In an interview, Second Republic joint House Leader, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, speaks on the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, the reported resignation of the party’s national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and the long awaited federal cabinet reshuffle.
What in your view does the reported resignation of the national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, portend for our polity?
First and foremost, I think the alleged exit of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, no matter how, by whatever means, is a welcome development; what I will describe as good riddance to bad rubbish. He should never have been made any chairman of any political party in any sensible, democratically conscious country. Having said that, I have always maintained that the Peoples Democratic Party has a responsibility, as a preeminent political party in this country, to address some of its undemocratic structures. The PDP can choose to be undemocratic or to have certain structures which are not democratically based like its Board of Trustees, which exercises maximum power but are not elected. That, in itself, will sabotage democracy where the other parties, particularly the APC and other opposition political parties do this sort of thing. It has proven to be counter-productive for democracy in our terrain.
It has been mentioned that in the past, the President used to single-handedly hand pick and foist individuals as chairmen of the party. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in particular was guilty of this misbehaviour and undemocratic practice. He imposed Solomon Lar first, then Barnabas Gemade, then Audu Ogbeh, then Dr. Ahmadu Ali and so on. That of Audu Ogbeh became celebrated because of the length Obasanjo was ready to go to remove him from office.
It was also ultimately connected to Obasanjo’s third term agenda. The idea that the President shall use armed security personnel to go and literarily arrest the chairman of his own party from his house to the Presidential Villa and force him at gunpoint to write and submit a letter of resignation is the height of political irresponsibility.
Why do you say so?
The fact that nobody in the PDP came to the rescue of Audu Ogbeh or even came out to say what Obasanjo did was irresponsible, undemocratic, was callous. That to me, was an indication that the PDP was not and has never been a democratic party, it can never be the leading party in any democratic set up.
The President recently announced that the list of ministerial nominees is ready for transmission to the National Assembly. Which ministers do you think should be dropped and what kind of people should emerge as their replacements?
There should be certain criteria for the appointment of an individual to occupy the office of a minister. These would obviously include competence, performance and the ability to add value to the process of governance. In all the criteria I have listed, I have not included an ability to get the votes out come 2015; frankly speaking, that, to me, is irrelevant.
Who should go?
Given those criteria, I will say this without fear of contradiction; the first minister to go should be the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. This woman has been a scandal. She lacks the competence to run even a local government, let alone the nation’s ministry. In terms of competence, in terms of political savvy, in terms of integrity, her failure to nudge the two chambers of the National Assembly towards the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill is a clear indication that she does not command any respect among her colleagues or members of the National Assembly.
The second minister, who must go, will be this utterly irrelevant so-called Minister of Finance and self appointed Coordinating Minister of the Economy (Ngozi Okonjo Iweala). She has not, in any way, managed our finances in any reasonable manner; the hype about her performance in the World Bank has not translated into anything here.
There is a neo-colonial element in the way we hype some of these individuals, who have worked for the World Bank and the (International Monetary Fund) and such other institutions. The third person, who must go, is Stella Oduah. She has failed woefully; she is a disgrace not only to the ministry but also to the President, who appointed her, and to the government and the party. That woman must be made to leave and be prosecuted. Even if nobody goes, these women must be made to leave.
The Minister of Education (Nyeson Wike) should be made to leave; this ministry is too serious to be headed by his type of politician. The impact of relieving these individuals of their appointments will have palpable impact on Nigeria’s international image. Their actions and inactions have diminished our image at home and abroad. Unfortunately, it is not in the interest of this country to have these types of incompetent people running some of the top ministries and departments in the land. There are other ministers, who have badly handled their ministries that should also be made to go.
So many people at home and abroad have singled out the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, for praises … (cuts in)
As far as I am concerned, he has done nothing. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy but that has not shown. Nobody has told us how come every attention is on oil revenue. I also hope that when it comes to the appointment of a substantive Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonathan will appoint a person, who understands foreign relations and have the clout to redeem what is left of Nigeria’s already battered image. We cannot continue like this if we must fulfill our destiny as a nation.