Mbadinuju: The Plots that Failed
| By Olu Ojewale |
WHATEVER anyone may think or say about him, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, former governor of Anambra State, has no doubt, managed to create a space for himself in the history of Nigeria. Between 1999 and 2003 when he was the chief executive of Anambra State, he made his mark as an administrator, a shrewd politician and a God-fearing person. If not for his troubles with godfatherism and some political gymnastics, Mbadinuju would probably have been in office for eight years before looking for a higher calling.
But he is not foreclosing any opportunity of returning to the political fray in Anambra State in order to return to the Government House. But given the kind acrimony and rumpus that attended his tenure as the first state governor of the state in the fourth republic, it would probably require an iron cast gut for anyone in his position to again, have such an ambition. In any case, he played down the possibility when he told Realnews: “As a former governor, is it advisable that I should join them (in the race), or is it better that they should join me? When I get the answer, I will know where I stand. I may still be in the race, if not for governorship of Anambra State then the governorship of my house without even going through primaries.”
Mbadinuju had assumed office in May 1999, immediately after the military rule, and thus, inherited a state lacking both in physical infrastructure and security. It was a time nobody was actually convinced that democracy would survive, not to talk about taking root, given the history of truncated civil rule that Nigerians had witnessed in the past.
But it was the issue of security that first hit him. It was so great and mind boggling that it threatened to kill off social, business prospects and investment opportunities in the state. It, then, behoved Mbadinuju, as the chief security officer of the state, to restore the confidence of Anambra people in democracy and the capacity of his administration to protect them. Hence, the introduction of the Anambra Vigilante Services, AVS, better known as Bakassi Boys, which was a counter-force to fight the crime wave that had overwhelmed the statutory security agencies. He backed the AVS with legislation to enable it work effectively. This brought stability to the state to such an extent that Anambra State was given a gold trophy as the best secured state in Nigeria.
The Mbadinuju administration was said to have been the first in Anambra State to introduce free and compulsory education, which helped the state to produce the best results in the senior secondary school examinations. Even when labour unions embarked on strike, he was able to develop a strategy that kept government-owned schools open and operational. This policy helped the state to maintain its academic standards. The Mbadinuju administration also established Anambra State University and built its first campus. Although his administration cannot be credited with the creation of jobs, however, it was able to clear the three months’ arrears of workers’ salaries inherited from the previous government and even set the benchmark for workers to receive their salary every 27th day of the month. His administration remains the only one to give incentives like Christmas bonus to civil servants.
But how could a governor who won the gold cup in a national competition and openly commended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo fail to get a second term ticket? Indeed, Mbadinuju had his own problems. First, he broke up with Emeka Offor, his godfather, who financed his election into the office. The power struggle between him and his godfather led to a number of problems in the state.
There were unpaid teachers’ salaries, which forced them to go on strike. By September 2002, teachers’ were on strike because of unpaid salaries and civil servants, including court workers who had been on strike for months. Barnabas Igwe, the then president of Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and one of the leading critics of Mbadinuju, accused him and other politicians in the state of embezzling funds meant for the payment of the striking workers’ salaries.
On September 1, 2002, Igwe and Amaka, his pregnant wife, were brutally and publicly murdered in their car in Onitsha. In December 2005, Mbadinuju was arraigned in court on charges that he had conspired to murder Igwe and his wife. Although the former governor was in Houston, Texas, in the United States, at the time, he was accused of masterminding the murder. Between 2005 and 2008, Mbadinuju went through a lot of travails over the murder case. He appeared before courts in Abuja and Onitsha over the matter. In the process, he suffered all kinds of humiliations, including three remands in prison custody. During the incarceration, some people allegedly tried to poison him. When the plot failed, a prison melee was arranged so that he could be eliminated. But when that also failed, the prison yard was burnt down just to get him. In the process hundreds of prison inmates fled, but Mbadinuju escaped the plot unharmed. In a letter dated, June 10, 2010, Mbadinuju was formally cleared of the murder charges. The letter, written by Mohammed Adoke, federal attorney general and minister of justice, acknowledged the trials Mbadinuju had gone though and how courts had absolved him of any complicity in the murder.
