•Ajimobi Preaches Peace in the Daytime, Sponsors Violence at Night
•19 additional states coming
“I will say that if there has been any marginalisation, it has come about because of the APC, specifically the policy of Senator Bola Tinubu’s ACN, which instructed its members in the National Assembly, specifically in the House of Reps., to work with the dissident wing of the PDP and the ANPP in those days and CPC to work against South-west’s candidate.”
Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory and President’s Jonathan’s Campaign Coordinator in Oyo State, is a quiet and unpretentious person. Last Monday when the WESTERN POST’s team of TUNDE RAHMAN and SHARON VINCENT met the minister in her Jericho, Ibadan residence, she was in her good element-calm and quiet, seemingly at peace with herself as she met one group or one politician after another. But when the interview got underway, it was a different Olajumoke, fluent, firm, fiery, blowing hot and cold at intervals. She spoke on a wide range of issues-President Jonathan’s chances in next week’s election, his chances particularly in the South-west where he recently met virtually all the major traditional rulers in the zone to seek their support, the perceived marginalisation of the Yoruba at the centre in Abuja, the promise of implementation of the report of Abuja confab, her grouse with Governor Ajimobi and her relationship with the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in Oyo State, Senator Teslim Folarin…
As the Coordinator of President Jonathan’s campaigns in Oyo State, how do you assess his chances of the president in the presidential election come March 28?
I’m absolutely certain that His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will win the second term, the much-deserved second term on March 28 nationwide with a very comfortable margin. It may be a reduced margin from the over 22 million votes he garnered in 2011. But it will still be a very comfortable margin. In Oyo State especially I will just say he will carry the day, he will have a clear majority of votes in Oyo State by the grace of God.
What about his chances in respect of the South-west specifically?
In the South-west, the South-west is PDP. I always laugh when people say it is an APC stronghold, then I want to see what that really means because if you look at Ogun State for instance, Governor (Ibikunle) Amosun has lost all the three senators in the state, he has lost the APC leader in the state, Chief (Olusegun) Osoba, he has lost his deputy governor. He has lost so many people in the House of Representatives and even in the state’s House of Assembly. If you look at Oyo State, the two APC Senators and one PDP Senator: out of the two APC Senators one has defected to PDP and the other to Accord. So when you have massive losses like that, where is the stronghold? For instance tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17), we are going to have a decamping ceremony of some stalwarts of APC to PDP here in Ibadan. In Lagos, at best I would say it’s 50/50. Jimmy Agbaje and the president have given a good account of themselves and the Lagos people are the ones asking for change because the APC under the leadership of Senator Bola Tinubu has proven to be a parasitic leadership, sucking the blood and the commonwealth of the South-west.
But the people you are relying on to draw support for the president in the South-west are the traditional rulers, some older politicians like Chief Ayo Adebanjo and OPC leaders like Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, Chief Gani Adams, do you think the Yoruba will listen to these people and support the president?
You see these people together with the PDP governors, politicians, Labour Party, Accord, SDP is a very broad-based coalition of Yoruba leaders and voices who are representing the yearnings of the Yoruba people. You must get it right, that it is the Yoruba people, who for the past 40-something years or since the 1960 coup, has been talking about restructuring this country on the basis of equality and fairness, on the basis of letting every regime decide its future and move its development in accordance with its resources, its talents and its vision. So these people are not talking in a vacuum, they are voicing what the Yoruba people wants and I know that the Yoruba people have found it in President Goodluck Jonathan by his convening that national conference, by his promise that he is going to actualize and use that document as his manifesto if re-elected. They have found a champion who will get a jail-free card for the Yoruba nation to free us from the political and economic bondage that a unitary Nigeria, which is masquerading as a federal system, has put the Yoruba nation under.
So it is not about whether somebody is old or young, we are all Afenifere in Yorubaland and we are working for the same goal with all these people.
Pro-Jonathan people like yourself Honourable Minister talk about the recommendations of the national confab in Abuja and the president’s resolve to implement those recommendations as if the president can go it alone, forgetting that these recommendations are subject to the decision of National Assembly. So if, as it were, President Jonathan does not have absolute control of it all, how can you now be promising full implementation of the confab report?
