• Thursday, May 30, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

NNPP’s crisis: Why some chieftains are aggrieved, blackmailing Kwankwaso- Johnson

NNPP tells Tinubu to review policies to check hardship

Ladipo Johnson is the national auditor and chairman of the disciplinary committee of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP). In this exclusive interview with Iniobong Iwok, he spoke on the crisis rocking the party and other burning national issues. Excerpts:

The NNPP has been engulfed in crisis in recent weeks, leading to the suspension of Rabiu Kwankwaso. What is the true state of things?

Yes, you are right; we have had some issues in NNPP in the past few weeks. To state categorically Senator Kwankwaso was never suspended nor was he expelled.

What happened was that, there was a delegate group that we had, our former members were suspended and some of them are expelled now; these people came to Apapa in Lagos with Dr. Boniface Aniebonam who also was suspended at a time and now expelled and constituting the Board of Trustees.

These people were suspended by the National Working Committee of the party.

These people had no powers to do what they did, they didn’t have INEC attendants, they were members, and one of them was a member of the National Working Committee and former National Publicity Secretary.

Read also: NNPC joins UN sustainability initiative

What is surprising to me is that; none of the journalists bothered to ask them how they could go from complaining about their suspension to saying that they were now the new Board of Trustees and members of the National Working Committee within a few days.

So, to answer your question, that group had no power to suspend Kwankwaso. They are no longer members of the party, we are the authentic members of the National Working Committee; no such decisions were taken.

Kwankwaso has also been accused of corruption and attempting to hijack NNPP by some officials. How true is this?

Those who are casting and accusing Senator Kwankwaso are no longer members of the party.

Kwankwaso does not run the party; he is not an officer of the party. He did not sell forms, neither did he get involved in how the party disbursed its finances.

They cannot accuse him of any corruption related to the party. Like I said these are just people who are trying to blackmail and to spoil the image of the party.

Kwankwaso is not on a quest to hijack the party; he has no need to hijack the party. At the moment the majority of members of the party are also supporters of Kwankwaso and Kwankwasiyya political movement.

We all know the fact that it was Kwankwaso moving with his people in the national movement, the TNM, that brought the NNPP to limelight from the last elections.

So, he is not hijacking the party. If he has more members than any other person then that is the situation, isn’t that he is trying to hijack the party.

Read also: NNPP, APC at loggerheads over tribunal judgment sacking Kano governor

As a senior lawyer, what is your take on the presidential election court judgement?

The Presidential Election Tribunal judgment was very thorough and I believe that the Judges touched virtually everything that was put before them. However, as a legal practitioner, I believe that there are some issues that have to be trashed out. The ruling has raised some issues that really have to be considered by the Supreme Court, so as to ensure that the legal philosophy in Nigeria is put on a straight path.

The other thing I can say about the tribunal is that; if the Judges could allow the judgement delivered live on the TV, Radio, I wonder why the Judges didn’t allow the camera to focus on them, these are things the judiciary should consider in a more holistic manner and then come to the decision whether matters will be held and covered by television or stream either online or Radio. The CJN has to make that decision, so that we don’t have this back-and- forth over the matter.

What is your assessment of the Bola Tinubu administration so far?

It is early days yet for the Tinubu’s administration, however I will add that some developments and issues that we can look at; I mean the fuel subsidy issue, the floating of the Naira, what has happened in Niger Republic, the whole of ECOWAS and other things would make you realise the government must really settle down to work. This government must begin to understand that governance at the national level is different from politicking. Yet, the government is there, there are troubling signs for me and then there are also some good signs as well, but like I said it is early days yet.

The removal of petrol subsidy came as a shock to Nigerians, what is your take on how the government has handled the situation and the distribution of palliative?

Yes, the removal of petrol subsidy has caused economic hardship to Nigerians, especially as it was done at the same time that the naira was floated; what will happen is that people who are importing fuel will be getting the naira at a higher price which would also reflect at the end on the price of fuel.

This of course, will increase transportation cost and other things and inflation would continue to rise. Government must begin to think about how to bring down inflation, how to make sure that the naira doesn’t continue to tumble, as we speak it is at N950 to a dollar in the black market.

Read also: NNPP Legal adviser insists that party BoT lacks authority to suspend Kwankwaso

There is no way this will not lead to higher inflation, when a lot of the things we use are imported. The economic aspect of this thing must be looked at very urgently.

I also feel that when we talk about palliatives I am not one who really believe in all that, especially of course like we had during the pandemic situation. But I asked you a question, which I want Nigerians to consider; if palliatives are being distributed, why can’t the palliatives be in the form of the fuel subsidy in the first place?

Because if you look at what we do here, the average Nigerian hardly gain anything from the government in this country.

If it were that fuel subsidy they were gaining and the economy was relatively stable and the government made sure the subsidy regime is not corrupted and runs efficiently, then you would need to be handing out palliatives because palliatives will not cover what is happening.

If the government says that it has saved trillions of naira from removing subsidy, okay can it measure how much more it has caused Nigerians by removing the subsidy? You don’t just say, we have saved trillions by removing subsidy.

We are doing well and we are this and that. What is the cause by removing the subsidy? How much higher is inflation? What is it causing the average household? Higher than what it was before. These are the things the government must look at.

The presidential election petition court said INEC was at liberty to determine the mode that election results would be transmitted. What is your take?

I disagreed with the Court, because I believe that INEC in a way had a contract with the people who contested; because it laid down regulations and those regulations had to be followed and if it says in its regulations that it shall transmit results electronically, it should transmit results electronically.

Then INEC has to do that, if it doesn’t do that, it has broken the contract that it has with the people. I don’t believe that INEC could say; I am going to transmit election results in this way and then be at liberty to do what it likes after the election has commenced.

Read also: NNPP crisis: Kwankwaso led faction expels NNPP founder, Aniebonam, others

Don’t you think if that ruling is not cancelled by the Supreme Court, it could bring more confusion in the November off-season gubernatorial polls in three states?

Yes, you are correct. I mean the parties will not know in the off-season elections whether INEC has to stick to the guidelines given to them or whether they are going to do things differently on the day of the election.

They don’t know for instance now whether the results will be transmitted electronically immediately or whether we will be back to the old days and all that gains we thought we had achieved in the Electoral Act would not be. The judgment has led to some issues by itself.

Do you think if there was media coverage of the presidential election petition court sitting, the controversy the ruling generated may have been avoided?

Like I said earlier, I wonder why the tribunal didn’t allow the press to cover the trial yet used the coverage during the delivery of the Judgment.

It is something that they have to look at; the judiciary has a whole lot, that is one aspect of it.

I am not in a position to agree with the Labour Party or anyone about the evidence before the Tribunal as I didn’t see, I was not there, I don’t know what was presented and what was not presented. However, I said if it was on live television one would be able to follow what was happening.