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Anti-corruption crusade? Thereís none.The highest coruption is in the Presidency

Posted by By DESMOND MGBOH, Kano on 2007/01/08 | Views: 408 |

Anti-corruption crusade? Thereís none.The highest coruption is in the Presidency


Dr. Junaid Salik Muhammed is no doubt a student of the Aminu Kano leftist politics. Right from his days as a radical voice in the then famous NEPU politics to his critical stands as a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, he has always been predictable as an undeniable force in the struggle for the emancipation of the common man.

Dr. Junaid Salik Muhammed is no doubt a student of the Aminu Kano leftist politics. Right from his days as a radical voice in the then famous NEPU politics to his critical stands as a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, he has always been predictable as an undeniable force in the struggle for the emancipation of the common man.

In this interview, Junaid Mohammed, who was recently elected as the chairman of the Peoples Salvation Party, spoke on several issues such as the disagreement between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, his partyís relationship with General Muhammadu Buhari, his vision for his party, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the general trend of corruption in the polity. He concluded by saying that both Obasanjo and Atiku should be impeached immediately.

You have just been elected the national chairman of the Peoples Salvation Party (PSP). How do you feel about the new challenge?
Well, I feel humbled, but I also feel greatly challenged. Humbled because the movement or the political tradition which produced the PSP as a party, was the same tradition that produced the PRP. It was also the same tradition which produced the old NEPU. If you recalled, NEPU was formed on August 8, 1950. That makes it one of the oldest parties in Nigeria. Other parties formed earlier started off as tribal organisations.

Now, 50 years later, the old NEPU stalwarts got together and decided to have a big bash. It was a time for reminiscences. Some of the people who participated in the meeting had a lot to be proud of. Because what started as a movement of eight persons turned out to be a massive political party in Nigeria and parts of Africa. At the end of the meeting, I decided to gather some of the old men and the younger men. We decided to float something that is much more significant. This gave birth to the PSP as a party.

NEPU and PRP you just talked about, they were able to connect directly to the ordinary people. But PSP is more of conception than a reality. It has not been able to connect with the ordinary people. How would you bring a shift in direction?

I can assure you that if I do not believe in the might of the people, in the just cause of the people, I would never have rejoined the party, much less be its national chairman. It was easier for NEPU to connect with the people and a lot easier for PRP to also reconnect with the people because from the start, they came with a clear cut message and they had a credible leader. When the PSP started, especially when it got registered as a party, it lacked a credible leadership. Politics is not only a message but it is also a credible message.

There was neither a message nor a credible leadership in the beginning. Now, we are determined to change that. Now, I am in the process of drafting a new manifesto for the party, which should be debated and adopted in due course. And, of course, I believe I represent, given my own political antecedent, a different personality, a different personae and a different perception. These two, I think would go a long way to change the perception, would highlight the fact that it is a very serious party and we intend to be a very serious participant in the struggle for power.

You may agree with me that the PSP you are inheriting, the previous leadership had a cloudy financial transaction, managed by a few people to the dissatisfaction of many members of the party. Where do you stand on this?
Thank you for asking this question because it is a very germane question. Integrity is very important especially for those who claim to be working for the people. There have been a number of issues of financial nature, which need to be clarified. I do not want to accuse anybody. My attitude is to presume everybody innocent until proven otherwise. As I am talking to you now, I have not been handed over even one sheet of paper. I have not been given a single file.

I have not been given the statement of account. What I heard prior to the convention of the party was that the party had only N2 million in the kitty, out of which two notable members of the party shared N1 million each, which they said was for the purpose of organising a convention. I know what it costs people, at least, my delegates, to travel from their various destinations nationwide to get to Abuja and what it took to get them accommodated in various hotels.

In fact, the convention hall was a disgrace. Most of the people who claimed to have been responsible for organising the convention disappeared, even though they were physically present in Abuja. Some of them were there, but did not consider it important to render an account of the financial status of the party. Definitely, we are going to ask all these questions; but I am hardly three weeks as the chairman. So, it is asking too much now to start asking for details.

By the way, the question is relevant because, we are going to have to render our account to INEC before we receive the next subvention as a political party. If we donít render a credible account, nobody is going to listen to us as a party. In any case, those who believe they can take the partyís money and simply disappear or borrow the money or use whatever excuse to take the partyís money, would have to pay back that money. Simple.

What is your relationship with the other parties? For example, the ANPP. There are claims that the PSP is an appendage of the ANPP and you are only trying to build structures for General Buhari?

I do not want to use a very strong language. All I can tell you, is that it is not true. The PSP under me, is nobodyís appendage. When we formed the PSP, I constituted the cornerstone of the formation of the party, it was never meant to be so. So, we should be careful about making wild claims. As I am talking with you now, as far I know, we have not endorsed any candidate. Yes, there have been discussions with presidential candidates, primarily, with General Buhari.

