Okupe: Siege to National Assembly Is Treasonable
What’s your view on the recent siege to the National Assembly by operatives of DSS?
In all its ramifications, there are no two ways to describe it. That was pure treason. When you take over an arm of a sovereign government unlawfully, it is treasonable. It was insubordination on democracy itself, a terrible act of infringement on the fundamental principle of separation of power, which is a pillar of democracy. Many people may not be aware that what differentiates a military regime from democracy is the congress that we refer to as the National Assembly.
In a military regime, we have the executive, we have the judiciary but we don’t have congressmen. It is sacred that you cannot violate it. It is a rape and it’s condemnable, absolutely intolerable and should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians, including the government itself. It is a slap in the face of this administration. It is more confounding! First, we we’re told that the DSS did not receive any authority from the presidency, so whatever situation would lead the Director General of the DSS to usurp the power of the presidency – the commander-in-chief – without the knowledge of anybody in the presidency is catastrophic.
But was the move taken by the acting president not commendable?
That is what I am saying. While it is commendable, the underlining cause of that move is frightening, because the sacking of Daura was because he committed that treason act without the order of any lawful authority. What will make the DSS assume that role without fear and execute it is what we should worry about.
How come we got our system to that level? How did it happen? When something like that happens in the system, those who keep saying the president is not aware, when they killed people in Benue, I mean the managers of information of the presidency who keep saying the president is unaware are giving the president a bad name!
The president is elected to run the country. When things go wrong, we go to bed, if you study the evolution of government, citizen submit their sovereignty to the Central headed by an individual, that is government. When we submit our sovereignty to you, we should be able to go to bed with the belief that you are in-charge. If anything happens to us and you say that you did not know, that means we are in trouble! That is the sadness of this matter.
It is good that the vice-president immediately intervened but deep thinkers must asked how come it happened the president is not aware and the vice-president were not aware? What kind of government are we ruining? And to make matters worse, the Inspector General of Police comes up with almost a ridiculous position, telling Nigerians that he has investigated and he found out that the DSS boss colluded with certain politicians. That is a shameful statement! It is a statement that should never get to the public domain.
It equally means in the future, the DG of NIA can also collude with foreigner and subvert Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police can also collude with some other people! This is what sensible patriotic citizen must be asking. It is beyond what we are seeing on the surface. With this, you cannot draw a line between the Chairman of APC Adams Oshiohmole, the Inspector General of Police Position and the presidency. So, you begin to wonder, what exactly is going on?
But how did we get here?
Is the same question I sincerely have to ask you too, because I don’t understand! By the grace of God, I have been in government twice. This is befouling and I do not understand it. I do not comprehend it and instead of us seriously, critically looking into this matter, people must be concerned. Instead of that, we are distorting facts that it was the leadership of the legislature that created a coup on themselves, when we saw it clearly.
People that are talking have forgotten that social media is in existence. Gone are the days Nigerians had to wait till 9-10p.m. to watch and listen to national events and happenings. As it was happening, we saw the event, it is absolutely impossible for the event to have been staged. Many people who are in the position of authority today maybe because they are not too educated. They assume that most of us they are leading are also not educated as well. Most Nigerians are extremely civilised.
Are you of the view that the report of the IG that the DSS siege to the National Assembly was staged is not correct?
Juxtapose it with what we saw. They are now asking that, why is that no APC senator was there? APC senators live in different places. Why is that all of them were not seen anywhere? Did they phone each other, were they gathering somewhere, why? There were video clips that showed they were gathering somewhere in Maitama in Abuja. We cannot have deception as official policy for governance.
With the gale of defections, there are claims that the PDP has unruly elements, whose aim is to destabilise this administration and ruling party APC. What do you make of this?
Defection is a political move that happens everywhere in the world. Government and administration is different. The government is different from political parties. The game political parties play to outsmart each other is a different ball game. It should not be seen as enemy moves.
But are such moves good for the nation’s democratic system?
It is the practice all over the world. In Britain, in the last five years, 60 members of their parliament have crossed from one party to the other. I wonder why in this part of the world, we make it look as if it is something strange. In India, parliamentarians recently left one party to cross to the other. The incumbent President of France, Emmanuel Macron, was a member of the ruling party, he was a federal minister. He left the ruling party to form his own party. He contested and he won. So, why are we bothered with defections?
We have to be cerebral in some of these things, because there are too many unpalatable arguments you hear from quarters you do not expect and it is extremely embarrassing that the Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiohmole said Senator Bukola Saraki should resign and must be removed. Such statements are very unbecoming for a man of his position. It embarrassing that Oshiohmole will consistently hold on to that view. I don’t know what evil befell APC that they brought uncontrollable charlatan to become their chairman, saying things that cannot be backed by law.
