LAGOS, Federal Republic of Nigeria. (Daily Independent) — The presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Martin Onovo, in this chat with Special Correspondent, Ignatius Okorocha, faults the candidacy of both Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) saying both men are not fit to contest the March 28 presidential election, as they are the problems of this country.
With other strong contenders in the race, how do you see your prospect of winning the 2015 presidential election?
Well, I must begin by saying that my party is the oldest in Nigeria today. NCP was founded in 1994 by the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi in defiance of the military ban on politics and he was arrested for it. The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was founded in 1998. So, the National Conscience Party is the oldest party in the country without any dispute. That is Number One. Number Two: The NCP has a legacy of justice, integrity and national development. A legacy we are very proud of. Number Three: If you have a free and fair election in Nigeria today or anytime in the near future, I will definitely win for two reasons. The NCP has presented the best candidate and, two; the NCP has popular support of Nigerian voters and not noise. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why we will not win in a free and fair election. If anybody thinks we are not going to win, it is because the person is anticipating rigging the election.
In a free and fair election where people vote according to their conscience, I bet you, the NCP will win and that is what we are anticipating and that is what we are working towards. We anticipate free and fair elections for the first time in Nigeria. Don’t forget that the Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has said it that Nigeria has never had a free and fair election since 1999. Everybody knows that and the courts have confirmed that. What we are saying is that in a free and fair election, we will win.
What advantage do you think you have over the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan of PDP, and Muhammadu Buhari of APC?
The two personalities are actually the problem of this country. One is too old, too sectional, very weak with several unresolved questions on his integrity, starting with the N25 billion audit report of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), his certificate and source of his campaign funds. He was unable to protect his government when he was the military Head of State simply because Idiagbon was absent. If he could not protect his government, how can he protect us from Boko Haram?
When you are leader, you became the leader of all sections and sectors, not being sectional. A leader is not necessarily an infantry. A leader is one who is able to take the right decision at the right circumstances and motivate the people to achieve the set objective. That is the leader. It is not the highest mathematician or Army General.
The other candidate has been in power for about five or six years and the whole country and the international community have concluded that he is too gentle and every development index has degraded under him starting with the naira value, with poverty index, and unemployment. Which index has improved in the last five years? Do you know that according to the government, the poverty rate published and approved is rising every year? Do you know why? The National Bureau for Statistics that publishes the report is a government agency. So, it is not an opposition party. So, this orchestrated mass deceit funded with trust fund cannot deceive any logical person. This government is the most catastrophic since independence. So, it does not make sense to continue with it. This government is ruining us. The life expectancy for men now is 49 years according to WHO (World Health Organisation) report. This government must go.
Given your spread across the 36 states of the federation, do you think you can win this election?
Yes, our spread is 100 per cent even in the war-torn areas. We have a functional party chapter in Borno and other parts of the North East geo-political zone. We have in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Our spread is 100 per cent.
The limitations we clearly have, which you and I know, are funding. We are the only party that is funded according to the law in Nigeria. The law regulates the funding of political parties. The first step is that political parties are supposed to be funded by its members, its supporters and its well wishes and Section 91 the Electoral Act is very clear on the funding of political parties/election financial limits.
Now, we have issues with the party is power. The first is that they got to power illegitimately. The second is that they have sustained corruption in power; and the third is that they are channelling stolen funds to election campaign. The fourth is that they are violating the Electoral Act 2010 and it can easily be proved. The fifth is that INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) is a docile collaborator with the ruling party. If INEC is not a docile collaborator with PDP, the commission would have disqualified the candidate of the ruling party for violating Section 91of the Electoral Act.
You can only have a democracy if you have the two pillars, the rule of law and the integrity of the ballot. In Nigeria this criminocracy lacks rule of Law. It lacks the integrity of the ballot. When you are violating the constitution, violating the Electoral Act, how can you have a democracy? You can only have a democracy if you comply with the laws. That is the first rule. The second is that after you have complied with the laws, you have to maintain the integrity of the ballot. It is not to go and write results and announce simply because you have the control of the government institutions, which is an abuse in itself, which another offence. So, you find out that it is a continuous decent into lawlessness and near anarchy that we are witnessing in Nigeria today. Because of the lawlessness of our political rulers, the ordinary people too are becoming lawless because they are following their leadership. If their leadership leads them to integrity, which is what my party wants to do, they will follow us to integrity. But as long as the illegitimate and corrupt rulers lead to corruption and lawlessness, they are going to follow them because they are followers and that is the situation.