That cannot be denied because we believe we have a few things in common with him as a person. But these discussions have not reached any fruition. When they reach any fruition, it would be made public, because ours is not a personality cult, it is not a secret cult, it is a political party and by its definition, it is an open sociological system and we are going to conduct our own politics in the most transparent manner.

Your philosophy may agree with that of General Buhari as a person. But what about his immediate lieutenants, many of whom do not, generally speaking, represent what he stands for radically?

The lieutenants of Buhari are Buhariís problem. They are not my problem. If I enter into an agreement with General Buhari, I expect him to honour the agreement, just as he expects me to honour my side of it. How he chooses to deal with his lieutenants is his own business. As far as PSP is concerned, we are not going into a blind agreement which we know even if we sign the agreement, it would be respected in its breach than its observance.

And I am going to be very careful, so that what we agreed to is implemented. It is going to be an agreement based on programmes and these programmes are going to be time-bound, preferably within four years. I am not going to sit down and start discussing who would hold which positions. I am going to sit down and discuss what is to be done to this great country.

The recently reported sacking from office of the Vice President by the President and his party, is it proper legally, morally and politically?
It is improper on all counts. It speaks more about the President himself. His contempt for justice, his disdain for the rule of law and the way he takes everybody for a ride. Whatever Atikuís crimes are, real or imagined, Atiku is entitled to his day in court. The court in this instance would be the National Assembly. There is nowhere in the Constitution where it is said once you do this, you are automatically sacked. No! And I believe this is wrong. I believe this is wrong. I believe when this matter is finally resolved, Obasanjoís arbitrary actions would be seen to be unsustainable. And I believe it should not be sustainable, if we are serious about democracy.

How possible will it be to have a Presidency of two parties?

This is the fine points for the lawyers to argue. As far as I am concerned, whether the Constitution says the President and the Vice President must come from the same party or whether it says it must be two persons who agree to form a team is beside the point. I want the interpretation to be done, not by Obasanjo, not by some reckless policemen, not by some goons and thugs in the PDP. I want this to be done by the High Court of the land.

There are suggestions that Atikuís trip out of the country is to escape being arrested by the President. Do you share the same fear that the Vice President could be arrested?

With Obasanjo, everything is possible. When a man has no respect for the rule of law and he believes that arbitrariness is virtue, there is nothing he canít do. Obasanjo does not surprise me. Whatever he does is entirely up to him and up to his own position in history and I can say, as a participant in this current history and in this epoch, that his position is already predetermined. He is going to be dumped. He is going to find himself in the most unbelievably hopeless place and hopeless situation in history. This is the man that is called a statesman. I think they are making a mockery of statesmanship. This man is not a statesman.

A President who believes that he can behave anyhow and get away with it, and who can deal with the number two citizen so shabbily, the way he is dealing with Atiku, then all of us ought to take cover or to really come out and declare where we stand. I donít care what Atiku is accused of. All I care is that he should be taken to court. The court should be allowed to adjudicate whether he is guilty or not. Nobody, not even Obasanjo, has the right to constitute himself into a judge, a jury and a prosecutor all in one. That is too much power in the hands of any one individual.

With regard to the PTDF and from the disclosures so far, how do we rate both Obasanjo and Atiku against the background of the regimeís anti-corruption drive?

Let me say, I believe in the EFCC. Not because it is right or what it is doing is perfect. But I believe it is one last hope that we have in this country. Otherwise, this country would be ungovernable. Otherwise, we would not be able to do business with the rest of the world. So, we need the EFCC. But if you asked me whether the EFCC is being run correctly, I would say no. No, it is not being run correctly. If you say the EFCC is being selective in the way it is arresting and prosecuting people, I would say yes! It is being selective and openly partisan. Ribadu is part and parcel of Obasanjoís kitchen cabinet. And that is not the intent of the foreign countries that insisted on the EFCC decree or act. Whatever are the inadequacies of the EFCC, I believe the country is better off with it than without it.

But to the old issue of corruption, I donít believe this government has anything to show for it, for the so-called anti-corruption crusade. There is no crusade. The highest rate of corruption is within the Presidency, within the family of Obasanjo and his mistresses and his children and his political cronies and accolades. And as long as he is there and those people are there in the Presidency entrenched, there can be no solution to corruption in Nigeria. That does not mean, however, that other people, who may be less in status, are innocent. I believe some day, Obasanjo would stand trial for his excesses in some of his activities and the corruption of some of those people he brought into government.

What then happens to Atiku? Is he, therefore, exonerated?
For your information, in my analysis, I included the office of the Vice President. Go and check the Constitution; there are only two functions for the Vice President. Almost all the powers vested in the Presidency are vested in the President. The Vice President is like the spare tyre. When I say there is corruption in the Presidency, I do not mean to exclude Atiku or his cronies.
There are suggestions that both men should be impeached.
I support that absolutely. I believe neither Atiku nor Obasanjo has the moral right to continue for one day.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.