Deji Adeyanju’s Group clashed with other CSOs, what’s your take on all of these happening in Nigeria?
It was most disheartening and I was traumatized to see a supposedly civilized country like Nigeria doing what they did. But I just want to mention that no hooligan can do what they did without the active support of government and we should hold the government responsible and one lesson we should learn is that Nigeria has already slid into dictatorship. And there is nothing we can do. Look at me, at my age with grey hair all over and I am still talking about Nigeria being a better a place for all of us. We are doing this not only for us. I have nothing to gain anymore. I am not ‘appointable’ and I am not even electable, so I am only fighting for the people. But it is the very people you are fighting to better their lives that are fighting you. This is what we have seen. I have always reminded Nigeria of what happened during the fascist regime in Germany when the fascists came for the communists and socialists, every German believed that because he was not a communist or a socialist it had nothing to do with him. Then they started attacking them and killing them, all German thought because they were not unionists and they don’t work for the government so it has nothing to do with them. This is the situation where Nigerians have found themselves. How can any civilized society organize such a crime against humanity? Civil society organizations fighting for us, fighting for our rights, fighting for rule of law, with the support of authorities organized hoodlums, may be paid them some money to do what they did. It is shameful. But for every disappointment there is always a good thing that comes out of it. They have done this to civil society organizations, the world is watching and I am sure the world will speak up on the slide of Nigeria into dictatorship. We are now being taken back to 1983.
One month ago you raised an alarm over an alleged tenure elongation of this administration, but a bill seeking six-year single tenure was thrown out, does this put an end to your fear of any tenure elongation?
You don’t understand Nigeria politics, it was not thrown out. You didn’t hear ruling the of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He said, even though it was thrown out by majority of the members in the House of Representatives this issue has not been set aside. This means it can be represented, but ordinarily according to the issue of the House of Reps, that issue is dead and can not be brought up again under this government. I just want you to wait, it will still resuscitate, life will be re-injected into it and it will be activated. They are serious and it will get there and unless we speak, stand up for our rights, and that things must be done according to rule of law, we are finished. Unfortunately for us, the judiciary is fast losing public confidence, the security agencies have taken side. They never believe that their allegiance is to the state, to the Nigeria nation, not to an individual. But we have a crop of security personnel all over the country whose allegiance is to a transient ruler, we are all in trouble.
The rules are very clear and I heard what the Deputy Speaker said, if that be could be withdrawn, it means that the bill cannot be reintroduced.
I want to bring your attention to what your candidate in the last Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar said concerning the rejection of this bill, he said it is a missed opportunity because he thinks that the six-year single tenure will help curb electoral malpractices in Nigeria. So what do you have against this six-year single tenure in your words, in case it is reintroduced?
What is your reaction to the Special Watch list released by United State of America, which Nigeria was added? If you agree with that, what do you think the area of concern should be for the Buhari administration?
Well the fact of the matter is that a blind man is walking and somebody on the walkway tells him, look be careful there is a big hole in front of you, then the blind man thanked him and said if there is no hole what brought about the issue of a hole? Now, if we are put on the watch list by the United States of America, if we are not guilty why does it border us? Does it border me now if they put Nigeria on the list of corrupt countries? Or religious bigots? This government is the architect of it is own problem. If the government is not guilty, why worry? If you accused Buba Galadima of being a rogue or a thief, if am not one why does it border me? This government is the architect of its own destruction, they shocked the world through their appointment. Through postings and positions being held by Nigerians and through their sectional appointment. This is what called for pressure from those who felt they were sidelined to cry against marginalization on the basis of their ethnicity, basis of their religion and on the basis of where they come from. Once the government has a large heart and believes that from every corner of this country you can find competent people that will reflect federal character, that will make Nigerians feel that this country belongs to all of us, then there will be no problem, nobody will call for Nigeria to be put on the watch list on the basis of religion, ethnicity or on the basis of where you come from. That is the situation we find ourselves, in fact we are yet to see what other organizations in the world will tag Nigeria before this tenure ends.
Let’s talk about the judiciary, recently a judge in the case Omoyele Sowere recused himself from the case because Sahara Reporters published a story against him some years ago. I also want you to comment on the conduct of the judiciary in 2019
Well I find the judiciary working below expectations. Everybody in Nigeria, including you, knows that elections in some parts of this country, for example, fell below known standard. And the judiciary wasn’t able to remove even one governor. Be rest assured that the judiciary will give a clean bill to the election held in Kano, you have seen what happened in Kano. You have seen what happened recently in Kogi and what had happened in Bayelsa? In both Kogi and Bayelsa, the winners won only in three local governments of the states. In Bayelsa the entire state was blocked out, nobody was hearing anything from there during the election, in fact all the airwaves were closed. We didn’t know what was happening until results were announced. You have seen the IG himself confirming the helicopter shooting at people, the police stealing ballot boxes, they said they were fake police. But the same IG told us that, he deployed 35,000 personnel to do justice to the electoral system in Kogi. Yet, they could not arrest all these fake policemen. And the judiciary, I can bet my life will pass that election. Now this is where our trouble lies and consistently day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out, people are losing confidence in the judiciary. What do we do? I call on retired justices of the Supreme Court, to sit down and constitute a committee to look at some pronouncements of the court that were recently done. I will also call on the NBA that their efforts and knowledge in law no more matters because in electoral laws and matters there is always a predetermined winner. I want to say something, for example we don’t need government to fund INEC at all, because we can get donor agencies that will bring materials and pay electoral officials so that we will have an independent commission.