What Mr. President is saying is that this is the document that was fashioned out and agreed to by the consensus of over 500 people in Abuja who sat for four months in Abuja and came from all over the country, representing every single segment of this country and every tendency, and as such it is the true authentic voice of the people and it’s not right to say oh we are only going to do some parts, we are not going to do some other parts. I don’t think anyone can say he or she has a greater wisdom than all those men and women and young people who sat down and debated and came to an agreement on the way forward for a new Nigeria. Now in that document, I have had the privilege of being a member of a committee that His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan has set up under the chairmanship of the Attorney-general of the Federation and Minister of Justice, one minister per zone. I represent the South-west there to look at the recommendations and to sort out those that have to be implemented by the Executive, which relate to policy and administrative actions and those that need legislations that will be passed on to the National Assembly and those that need constitutional amendments that require both the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to work together on and those that are for states only to execute and will be obviously discussed at the National Economic Council under the chairmanship of the vice president himself. And this is the beauty of democracy. There is a document that Nigerians have agreed to and have signed unto and say this is what we want and Mr. President has accepted the will of the people and has vowed to do all he can to make sure he uses all the weight of the power of the office of the President and his party, the PDP, to actualize this dream of Nigerians. It is up to any political party to boycott the national conference like the APC did and they have said that they do not want to have anything to do with the document. So it is at your peril if you go against this document because it is the beauty of democracy and politics when the people have spoken. If you refuse to hearken to their voice, they will punish you at the poll. So the President needs the National Assembly but the National Assembly are also politicians and this document has something in it for everybody. For example if you look at the creation of states, it says equality of states, it says equality of zones, nine states per zone, so the Ibadan people are going to get their own state, the Ijebu people too, likewise the Nupe people will get their own, the Idoma will also get, everybody is going to. It is a win–win, so this is something where everybody wins. So how is a member of the National Assembly, from say Benue or Niger, going to oppose such a document that will deny people their own heartfelt aspirations and so on and so forth? The document talks about Independent Candidacy; that in itself is going to change the political landscape of this country because people will not be beholden to any god father. They will be presented or supported by their local communities and funded by those who believe in them, they don’t have to worry about widespread, it’s a local thing, you can just be a councillor in your ward and that’s what you are concerned about. So if you have this kind of people who are being presented on the basis of merit contesting, then of course political parties would have to also field candidates of equal quality, appeal and merit. So it is going to up the ante and raise the bar. This is the change Nigeria needs, not a change from South to North but a structural change that will once and for all assure every single Nigerian equal opportunity, fairness before the law and in terms of political structure of this country.
To demonstrate sincerity and to show that it is not just an attempt to grab votes, why is it difficult for the President to immediately implement those recommendations that only require policy like you said? Why?
Well, you know it is difficult to please people, the conference finished and the report came out towards the third quarter of last year, well after the middle of 2014 and it takes time for it to be studied and digested. That is what this committee is doing because again, government policy is going to be far-reaching and has to be well debated and crafted, and it’s not something you rush and if you had rushed it people would have said oh it is not well thought out because implementation is another thing, the devil is in the details and the conference is giving broad direction, broad-based policy direction. You have to now work out how it is going to affect every part of the country, we have a multi-cultural and religious country, so that work is going on, and President Jonathan is taking his time to make sure that he gets it right and he is not somebody who rushes to act because of political gain. Yes, a lot of politicians will give you half-baked vision because they want to grab the headlines to gain cheap popularity but I think the president has spoken. He is a man of honour and said he would he convene the conference, he did so. He believes in the outcome, he did not influence it in any way. He has said that he will implement it, he will have four years if elected to do so and he will take his time and consult properly and make sure that any policy, any programme, any legislation, because it will have to be Executive bills that will go to the National Assembly, are well considered. So that is the answer to that because I know some people have said, why didn’t he start to implement it as quickly as possible. Governance of a country, as complex as Nigeria, takes a little more thoughts.
One of the recommendations of the confab is the creation of additional states. The President’s people, including yourself, have been assuring the Ibadan people that they will get their own state. But how viable will additional states be now when the ones we have are gasping for breath?
Well, you should ask the 500 statesmen and women who made that recommendation. It is not for me to second guess. I’m sure, among them, there were renowned economists, people from all kinds of discipline. You see, we have states, as you know, we even have a full country like Singapore that is not even as big as Lagos State, so it is not the size, it is not how big, it is how well you manage your resources and that managing your resources and optimizing your commonwealth is the real issue in whether you are big or small. It is a function again of restructuring this country in such a way that the system, the institution produces the kind of leaders that are competent, patriotic, honest, principled, that will drive this country forward and make us a first world country. So, I am not worried about the size of having 54 states, instead of the 36 states. You have a state like Niger State which land mass is large, in fact twice bigger than Oyo, the wealthiest state, which is Lagos, has a very little land mass but a lot of population. So it’s not a function of whether it’s big or small, certainly Ibadan State is a viable state. Ibadan -Ibarapa is viable, we have enough land, we have a lot of people than many countries, than most European countries in just Ibadan and its environs. And we have good politicians that will translate to good leaders.
