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Masari to Gov Yar’Adua: You’re a big disappointment

Posted by From ERIC OSAGIE, Abuja on 2006/11/27 | Views: 945 |

Masari to Gov Yar’Adua: You’re a big disappointment


Speaker of the House of Representatives and frontline gubernatorial candidate in Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, has drawn the battle line in the war against the alleged imposition of a candidate by Gov. Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

Speaker of the House of Representatives and frontline gubernatorial candidate in Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, has drawn the battle line in the war against the alleged imposition of a candidate by Gov. Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.


In an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, Masari said: " In a country where we are preaching about justice, and a country where we say we want peace, how can we have peace without justice?

So it means we are not practising what we are preaching. The leaders will come, they will swear, say all sorts of things, but what they do is totally different. So it is very sad, not only for Katsina but also for the nation. Because if these [Yar'Adua & co] are the kind of people we have in leadership positions, I'm sorry to say, there is just no way we can make any meaningful progress."

Excerpts:


The Katsina issue has come to the front burner of political issues. You are apparently angry with the state of affairs. What exactly is your grouse?
Let me start by saying that I would have reacted to the Katsina issue the same way I have, if it had happened somewhere else and it was brought to my knowledge. It is important for me to clear the wrong impression some people may have, that I'm reacting because I am involved. But it is important for us to note in this country that we should not only be talking about justice, we must also act justly. As an individual, the governor has lost that part of him openly that he can behave and act in such a manner that he cannot separate himself from his office as a governor. So my grouse is that the governor called for a meeting.

In the meeting, he was there, his deputy was there, his commissioners, special advisers and special assistants were all there. Fine, they are all his employees. There are also some people in the business community who are his friends or people he claims are in his group, whatever that means, were also in attendance. Then he called the party leadership in the state together with all 34 council chairmen and party chairmen respectively, some permanent secretaries and some heads of parastatals, who are not political appointees by whatever definition anyone wants to use, and in the presence of everyone, raising the hand of an aspirant, declaring as the candidate of the party and that of the government. At the time that declaration was made, the aspirant had no single office in the state, had coordinator or linkman, right from the ward to the local government level and state levels.

Was it at an event Gov. Yar'adua publicly endorsed a candidate for office of governor?

It wasn't at an event. It was specifically arranged by the governor to declare him, introduce him, to annoint him. It was a deliberately planned declaration by the governor. So, we as citizens of Katsina state, and as senior members of the PDP in the state, we were not told, neither were we consulted. We felt that the governor acted wrongly and breached his oath of office. He did not in anyway help the PDP by his actions.

Why in your opinion did he anoint a candidate?
Well, I am not him. He knows why he did what he did. But certainly what he did was wrong. If you could remember in Bayelsa, during one of the occasions, the state party chairman raised the hand of one of the aspirants up as the party's candidate. The chairman was promptly suspended. It was the intervention of the President that reduced the suspension from six months to three months. But here (in Katsina) they have gone a step further than that. This is official declaration by the governor and the state chairman, and nobody is talking, nobody is saying anything. The party's national secretariat is aware, the leader of the party is aware, and nobody seems to be doing anything.

Why the conspiracy of silence?

This is the question we are also asking. Why? Why?

Are you outraged?
You see, one is disgusted because in a country where we are preaching about justice, and a country where we say we want peace, how can we have peace without justice? So it means we are not practising what we are preaching. The leaders will come, they will swear, say all sorts of things, but what they do is totally different. So it is very sad, not only for Katsina but also for the nation. Because if these are the kind of people we have in leadership positions, I'm sorry to say, there is just no way we can make any meaningful progress.

What was your relationship with the governor before now?
Actually, I cannot claim to be somebody close to him, except from probably 2003. Any time I was in Katsina, I used to visit him. And I became close to him when I became Speaker because we held so many consultations. So, I cannot claim to have known him to pass judgement either way, except that I am somebody who always believe whatever people tell him. So all the things he has been telling me, I've always believed him. He said he was going to be fair, just and all that in public. I believed him. But if he goes back to the room, what he does is totally different.

