Chief Clarence Olafemi, the Director General Atiku Campaign Organisation, Kogi State spokes on the just concluded general elections. kogiflame was there.
What is your assessment in the just concluded general elections in Nigeria?
Election generally in 2019 in Nigeria of which Kogi state is subset. We have a peculiar problem in Kogi and I was expecting elections in the state to be rough , but I was not also expecting it to be on a wide scale the way and manner it happened .
I became disturbed as an old politician. I started active politics in 1977 immediately I graduated from university. 1979 I contested house of representative, there is no dispensation that comes up till date that I did not participated.
I also contested for governorship position in 1991 before Kogi state was created from old Kwara state. I contested for senate in 1999 and also contested house of assembly in 2003 and 2007 and I have participated fully in all other elections till date.
Since my sojourn in politics I have never witness the worth scenario we are in right now in Nigeria. What is happening in 2019 can only remind us of what happened in 1963 when the country obtained republic. We had independent in 1960 the election was not terrible even though there were little skirmishes, but in 1963 when we had republic crises started coming in.
First it was from the conduct of election in the west which was grossly manipulated and the Yorubas resisted which gave rise to operation wetee, people were burnt, cars , commercial vehicles , houses and while we were shouting and condemning operation wetee in the west , Araba started in the north and the igbos were victims of Araba then.
While that was on , it dragged on to 1966 and there was coup which was characterised by tribal sentient within the military. It was very bloody that wipe out a whole generation of leaders which eventually led to Nigerian civil war.
It is a history a right thinking person will not like to remember . Since 1999 when we enacted the present constitution we have been managing ourselves peacefully. My heart bleed when I now see a replica of what happened in 1963 up to 1966 and the wide spread violence , the use of thugs is the major concern to any reasonable Nigerians because the amount of arms in circulation in Nigeria today , the amount of sophistication been adopted in our elections might constitute a social menace after the settling down of this dust.
Boys who are now being used as thugs , have no jobs and they don’t have any thing to fall back to after elections, therefore it is obvious that after elections the arms and dangerous weapon given to these boy can not be retrieve by the politicians that t gave them and the resultant effect of this ugly situation will not be palatable as they will continually use to arms for kidnapping and robbery of innocent Nigerians.
I am sorry for the country because today we have no bad lesson to learn. Look at Venezuela crises it was election issue, look at Yemen, it was election issue, look at Iraq they tried to force a change in government, look at Afghanistan it was the American scheming to get rid of the Talibans and as a result Afghanistan had been engulf in crises till today.
It is a fact that the developed nations are on daily basis developing arms and ammunitions and they don’t have places to test them so they will continue to encouraged global conflict . My major concern right now is that even the countries I mentioned above that are in crises, their population is not more than 60 million but Nigeria is over 200 million so in the event of crises which no body can rule out when fairness, justice and equity is being murdered in the broad day light like this, the consequences are grievous .
Venezuela that are so rich in crude oil , today they can not feed themselves as a result of crises. There was mass exodus of people from the country and as a result many of them died and the worst hit in the crises are children and women. I am appealing to the federal government to spare Nigeria from this looming disaster because governance will be difficult when the whole country is engulf in crises. How do you develop the economy when the country is on fire. How can jobs be created when the country is in perpetual crises.
How can a government emback on infrastructure development when major cities has been leveled. Some cities in Syria has been turn to rubbles . This is my fear as a man who is one year below 70 years.
In Kogi state where we conducted presidential election and national assembly, we won the whole seven local government in Kogi west, but house of assembly election they said that we lost the whole seven.
The leadership of PDP took a decision around 11 pm when we saw the gravity of thugs that was imported to Mopa town with sophisticated weapons , we reported to the police and they claimed that they were aware. When the ruling party was campaigning up to Friday night few hours to an election where their thugs are burning tyres and shoting guns all over the town , there was police and soldiers and they could no do any thing, we knew that the election on Saturday will not be peaceful.
Though we pacified our members and supporters not to retaliated even at obvious provocation. One of our PDP leader in Mopa was stoned by the APC thugs but we still endured it because we valued peace. In the broad day light the thugs were attacking and terrorising people in opposition parties.
We just have to take a terrible precautionary measures to avert death , massive death during the election which was why we the leaders of PDP called ourselves together and took a decision to boycott the election because no election worth the life of a single Mopa person. The decision may be hard but it is the best . I am too old to start having hypertension on an election I am not participating neither my children or any of my relations.
It is a simple fact that former Governor Ibrahim Idris passed through three elections without crises, the political crises we had in the central then , I was able to tackle it within three months of my stay as Acting Governor of the state. I supervised the conduct of an election without a single gun shut in Kogi central , but the story is not the same now.
