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Wabara: Jonathan Still the Man to Beat

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Senator Adolphus Wabara


Personality Interview

Former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, in this interview with Ojo M. Maduekwe, sheds more light on the failed third term bid by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his tango with the ICPC over the alleged N55m bribe-for-budget scandal, and the President Goodluck Jonathan re-election battle. Excerpts:

Since the National Conference ended in July, not much has been heard from you. Is anything the matter?
There is this saying that it is better to watch from the fence at times and see what is happening. You allow people to air their views and you try and put all those views together and then form your own opinion about things. You don’t just react to national issues carelessly. For me, I have my style as an ex-diplomat. We were taught to be seen and not to be heard. But in politics, you ought to be heard. But since I have imbibed that culture and tradition of a diplomat, I speak when it is absolutely necessary.

The PDP has adopted President Jonathan as its sole candidate for the 2015 election. But some people believe the practice is undemocratic. Do you agree?

The PDP is the greatest party on the African continent. I don’t see anything wrong in adopting a candidate. It was only mentioned that he has been adopted as a sole candidate. But every other person democratically has the right to contest. It is not sacrosanct; just that at that moment in time, because of the good job the president has been doing, it was necessary to say please continue, we endorse you as the sole candidate. But that does not say no other person can pick a form.
I can go out there and pick the form tomorrow and they will sell the form to me. But they are only saying this is the candidate we think we are going to work for. But that does not preclude others from coming out. We hear of somebody coming out in Bauchi and all other places. We cannot stop the party from saying this is what we want, trying to eulogise our leader and give him sense of belonging. It’s true Obama and Hilary contested the primary in America so to speak. But here, we have our own type of democracy.
We don’t have to borrow hook, line and sinker what obtains in a democratic America. It happened before. If Abacha hadn’t died he was the sole candidate of all the political parties. But he died unfortunately. That does not make it undemocratic. It’s what the party wants. The party is supreme and the party has not told anybody after endorsing him as the sole candidate that no other person is allowed to pick up the form. So, anybody who feels that he is strong enough to contest against President Jonathan is free to pick his form.

How do you see as his chances?
The PDP will win. Jonathan will win. He will win because I know the opposition. I’m not a prophet, but I can assure you that as soon as a candidate emerges from the opposition, the opposition will collapse from that particular moment because there are four or five of them that are jostling for that position, whereas what one would expect at this point in time is for them to come together, agree on one person to give a fight to the party to beat – the PDP.
For now, they are all there talking about PDP. But the moment somebody emerges and it doesn’t matter who, the opposition will break into pieces. In fact, I wouldn’t even be surprised that some of them would want to come back to PDP. It has happened before but I don’t want to mention names.

Are you saying the election will be a walkover for the PDP?
The PDP should not lose sleep; the PDP should continue to prepare its agenda, manifesto and what it wants to do for Nigeria and Nigerians this time around. It should build on what it has done so far and not lose sleep on the opposition. In fact, we have other parties now joining the PDP. These are parties that ordinarily would have joined hands with APC, but they are coming into PDP. That means there is something we are doing right.
It’s a phase and it will take some time before we will get there. And with this man who is there is now, Jonathan, he is different from the last government and he knows exactly what he is doing and I think he is doing it right. He will take us to the next level in the next four years and of course, we need him to complete what he started – that is the national conference. He must give Nigerians the recommendations of the national conference. That is the only way Nigeria will move forward.
You cannot build a house and somebody else will come in there who does not know how the foundation was laid. So, Nigerians should give him chance to implement the recommendations of the national conference in the next four years as a solid foundation for Nigeria. The hundred years of Lugadism is gone. We are starting a fresh 100 years of Goodluckism.

Can you say this government has truly performed in four years?
There is absolutely no doubt about that. I am 66 years old and I think I have seen so many birthdays and so many years; I’ve seen so many governments in Nigeria. When he presented a book, his scorecard on May 29, he gave facts and you can see the record of his performance. Just go and read that book. Nobody puts pen on paper if he or she is not sure of what he is writing.
If you read that book, you will see what Jonathan and his government have done for this country. You cannot say he has done everything, but at least, you will see the trend where we are going to, where he started from and what we have achieved now. You almost find a PhD in his governance. Scientists don’t make too much noise.