You talked about INEC, what are the lessons INEC should take as we go into the new year?
Don’t waste your time please, this INEC will not learn anything. They are going to be given a list of who should be winner and they will announce it. In fact, there is no need to conduct an election. Why can’t we do what the French do, we only elect the President and members of the National Assembly. Let the President go ahead and appoint governors and Chairman of Local Government Council, it is better. INEC is incapacitated, they are hearing the voice of government and who so ever is in power. Some of us have been close to this government.
The rule of law is one of the topical issues in Nigeria. It is so bad to the extent that Punch newspaper took a stand, I wonder what was your thoughts are concerning rule of law and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration so far?
The Punch editorial was 100% right. You that is having the privilege to anchor me, I hope and pray God will save you from the tyranny of these people before they end their tenure. But some will argue that with protest everywhere, that the fact that even a national daily could that as its editorial is attestation of the tolerance of this government to free speech as the tenet of democracy, what do you say to people like that?
Do you believe that they are tolerating me to say what I want to say because they know that I am important? I have no money to fight them, I can not contest election, I have no means of survival. So they can allow me to shout and do their worst against those that they want to do it to. That does not mean anything, they know as a fact that when they start to attack newspapers serially, it will land them in trouble with their masters offshore.
Let’s talk security, let me get your assessment on the Security Assessment Report and the use of technology and intelligence to fight insurgency
Are you aware of what happened in Damaturu, Bama and Adamawa? Let me tell you happened, I have a son working with TCN. He was supposed to go work on electrical installations in Dankwa, Dankwa is 60 kilometers away from Maiduguri, the young chap lives in Miaduguri. He left Maiduguri at 7am in the morning to Damaturu, Potiskum, from Darzo to Dukum he continues like that. A distance of 60 kilometers, he used 1500 kilometers to cover. And when finished energizing that installation, he couldn’t follow that road. It took him four days on the road, you call that security? Can anyone tell me truthfully that he can drive personally to seven local governments in Borno? Recently, there was a fight between the insurgents and troops in Biu. The security situation in the country is terrible.
Recently, the Presidency said it’s not a bad thing for the President to have a cabal, what’s your take on this cabal? Is there any at all?
You have already answered it. You said the government said in every regime, there is a cabal, which means they have a cabal. I can’t say anything more than what the wife of the President has said. She said that this government is run by only two persons, whom she has not seen in our 15 years of struggle with General Buhari, we never saw them contribute anything, either financially or physically. So what do I have to say when government itself confirmed and the wife of the President confirmed.
Is it that you don’t talk to President Buhari any longer? You were in the trenches with President Buhari, what is happening?
I hope you know that my first son died and the President didn’t call to console me. Did you hear about that? That is personal, it is his right to have friends of his choice. We are talking about our nation Nigeria, how do we make Nigeria better and we can make Nigeria better if improve on our electoral system, if we have a neutral security architecture and a robust judiciary system.
What are your thoughts on the fight against corruption? My second question is that your party, your presidential candidate lost an election, have you recovered from that loss and what will be your new year goal?
Our new year goal is that justice should always prevail in all facets of human endeavor in our country. And I, Buba Galadima will continue to fight until the last drop of my blood for electoral justice. Because unless we have electoral justice, and people have the ability and power through the ballot box to remove any government, Nigeria will never see development. On the issue of corruption, there is no fight against corruption, because if there is a fight against corruption no member of this government should be sleeping in his house today, all of them should be arrested. They have told us that they borrowed 16 trillion Naira in the last four years and Nigerians are gullible, people are sharing our commonwealth. Sixteen trillion naira! Let anybody tell me that there is a project worth 100 billion naira in his state. So, where is the money if you are accusing other people of corruption? Now, they are approving 31 billion US dollars for them, to do what? They have no managerial capacity to manage that money, they will just steal the money. You talked of economy, let anybody go round Abuja and come out with the list of 10 construction projects that employs 50 people in the whole of Abuja, where we used to have 1 million sites that reactivate economic activities. In Abuja, you can’t walk around making phone calls, somebody will come and snatch it.