Ever since, Mbadinuju has been living quietly as a private citizen with his family, shuttling between his state and Abuja. Despite his travails, Mabadinuju remains keen about the affairs of his people in Anambra Sate and Nigeria in general. He demonstrates his knowledge and interests in this interview with his candid opinion on every issue relating to the corporate existence of the country. Born on June 14, 1945, Mbadinuju has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a doctorate in Government from Cornell University, US. He also has a Law degree from England. Before venturing into politics, he was an associate professor of Politics and African Studies at the State University of New York. He later served as personal assistant to Jim Nwobodo, former governor of the old Enugu State, between 1979 and 1980. He also served as the personal assistant to former President Shehu Shagari between 1980 and 1983. Mbadinuju is married and has five children from his wife.
CHINWOKE Mbadinuju, former governor of Anambra state, suffered greatly in the hands of godfathers of Anambra politics, who did everything to cripple his government. The recalcitrant godfathers also ganged up and denied him a second term bid after he won the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, governorship ticket after the previous primaries which he had won were cancelled. In answer to the questionnaire sent to him by Realnews magazine, Mbadinuju reminisced on his four-year tenure as governor of Anambra State and as well spoke on a variety of problems afflicting the nation. In his thought provoking way, the former governor provides fresh perspectives on several issues including the proposed constitutional amendment, security challenges in the country, the 2013 budget, the poor state of development in Anambra state and how to move the nation to the next level. Also, he talked about the mischief of Anambra State civil servants in the payment of his pension. Excerpts.
Realnews: Looking back to your tenure as governor of Anambra state, do you have any regrets, especially about your inability to do a second term in office?
Mbadinuju: To start with, I never dreamt I would be governor of Anambra State. But when I won an impossible election with 96 percent of the votes cast, and then sat on the chair and table meant for the governor, particularly governor of a state called Anambra, then I knew that God was in it, and that “it was the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psa 118:23). So the long journey of my four years in office began and anyone who is sincere will tell you that governing a state with millions of people must not be smooth all the way, there must be ups and downs. If you have more ups than downs you thank God for his mercies for we know that without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). So, looking back as your question goes, do I have regrets? For the ups of my administration, I have nothing to regret as we did our best to cater for the security of Anambra people. For the years I was at Awka, there were no kidnappers, and no armed robbers; our people, home and abroad, had the best of times with no molestation during Christmas mainly. Our markets, whether at Onitsha or Nnewi or Ihiala or state capital Awka, everywhere in the state were secured as we stopped the perennial wars between the communities of Aguleri, Umuleri and Umuoba-Anam that had lasted for over 50 years before I took office. That was the security aspect. In terms of the welfare of the people, we kept faith with section 6 of our Constitution. Workers under me had their salaries paid on 27th of every month. I was the only governor so far that paid Christmas bonus. I instituted free and compulsory education, which was part of the “downs” because our finances could not take us too far. There were months we received N200 million monthly federal allocation and must pay workers salary of N583 million every month. This should be part of the regrets I had though not completely my own making. Governors after me were swimming inside billions of federal allocation and some didn’t even know exactly what to do with the money. But there were some errors we committed that we would have corrected if we entered into the second term of service. This would be another regret for not having done the Constitutional second tenure which most office holders look forward to tidy up their achievements for eight years which was denied me because my party leaders then believed more in selfish politics than in our constitutional democracy and rule of law. In this process the Biblical Isaac was to be sacrificed by his father Abraham but God saved Isaac the last minute before Abraham’s knife had gone up but couldn’t come down. That was exactly part of my “ups”, otherwise if it were me with my party leader, Abraham’s knife that went up would have landed on my neck, the rest would have been history. When I returned to Abuja alive from Onitsha where I was to be killed, a friend in whose office I entered, was amazed as he quickly got up from his chair and was going around me looking at my head and my neck and said he wanted to make sure my head was still on my neck. Very good for humour, but I pray that such won’t happen again to any human being because God would certainly be angry.
Realnews: Most Anambra people are not happy with the level of development in the state despite the fact that the state has been peaceful compared to your own era. As a former governor of the state, what do you think is responsible for the poor state of development in the state despite the increase in federal allocation to the state?
Mbadinuju: You are right that development is only possible if there is peace without insecurity. But development cannot take place without economic boom. During my tenure, we had peace, we had security and I must say, we also had our own limited economic boom as we had development commensurate with the funds available to my administration. Some ask me why my government did not diversify rather that depend on federal hand-out. I told them, it was not federal hand-out but Anambra’s share of dividend of democracy. What we got was poor partly because some debts incurred before Anambra state was split into five states were debited only to my state and the federal government continued to withdraw from my state account only. The other states in the original Anambra State were not so affected. But this is the major cause. By the time I left office, I had finished paying debts and looked forward to smoother financial engagements. So, to the best of the finances available, we acquitted ourselves creditably. It is always true that one cannot build something on nothing. But as for your question as to why the state has lacked development even after I had established peace and security before I left, I think it is a question every governor after me should answer. I can’t answer for them. But one reason I can give is the instability occasioned by frequent changes and challenges in office. All the governors after me had been in courts to establish who really won in any of the elections. In this process, the governors did not settle down in time enough to have done much more under normal circumstances. To me, the governors did their best and would have done much better minus the court cases ranging from election tribunal to court of appeal and to the Supreme Court. However, every Anambra governor has done something by which the people of Anambra will remember them. Mine would be the establishment of peace and security in the state, which no Anambra person can deny. Of course, I had other legacies like prayer regime on weekly basis by which we prayed every Monday morning in halls, offices, markets, town halls with a State slogan: “It Shall Be Well With Anambra State”. After our four years in office and given our numerous achievements the State, the slogan changed to “It Is Well”. The status or level of achievements in the state today cannot be said to be poor or deplorable and I believe that the revenue allocations they received must have been judiciously used. For me, I laid a solid foundation for development and the successive governors have been building creditably upon my foundation. For example, the State now is officially recognised by the federal govenment as an Oil Producing State, courtesy of my government’s exploratory initiatives ably followed up by my successors. St Paul said in the Bible that “he planted and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase”(1Cor 3:6). It is like a relay race. No runner in a relay race runs with the batton alone from the beginning to the end, he must pass on the batton to the next runner. The victory is because of the four runners, including the supporters’ club, everybody shares in a victory.
Realnews: Some people think that you are favourably disposed to the Peter Obi-led administration because he paid you your gratuity and other entitlements? How do you react to this?
Mbadinuju: Yes, I can conveniently say that my relationship with my governor, Peter Obi, improved with the celebrated pension payment. Really, I did not ask him for it, he just called me one morning and said I could come to Awka to be paid my pension. It is true that I couldn’t pay the pensioners as and when due because we didn’t receive the pension money regularly from Abuja. Unfortunately, one “idiotic” fellow (borrowing from Ojo) falsely made a statement that pensioneers were “dead woods”. I didn’t hear, I didn’t say so, but my political opponents picked on it and began to attribute the statement to me which was very unfortunate. Even in my book “How I Governed Anambra State – Stewardship & Accountability” I practically swore to the pensioners that at no time did I say a thing like that but it was too late. So, following on that, when Governor Obi invited me for my pension, I didn’t know some workers were waiting for me. After the Governor approved the amount that accrued to me, the ‘heads’ decided to pay me half of the approval. Infact, the Governor was even surprised and had to make up the amount with his personal cheque. I was amazed at the extent some people can go. When I was with them, they said they were loyal, but things fell apart, they were no longer at ease (Chinua Achebe). In the monthly payments (not gratuities) they chose to pay only half, and instead of paying the half into my bank account I gave them, they chose to pay my pension into my wife’s account till today. I complained all I could but nobody seemed to be listening. Since I have not made my will I don’t know under which head I’ll put my pension. Nor could I ask my wife to pay me my pension, she would think I needed to see a doctor. I told the Governor briefly last week, that this was my problem and he promised to “look into it”. So this is the answer to your question.
