
Shortly after submitting the report, the Chairman of the presidential panel, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service, on the committee's work, especially on whether or not the committee indicted presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Buhari (Rtd), where he also reemphasized that the government should be prepared to face a revolt if it decides to abandon its report.
'Well, in our own case, we stated unambiguously that considering what is happening around the world today, government will be doing a disservice to itself and Nigeria if it decides to abandon our report like the previous ones. In fact, we gave example with some rebellious actions organized by students and even workers' union alike. So, we were emphatic in our submissions that if the government fails to act on our report, their refusal to take necessary action could lead to a revolution in Nigeria, like the type being witnessed in some Arab countries. So, we have given the government adequate warning signs on the need to act on our reports.
'But we told the President that if he does take action and throw away our recommendations like the numerous ones before ours, then the President and the Federal Government should be ready to face a revolution. If that is what they want, we have finished our own part of the job and like we told them, we have collected our tickets to heaven, as we are only waiting for the angels and our prayers are that the angels would fly us and land into heaven. If the Federal Government fails to act, it is left to it.'
Below is the excerpt from the interview as monitored by Sunday Sun, in Kaduna recently.
What is contained in your report?
Our report is very voluminous and the views are quite many. However, we have suggested in a brief form what in our view was critical and needed quick attention. In fact, we started with the remote cause of the killings and violence.
What in your view was responsible for the killings and violence?
Well, what we found out was that since the end of military era which ushered in our present democratic dispensation in 1999, we have had series of crises and after these crises, the government usually set up committees or commissions of enquiry. But in the end, these committees or commissions will submit their findings and recommendations, but the recommendations will never be implemented. So, those responsible for unleashing this mayhem become emboldened since they usually go unpunished. So, this makes them to continue to foment trouble, knowing full well that government will not take any punitive measure against them. So, this is one of the things responsible for the post-election violence and part of what we did as a committee, was to list all the previous committees whose reports were never implemented for necessary action.
Aren't you worried that your report too may go a similar way?
Well, in our own case, we stated unambiguously that considering what is happening around the world today, government will be doing a disservice to itself and Nigeria if it decides to abandon our report like the previous ones. In fact, we gave example with some rebellious actions organized by students and even workers' union alike. So, we were emphatic in our submissions that if the government fails to act on our report, their refusal to take necessary action could lead to a revolution in Nigeria, like the type being witnessed in some Arab countries. So, we have given the government adequate warning signs on the need to act on our reports.
And what was the President's response?
He told us that his government would not put our recommendations aside, including our summary report because we gave the government an idea of what could be done to prevent future occurrences.
You went round the country, what and what did your committee give the government?
As you know, we held public hearings and directly heard from the people concerned. We also allowed people to see us in camera. These are the categories of people who felt that their public appearances might compromise their security. In all, we received about 1,000 memoranda and we re-produced them in DVD form, all of which we submitted to the President. So all what happened between us and all those we met, whether in private or in public, were worked on and all formed part of what we submitted to the President.
Did your committee in any way indict General Mohammadu Buhari; going by what you discovered was responsible for the post-election violence?
No, there was nothing like that. If you see what we submitted, you will discover that Buhari was even vindicated. There are several other prominent politicians, who you did not even hear because they operated from the background, who have interest and who were involved. Some of these politicians also promoted the idea of vote protection, so it wasn't Buhari alone that promoted the idea.
And what we said in our report was that the idea and the spirit behind the vote protection were interpreted in so many ways to mean resorting to violence to protect one's vote. But when we met Buhari in Kaduna, we discovered that he was even a victim. During the meeting, which lasted for over one hour, he told us about his properties that were damaged, by presenting pictures of his cars and even receipts to show evidence of payment of some of the losses he incurred. And in the end, our committee was convinced that there is no way he would have instigated people to cause violence to destroy people's properties.
But Buhari's campaign slogan of 'vote, protect and escort' your vote was seen by many as contributing to the violence.
You see, if someone wants to cause trouble and behave like a devil incarnate, such a person could interpret an action to suit himself, and we stated this much in our report.
So he is not indicted?
Yes. You see, what we did is between us and God. He certainly couldn't have done such a thing for his properties to be destroyed. Like I told the President, we have collected our tickets to the hereafter, and we are only waiting to be called upon. And our expectations are that when the time comes, we will fly to Heaven. So, how do you expect us to blackmail Buhari, because of selfish interest? Even the INEC chairman too promoted the slogan you are talking about.
In your report too, you said the zoning controversy of the PDP was one of the prominent factors that charged the polity; did you indict President Goodluck Jonathan?
Well, I cannot say he is responsible or not but we all knew the political atmosphere took a different dimension, with religion coming into play, especially in the northern part of the country over the issue of PDP's zoning
Your committee also talked about salaries of the National Assembly members.
We did not say exactly how much they earn. However, every Nigerian knows how much they are earning on monthly basis. They are not collecting N1million or N5million. For example, the Senate is collecting above N10 million every month. What business now in this world is somebody doing that he will be making such money in a month, millions and not thousands?
All the people we discussed the matter with said it was scandalous. So, even though we could not exactly say how much they earn, we were not the first to lament over what they earn. The CBN governor did same and they called him to humiliate him, and when he got there, he did not change his mind, because he was able to prove his point. So, because of this high money, the competition for power has become very intense, with everybody wanting to get his own militia and thugs, so as to arm them, buy them India hemps and other kinds of hard drugs. And all the jobless youths are now their foot soldiers serving as their armed political thugs.
Now that your committee has submitted its report, what is next?
Well, I cannot say because that is in the hands of God and the Federal Government. But we told the President that if he does take action and throw away our recommendations like the numerous ones before ours, then the President and the Federal Government should be ready to face a revolution. If that is what they want, we have finished our own part of the job and like we told them, we have collected our tickets to heaven, as we are only waiting for the angels and our prayers are that the angels would fly us and land us into heaven. If the federal government fails to act, it is left to it.