The Edo election may have come and gone but controversy still trails the outcome of the exercise. What is your take on the election?
I am not comfortable with the outcome of the election. And my reason is predicated on excuses given by the returning officers that came from different local governments for the cancellations of votes. Like an average of cancelled votes in each local government was about two thousand votes and all of them had reports of violence, ballot snatching; one even said he had an accident and the results were damaged. So I believe that coming from the report we had on TV and the expressions of the returning officers, it showed that there was a cynical, symbiotic relationship between INEC and those officers that came. You could see the lady on the left side of the screen talking to some of the returning officers. You could see a gentleman trying to tell the returning officers what kind of excuse they should give. It was premeditated kind of development. It showed that there was something going wrong. What it was I do not know but definitely something was not going on well and was not transparent and I call on the Tribunal to do something about it.
And considering the level of preparedness by the police with a deployment of 25,000 officers and other security operatives, coupled with the postponement of the election by two weeks, there shouldn’t have been any hitch because this excuses of cancellation of votes and reports of ballot snatching made a mess of all the efforts put in place by the security operatives and INEC. And we should not forget that these reported situations also negated the reports we got from observers and voters, who in their opinion revealed a peaceful exercise. To me this cancellation report only undermines the preparedness and gallant effort of our police for letting all these happen and they were not able to prevent them.
How will you assess INEC in relation to the outcome of the poll and other past elections?.
INEC is supposed to be an independent body but unfortunately the chairman of INEC has always been appointed by the president and most of the time there is no way the president won’t have a stronghold on the chairman. The issues concerning INEC are very clear. As at today if you compare the operations of INEC to what is has been just before the 2015 elections you will see that INEC has totally transformed itself into an institution that is not independent. During the Jonathan administration, we saw that former chairman; Prof. Attahiru Jega had a free hand and was able to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. Since Jonathan left, INEC has been in a barrage of inconclusive elections and we believe that the Edo governorship election would have changed the whole idea that we have had but unfortunately even with the very good operational execution of INEC during that election we could see visibly a total turn around and a repeat of the whole procedure again and that is from the collation centres to where the results are announced. Even on the screen, we could read the body language of those that were seated to announce the result one of whom was not conducting himself well by eating biscuit on national TV. Perhaps they are not following the president who says change begins with me. The man was eating biscuit while some others were chatting without proper culture; some said “let by gone be by gone, we know you are going to end up in court”, things that are not palatable. The set of people that represented INEC on the screen with all due respect lived below what Nigerians expected, to say the least.
Are you saying that INEC was more credible during Jonathan than the present administration?
Definitely, so far INEC was more credible, transparent and competent under Jonathan than now.
There has been so much emphasis on the anti-corruption war. What is your take on the crusade?
In every society there are a lot of corrupt people and I believe in Nigeria today we can applaud the president on his effort. However I believe there should be some kind of change in the way this anti-corruption war is being fought and I believe it is happening somewhat slowly. The problem of corruption bothers everyone but I see that the net of the anti-corruption crusaders should be thrown wider. Having said this I must say that the issue of corruption has always been fought by past administrations. May be in a different way but the way they have fought it has yielded results and we have seen what the money recovered were used for. During the Obasanjo regime, Yar’Adua, Jonathan you have a list of people that were being accosted for corruption. We had the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Joshua Dariye, Oransaye, James Ibori amongst others who are victims of anti-corruption war in past administrations. And most of the convictions that are happening now are cases mentioned in the Jonathan administration. I haven’t seen any cases of conviction in the last one and a half years of this present administration that hadn’t started from last regime, with lots of convictions. And the most important thing is that they were mainly from the ruling party then; there was nobody from the opposition. And remember that it was the ruling party then that created these anti-corruption agencies – EFCC and ICPC. So the instrument of attacking corruption, the processes were all created by the PDP; it is just sheer unjust to tag PDP as a party of corrupt people. The notion of PDP is we clean our house first before we clean others. But in this present administration it’s the reverse. You are trying to clean the opposition which has not yielded anything to the benefits of the people. You might say you have recovered three trillion from looters in previous administration but what has been done to the money? How has this impacted on the lives of the people? We have been fighting corruption on the pages of newspapers, on the podium, at international scene, a resultant effect that is bringing our economy down. And that is the major problem today. Nobody wants to come here and do business because of uncertainty, because of the way the president has painted us among international community. The foreign exchange is moving up rapidly.
So we can weigh all the indices. Are you better off today than in the last administration? Nigerians can decide. We have crisis in virtually all the facet of our society – religion, ethnic, political, finance and others.
Following the state of the economy, some have been calling for Nigerian’s withdrawal from OPEC, what is your take on this?
It is something I have always preached, especially when the country got into recession technically and now in official recession. I believe that if your people are suffering, it’s just the economy. If the price of oil is going down and you need a certain amount of money to keep running the economy what should be done is to increase production and expand market, which might also call for a reduction in price. And that should be the drive of this administration; it is to create indigenous drilling companies to compete with foreign oil companies so that we are able to drill our crude by ourselves rather than doing it in partnership with the oil majors.
Secondly, If we are member of OPEC and we have Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kuwait, Libya and others drilling close to 10 million barrel a day, what stops Nigeria from drilling same, especially looking at the population of these countries put together they are not up to ours, why is it then that we cannot produce up to 10 million barrels per day? And these less populated countries are controlling the major output in OPEC today, why? So my take is that we pull out of OPEC. Once this is done, OPEC countries will ask why and we will answer that because they have left us in the cold. We have the capability and reserve to produce 10 million barrel per day; we can run an oil rig.
The issues of dwindling oil prices, economic downturn have always been at the front burner of the Federal Government since 2003. During the Obasanjo regime, there was going to be a decline on the prices of crude internationally and that was why the PDP government invested in the LNG; Nigeria never knew before then that it could generate money from LNG; it was used to be flared. This investment in LNG by PDP made Nigeria an LNG exporting country. And this invested was made to cushion the decline effect of crude oil. So I charge our government on production of more barrels of crude oil, at least four times as we have today.
And I also want to call on the government to address the Niger Delta issue by awarding contract to securing the pipelines to the indigenes; this will forestall the vandalism. To do this an agency should be established which would solely be made up of Niger Deltans and certain allocation earmarked for it to continue securing the pipelines and what will it cost to pay 10 million dollars per month vis-à-vis you losing two billion dollars.
aimed not only at the destruction of the image of some members but a systematic destruction of the institution of the House of Representatives and indeed the legislature by portraying it to the public as an irredeemably corrupt institution.
“The chiefest motivation for his actions, as he has said severally and repeatedly is to have the four principal officers removed from their positions and not that the truth should be known”, Dogara informed the House.
He pointed out that it was TS Eliot who once said, “the last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reasons”.
“Unfortunately TS Elliot didn’t tell us what it is when someone does the wrong deed for the wrong reasons. These wild allegations which were initially directed at four members of the House Leadership progressively engulfed the entire membership of the House and then the Institution.
“We chose the part of maturity by maintaining great restraint in the face of all these, fully conscious of the fact that at the appropriate time, the truth will prevail. I have bad news for those who think they can pull down this Institution of the people. If history is any guide, no one, in a democracy has ever succeeded in destroying a democratic Institution such as the House of Representatives, although examples abound of such effort by people both within and outside the Institution. Ours cannot be different”, the Speaker said.
The Speaker’s speech attracted resounding applauds from the lawmakers, most of who had already passed a vote of confidence on him, such that Jibrin could not hide his likeness for the speech as he stood up in an ovation, claiming and hailing Dogara with commendable words, as the atmosphere was not tensed at all.
However Jibrin began sensing danger when the Speaker yielded the floor to the Chairman Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker Jev, to move his motion, where he prayed the House to refer the matter and Jibrin to the Ethics and Privileges Committee for proper investigation, which the House adopted, resolving that its findings and recommendations be brought to the House within one week.
The Speaker had told the House in his address that, “I have bad news for those who think they can pull down this Institution of the people. If history is any guide, no one, in a democracy has ever succeeded in destroying a democratic Institution such as the House of Representatives, although examples abound of such effort by people both within and outside the Institution. Ours cannot be different.
“Let me assure all Nigerians that the House is patriotic enough to understand the mood of the nation and the critical and sensitive matters of urgent national importance deserving our immediate attention.
“We will therefore not be distracted by any insidious antics however well orchestrated, and falsehoods however cleverly propagated to confuse Nigerians. We remain accountable to Nigerians for our conduct as public servants,” Dogara said.
These “Cabal” members were too strategic and spontaneous in all the games to finish Jibrin, Jibrin had played his last card before resumption, but the winning card was in the hand of the “Cabals”.
Tactically too, action moved to Ossai Nicholas Ossai – led Ethics and Privileges Committee, where the Jibrin refused to take due advantage to help his course as he failed to attend, give evidence and make his case known to all.
He had given stringent conditions upon which he would attend, including making the hearing public with the media, human right groups, civil society groups in attendance, which the committee granted, yet he refused to attend, rather chose to display evidence of allegations in the media.
Within the stipulated time, the committee was through with its assignment, laid the report before the House on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 and it was considered at the committee of the whole House chaired by Deputy Speaker Sulaimon Lasun.
Following the approval of that report’s recommendations at the plenary, from that date, Jibrin, stood suspended by the House for 180 legislative days, which is more than one full calendar year, in the first instance.
The House, also reprimanded and barred him from positions of responsibility in the House until the end of the 8th Assembly, in accordance with Chapter 9 (3) of the Code of Conduct. For members of the House.
The House also held that Jibrin would only be welcome back to continue with his legislative duties when he tenders a formal written apology to the House prior to his future resumption of duties in the House.
The House based its sanctions on Chapter 9 (1, 2 and 3) of the Code of Conduct for members of the House of Representatives and Order 4ix, Rule 1 (4) of the Standing Orders of the House.
The four points sanction recommendations were overwhelmingly carried by lawmakers at the Committee of the Whole and also voted for by members at the plenary without any dissenting voice of the nay, following a motion on the floor by Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila that the House adopts the report of the committee.
From his presentation at the committee, Ossai Ossai said that Jibrin and his matter were referred to his committee by the House, following a motion brought before it by Chairman Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, that Jibrin breached the privileges of the House of Representatives, that of its members, as well as the practices, precedents and usages of the House of Representatives and sundry acts of misconduct against the members and institution of the House of Representatives and National Assembly, as well as breach of provisions of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act CAP L12, LFN.
He informed the Committee that the complainant, Orker-Jev was at the Ethics Committee, where he tendered series of evidences including newspapers reports and DVDs of television interviews against Jibrin.
Ossai further said that Jibrin was invited to the committee, which he gave his conditions, including making it open with press, civil society and human right groups in attendance to witness proceedings, which it did, but he refused to attend.
He said in the report that during the course of the hearing, Jibrin failed, either by himself, his privy, proxy or witness to provide any evidence.
Ossai therefore said that his committee was left with no other option than to come up with its recommendations having granted him fair hearing opportunities and taken his letter declining his attendance as a defence against him.
From the findings of the committee, he said, the totality of the evidence before the committee showed clearly that Jibrin made the various press statements attributed to him in the motion referred to the committee.
“ The Committee found that those statements were broad sweeping without proof; consequently the Committee views those statements as injurious, scandalous and denigrating to the House as an Institution.
“Those statements taken individually and collectively serve to bring down the image of the generality of Members of the House in the estimation of Members of the public, thereby subjecting the House to public opprobrium.
“That the Committee considers that the actions of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, taken as a whole, amounts to an infraction of Sections 21 and 24 of the Legislative Houses (Power and Privileges) Act and the rules of the House.
“Further, the Committee finds that Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin breached the practices, precedents and usages of the House of Representatives in that the House has established procedure for expressing and redressing grievances which he didn’t follow.”
The report stressed that “the House as a self regulatory Institution has a mechanism or a procedure for any aggrieved member to explore in seeking relief to his grievances; even when such is against a principal officer or the topmost leadership of the House. This legislative process was deliberately ignored and abandoned by Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin for reasons other than patriotism.”
To seal what has been done and to tell Jibrin that no single individual can be greater than an institution, the National Assembly authorities the following day, Thursday September 29, 2016, through the Sergeant at Arms Department, sufficiently sealed the room 1.05 House of Representatives wing that served as Jibrin’s office.
The Sergeant at arms operatives took over that office and asked Jibrin’s aides to take their personal effects and that of their principal and vacate the room immediately, which they did.
Since then, Jibrin has not been anywhere near National Assembly, as he now talks from outside as ordinary Nigerian, while the House is carrying out its daily legislative and oversight functions accordingly.
Given Jibrin’s disposition, one can say that this is the end of Abdulmumin Jibrin in the House, as he may never apologise, rather place hopes that the court would grant him reprieve so that he can laugh last and laugh best.
However, it is not unlikely that this may never happen because of the power play and the united forces against Jibrin who is practically alone and on his own.