Nigeria’s elections are presently in furtherance of corrupt practices – Johnson

Ladipo Johnson is the spokesperson of the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in the just concluded general election, Rabiu Kwankwaso in the just concluded general election. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he assessed the conduct of the 2023 general election, the victory of the NNPP in Kano, among other issues.

What is your take on the conduct of the 2023 polls?

Unfortunately, I would have to state that these have been the worst in a long time. INEC has failed the people of Nigeria and I dare say that any hope that President Buhari would leave an enviable legacy, especially relating to free and fair elections has evaporated. In a nutshell, the presidential election was a sham.

Has the NNPP submitted a suit at the tribunal challenging Tinubu’s victory?

For reasons best known to the leadership of the party, we have not.

The NNPP won Kano in the gubernatorial election, what is your take on the victory?

It was a victory for the people of Kano State. They came out to vote and more importantly they did their very best to protect the integrity of the voting process and their votes. This was in spite of heavy vote buying, ballot snatching and all sorts of undemocratic acts by supporters of the outgoing government and their party.
Thus, the victory calls for the establishment of a government that is responsive to the people. It puts a burden on the Governor-elect, Abba Yusuf and the NNPP to perform well and move the state forward in terms of its economy, education, health care, security, infrastructure and the welfare of the people.

Read also: Just before we protest the outcome of #NigeriaDecides2023

The main point of disagreement among opposition parties in the presidential poll was INEC’s refusal to transmit election results electronically and subsequent announcement of Bola Tinubu as the winner. What is your take on the way the event unfolded?

As I said, the presidential election was a sham. INEC failed to follow its own processes and guidelines. There was violence, vote buying, etc. As you stated they failed to transmit the results electronically, thereby giving ample time for manual manipulation, etc.
These are just some of the points that show that the process may as well have been a coronation and as such we should not have wasted so much money in an attempt to run an election.

Do you think the introduction of BVAS brought improvement to the conduct of the polls?

It ought to have done so. However, how many places did it fail or was it used properly?

We saw large scale violence and suppression of voters in Lagos with many people killed and injured during the gubernatorial poll. What is your take on the situation?

I have always maintained that the APC especially in Lagos, together with many of their supporters and sympathisers, are not democrats. They wish for a one party state. They get very antagonistic the moment they realise that you have differing views and descend to abusing you, spreading xenophobic comments and naturally, violence ensues. They must own up to the violence that occurred in the Lagos elections.

Do you think Tinubu may face a tough task at uniting Nigerians amid his call for unity after the general election?

We have a divided country. It is thus very difficult to cheat the people and then turn around and hope for their loyalty and cooperation. Yet, I personally hope that things will turn out well.

What is the immediate task before Bola Tinubu and is the NNPP ready to enter a coalition government with him?

It would be to seek and bring people together and form a cabinet. I mean people that have a dynamic set of women and men that can think outside the box and get the country heading in the right direction.
It would be for the national leadership of the NNPP to decide whether or not the party is willing to participate in a coalition government.

What do you think needs to be done to have a free and fair poll in Nigeria going forward?

That is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma! But really we have to change the orientation of our people. Our elections are presently in furtherance of corrupt practices.
Corruption has become endemic and has torn the fabric of society to shreds. The home, schools, churches, mosques are corrupt! We really need to begin to work on these things, to save our society.

What is your take on the naira redesign policy and threat by Labour to start a nationwide strike next week?

A misguided endeavour of catastrophic proportion mismanaged process. If we were not such docile people, the country would have rebelled by now.
I do hope that things are sorted out quickly as it would be disastrous to have a nationwide strike at the time when political wounds from the shambolic elections haven’t healed.

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