Saturday, 15 February 2020 09:45

2023: No deal with South on power rotation –Junaid Mohammed

Controversial Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed has said the North is not afraid of the Southwest over Amotekun. In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the former lawmaker said the quest for the South-South to complete its second term in 2023 is arrant nonsense. He declared that there is no deal between the North and South on power rotation or zoning ahead of the 2023 presidential elections. “What makes anybody think that those who are now holding power are going to voluntarily surrender power in 2023? I don’t know. So, zoning and rotation afford us the worst”, he warned.

There have been sounds of division vibrating across the country. What do you say to this?  

I will not go that far, but I can tell you that, yes, as at the time we fought the war, there were political divisions, and there are divisions now, but I’m not prepared to give eventually the kind of opinion you are looking for that Nigeria is more divided than it was before or during the civil war. Immediately the implications of the tribal coup of January 1966, were understood, Nigerians rose to the defence of the country, and that called for force of arms. So, I don’t accept that all.

 In effect, we are making progress, 50 years after the war?

I will not call that progress; yes, we have not gone as far as we had expected; given the potential of a country, what we have been able to achieve amounts to nothing. Yes, we have survived as a country, but survival alone ignores special qualities of the human person, only animals are glad to survive by the day, if they are not killed by other animals or beaten by the rains, human beings can also kill them for food. That to me, is not ideal that for you to believe that because you are surviving, you are around and still called a nation. So, I don’t regard that as progress. It must be the kind of progress where we ought to have been given the potential of the country, the resources available to us, the people, the materials for living, for economic and political development and for influence within our region in Africa and of course the international community. That has not been achieved.


Nigeria is ranked third in the 2019 World Terrorism Index, how did we get there?

I’m not surprised at all. Terrorism is something, which is in the eyes of the beholder. There are countries that are more devastating, for example, you cannot compare Nigeria with countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria. The kind of devastation you see in Nigeria is not the kind you see in those countries.

So, I don’t accept that; it is a sole irrational determinant of terrorism given the parameters they used. I’m not surprised and the fact that the government has failed to wane terrorism, instead of being seen to be doing their best to contain it, we see some Generals have turned it to business. We have a situation that the people who are supposed to defend the territorial integrity, the economic and political well-being of the people in Nigeria are running the show.

In fact, the people are demanding that these people must be sacked, but these Generals believe that nothing will happen, even the resolution of the Senate don’t even matter. But, the resolution matters because it is the people’s money that is used to maintain the armed forces, to buy them expensive, but sometimes, obsolete equipment.

The Operation Amotekun, the regional Southwest security outfit has been hailed by other regions- Southeast, South-South and Middle Belt, why is the core North afraid of it?

I hope you didn’t fix this appointment to insult me?

 No, Doctor   

This argument started 30 years ago about the so-called regional police, but the top military hierarchy, security officers and police officers in service and in retirement condemned it. If you say that the North is afraid of Amotekun, that is an insult. We didn’t fear them before, why would we fear them now? Are you saying that anybody who express opposing view about this matter is necessarily opposed to a section of the country?

If you think that the North is afraid of Southwest, goodluck to you.  Go and join them, after all you joined them before they led you into civil war.

I have interviewed many elites on this issue, and those opposed to it are Northerners, that is why I’m asking, is there anything the North is seeing that other parts of the country are not seeing?

I have been open and rational in my commentary. I never looked at issues as a northern or a southern issue. Anyway, are you saying that the Southeast is recognising Amotekun in order to set up a regional police force? I have passed my comment, that is the beauty of democracy; the minority will have their say and the majority their way.

 Then what is the security implication of regional security outfits that are likely to spring up?

What has been agreed between Southwest governors and the Vice President is enhancing the robust idea of community policing at the state levels because the constitution of Nigeria doesn’t require any group of states; even the zones are not recognised for the purposes of any operative manipulation of the constitution.

But after the meeting, the governors emphasised that there was no going back on Amotekun

Well, they are politicians. Politicians are politicians; they know what they are doing.

What then is the solution to the problem of insecurity in the country?

The Southwest says Amotekun is the solution.

 If Amotekun is the solution in the Southwest, what other ideas do you proffer for the rest of the country?

