In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, says by wooing discredited military and civilian despots who have destroyed the country since 1966, the APC has shown that it is only interested in power for the sake of power.
Is there a difference between the APC and PDP?
For now, the difference between APC and PDP is like the difference between six and half a dozen. Frankly speaking, serious political parties are not built around big names or personalities but on the platform of ideology. From the look of things both APC and PDP subscribe to the dominance of market forces, currency devaluation, privatisation of the nation’s resources and the commercialisation of education, health and other social services. The leaders of both parties who have been in government at one time or the other in the past 30 years or there about believe in the neo-colonial capitalist system. Essentially, both APC and PDP are two sides of the same coin.
What is your reaction to the wooing of Generals Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdulsalami and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by the APC?
In bourgeois politics the ongoing development is called “realignment of forces”. In the process, those who have been excluded from the “come and chop” policy of the PDP are being asked to choose their place at the table in case the APC takes over power in 2015. The PDP has started to fight back ferociously and violently because the stakes are so high. Already, huge funds and weapons of mass destruction are being assembled for the mother of all battles. Money, religion, ethnicity and other primordial sentiments are being deployed to confuse the electorate. Did you not read in General Obasanjo’s letter that snipers are being trained where the late General Sani Abacha trained members of his killer squad? Have some militants not threatened to declare war on the country if President Jonathan is not re-elected by Nigerians? It is not that they believe in the PDP. They too want to protect their newly found wealth acquired through pipeline contracts worth several billions of naira.
Do you think APC will remain a progressive party as they claim?
A: The members of the ruling class of all extractions have continued to display sheer contempt for the Nigerian people. Hence the people are not being mobilised to defeat the PDP in the polls. The APC has no plan to woo the youths who constitute more than 60% of the voting population. It is the belief of the leaders of both APC and PDP that the 2015 general election is going to be fixed by the traditional manipulators of elections. This is the basis of the ongoing mobilisation of PDP chieftains including those who cannot win elections in their own wards. By wooing discredited military and civilian despots who have destroyed the country since 1966 the APC has shown that it is only interested in power for the sake of power. I understand that one of the retired generals is going to become the chair of the Board of Trustees of the APC! This is a case of alienation from the people. How can APC leaders believe that Nigerians want Generals Obasanjo and Babangida to be rehabilitated after destroying the country? The duo ruled for 20 years and ruined the country in the process. General Obasanjo has just confessed that he has been installing incompetent leadership since 1979. And he is not ashamed to make that provocative disclosure. Has he offered public apology for his maxima culpa before wooing him? The situation is not different in a number of states and local council areas where the new PDP is busy taking over all the structures of the APC. Since the APC is positioning itself to retain the status quo it cannot become a truly progressive party.
INEC has said elections may not be conducted in the states where there is emergency rule? What is your reaction to the statement?
The statement has confirmed that the Independent National Electoral Commission has been hijacked by the most reactionary segment of the political class. In order to frustrate the emergence of a truly progressive political party in the country the highly incompetent INEC has conspired with the ruling class to narrow the democratic space. It has just requested the national assembly to give it the powers to proscribe other political parties and ban their candidates. As far as INEC is concerned the APC and PDP are the ideal political parties for the country. By saying there will be no elections in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states controlled by the APC has INEC not started rigging in favour of the PDP? Was there any incident when President Jonathan paid a 2-day visit to Borno and Yobe states a few months ago? Are elections not held in Iraq and Afghanistan which are waging serious wars against terrorists? Is INEC going to appoint sole administrators for the three states at the end of the tenure of the governors and other elected public officers? Apart from conducting flawed elections why is INEC not interested in promoting civic education which is one of its core statutory duties?
What is the way forward in view of the frightening political crisis?
A: It is high time the APC and PDP were stopped from further confusing our people along ethnic and religious lines. The media must help by forcing candidates to come up with concrete solutions to the crises of under development in all its manifestation. Therefore, all genuine progressive forces in the country should come together with a view to ensuring that future elections in the country are contested and won on the basis of the commitment of political parties and their candidates to implement the provisions of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Chapter II of the Constitution.
The socio-economic rights guaranteed in the Constitution have to be made justiciable in the interest of the masses. This must be accompanied by a commitment to address the challenges of poverty, insecurity, unemployment, corruption and infrastructural decay. For instance, since 1999 the Federal Government, with 52% of the nation’s resources, has not completed any new road or hospital in any part of the country! Is it what the APC wants to continue by wooing the PDP leaders who unleashed unmitigated disaster on our people? Or are we to believe that these characters have committed class suicide?
Instead of waiting for 2015 we call on all our oppressed people to learn from the Academic Staff Union of Universities by resorting to strikes and other forms of civil disobedience to force the ruling class political parties to make funds available NOW for education, health, housing, job creation and poverty elimination.
In 2011 President Jonathan was pitied by Nigerians when he said he had no shoes while growing up. But he has refused to buy shoes for millions of other children. The Unicef says 15.5 million Nigerian children are roaming the streets. What has the President done to ensure that those poor kids are enrolled in schools? Having regard to the N5 trillion given to AMCON to bail out banks run down by the comprador bourgeoisie, the missing $50 billion from the Federation Account and the unprecedented looting of the treasury by the political class have confirmed that the country is sufficiently endowed to make poverty history. The struggle to end poverty in the land cannot afford to wait till 2015!
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