Realnews: The governorship race in Anambra State is on and many contestants are already campaigning subtly. How do you assess the quality of the aspirants who have shown interest in the race? Is it possible you could join the race?
Mbadinuju: Anambra PDP plus other parties can produce over 60 aspirants for one governorship seat in the State. And this was so in the governorship race in the State about four years ago. We don’t lack qualified candidates of any party in the state. Four years ago, each aspirant paid N5 million to collect one application form at the end only one man became the governor. So it has become a circus for entertainment. This year again, the number of posters and bill boards show that nothing has changed. And it shows too that our “money bags” are still very much around and active as usual in the game. How do you tell a multi-billonaire not to spend his money? Some of them are ready when the time comes, to pay and obtain 10-15 forms and distribute them, their calculation being that at least one out of those 15 chances may click. But suppose none clicks? Life still goes on as it’s only a game. So your question is whether I’ll join them. But as a former governor, is it advisable I should join them, or is it better that they should join me? When I get the answer, I’ll know where I stand. I may still be in the race, if not for the governorship of Anambra state then the governorship of my house without even going through primaries.
Realnews: What is your take on the decision of some stakeholders in the South East to back Goodluck Jonathan for a second term as president?
Mbadinuju: South-East decision for Jonathan would be in order. First, South -East has taken support for Jonathan as an article of faith. Second, South-East Igbos took Jonathan in 2011 as their brother and voted for him massively. Third, Igbos having endorsed Jonathan in 2011 cannot go back on him at this hour of his need. Fourth, Jonathan as president has done for Igbos much more than any president in history: Anambra oil, 2nd Niger bridge, Enugu- Aba-PH road, Onitsha-Owerri-Umuahia road, Onitsha river port, prominent appointees from the zone. Fifth, as president, Jonathan has joined the Igbos to bury their heroes – Ikemba Nnewi and Chinua Achebe. So, we have seen president Jonathan identifying closely with Igbos, and he has not been a ‘good weather friend’. I’m not saying this to make other zones jealous. Someone told me of a certain compilation of what Jonathan has done for every one of the six zones of the country by which he is highly qualified to run for a second term, but above all, sixth, the constitution of Nigeria grants him the right to run for a second term if he so wishes. It is possible that some Igbos will vote for other candidates but such votes can’t change much. Much as the coming election, as they predicted, may be tough and narrowly won, incumbency factor will carry the day. Jonathan may still have an over-whelming edge over any or all of the candidates vying against him in the South-East particularly and in the other zones too.
Realnews: Do you think Jonathan has done enough to merit a second term?
Mbadinuju: No persons or experts in election fore-casting have so far placed Jonathan anywhere below 55 percent in his performance as president. Though it may be subjective for one to grade or score himself but the taste of the pudding has to be in the eating. Nobody has said that the projects Jonathan scored are not in existence, so the scores must be correct. If second term is done by merit, he then deserves it. If it is by law of the constitution, he still deserves to run. If his victory is by virtue of PDP appeal giving a majority of PDP members spread all over the countries, then PDP will surely carry Jonathan over and above 51percent of votes, that would still be good victory. Any doubting Thomas should go and pick up copies of the mid-term performance of Jonathan administration and read, this is not “Factis Non Verbis” (latin for ‘not by word but by action’).
Realnews: How about the call for Igbo presidency, do you think it will ever happen?
Mbadinuju: Yes, nothing shall forever prevent one of us, the Igbos from being president of Nigeria in God’s own time. But we must realise that Igbos need the other zones in their quest for the office. It is needless antagonising any of the other zones with whom we should build alliances and coalition which are the tactics necessary in political engagements. Indeed, in one of my newspaper interviews, I made this point clearly (see “2015: S’East needs other zones to produce president -Mbadinuju, Daily Sun, Monday, December 3, 2012). When we get our tactics right, we’ll get our ambition right too. We cannot by antagonising our potential allies and hope they will come to our aide when the chip is down. So Igbos will surely come into the promised land but whether we’ll enter or not will depend on the will of God. So, prayer is absolute. You neglect it at your peril. I believe in the right hand washing the left hand and vice versa. Now that we are washing the hand of South-South people, when it is our turn, they’ll also wash our own hands, and so will the North wash our own because we washed their own when Chief Dr Alex I. Ekwueme served them faithfully as vice to President Aliyu Shehu Shagari. What we are saying is what will happen in this our time, and not till kingdom come.
Realnews: You recently made a call suggesting that governors should be stripped of immunity, do you think that will help in the fight against corruption?
Mbadinuju: I actually suggested that immunity for governors should be stripped and I said it out of annoyance during the altercation among themselves, and even some of the governors openly challenging the President of the country and trying to bring him into disrepute. A President is president anywhere. He is usually voted into office, as in our case, by majority of the voters. He becomes Nigeria’s father figure or father image. So, for a governor to begin to rub shoulders with the President is an insult against the whole nation, and that should not be allowed. The governors have their area of jurisdiction which is their states as distinct from the jurisdiction of the president which is the whole country if I must repeat it. Before a governor in developed countries challenges the president of that country, the law enforcement agents would have done their job to protect the president from any undue interference either of his person or the persons of members of his family. It was an eye-sore when a governor of a state was seen trying to snatch a microphone from the wife of the president at a public function. The danger was that one of them could slump in the process and the news coming out of CNN and BBC would not be palatable. But apart from this, the issue of immunity should not be liberalised. It should not be applied where it is not necessary. I suggested in my newspaper interview that immunity should apply in both criminal and civil matters but it now looks like in the current amendment of the constitution, the NASS is trying to subject the governors to immunity only in civil matters but not immunity in crimes. So, we’ll wait and see what develops. Whether or not stripping governors of their immunity will help in the fight against corruption is another thing. A governor without immunity could still be corrupt as well as a governor with immunity. The issue of corruption is endemic in this country and it will require God himself to come down and fight to win, than any human being doing so. Infact I see immunity for governors as helping them to cover up any act of corruption they might have gotten into. Many appreciate the effort of president Jonathan in battling corruption through the instrumentality of his government’s transformation agenda. But this is like a drop in the ocean. Again, the only hope Nigeria has in the various fights we are engaged in this country against all sorts of evil is for our country to return to God (Phil 2:13). That’s all.
Realnews: What is your assessment of the federal government’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states?
Mbadinuju: It is clear that Boko Haram debacle was foisted upon this country without any preparation for a fight of that magnitude. The Jonathan administration had done virtually everything humanly possible to halt the incessant onslaught against unsuspecting populations of our people mainly of Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa states, but to no effect. The President took such a personal risk to visit the three states and commiserate with both the government and the governed, still it didn’t yield the desired result. Government decided to heed the suggestions of the Northern leaders to grant the Boko Harm group an amnesty but as soon as government accepted Northern request, the Boko Haram leader in detention declared that they didn’t need any amnesty and that it was, indeed, the government that needed it not them. So after the Boko Haram group had rejected the amnesty offer, not much was left for Jonathan’s administration than for the president to declare the state of emergency also applying every caution to avoid any unnecessary loss of lives. As the strength of Boko Haram was wearing thin, the federal government, out of mercy, decided to release wives and children in custody as some of them even became informants cooperating and assisting with the JTF and all military formations in the three states. Recent information from the field indicates that the worst is about over, and mopping up operations were about to take place. Military observers hinted that the trained nucleus of the Boko Haram insurgents are trained outside our country. Surprisingly some Northern leaders who should be thanking Jonathan for his ingenuity and in the handling of insurgent’s activities in the North, and for finding a workable solution at last to stop the incessant killings, bombings and kidnappings, were not doing so. Some Northerners began to blame Jonathan for the wise solutions and the wisdom he had to do what is right, the North being part of Nigeria which the president swore by the constitution to protect and defend (all Nigerians) wherever and whenever they run into such problems. The problem in the Boko Haram episode is the foreign elements coming to fight the good people of Nigeria, or trying to declare an Islamic Republic, and they were said to have over-run about 27 local government areas of Bornu state which was an abomination to Nigeria. It is now clear that the amnesty and state of emergency are just two sides of the same coin. Even only for Jonathan’s forces to over-run the invaders and without much casualties, is enough to decorate the president as a civilian marshal as America’s Eisenhower was decorated when he successfully returned from foreign battles. Rather than be thankful to God and to Jonathan, some people were heard blaming the President for the amnesty they rejected and for the state of emergency both of which have given the much needed peace and security in that part of the country. It is clear that President Jonathan’s best is getting better and by the time the country is getting ready for 2015 elections, Nigerians will be begging Jonathan to run for the election, and not him begging to run’.
Realnews: In your assessment, is the Nigerian economy really growing as government officials would like us to believe despite the high rate of unemployment, inflation and the poor state of the manufacturing sector?
Mbadinuju: President Jonathan came to office at a very difficult and trying time. His boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua had died, the politics of transforming from vice-president position to acting president and to president was not as smooth as anyone would have wanted. But he weathered all of it thanks to the mature politics and policies of the Senate under the ‘maradona’ of our time, the indomitable David Mark, and now ably supported by ‘the “young has grown” speaker of the House of Representatives Aliyu Tambuwal. All have rallied around the new President and they have all worked together to ensure that the ship of state is stabilised. Jonathan had to learn on the job and now there is hardly anything you can now teach him about the Presidency. Still it should be known that the problems of governance were not of his making. He found this out as soon as he was sworn into office and began to find ways to solve the problems of economy, unemployment, restive workers including inflation and the poor state of the manufacturing sector. If allowed, Jonathan would have chosen to “build his own Rome in one day” because of so much demands of the people that have no patience to wait. There was hardly any honey moon with workers who, to some extent, were dancing to the tune of the opposition too. So, my take on this is to say that Jonathan could not have been responsible for the economic woes of the country. He is rather on the side of finding the remedy than being part of the cause of Nigeria’s problems. This is not passing the buck but rather what the reality on the ground was when he finally assumed office and took charge. It is unfortunate that Jonathan has always been discouraged in doing what is best for the country by tainted opponents and sworn opposition groups.
Realnews: The 2013 budget seems to be in abeyance. No one knows exactly what is happening to it since government sent it back with amendments to the National Assembly. What is your comment?
Mbadinuju: It is not correct to say that no one knows exactly what is happening with the budget of 2013. For laymen, it is possible they wouldn’t know. But between the Senate and the House of Representatives, they all knew the name of the game they were playing. The constitution gives power for oversight function and money bills; while the Executive branch spends the money approved by the legislature. This is what they call checks and balances with the Senate handling its own bit and the Judiciary doing their function of adjudication. Democracy is a beautiful process where they know their rights and their reponsibilities. But this time around, they have been doing a tossing game: from the Presidency to the NASS – the Senate and the House of Reresentatives. The Executive prepared the budget for expenditures and salaries. The House did not approve SEC’s Ms. Aruma Oteh to continue in office. The Presidency said the issue was within its competence to handle to which the House again said no, and then gave no money at all for SEC to at least pay salaries of the workers. This is one out of other reasons the NASS will not accept or deal with the Executive. But meanwhile, it is not known if the workers are still being paid and from which fund, or are the workers still working without pay? What will happen if neither side is willing to back down? Nigeria is waiting and foreigners are also watching the drama. It is hard to apportion blame in this type of ‘game’. But when two elephants fight, as in this case, it is the grass that suffers.
Realnews: The Executive and the National Assembly are in a silent war far removed from the public glare unlike before when the duo engaged in media war. Is this constant bickering healthy for the economy given what is happening to the 2013 budget?
Mbadinuju: There seems to be a game of brinkmanship which the NASS and the Presidency at times play. What seems like a face-off very often come to pass. The Honerable Speaker is a good stabiliser and would, at times, not allow emotions to get the upper hand. The public may not quite understand the ups and downs in Chamber debate but let everything go on provided the system is not over-heated. The freedom members enjoy is absolute and they guard it jealously as long as no linen is washed in the public.
Realnews: Is there any sense in creating the Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Excess Crude account and having so much money in the country’s foreign reserve, when such funds could be used to provide the much needed infrastructure to boost the economy especially the manufacrturing sector?
