We are heading dangerously to 2015 - Balarabe Musa
*Says Asari Dokubo, others can make things worse
Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa is the National Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and the first civilian governor of the old Kaduna State. In this interview, he faults the sequence of the 2015 polls as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but which means the presidential election will hold before gubernatorial, saying the electoral body allowed itself to be manipulated in a way that President Goodluck Jonathan can force incumbent governors to work for his re-election. He is also dissatisfied that there no new Electoral Act in place ahead of the 2015 polls Excerpts:
What is your view about the INEC timetable for the 2015 general elections? (Laughing ). If we are truly going to have any election, the timetable coming at the time it did is in order because this is the right time to release it. But the timetable is causing problems particularly on the sequence and the bandwagon effect that can arise.
How do you mean? The sequence of the elections is top- bottom; the presidential election holds first. If INEC as an institution is desperate to have public confidence going by the poor conduct of past elections in the past and the need to rediscover itself, why would it do such a thing that will raise a high level of lack of confidence in it? Why change the sequence of election? This has drastically reduced the level of confidence people have in the body.
That is part of the reasons adduced by the opposition parties in rejecting the timetable. It is not just political parties that should reject it, all Nigerians should reject the time table because the change of sequence without a cogent reason raises suspicion. And before any election, the National Assembly should pass a law on how the election would be conducted.
That has not been done yet and it is possible for any of the political parties to take INEC to court claiming the 2015 elections are not being conducted in accordance with the law. You cannot go to court over the sequence of election which is clearly within the power of INEC, but conducting an election without an electoral law is a contravention of the law and any party can go to court to stop the election.
But it is believed in some quarters that the INEC timetable is a recipe for free and fair election. How can you have free and fair election when you know the bandwagon the sequence of election can bring in favour of Jonathan? It means INEC is being political, trying to help the President win re-election. And with the issue of impunity that is rocking the country, the sincerity of INEC is in doubt.
I have raised two issues: The implication of band wagon and the lack of Electoral Law under which the elections can hold. Even if INEC can hold elections without the Electoral Law, for its own credibility, it needs to explain to Nigerians why it needed to arrange the elections in that sequence.
The President seemed to have influenced INEC to start with the presidential election to get the governors to help him win the presidency before they get his backing for the gubernatorial election and it is in line with what has been happening in the country which is the bandwagon effect. INEC, even though is called 'Independent National Electoral Commission,' you know it is not independent.
The President can hold the INEC Chairman and drag him down and there is nothing he can do about it. If he proves stubborn, he can be subjected to the treatment suffered by former PDP Chairmen Bamaga Tukur who was recently forced out of the office. It was the same thing they did to Audu Ogbeh who experienced humiliation before he was forced out of office.
What is your view about Asari Dokubo's threat if Jonathan is not returned for second term? In the first place, there is no peace in Nigeria; so he can only make things worse if he can. Or can you generally say there is peace in Nigeria? In any case, the security of the nation is negative. Meanwhile what he said is a challenge to others. Anybody threatening Nigeria come 2015 can only make the situation worse and who ever is making that threat should know that he can be challenged by others. Vanguard