In the 2011 election, President Jonathan enjoyed tremendous goodwill from the people generally. He was massively voted for by the people of Lagos State for instance, which was ACN state then, and now APC. At that time, the people were like Fashola for governor, and Jonathan for president. In this space of four years, this goodwill has been squandered to the point that President Jonathan now has to struggle to come back for second term. Does this bother you? What really happened?
Well, if you look at democracy all over the world, you will not be surprised. It’s a normal phenomenon. If you remember, let us take an example from the country that we all admire and in some way emulate- the United States- which runs a presidential system like us. In Obama’s (US President Barak) first election, he was like a demi god, even those outside the country, outside the US, if they had a vote, would have voted for him and he would have gotten majority votes from those outside the country. He swept the votes, he had a smooth sail. But in the second term, he struggled to get it, that is the nature of first term election. When people vote you in for the first time, there is a lot of euphoria, a lot of their aspirations bound up with your candidacy. But the actual business of governance is much more tedious and painstaking and especially if you are one like President Jonathan, unlike Obama who tried to do one thing, he tried to reform the medical system in America and because of that his popularity rating soared. Mr. President is running on a transformation agenda, not one sector but almost in all sectors of this country. The power sector, the transport (the railway), the aviation sector, and trying to create employment in a situation where we have a global economy that is very challenging. He is trying to do a lot of things at the same time deepening our democracy. This is because this is what we need today if we really mean what we say that we want Nigeria to be one of the 20 largest economies in 2020. We are already the largest in Africa. And he has the challenge of Boko Haram, which was enough to have derailed anybody. George W. Bush when he had the challenge of al-Quada, the economy of the US was aground. He took his eyes off the economy and focused on security. He was concentrating only on solving the security of the nation and as a result, the Republicans lost the election because the economy was so bad. But in our own case here, the Nigeria economy became the biggest economy in Africa, even in spite of the fact that the North-east is obviously not contributing what it used to contribute to the Nigerian economy because they were under insurgency, in spite of the fact that a lot of the capital and money was going into security. And so, I’m a member of Cabinet and I know that the President was focusing on security but also focusing on the rest of the country. The President was busy working under very challenging circumstances and he had his head down with his team. And the opposition are very idle, they are mostly jobless and they have a lot of time to do propaganda, lies, misrepresentation, etc. But you know the truth catches up with their lies once people hear what this President has done. And I make bold to say he is the most performing president that Nigeria has ever had, when people hear all that has been done under this administration; in education for instance- 12 new universities. Nigeria, in the last 100 years, we had 24 federal universities; in four years, President Goodluck Jonathan set up 12 new universities. So in four years, he did half what could not be done in 100 years, nine of them in the North and you say the North will not appreciate that. Of course, they will appreciate and once they all also know the Mambilla Power Station is going to add over 3,000 mega watts to the national grid, Zungeru in Niger State is adding over 700 mega watts to the national grid. These are mega projects costing billions of dollars that the North has been asking for, to diversify the production, the generation of power in this country not only with the gas in the South-south but to also use the hydro power with the two big rivers we have in the country. This project has been on the drawing board for many years, nobody touched them. This President has touched them and Mambilla is going to be commissioned by the end of this year.
We have new rails as opposed to the ones that were laid by the British during the colonial days. The President has refurbished those rail lines and more transformative. The first fast train has been laid between Kaduna and Abuja. The work is finished; we are waiting for the running stock that will come in three month times. You can now live in Abuja and work in Kaduna or live in Kaduna and work in Abuja, 40 minutes fast train. The second is going to be Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge full fast track trains.
Talking about the South-west, the complaint has always been marginalisation. Some of the Obas the President met recently also reportedly complained about marginalization, they complained that even some of the ministers we have were given second-rate ministries. What is the promise of the President on this issue?
First of all, I will say that if there has been any marginalisation, it has come about because of the APC, specifically the policy of Senator Bola Tinubu’s ACN, which instructed its members in the National Assembly, specifically in the House of Reps., to work with the dissident wing of the PDP and the ANPP in those days and CPC that came together to form the APC to deny the South-west of the speakership that was given to them and specifically zoned to Oyo State. So if there has been any marginalization, it is the APC that should be punished for it. Because they connived, colluded and financed it. There is a Yoruba saying that says you can’t beat a child and ask the child why he is crying. That’s number one. Number two, the President then tried to make amends, because he finds out that when the national caucus is making decisions, there will be no Yoruba person there, because the President, Vice President, Senate President, the Speaker that the Yoruba should have had, we lost out in it, the SGF and Chief of Staff none were Yoruba. So the President had to relinquish his own personal slot from the South-south, that’s the Chief of Staff’s position. He had to relinquish that and gave it to the Yoruba nation in the person of General Jones Arogbofa. So you see he has done what he can and in terms of the ministries that were given to the South-west, the South-west had never had an Agric Minister, we now had one for the first time who is doing a pretty job by removing the corruption and rot in the fertilizer importation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is not a second rate ministry. Well, that is the nature of things, remember our colleague, late Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru, Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga who was formally a Minister of Finance, and now Trade and Investment Minister who is doing a fantastic job, revitalizing the industry. Now we have automobile industry, we now make new made in Nigeria vehicles for the first time since the exit of Volkswagen and Peugot, we are transforming. So much is happening, how can we say that is marginal, we heard that the, this President created the first ICT Ministry in this country and is headed by a Yoruba woman from Ondo State, Mrs. Omobola Johnson to bridged the digital divide to make sure Nigeria compete well and has density in terms of internet penetration and e-governance and today’s internet use is widespread and it’s evident by all the chats that goes on in the social media. This is the President that gave them the means and platform to do that and also has signed the Freedom of Information bill. That is the nature of democracy and he is deepening democracy and don’t be surprised that Mr. President is very proud and he smiles when people abuse and castigate him. It is because he allows them that freedom and he is proud of that. They have the right to express their wrong opinion, their mis-judgment. But talking about the ICT today, the internet speed in Nigeria, in certain areas in the city, it is faster than in some parts of Europe. Today when I go home I don’t see my kids in the living room watching television, they are in their bedroom streaming directly on their laptops, on their phones from the internet. So this is an achievement. It’s been a silent achievement.
You blame the APC at present, ACN then, led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for marginalizing the Yoruba, but how could the Yoruba have produced the speakership based on five members they produced in the House of Representatives in that election. Don’t you think it’s the Yoruba people who rejected PDP that should take the blame?
No, I don’t agree, you know because even if every single member in the House of Representatives is PDP from the South-west we still don’t have the numbers to ensure we get the speakership.
But five members couldn’t have been strong to make such a demand.
No it’s not only five members, we had an alliance, if you remember, the Accord who had four members, we also had the Labour Party, I don’t know how many members they had from Ondo State then, who were in alliance with APGA members from the East. So what I’m saying is that even in the South-west, you just say PDP I agreed had four members all from one state, but we also had alliance with other parties from the South-west. But the point here is you had somebody who was using the resources of Lagos State, which are quite formidable, to pay and to induce both his own members and members of other opposition parties in the North, tapping into the discord in some parts of the North, which resulted from the fact that President Jonathan won that election, which manifested in the death of some NYSC members. So cynically, he tapped into that discontent to form an unholy alliance to rob the South-west of what is justified for them. What I’m saying is if somebody was going to unite against the South-west even if they are in opposition, it should nt be Yoruba people.
Talking about Oyo State specifically, now the allegation is that you, as President Jonathan’s Co-coordinator in the state, and the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin, are not on the same page. That you are working against the PDP governorship candidate. What is your reaction?
That is politics for you. People make a lot of allegations that are not true ad I tend to think that some of our competitors in the political arena in Oyo State like to say these things to fan the embers of discord. Everybody knows that it is the normal scheme of things that the president will have his team. The Presidential Campaign Organization in Abuja House, the Legacy House, the party, PDP is doing its campaigns in Wadata Plaza in Wuse Zone 5. And it goes down the line, in every state there is a presidential campaign team, the governorship candidate has his own campaign team with its own Director-general. The Senators have their own campaign teams, the House of Reps. have their own too, everybody, even a State House of Assembly candidate has his own team as well. But the party is part of everybody’s team, so why should Oyo State be different. We have a presidential campaign team headed by myself; the DG of Senator Teslim Folarin Campaign team was the leader of my faction when we had factions of PDP, that is Right Honourable Asimiyu Alarape. The house that they use as the campaign headquarters was our faction’s headquarters and office too. So, how can people say there is a split between us? Senator Teslim Folarin and I just laugh whenever I read these things because we work together very closely, very harmoniously and there is absolutely no dissent. What we do know is that the president is campaigning on his record against General Buhari who is also campaigning on his record and the two cases must be made to the Nigerian people to make their informed choices. When that election has been done, and President Jonathan, God’s willing, has won, definitely it’s going to help Senator Teslim Folarin in his own election. So we are working towards the same goal and we go for many functions together. We were together at Oluyole campaign on Wednesday. We were also in Ibadan North campaigning together, me and Senator Folarin. Then on Thursday, we would probably go to different places because there is a lot of ground to cover in Oyo State and very little time.
But you were alleged to have brokered a meeting between Senator Ladoja and the First Lady Dame Jonathan at which you told the First Lady that only Senator Ladoja can deliver Oyo State to PDP.
That is a misrepresentation of what happened at a closed-door meeting, which was before the primaries. This was at as time when the APC just came together, four parties I think, and a lot of us felt at that time that Accord was an offshoot of PDP and Labour Party in Ondo State came from the PDP and that these parties should now be re-absolved back into the mother party so that it will strengthen PDP. So that was the thinking at that time. The meeting was not about who should be governor of Oyo State, the meeting was about seeing if we could have a merger of Accord back with the PDP and that obviously did not succeed. We now have our candidate; all the parties have their candidates and I’m solidly behind my candidate Senator Teslim Folarin.
What are the chances of that your candidate, Senator Folarin, in this governorship election?
Honestly, I will tell you that at the beginning I think we had a lot of ground to cover, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly we have bridged the gap and I know that today he is one of the frontrunners if not the frontrunner. Very, very competitive and he is young. He doesn’t have a lot of baggage and we have worked very hard to cover grounds and as I said, when Mr. President wins, which I am sure he will win, that will also give the much-needed push forward for Senator Teslim Folarin and get him a win as our next governor in Oyo State.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi has accused you specifically of not properly presenting the situation of things in the state. I can’t remember the specifics, I know there are issues around the pensioners’ case, which he accused PDP and other opposition parties of trying to misrepresent for want of a better way to put it. My question is- what really is your grouse with the APC administration in the state under Governor Ajimobi?
It is not by me. It is not my grouse with the APC in Oyo State, if there is any grouse, it is the grouse of the people of Oyo State that has clearly rejected this government as anti-people, as elitist, as insensitive and they want Ajimobi’s administration out of Government House, out of office. And if he has not paid salary, not paid pension and people are being threatened not to speak up and to keep quiet; that is anti-people. It is dictatorial, it even borders on fascism in contrast with my own candidate, who is the president, who people abuse at will and nobody is afraid that they will be victimized or their land will be revoked in Abuja or their contract will be cancelled or they will be sued. You know in Oyo State today there is an atmosphere of fear, everybody is being threatened to shut up. How can you not debate? The right of the citizen is to express his view at the time of election and to punish or reward politicians at the polling booth (when they vote) so Governor Ajimobi should know that this is a day of reckoning and even if you are coercing them not to speak, then they will speak with their votes. If there is a grouse that I have with Ajimobi, which is personal, it is that he preaches standard on the platform of peace during the day, but at night, he sponsors violence, using the NURTW and thugs in Oyo State to uproot opposition party and this is not just PDP, all the opposition parties have the same story to tell.
How sure are you about these allegations?
Well, it is for the Police to investigate these allegations. You know what happens a few weeks ago in Accord when they were having a meeting. So we know that in Oyo Federal Constituency in day light, the caretaker council chairman of Oyo west, I believe, led thugs to demolish the billboard of the President, because his boss, the governor, was going to come to the area the next day, and he wanted to show him how loyal he was. This just clearly shows you the danger of appointing people to offices that was due for democratically-elected officials. The man clearly has no business being the council chairman. This is Ajimobi-led government that for the first time, I think, in the history of Oyo State, from the beginning to the end of his tenure has not conducted election for local government chairman.
But virtually every governor has not conducted local government election.
I have never heard of it in Oyo State that four years there has been no election whatsoever. I don’t think that has happened in Oyo State before.
It’s peculiar to virtually all the states.
I am talking about Oyo State this is a fascist government. APC we know them in Lagos today. I hear that as a journalist if you speak against them, they will dig out your tax records and the next day they are on your door. We know their tactics, the first thing they do is attempt to bribe you, and if you refuse, they will intimidate you and if you refuse to succumb to their intimidation, the worst thing might happen to you. The Nigeria people have a choice: do you want a president who is known for being fair, tolerant, law abiding and a true democrat? Or do you want a president who would imprison people without charge, without trial and they will be there for years with no end in sight as to when they will be released especially journalists and weak Nigerians?
Now that you have mentioned that now, what do you think is that major difference, that major deciding factor in the race between President Jonathan and General Buhari?
I think that the major difference is that General Buhari, one he is too old, out of touch, out of tune and is being supported by people who are adept at manipulation, at propaganda, giving wrong information and lies. I think that for some reasons he contested in 2003, 2007, 2011 and now 2015. There is a kind of strange, rather bizarre; it’s sinister to me, I mean his insistence that he must be president of Nigeria at all cost even when it is clear that he is a sectional leader and he is not acceptable by a majority of Nigerians. I don’t think he has anything to offer us. I think the change they talk about is a disguise to saying that power must return to the North. President Jonathan, on the other hand, is humble, gentle, focused and determined. He is a president who wants to take Nigeria from the Third World to the First. He wants to lay down the institutions in a democratic manner that will change this country for good, which is what transformation is all about. I always laugh when I see them shouting change, change and I ask do you know what transformation is? Transformation means radical change, irreversible change for good, because you could have a change for the worst. It makes me laugh when they are saying change. President Jonathan sees a future where women have equal opportunity with the men, a future where the young people are prepared and a successful generation to take over the reins of power, a future where Nigerians is united, a future where Nigeria is for all of us, where nobody is a second class citizens, where it does not matter where you come from like him, who is a minority from the minority even in Bayelsa State, and he became the President of Nigeria. For me, this is a dream that is worth pursuing, that is a vision that I want for my children and my grandchildren. Jonathan is for the future, Buhari belongs to the past.
Finally the election was postponed for six weeks and now it’s holding next week, how do you access the level of preparedness of INEC in this election and particularly in the context of Oyo State?
It is clear to me that INEC was not ready for the elections for many reasons. One, one-third of the voters in this country have not been given their voter cards and they are in excess of 27million voters. A lot of those voter cards have not even reached the shores of this country as at that time I mean February 14. Two, the voter cards that were distributed were skewed. We had the North-west having eighty something per cent distribution even with the North-east where there was insurgency getting seventy something per cent distribution. Then, you come to the South, in the South-south and South-west, no state had more than Fifty something per cent as at that time-February 14. Worst still was the most populous state in the South-west, which is Lagos State, which was recording thirty something per cent, Ogun thirty something, Oyo forty-nine percent. How can that be? We suspect it was a tale of two cities. Cards were given to village heads in the North in bulk to distribute for their people while in the South people were asked to come personally to collect their cards. Wives were not allowed to collect for their husbands; parents were not allowed to collect for their children, you have to collect it yourself. It was stressful and frustrating; you go two or three times you get tired. People just lost interest. I know that these card readers had not even being tested then, they only tested them about a week ago or so. And the test has revealed that the card readers are only good for only one thing, which is authentication of the card itself, that it is issued by INEC not cloned. It is of no use whatsoever in terms of identifying the bearer or holder of the card by finger-printing because it is recording something like thirty percent, forty percent, even fifty percent failure. People will be rubbing their hands on sand several times to thumbprint, they thumbprint ten times and they still can’t authenticate somebody.
But some of the machines were not fully charged, that could be the reason.
No, that was another problem I know the machines were not full charged but I’m talking about authenticating the fingerprints, there was forty, fifty percent failure rate. Now even more than five percent is unacceptable because what happens if somebody is not authenticated, then you bring out a piece of paper and you ask them to start filling in their names or the electoral person will fill it for them. A lot of people are not literate even if they are, it takes time. I challenge them to give us those figures, zone by zone, of accurate percentage, that is what will give Nigerians the clear picture. INEC should give us our voter cards at the polling units. They should come to the polling unit and distribute the voter cards.
Based on all these allegations, are you one of those who think that the INEC has failed Nigerians and Chairman Attahiru Jega should be removed?
Well I think that INEC has clearly failed and that is what every Nigerian thinks. They should do their best to remedy the failure and their mis-steps and be fair to every segment of the country. I don’t know about being removed; we have a law that put him there and the law should be followed, that is not for me to decide, but I think INEC has let the people down badly.