But you knew the senior Yar'adua. What are the essential differences between both men?
Well, I was with the late Yar' Adua for one year. Very close to him. Immediately after the Abacha coup of 1993 was when he called for a meeting across political divide, he said it was time for Katsina to unite and do one thing. He said even if we can't do one thing, let's have a common understanding, so that we don't go out to run down our state or our leaders. And on the basis of that, Katsina State Forum was formed on the platform of which we all came to the Constitutional Conference. We all accepted him as our leader.

Under his leadership, the PDM was born, some of us were sent to states to go and establish and propagate PDM, and which we did well. So in terms of personal interaction, I can say that the one year I spent with him provided me more personal interaction with him because what we were doing was more personal than official. But in this (governor) case, we were doing more official than personal. And anybody who worked under late Tafida or worked with him will tell you that he was a straight-forward person, and a man of his words.

You used to be seen as a friend of the executive. Are you sad that nobody is calling the governor to order in this same administration?
It is not surprising to me anyway. But the fact of the matter is that the President attempted twice to see if he could reconcile the two of us, but it never worked. The fundamental issue is , why should those that matter fold their arms? I want you to imagine if the president today will call a meeting of the governors of the PDP who he believes listen to him or are loyal to him and the entire 36 chapter chairmen of the party, Central Working Committee of the party, and he (Obasanjo) and the national chairman raise the hand of an aspirant, one man and say he is the candidate of the party and that of the government. I want you to imagine what will be the reaction of the people.

Have you protested to the national leadership of the party?
We did. In fact, we protested and said this arrangement cannot produce credible results. And somebody who has that kind of arrangement cannot abide by the rules of the game.
As far as PDP is concerned, it has laid down guidelines, due process. But laying down guideline is one thing, following them is another. And in Katsina, they are not likely to follow it.

Has the party leadership replied your protest letter?
There was no delegate congress in Katsina. What happened was that delegates were selected from Government House. The entire structure of the party with the exception of two councils, are working with the state government.

And up till now, the party has not said anything. For them, the congress is in order and they have ratified it.

So, it means the alleged injustice and illegality will stand?
That is what it means.

Do you think what they are doing is personal or the authorities are against you for your perceived role in the third term saga?
Well, at this point in time, I don't want to make it personal. Because I'm not the only person that is affected by the results of the congress. Three of us from the PDP complained and lodged our protest. So, it is not as if it is targeted at me as a person, but to all of us, other aspirants, except the one anointed by the governor.

What are the options available to you?
The three of us have formed a common front, and we agreed that whatever common position we will take will be pursued by all of us.

Unfortunately now, one of the aspirants is not in town, but we are expecting him. If he comes around, we will decide on what to do.

I don't want to take a personal decision on this matter. I want us to collectively take a position on what to do next. Since we have agreed to act together, it is only fair that we discuss the matter and go back and consult our supporters.

Are you hopeful there will be justice at the end of the day?
I'm not. Because the foundation of justice as far as the selection or election of candidates to stand election in PDP in Katsina is concerned, I cannot see how the process will be fair.
Now the same person who allegedly anointed a candidate is running for presidency.
Well, he has the constitutional right to aspire for any office in Nigeria. And it is up to Nigerians to decide whether to accept him or not. And what we are saying is that this is what he did in Katsina and so it is up to the people to judge.

Will he make a good president?
I don't know.

Anointing a candidate appears to be a characteristic of the military. Is it that Gov. Yar'adua is military at heart?
You see, we tend to forget that military is a matter of uniform. So you can have a civiliian dictator. You can have a democrat in a military uniform. You can have a military in a civilian uniform. So, it is not entirely a military thing. In some countries of the world, we saw retired generals turn out to be good politicians.

There were so many of them in America who later became presidents. All over the world, it is really whether one is prepared to abide by the tenets of democracy.

Did Gov. Yar'adua shock you?
No, you see, in life you have to get prepared for anything. But the fact of the matter is if it can happen in this 21st century, and after seven and half years of democracy, if it can happen and it will be allowed to stay, then one would leave a big question mark for the future of democracy in Nigeria.

What are your hopes and fears for 2007?

Well, if what we saw in Katsina is going to be translated during the general elections, then certainly I have fears.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding