Otunba Gani Adams is the coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and a delegate member of the last National Conference. In this interview with Ojoduwa Adah, he speaks about his experience at the conference, the forthcoming elections, achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan and why he should be re-elected for a second term. Adams also explains why it will be difficult for Jonathan’s main challenger, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), to win the South West despite the region being the stronghold of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC). Excerpts:
Question: Some people criticised the conduct of National Conference last year while others regard it as one of the major achievement of President Goodluck Jonathan. As a member of that conference, do you see the conference as a major achievement of this government?
Gani Adams: In the actual fact, those who criticised soft-pedaled before we got to the middle of our deliberations and got convinced of what we were doing and started having a re-think. Majority of those who started the criticism came from the opposition parties because they believe if the conference succeeds; it would be a major achievement of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government but thank God at the end of the day, it was one of the best conferences Nigeria ever had in the country.
The conference had about 630 recommendations out of the 20 committees. There was no committee that did not have new recommendations, even the recommendation for restructuring of the country was exactly like that of the U.S. We borrowed this presidential system of government from America but when we started operating it, we twisted it to our own selfish interest. But the conference afforded us the opportunity to put things right in structure, security, intelligence, human rights, religion, environment, derivation formula and judiciary to the extent that it recommended the setting up of a Supreme Court in every state of the federation. The conference also recommends that every state should have its own constitution as practised in America.
The conference equally recommended for the establishment of state police, creation of local government based on available resources to each state. The local governments before existed as a third tier of government but now state governors starve them of funds by sitting on or embezzling their allocations from the federation account. So by and large the conference was one of the best achievements of Jonathan since he became the president of this country in 2011.
The 2015 general election is few weeks away from now. Many people are afraid that the present democracy could be truncated as a result of violence. Do you have that kind of fear?
I don’t have fear that the 2015 will degenerate into violence. In the beginning I had that kind of fear but when I started monitoring the campaigns of the two main presidential candidates, I realised that there should be little of such fears that we should allow to exist in our hearts.
I just watched a workshop held in Abuja where all the presidential candidates were called to sign an undertaking that there would be no violence after the general elections. This is a new thing in our democracy. Day by day we are learning on how to conduct a violence free election in the country. I don’t have fear that crisis or violence will erupt after the general elections in February.
In your assessment of the present administration, do you think Jonathan deserves a second term in office?
Those who are saying that Jonathan does not merit second term are those who are eager to take over power from him. If Jonathan can survive with the presence of Boko Haram and the attack from MEND at the beginning of the government, and in 2009, we witnessed an economic crunch which in grammar you can call it economic meltdown and for him to survive and at the end of the day our GDP is the first in Africa, definitely if we can have him in second term without much problem, he can do more than we expected. I see him as a detribalised president who does not have the mind of tyranny. He is the only president that people will abuse and he will not ask the security agents to arrest and try you. What members of the opposition did to Jonathan and he absorbed it, they could not have done10 per cent of it to former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he was in power. His simplicity cannot be compared, his humility is something to write for others to emulate. So, he is a president that can build a strong foundation for Nigeria’s nascent democracy. I believe he merits a second term.
Do you think Jonathan stands a better chance of getting support in the South West in view of the fact that it is an APC stronghold?
Don’t think that the South West is APC states. The South West is a place that you cannot use the media to deceive. We are highly exposed and highly educated. For you to say we should go one way, it is impossible. I don’t think that the South West will vote for Buhari en masse. Don’t forget the pain caused by the June 12 annulment; it is still fresh in the minds of our people – many died in the cause of June 12 struggle, many lost a lot of properties. I don’t think our people will trust an Hausa/Fulani man from the North this time around.
What is your assessment of our elected politicians in terms of delivering dividends of democracy?
People are blaming Jonathan for the hardship in the country. Why can’t they blame state governors and lawmakers who are being given constituency allowances? When I talk about politicians I speak without exception. Many governors and local government chairmen cannot give account of what they collect every month from the allocation account. Before the current fall in the prices of crude oil, some were collecting about N6-7 billion every month and all they do is to embark on elitist projects that have no direct impact on the lives of common people, only to come and accuse Mr. President that he is not performing. One thing I respect Jonathan for is despite pressures from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he refused to influence the result of elections as we have witnessed from the result of Anambra, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun states governorship elections. We were surprised when a large number of security agents were sent to Ekiti and Osun states during the last elections; it was later we got to know that some members of the party gave him a wrong assessment of the situation that there would be crisis during the elections.
•Culled from Nigeria Today newspaper.