Mbadinuju: It is good that government does not spend all its income. It is important that some fund is preserved for a rainy day. Let me give one illustration: there are children and their parents in the same house. The children are getting very hungry and their father ordered the wife to bring out all the yams in the barn and cook them all so that the children can eat and be fed very well and sleep very well. Their mother refused to carry out her husband’s instruction as she cooked only part of the yams and saved the rest to be eaten the days when they become hungry again. Between their father and their mother who loved the children more: the father who wanted all the food finished in one day, and their mother who saved some food for the coming days? Who loved the children more, the mother or their father? Then apply this to the issue of Sovereign Wealth Fund and think of whether the Fund should be established as government wants it, while governors insist on sharing the money and let everyone take his share and go. Who loves Nigeria more: the federal government which wants reserve, or the governors who want their share here and now?
Realnews: There is also a plot by the National Assembly to truncate the second term ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan with the proposed constitutional amendments providing for a six-year single tenure for the president and first time governors to take effect from 2015. What do you think about the constitutional amendment?
Mbadinuju: Actually it was the President that first muted the idea of a six-year tenure instead of the present two terms of four years each for a total of eight years. It was generally rejected then and I remember too that when I was governor of Anambra State, I propounded the same one-term of six years for the president and governors and their deputies. Again, at that time, the idea was not attractive. The President has recently modified the six-year option and gave a condition for the President and governors to be allowed to be voted for on 2015 and the six-year plan will take effect as from 2019. The reason is that if the new six-year one term proposal takes effect then, the first term president and the 1st term governors will lose out if they are not allowed to finish their second term and they’ll go from there and never contest again. I think that the President’s modification should be accepted for 2015 and after that, as from 2019, it will be a six-year single tenure for presidents, governors and their deputies. It makes sense if NASS approves the proposal.
Realnews: How do you see the suspension of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Aliyu Wammako by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP?
Mbadinuju: The PDP publicity secretary, Mr. Olisa Metu, has explained that it was to instil discipline in the ranks of PDP members at all levels. Governor Amaechi disregarded the advice given to him on certain PDP matters and for which the party decided to suspend him. It was also for a similar reason that the party suspended the governor of Sokoto state, Aliyu Wammako. But indications are rife that the governors will soon meet some party leaders for discussion and possible re-instatement of the two governors though gravevine has it that some more governors are slated for same suspension.
Realnews: Do you think the formation of the All Patriotic Congress, APC, will affect PDP’s chances of retaining power in 2015?
Mbadinuju: No I don’t think that the All Progressives Congress has got what it takes to overturn PDP in the 2015 election. The APC Party has a lot of in-fighting within its rank and file. By the time they finish their reconciliation within the party, they will be left with little or no time for them to organise anybody useful for the election in question. PDP has special the appeal among voters and the party has the best spread among all other parties. APC specialises on running persons down but they have not once said “this is part of our program for this forthcoming election. APC wants to form a government at what level nobody knows but the only person you can hear talk is Lai Mohammed and the man is already tired even before the game starts. So, as your question goes, it is not possible that an unregistered party so far can overturn the king of the parties, the much talked about PDP both at home here, and abroad all over.
Realnews: The PDP for now, is a divided House. What is really responsible for the crisis?
Mbadinuju: The PDP is never a divided a house. When PDP does some strategic planning our opponents think we are divided. If anybody wants to know a divided party, he should use the APC, but if the APC doesn’t work, then he should try PANADOL and see if it works. So go ahead with the trial and error, and one of these days, who knows whether it will work? That’s my candid advice.
Realnews: What is your view on the proposed automatic second term ticket for the president and governors on PDP platform?
Mbadinuju: The idea of automatic ticket for a second term of office is not entirely ruled out but it’ll depend on what is there in the party’s constitution. The party leaders are still looking at the suggestion, although PDP has too many other options to fall back on when the chip is down. Automatic ticket worked in the 2003 election when by the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ all PDP governors in their second term were allowed to advance and won except for two good friends. But I believe in miracle.
— Jun. 24, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT