Senator Shehu Sani, a pro-democracy activist and a member of the Senate from Kaduna State in this exclusive interview with the Managing Editor, TheLead Online, Ajibola Abayomi speaks on the recent honour conferred on the late winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief Moshood Olawale Kasimawo (MKO) Abiola and other sundry issues. Excerpts.
As one of the pro-June 12 activists, how would you react to the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to honour late Chief Moshood Abiola, the winner of the election 25 years after the poll was conducted?
What President Muhammaudu Buhari has done is a welcome development. It is commendable because he has been able to do what his predecessors failed to do however you cannot divulge his actions from the political motive of trying to garner votes from the south west during the next election. The very fact that the government has been three years in office and has never deemed it fit to honour June 12 until an election year shows that there is an attachment of political motive to the action. In all, it is a positive move. It should be appreciated. What I would say is that the recognition for Abiola and June 12 should not be the yardstick to measure the performance and achievements of this government. Nigeria is faced with political, security and economic challenges and that should be faced.
With the body language of Mr President, don’t you think he is ready to ensure free poll by 2019 because till date June 12, 1993 poll still stands as the freest election in Nigeria?
He has no option. The government was a product of free and fair election. If ex-president Goodluck Jonathan could organize an election that led to his defeat, there is no reason why a government that came on the mantra of change and it has been ascertained to be more credible than the government it succeeded should not conduct a free and fair election. Nigerians want free poll and will resist any attempt to manipulate future election. I believe the Chairmen of Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu is credible enough because he is a man with credibility. The subsequent elections that have taken place from 2015 till now have clearly shown that that the commission is independent and ready to do its job. That is why I do not share the position of the middle belt and the southern leaders calling for the removal of the INEC boss. He has not shown any attitude that suggests that he will manipulate the poll. As for President Buhari, he has historic duty to either match or beat the record of Jonathan’s administration in the area of election.
Some other persons have argued that it was not enough to honour Abiola with Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) but that he should be declared as former President, do you share that thought?
That was what we have been clamouring for over two decades. There is need to declare the result and announce Abiola as ex-president. Not doing that still leaves behind vestiges of injustice despite the recognition. Although recognition is a step forward, those of us who remain faithful for over two decades must simply continue to apply pressure until that is achieved.
President Buhari is a member of your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), how would rate his performances?
As a president, he was able to score some points. There are areas he has succeeded and there are areas he has failed. He has succeeded in the area of economy and has been able to curtail the Boko Haram to small area of operation in the nation. He has reshaped the image of the country. He has demonstrated ability to complete abandoned projects. But he has failed in the area of ending the violence in the middle belt, part of North East and North West. Herdsmen are still killing people with so much bloodshed. He has failed in holding government accountable as expected. He is very autocratic with his onslaught against the parliament and the onslaught against opposition. There is discriminatory and selective justice in the country. These are the areas he has failed and he should improve on them.
Are you not also bothered about the crisis in the APC?
The party is in shambles and a disaster under Chief John Oyegun. It does not in any way reflect what it has promised Nigerians. APC delivered containers of change that it has promised Nigerians but forgot to keep one for itself. It has been unable to change itself. It has failed to demonstrate example of probity accountability and transparency. It progresses was a disaster and it approaches to governance was a disaster. Its track record was also a disaster. APC has failed in a number of ways under the leadership of Oyegun.
You are so passionate about development in Kaduna state, your home state such that you even rejected an award pending a change of attitude to governance in the state, those things you desired, are they being done now by Governor El-Rufai?
Kaduna state is an example of where the APC has failed. You have a governor who is arrogant and completely detached from the reality of the society. We have one who clinches on and continue to clinch on his relationship with the president and someone who has nothing to deliver. These are the examples of pollutants we brought to the party and parade them as progressives. He is progressive and he is fighting the labour? He is a progressive and he is sacking the teachers? He is progressive and he is retrenching workers? So all those things that are anti-progressivism are what you find in him and that is why we can not in any way stay in same boat with him.