Martins Onovo, presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2015 presidential election, in this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, editor, spoke his mind on some national issues, saying that Nigeria is seriously heading towards a dangerous direction. He strongly believes that Nigeria cannot be said to be a democracy given some reasons he listed. Excerpts:
The level of insecurity in the country is getting out of hand. Every day we hear and read about figures of people being slaughtered, kidnapped or raped by suspected herdsmen. What is your take on this as a Nigerian?
Well, it is very clear that the current government is unable to protect the Nigerian people and they have also confirmed their inability and unwillingness to protect Nigerians effectively. Anywhere else in the world, the government will resign or be forced to resign, but because of the dysfunctional politics we play in the country, where as at today, you have a northern Moslem as the head of the Executive arm, General Buhari; northern Moslem, head of the legislative arm, Lawan, and a northern Moslem as head of the judiciary, Justice Tanko. You have that kind of arrangement; so it becomes a sectional agenda for domination and it was deliberately orchestrated to exclude Christians from governance because of an Islaminsation plot. And since Christians dominate the South, excluding Christians was extended to exclude those of the South and also northern Christians. So, the security situation is deliberately orchestrated because it is one section that is promoting this violence against other sections. In addition to that, the weakness of the security establishment due to corruption, abuse of security forces and lack of motivation has also complicated the situation.
But the President has been holding series of meetings with the security apparatchiks in the country without noticeable improvement in the security situation. What do you think is the problem?
It is a lack of sincerity of purpose and incompetence and the lack of motivation that I talked about. It is unreasonable to expect the security forces to perform excellently if they think there is no sincerity of purpose. They will be naturally demotivated and demoralised. You know that morale is critical in security operations. And when we say these things, the evidence is so stark that it is surprising that Nigerians have been intimidated to the point that they cannot even recognise the stark evidence. It was General Buhari that said that he will continue to show openly and within him his total commitment to the implementation of Sharia in Nigeria; not throughout Katsina; but in Nigeria. It is not Katsina because there are Katsina Christians; but this is throughout Nigeria. So, when a man makes this kind of clear and categorical statement and then comes to power and starts a clear, deliberate Islamnisation agenda of trying to transform political and economical power to a tiny, minority Fulani group; the third most dangerous terrorist group in the whole world, which is the Fulani herdsmen, to continue to attack the Nigerian citizens without protection, to the point that the Armed Forces Commanded by him is conniving with terrorist group to attack the people; what kind of a people will tolerate that type of situation if not only Nigeria? General TY Danjuma was very clear; Danjuma commanded those Armed Forces; he was very clear that these Armed Forces are conniving with this terrorist group to kill people, citizens. So, there has never been, in the history of the world such a dysfunctional government on earth, where the government itself is doing this type of thing. This is the testimony of General Danjuma and everybody knows it is true; because there are even television clips on these things. There are countless publications indicting the Armed Forces. And you cannot say this is done on a level below the commander-in-chief because if it is done below the Commander-in-Chief, he will ensure that corrective measures are taken and that the security commanders who collaborated in killing innocent people are identified and duly prosecuted. Now, put this in the background of a commander-in-chief who said he would continue to show openly and total commitment to the implementation of Sharia. Fulani terrorists are Islamic; which means the link is direct; it is not complicated.
The Federal Government last week soft-pedaled on its implementation of the Ruga settlement plan. What’s your reading of the development?
The government said it suspended the plan which shows its total commitment to the project. The government also, in the letter that is circulating from the Office of the Chief of Staff, said they would reconstitute another unit to implement the same programme. That shows, there is a total commitment to the implementation of Sharia. Look at Ruga, how simple can it be? I take the land of Christian, an animist farmer and hand it over to terrorist Islamic Fulani herdsmen. How well can you define Islamisation? What else is Islamisation? Now, when I hand over this land; the Fulani herdsmen and the terrorists settle there; the addition dimension you have not brought up is that, it becomes a militia base for further attack; and that is another form of Islamisation; and that is Fulanisation agenda because these people are Fulani; they are Islamists and not just Islamists they are also terrorists. And they are self-confessed terrorists; so, I am not accusing them. they have admitted terrorism severally. They have admitted it on national television severally. These are not only globally classified terrorists, they are also self-confessed terrorists. So, when you hand over your land to them; you have also given them a base for their militia to continue further attack and displace you further. As we are talking today 4 million IDPs displaced by these same terrorists are all over the place. Boko Haram is Islamic; Fulani herdsmen are Islamic. We are talking today swaths of territory; large areas of territory have been taken over; renamed; churches have been forcefully converted to Mosques by these same terrorists and the government has not been able to displace them; yet government wants to take the remaining land and hand over to these people. How else can it be direct and clear that this is Islamisation agenda? It is direct. And then we remember the quote by Femi Adesina that it is better for us to hand over our land than to die. So, there is an agenda and no one is deceived because the Ooni of Ife has called on all Nigerians to defend their land. Professor Wole Soyinka has called on all Nigerians to defend their land. The Niger Delta people have said they have no land to give to any terrorist group. Ohanaeze has said the South East has no land to give to Islamist group; everybody is saying it. But the impunity that the government led by General Buhari is using to pursue this agenda shows that in their own conception we are a conquered people. It can be brazen; it can be blatant that nobody can do anything.
