Emmanuel Umohinyang, Convener of the Re-elect Buhari Movement fields questions from Emmanuel Otaru on the Peoples Democratic Party’s recent call for the resignation of the Inspector General of Police and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission
What is your reaction to the call by the PDP for the resignation of the Inspector – General of Police and the INEC Chairman?
I think the Peoples Democratic Party, known for its antics does not have the morality to ask heads of institutions to resign. Under its 16 years of maladministration, we saw how the abuse of institutions was carried out during that era. Under the PDP, the office of the IGP was an appendage of the ruling party. We also saw that under the PDP, INEC, which is not truly independent now, was not . When a party like that begins to make insinuations, one begins to wonder whether, we have lost our sense of history. Funny enough, their call is targeted at the person of Ibrahim Idris, the IGP, but I think instead of PDP calling for his resignation, Nigerians should be calling for the IGP to be given an extension of tenure because in the last couple of years, he has done credibly well. Don’t forget that IGP Idris is UN-trained. He has worked in various missions abroad. He had been a pillar of strength to so many countries where he performed creditably well. He is a man who has won several awards including UN awards. When a party like the PDP makes such insinuations, it baffles me, and I think we must commend President Muhammedu Buhari, who appointed Idris IGP. Under his watch, he has brought sound, workable, credible reforms of the police.
Don’t you think the call for IGP’s resignation over the repeated changes of Commissioners of Police in Bayelsa State is an issue?
It is not the duty of any governor or political party by reason of the Police Act to decide how long a commissioner of police is to stay in a state. The IGP is the one in-charge of the operations of the police. The information available to the the IGP, is not to our knowledge. Don’t forget that the disadvantages and advantages of the police staying long in a place. If a police officer stays too long in a place, familiarity may be taken advantage of, and there is the danger of compromise which may throw up security risk. The IGP has necessary information and it is on the strength of such information that he relies since he owes it as a duty to Nigerians to pull out CPs who may no longer be able to carry out the policing of that state or those who have over stayed in such a place. The argument of some of these governors is that staying long will allow better policing of the terrain, but that is not enough because it is not the CP who goes after criminal elements. His own is to give directives to his men. Even when he leaves, his men are there to do the job on the field. The Police Act gives the IGP the powers to regulate the affairs of the police,
How do you see the role of the police in the recent Akwa Ibom House of Assembly crisis?
Those who make allegations against the police are those afraid of their shadow. They think we are still operating the old order where the magic of 16 is greater than 19 in the governors’ forum election under the past administration. Under the Buhari administration, institutions have been given the power to work independently. Look at what the EFCC is doing. We no longer have a situation where EFCC is let loose on political opponents. We don’t have anything like that. You should know that the party that is complaining has always had the habit of abusing institutions of government, and so they think the present administration will do same, but they got it dead wrong because under Buhari nothing like that will happen. Accusing the IGP of interfering in the House of Assembly crisis is ridiculous. The IGP will never stoop so low as to interfer in an issue connected with the House of Assembly of a state. What for? Does the IGP want to become the speaker of the state House of Assembly? People who make these kinds of statements are people who have lost substantially. Nobody will use the police for political advantage in 2019. Whosoever has such intention should bury it, not under this administration. The President will not allow the wishes of Nigerians to be truncated because he is involved. That is the President and that is the President Nigerians will return by the grace of God in 2019.
What is your reaction to CUPP’s adoption of Atiku Abubakar as consensus presidential candidate in 2019
I think the endorsement by CUPP should not take anybody by surprise. All the officials of CUPP are PDP, and some of these political parties like Festus Keyamo said are husband and wife political parties, but I tend to disagree with Keyamo’s position. Husband and wife means they are two. I believe they are cousins and nephew political parties. They don’t have offices. They have no structure, no organs of the party as it is outlined in the constitution. What they do is fronting as political parties with a common goal, going back to where we are coming from. If you look at them too, you will discover that they are almost children of the same parents. They all started in the PDP and returned back. Endorsement does not translate to victory in an election, if it does, former president Goodluck Jonathan would have continued in office. It is Nigerians who will determine their President in 2019, not political parties without structures.
What is your position on the President’s refusal to sign the election bill into law?
I think our constitution made it very clear that where the President withholds his assent, the parliament with two – third majority can override the President, but can this parliament muzzle two – third? The answer is no.
The President did not refuse to assent the bill as people may want to say because he feels it will work against him. This bill was passed on the 20th of October, 2018. The president looked at the closeness of signing the bill and the 2019 elections, which is two months and some fractions away. INEC had been working with the previous Electoral Act in preparation for 2019, so the President felt signing the new bill may cause confusion in the polity. Don’t forget that this President believes in the improvement of our electoral system because he has been a victim of a spurious election on three occasions, but he was a beneficiary of a credible process in 2015, thanks to the card reader.