The constitution is quite clear on this. For you to remove the Senate President, you require 2/3 majority of the senators, which is sacrosanct, but the argument that he was not elected by the whole house does not hold water. The process of election is different and the process of removal is also different and it’s clearly spelt out in the constitution. The chairman of a major ruling party cannot just run his mouth on an unguarded gate, because you are coming from labour, where rascality is the order of the day. Governance does not condone rascality. It’s a game of the noble and not ramble-rousing and filibustering. There should be panache, some sense of decency not just verbosity, unruly, unguarded statement coming from the leadership. It’s shameful!
What about those calling on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to vacate the seat on moral grounds?
There is no morality in political position. On moral ground, will you tell the president of the country to resign, because he promised so many things and he has not fulfilled them, so, he should throw in the towel? It’s not done anywhere! You can resign your position if for instance you find out that the Senate President was involved in a mafia position that will in a way cast a slur but the erroneous thing that is making people talk about moral ground is, because they feel it is compulsory that the Senate President or the leadership of the National Assembly should come from the majority party.
It is a fallacy. We have seen example in the Second Republic. Umeh-Ezeoke was in NPP and Speaker of the house while the NPN was the majority. Where somebody was the Deputy Senate President and is from the minority party. Ignorance is a major problem in Nigeria, because our people fail to read and to study history to know their past and the contemporary development in the world before making any profound pronouncement. So, it is pathetic!
What do all these portray for 2019?
I do not want to be the devil’s advocate. I want to hope there would be an election in 2019. It will be a keenly contested election but my position is, I am not APC and definitely I do not wish that APC would win. But I will join forces with other parties that are contesting against the APC. If we lose, the game continues. It is not personal. If I oppose you, it is not because I hate. It’s because I want your seat and I also want to serve. It is a lawful legal competitive exercise.
People should not look at it as a personal assault that they want to unseat them. If they do not unseat people, how did they get there? But it cannot be by all means at all cost. Politicians must agree to the minimum standard to which we can behave. In my own understanding, you can campaign, propagate manifestos and give the promises of what you intend to do, the day you go to the poll and people thumb-print ballot paper – that is the end. After that, it’s the will of the people that must prevail.
How do you see Senator Bukola Saraki and his enormous travails?
Bukola Saraki inadvertently has become a symbol for defence of democracy. In recent time, he has become the defender of democracy, because if an attempt is made to subvert democracy instead of keeping quiet, the courageous man steps forward all the time to resist the subversion of our democracy. He could have recapitulated, cowardly and allow anything goes, by setting up bad precedent. Instead, he steps out, he stands firm, he resists anti-democratic forces, and by chance, he wins. I see him now as the defender of our democracy.
How do you then describe his meeting with about 34 leaders of different political parties?
I heard they came on a courtesy visit. The 34 political parties are impotent to do anything about democracy except they now see a defender of democracy, so, they are gravitating towards him and to also encourage him to keep on with what he is doing.
What is your charge for this administration before 2019?
The new DG of DSS when he was making his speech said they are going to review many cases of human right abuses, that already tells you that something wrong was going on before. So, let us rewrite all these wrongs by restoring human rights like the case of El-zakzaky, Dasuki among others. Let us comply with court orders by being a progressive country, without disobeying the rule of law. All parties must adhere to the confinement of the law. Let us go back to basics. The fight against corruption must be in adherence to the rule of law. For instance, why should I obey a police officer, because is wearing a uniform but when the police officer does not operate according to the law, why should I obey him?
This government must correct all the wrongdoing that are being done before now and restore human rights and contain all anti-democratic forces within them and that includes putting under control the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiohmole, because the man has become a loose cannon that can burst anytime, because he is obsessed and seems to possess an idea that the Senate President must leave, why?
If you want to remove him, go to the law. And the need to strengthen our institution cannot be over-emphasised. Man is temporary but institution must be permanent. Let us encourage institution to work properly. Above all, like the Americans said, security must be neutral in all areas of conflicts and exposure. It’s so important, because without it we cannot go far as a nation.
But the presidency has tagged this as a battle between the good and the evil. What do you make of this?
It is correct. The good is everywhere. The bad is also everywhere. I totally agree but the location is where we cannot determine, because we have the good and the bad in the presidency. We also have the good and the bad in the opposition, as well as in the APC and the PDP. There are the good and the bad in the legislature as well as in the judiciary. It is a correct statement but it goes beyond that and the only way we can get over it is by upholding the rule of law. Once we allow the rule of law, it is either the bad withdraws their evil, or they get punished for it.