I’m not a police officer. I have never supported any armed security outfit whether you call it Amotekun or any other. The lies they are talking about this rubbish called Hisbah, are nothing but bunch of lies, and I opposed it. I opposed the Hisbah and I also opposed Sharia at the time of its implementations. People who are still alive are witnesses, and also people who are dead were also witnesses to my views. Obasanjo is one person who knows my views very well.

Having opposed something, how will I be asked to defend something I do not support?

On the issue of 2023, the South-South elders came up recently to state that it is their turn; that they should complete the remaining four years of Jonathan presidency. How do you react to this?

That is arrant nonsense. Who would have given them the two terms; with whom did they negotiate? Some corrupt northern politicians in the PDP cut a deal with Jonathan, but the deal backfired; it didn’t work. Now they want to go the way the other two regions in the South, that is, by blackmail and agitation, let them go and join them. There is nothing wrong with it; after all the other people have been doing it, why should they be left behind.

People are trying to position themselves for strategic advantages. So who gave them what and whom are they negotiating with, I don’t know. Who did they negotiate with to have the four years or to have the aborted second term?

If Umaru Yar’Adua didn’t die and he did his eight years, it was absolutely certain that Goodluck Jonathan wouldn’t have been the president. He became the president by virtue of the fact that he was the Vice President by the time Yar’Adua died.

To assume that it was favour done to him or to his region was neither here nor there; it is unhistorical. We can never wake the dead; we would have known whom he negotiated with other than the Nigerian Constitution, which provided him to be president in the event of the death or the incapacitation of the president.

Their position is based on antecedents, that is power rotation principle

Where is power rotation or zoning enshrined in the constitution?

 Though it is not constitutional, but it is like a gentleman’s agreement

Who are the gentlemen?

  All of you, the politicians

I’m neither a member of APC nor PDP, so how do I become a political gentleman? The last time I contested election was in 1983 and three months into that the army came and overthrew us, and since then I had only attempted to join one party and the other was a cultural group from the old PRP.

From what I have said in this interview and what I have said earlier, I have never believed in zoning and rotation. For the umpteenth time, I have emphasised that the two arrangements are undemocratic, unconstitutional. They take away substantially what the country needs in terms of unity, in terms of economic emancipation so that we can move forward.

Jonathan had so called agreement with members of his party, and he didn’t live up to that, so what makes him think that this time around people he left with imaginary language of gentleman’s political agreement can now concede to his own part of the country if in deed those who are speaking are speaking on his behalf or on behalf of the other part of the country.

What makes anybody think that those who are now holding power are going to voluntarily surrender power in 2023? I don’t know. So, zoning and rotation afford us the worst.

Since zoning and rotation can’t give us the best, what arrangement do we put in place to get the best?

We should work towards elite consensus. Those you call political elites should come together and ask what is the best for the country. No elite in this country has succeeded in persuading me that rotation and zoning will move this country forward. It will not. What it does is to provide the elites from certain section, region or tribe of the country to plunder the resources of the country to abuse power, abuse the office in order to enrich themselves. Most of the times, it is for them, members of their family, their friends, cronies and mistresses. That is not my idea of democratic dividends. The whole talk of democratic dividend is sheer nonsense, introduced unfortunately into our politics by Obasanjo.

Democracy is not only about dividends; you are not into buying shares to be entitled into certain percentage of what the declared profit is. Anybody knows that if Obasanjo had relied on the votes of his tribesmen, he would never have been the president of Nigeria whether as a military or civilian.

That clearly indicates that all of us have vested interest in this project called democracy and that means if those outside the tribal group of the person decide not to vote for him, that man would never be president. When you talk about the majority ethnic groups – the Hausa-Fulani combination (in fact it is ridiculous to say Hausa-Fulani because there is nothing common between the two except party geography), the Yoruba race and the Igbo race, and if you put these out, the minority are the real majority in Nigeria. These three don’t have the voting bank. The minority ethnic groups if they team up will defeat those three combined ethnic groups, and they will shut up.

If Nigeria has depended on the wishful thinking and the opportunity of these three ethnic groups, the country would have frittered away since because they are so immersed in their greed and stupidity that they cannot see beyond their nose, and they don’t have strategic thinking; they are only interested in how do I bribe my way or use violence to cow other people in order to elect one of them into office to steal. That is all.



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