Although the president has not made public his ministerial list, the recent reappointments and appointments of aides so far announced have elicited reactions. What hope do you think that the much-awaited cabinet holds for Nigeria?
Leadership is key. I am quoting Professor Wole Soyinka. Another author says, ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’ General Buhari does not possess the right leadership capacity, and his first tenure has shown it. Leadership requires integrity. Now, if you look at the promises of 2015 and you look at the agenda of the first tenure, and you look at the falsification of the 2019 election result, then you can determine whether the government has integrity or not. We are still talking about WAEC; a legal case is still going on in the court. The simple question is, does Buhari have WAEC or not? We are still unable to answer that question till today. We have seen all sorts of claim of Cambridge WAEC, and a lot of things. How can you take exam in UNILAG and UNILORIN gives you result? So, we have seen all sorts of things that in any other country where people are less corrupt, questions will be raised on a national level; give us a simple answer. So, if you are asking the prospect for the next government I will tell you that it can only be worse than the first tenure. But the case is that there is no tenure. General Buhari knows he lost the election; his party knows that he lost the election. So, the whole 2019 election was a charade. Even the EU report was clear. So, how can a government founded on this kind of falsification, lacking legitimacy and being denied recognition by the large and influential group, like Afenifere; a mandate being challenged in court by too many political parties not just one, with hard evidence enjoy legitimacy? Where is the integrity when INEC with all its publications on social media, press conferences and the print media can turn around and said it didn’t have server and this government is still going on and you are talking about appointing ministers; are you ok, you yourself as a journalist asking this question? Who is going to appoint a cabinet? The one constituted by the INEC that has no server; that falsified results? INEC budgeted for server; INEC informed us on national TV that they were going to do parallel collation. INEC informed us officially that they were going to use server. The tapes are there. How can INEC go to court and swear a false affidavit that there was nothing like server and the media is tolerating it? For this scale of corruption and unpatriotism, the country is completely ruined. And General Obasanjo had warned a few years ago on the danger of throwing the country into deep crisis, and that recovery may be very difficult; he said it in writing and we are at that point. We are at that point because corruption is at the highest level; productivity is at the lowest level; national debt is at its highest level; insecurity is at its highest level, unemployment is at its highest level. So, how do you start to address all these even if you get a new government today? Where do you start? And we all saw this and those who were constitutionally empowered to inform us slept while everything went wrong.
How would you describe the recent drama in the House of Representatives over Minority Leaders’ appointment?
Politics is naturally competitive, there are rules; one of the rules is that candidates that have the highest number of valid votes is declared winner, not invalid votes. Whether in the National Assembly or party elections, the candidate that has the highest votes is the winner. And based on that, if everybody obeys that rule, the result can be determined, based on that. I can say that the stolen mandate of 2019 presidential election is worse than June 12, 1993 presidential election. Because June 12 was an annulment that did not allow the winner to come to power, but this one does not allow the winner to become a ruler, so you can see the stolen mandate of 2019 presidential election is worse than June 12 that is our position. And it is good that all former elected presidents of the country boycotted the inauguration. These people champion cannot be seen to be promoting the June 12 presidential election given what transpired at the 2019 general election.
The Shi’ite movement staged a protest which turned violent, in Abuja last week. The protest was over the non-release of their leader, el-Zakzaky. Do you think the protest was necessary?
Yes, it was peaceful protest; it is the right of every citizen in a democracy, but when you protest you are not supposed to break the law. The law enforcement agencies too are not supposed to break the law.
That is what the President has caused by refusing to obey the law; the law enforcement officers must allow you protest without attacking you. Peaceful protect is legitimate right of every citizen. It is the rule of law, if a court rules against you wrongly that is why you have a right to appeal. If the court has given a judgment on El-Zakzaky, the government must obey, it is compulsory and if you don’t want to comply, you appeal. We have a situation where the Commander-in-Chief says he would not obey court orders and we left him as a Commander-in-Chief. What that means is that he has over thrown democracy; now the rule of law is openly and publicly disobeyed and then the integrity of the ballot has been ridiculed; why is the media saying that Nigeria is a democracy? This is a full blown dictatorship.
Miyetti Allah appears to have become a strong voice in the country today. They seem to have everything going for them. What danger does this pose for the country?
We have forgotten that the umbrella association of herders, Miyetti Allah, have confessed severally of violent attacks; the N100 billion offered to them to help improve security is unlawful; they are not security agency. If you look at that money, you would know that N100 billion is like 30 percent of the Nigerian Police Force budget; so, if you give that money to the Police they would make much difference. We don’t have money for the police but we have for the Miyetti-Allah. The National Secretary of Miyetti Allah said that the Vice President was in charge of the RUGA policy, until they denied it. So, that means they are in charge of the country. Fulani herdsmen are classified as the third most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world even ahead of Boko Haram. And they have been doing that. We you add that the Commander-in-Chief himself is a herder, owns several herds of cattle, so he is sympathetic to herders and Fulani.