Look back at the 2011 elections, how many seats or states did your party win?
Our party will only gain seats in a free and fair election. If the ruling party continues to rig elections, how are we going to get seats when they will not rig in our favour? They will rig in their own favour. The last presidential election of 2011, for example, was rejected in every state of Nigeria and violently rejected in 17 states. It was politically rejected in 36 states, but was violently rejected in 17. So, anybody trying to use that as an indication of the popularity of his party, he is trying to engage in deceit.
In which states do you expect to get the highest votes to enable you go to the Villa?
Well, because we are a national party, our support is widely based. We are going to get a large voter-support from the North, particularly.
What is your take on the agitations by groups and political parties that led to the postponement of the elections as earlier scheduled?
Well, it is the responsibility of INEC to fix date for elections and so we must allow the commission to do its job. We cannot override our constitution without amendment. The only way to go against the constitution is to amend it and we urge all political parties to comply with the law.
Given your loss of confidence in the electoral body, what do expect from the commission in the forthcoming election?
INEC had opportunity to learn in 1999. It had opportunity to learn in 2003. It had opportunity to learn in 2007. It had opportunity to learn in 2011, yet the commission has refused to learn. It is not that they didn’t have the opportunity to correct the electoral fraud. Rather, INEC is unwilling to learn, because, they have pecuniary, parochial and political interests.
I view of these misgivings by the commission, are you calling for the scrapping of the present electoral body for a new one to be emerge?
No! How do you do election without INEC? What we are saying is that we are reporting things the way they have happened. We are saying that INEC has consistently, not once, issued certificates of return to people who failed election as confirmed by the courts and not as confirmed by NCP. The court has confirmed severally that INEC has been issuing certificates of return to people who failed election. Anambra is one case; Ondo is another case. Ekiti is also another case and Osun is another. But that does not mean that INEC is not the authentic authority to organise elections in Nigeria and that is our position. Has INEC done that constitutional responsibility excellently? The answer is ‘No’. What are we supposed to do? We are calling on all Nigerians not only to vote, but to secure their votes.
Can you mention some of your party’s programmes that you intend to pursue if you eventually win the coming presidential election?
My party has a 10-Care programme to offer to the Nigerian populace. In the 10-Care programme, we have Employment Care, Housing Care, Healthcare , Food Care, Water Care, Transportation Care, Telecommunication Care, Electricity Care and Security Care. These are the programmes of our party and those programmes are developed to abolish poverty. So, our mission is to abolish poverty using the 10 Care programme.
When we improve all these 10 Care items poverty will progressively be abolished. How do you progressively abolish poverty? If we reduce the poverty rate from the current 70 per cent to 35 per cent in two years and in the next two years we reduce it to 15 per cent and we win election again we reduce it to six per cent; and we win election again we reduce it to two per cent, we have abolished poverty. We will banish poverty within our two terms in office and Nigerians see for themselves that poverty has been abolished in the land because that is our mission and we have develop the strategy. We have also developed accelerated development agenda which spelt out the strategies for achieving this 10 Care which will ultimately lead to abolition of poverty in Nigeria. On power we have a development plan of $9billion to end the current electricity problem in the country. We will reduce maximum wage which is the political office holders earnings we will reduce is because what they currently receiving is sinful because in a country where the minimum wage of the average Nigeria worker is N18,000 per month and pubic functionaries go home worth over N2 million is sinful and we will reduce it so as to elevate the minimum wage and compress the inequality index.
One of the biggest challenges confronting the Federal Government is insecurity. If you emerge as the president, how do you intend to end the current insurgency in parts of the North East?
That is one of the simplest problems to handle because the first thing is the diagnosis. Why do we have this insecurity and I can say that we have insecurity because failure of governance. This is a natural consequence of an illegitimate and corrupt government. How many men does Boko Haram have? How many fighters? We out number Boko Haram 100 men to one. That is number one. We have nearly a million armed fighters. How many fighter does Boko Haram have? That’s the first question. Secondly, if the hunters in Gamburungala and the hunters in Bigtive are able to kill Boko Haram, why are our security forces not able to contend with Boko Haram? The answer is leadership problem. Change this leadership and Boko Haram will go away. Retain this leadership, Boko Haram will continue to degrade the way it degraded to this level. That is a clear choice we need to make.