Junaid Mohammed, elder statesman and Second Republic federal lawmaker was a delegate to the 2014 National Conference convened by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. In This interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he spoke on why the recommendations of the conference can’t be implemented and other issues. Excerpts:
insecurity in their states, some governors have been negotiating with bandits and in some cases, giving them money. Do you think this is a right approach?
It is not. I believe it is a very dangerous trend. It shows that the governors are not sincere and they have underfinanced the security system even though they make billions of naira in the name of maintaining security. Essentially, they have been stealing the money which was earmarked for security. So, I don’t accept the idea of negotiating with bandits. It is a bad idea and I believe instead of paying off the bandits, they can finance the police and assist the DSS and other security organisations. It shows what will happen in the state if governors are allowed to set up their private policemen. It is going to be disastrous and make Nigeria ungovernable.
Some Nigerians are calling for the implementation of the 2014 national conference as a way of addressing some of the challenges facing the country. What is your take on this?
Those saying that, have they read the report? Has anyone of us who attended the conference told Nigerians what aspect we want to be implemented? I was at the 2014 national conference. I represented Kano state which is one of the two biggest states in the country. I had been involved in several conferences in the past and even after the 2014 conference, we also had another one here in Kano concerning the state. As far as I am concerned, that 2014 confab is a fraud. What they are purporting to be the report is a fraud. Most of the issues that we discussed which were rejected were brought back into the final report through the backdoor. They did that with the full cooperation of the then President Goodluck Jonathan. But we defeated every issue they brought even though we are in the minority. If you want to have a constitutional conference, one, it must be a representative of the whole country so that people don’t feel marginalised especially those who are in the majority in the country. The north has been in the majority in the country even before 1914. You cannot have a constitutional conference in which the North has been reduced to minority in the country and you say you are having a constitutional conference. And in spite of that,we still defeated them.
In fact, I want somebody from the South to become the President and attempt to implement the report of the 2014 conference; we will kick him out in no time. You cannot be a democrat and pretend that it doesn’t matter who are the people who constitute the majority in the country. Democracy in itself means credible free and fair election. Whatever we do, that principle must be represented. If they want to try it, let them try it. It is one of the gimmicks that Jonathan attempted but he failed. In fact, initially, the idea in the North here was that we should not attend the conference but we thought doing so may lead to the break-up of the country and we don’t want to be held responsible historically for that kind of very serious step. So, we went, we saw and we defeated them.
Do you think it is morally right for a northerner to aspire for the Presidency in 2023 after President Buhari must have completed his two terms if he survives the judgment of the Supreme Court?
What do you mean by morally right? Politics and morals are two different aspects of human endeavour. First and foremost, if you know my history, from the Second Republic, I have never supported the idea of zoning or rotation. Though many Nigerians accept the idea of zoning or rotation, I don’t. But at the same time, the South East has not accepted the principle. PDP accepted the principle because they want everybody to have the opportunity to steal public money. They want it to go round. If Nigerians are serious, if a party because of zoning should put forward an unpopular or unacceptable candidate, they should simply refuse to vote for him. But in a democracy, saying we should dedicate certain positions to some people in what is supposed to be a democratic free and fair election is wrong.