Even the eastern and western part of the state that used to be peaceful during elections is not the same too, so where are we going? . Most of the crises in the world today is because justices had been strangulated by those in power. What happened in Kogi state during elections is a product of carefully planned and carefully orchestrated approach to ensuring that some people perpetrate themselves in power against the wish of the people.
If the people willingly bring you back like the case we had in Ibrahim Idris where he contested election in 2003 and removed a sitting governor , in 2007 he recontested and won but court nullified the election and in 2008 he recontested and won the election overwhelmingly without a gun shut or losing a soul of innocent citizens.
Captain Idris Wada was removed when he recontested by APC which was clear to every body without violence. I believed it is better we put the interest of the country or the state over and above any sentiment in whatever we do that concern the citizens. We should put aside things that will not add value to Nigeria. With the current political situation in the country , how many foreign investors will like to come and invest? No businessman will stake his hard earn money to invest in a country or state where there is political violence.
In Nigeria today, violence, kidnapping are on the rise, sectional war, Boko Haram are also on the rise. It is high time Nigerians should ask themselves where do they want the country to be in terms of development. If we can not strive to get our electoral process right by conducting free , fair, credible and peaceful elections then we have a long way to go as a nation.
If I contested an election that is free and fair , and I lost I will congratulate the winner because election is a game of number which can be liken to football where the loser in match walk to the winner and congratulated him and that does not mean that the loser today can not winner in tomorrow. Until we remove that notion that I must win an election by all means even at the detriment of the people , it will be difficult to get things right in this country.
Whom do we blame for all this political violence in recent time?
The Federal Government is to be blame because every thing lay squarely in the hand of the government. It is worrisome that despite the high number of political parties in Nigeria , only two parties are dominant and account for the 90 percent of the politics of Nigeria as the rest parties remained insignificant and since there is no opposition who now who will do the check and balance to put the government in power on its toes to deliver dividend of democracy to the people.
Nine month from now there will be governorship election in Kogi state , as a leader what do you think is needed to be done to ensure peaceful elections in the state?
I Clarence Olafemi if I am ask to give my opinion on the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi state, I will advised PDP not to participate in the election and if PDP did not participated it means that we have willed the election to governor Yahaya Bello so we must be contented with the governor for another four years, that is my opinion.
I staked over 60 million naira into this present political dispensation in the state. Both my money and the one donated to me I spent it. How will you now ask me to stake my money again into governorship election. As a leader of PDP in Kogi state if I can withdrawn my people from election in Mopamoro I can equally withdraw and refuse to participate in the governorship election.
The end result of election is what should be paramount in the minds of Nigeria. I can decided to quite politics and remain alone, but if such decision are taken by politicians across the country the implication will be that the country will not have quality leadership again until the system is completely changed.
Changing the system may contradict my decision . if some of us who have help in developing the state and the country at large start backing out then we are gradually moving to a failed state courtesy of the style of democracy being practice with impunity.
If the army can be complaining of the politicians using their uniform and AK 47 to unleash terror on the people, then it is shameful for a very important organ of government oweing up that they have failed because the security of the nation is paramount as part of their responsibilities .
The question is where were they when all these arms are coming into the country. The case in Mopa made the security agents helpless and the whole world is accusing the soldier for complaining of the security to have compromised their statutory responsibilities.
The police is even more guilty than the army because it is their sole responsibilities to ensure adequate internal security. In the Nigeria constitution the army has no role to play during election, but the police who have a role to play will leave those causing arson and be arresting those who are been harassed so as to win the confidence of their principals, we have that type of case in Mopa and I reported it the state commissioner of police where arrest are made on the eve of election.
It is annoying that the police were busy guarding and protecting those who carry guns and snatching ballot boxes. What we saw during the 2019 general election has discouraged me from Nigerian style of politics and if I back out which is obvious even if a good government come on board i will not be agile enough to participate.
Nigeria is already sitting on a keg of gun powder. Kano , Sokoto, Plateau , Benue governorship result are not yet to be declared, these are states PDP have won even River state. It is too glaring for people to see. The system has been compromised by the judiciary and the police.
Are you saying that politically Nigeria is doomed as a result of 2019 general elections?
I have said it over and over that what we are witness now was done in early 60s and the consequences befell the country. If we are repeating it 50 years after the ugly situation , you can not expect a different result if not worst. Nigerians should bear in mind that every action weither good or bad had it own consequence .
I am not a prophet of doom , but we should learn how to do the right thing in the interest of the nation else we will use our hands to push ourselves into a precarious situations. Today where are the likes of Sarduana , Tafawa , Chief Awolowo , Zik and the host of other who sacrificed a lot for the nation and weither we like or not we will join them one day where we will be made to give account of our deeds.
What advise do you have to PDP members?
Our members should remain calm and resolute because Nigerians can not tolerate one party system , the country is too diverse. I think it is better for us to be in peace than to be at war.