Looking at the politics of the National Assembly, it has been dotted lately by a lot of defections. As a former presiding officer, how do you see this trend?
Frankly, it is unfortunate. It is really unfortunate that we did not nip this in the bud early enough and we need the judiciary to help the National Assembly out of this problem. But be that as it may, it was because we the PDP did not nip this issue in the bud. We were at vantage position at the start if this defections in the National Assembly, So, we did not invoke the law.
Of course some people would say that it looks as if people are now leaving the PDP, that’s why we are now opening the pages of the law to stop them. It pains me again due to the fact all these movements are done on personal interest basis and not national interest or the interest of the people you are representing, which makes it very absurd. But I know that with time, this cross carpeting will be a thing of the past.

Do you think Tambuwal should have resigned his position?
With the speaker of the House of Representatives now defecting to the opposition, to me, I think he should resign his speakership because, clearly, according to our rules and our laws, it is the party with the majority membership of the House that runs the chambers. If he now sits down and finds that his APC is in the minority, he should just resign. Since what he wants is to be the Governor of Sokoto State, then he goes there to face that.
Sometime in 2005, an issue of graft was raised against your person and some other lawmakers over an alleged N55million bribe-for-budget scandal and you resigned to go and clear your name. But so far, we’ve not heard much about that case.
Frankly, that brings me to my naivety also because I always allow things to run its course. But you are talking of 2005 and next year will make it 10 years. Of course, you asked earlier on why I’m not active and why I have been silent. You see, I’m a man from a very humble home that one would expect that things should take their natural courses. That’s why I waited for that judgment discharging me from the Court of Appeal.
That judgment was challenged by the ICPC up to the Supreme Court. One thing is very clear and no member of judiciary will say that I, Senator Adulphus Wabara, came to lobby for anything. I’ve not lobbied anybody. But I have exhausted my patience as we speak. Even if I was going to be imprisoned by Obasanjo because I refused his third term bid, I would have served the term and I would have been out by now. I’m just asking the judiciary to expedite action as per the judgment delivered at the Supreme Court that this matter should be taken back to the lower court for retrial and it should be done expeditiously.
It is two years now since that Supreme Court judgment and I have not been arraigned in court again. I see it that I am being used. I’m a very good friend of Mr. President and the Bayelsans. But I don’t expect anything from him until I’m cleared from this case of corruption. But I want to now hold the bull by the horns. I’m going to ask my lawyer for whatever it is worth to now ask for mandamus to compel the ICPC to prosecute the case in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
In the ten years that case has lasted, (Dimeji) Bankole’s case came and it’s gone. (Vincent) Ogbulafor’s case came after my case; even the Speaker of Lagos. So, why is my own hanging for 10 years? I will not die until I’m either imprisoned or I’m cleared and discharged from this matter. So, I will be asking my lawyer to discharge that case for want of prosecution. How can the accused person be begging government and the ICPC that the case should be tried in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court?

Do you mean your resignation in 2005 was due to naivety as against a sit-tight approach like Tambuwal?
You are right if you say a sit-tight approach. But it’s not my father’s seat. When I was Senate President, it was not my father’s seat. As soon as Obasanjo wanted me out because I opposed his third term bid and that even brings me back to another issue; that is why he refused to even give me my national award which I ought to have gotten in 2003. Immediately after being sworn in, I was supposed to have gotten that GCON in 2003. Whatever he contrived came up in 2005.
But because he had approached me in 2003 a month or two after we came in on this third term thing and I didn’t know where he was coming from, I said no, Your Excellency, this cannot work. In 2003, he told me clearly that the way I was working, by 2007, I will continue as Senate President. I said excuse me sir, how can I continue as Senate President when by 2007 the equation will change; the zoning will change and it will be a northerner who will become the Senate President as we have now?
That was the end of my discussion with him on that day and that was what caused me my GCON in 2003 up till now. It is not even the case of N55million bribe-for-budget scandal; that came up in 2005. What happened in 2003 that I was not given is just because of my position on third term.

Source: This Day Life

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