Less than 200 days to 2019 presidential election, Nigerians have been challenged to chose between poverty, hunger, disease and prosperity, security, progress in their decision on who should lead the country ahead of the forthcoming election. The former Military Administrator of Benue and Kano states, Col. Aminu Isa kontagora (rtd) threw the challenge in reaction to the prediction credited to a US Institute that President Muhammodu Buhari will win 2019 election. Col. Kotangora spoke exclusively with The AUTHORITY’S JIBRIN MIACHI in this interview where he urged Nigerians to give their mandate to PDP, saying the party will give them a new page. EXCERPTS:
2019 political dispensation is around the corner. Despite the fact that various parties have held their primary elections, from all indications are we likely to hold general election?
We in the opposition are still hopeful that the electoral body will conduct free, fair and credible election. We are not unmindful of the antecedents of the recently conducted elections in Ekiti and Osun states, the by-elections in Kogi and Bauchi states. We have seen the antecedents of the ruling party and the use of security forces. Every student of politics should read the indices of a credible election long before it is conducted. And from even the body language of the ruling party, there are indications that they are jittery and not too fully confident to go into the general election. Our fear is that their jitter should not turn into panic. Once there is panic, we may not have a credible election. So, we have been following events, monitoring them closely and marking them man to man until the end of the general election.
But talking of free, fair and credible exercise, many eligible voters are still complaining about not having their voter’s card.
INEC should take over the air wave by now before November when the contestants will start crisscrossing the country seeking for votes. At that time the voices of the politicians will be louder than that of INEC and any perception the politicians proved to the voting community, it will stick. And if by any chance it is not favourable to INEC, whatever INEC does, people will hardly believe it. So, I believe INEC should now come out, go to air, assure Nigerians of a credible election, assure Nigerians that the process will be transparent and every step they are taking should highly be publicised as it was done in 2014/2015. That gives the election some level of confidence. But if they should remain quiet, then people will say, we told you, we have had no much confidence in INEC. I believe they have their name to protect. So, we believe INEC should be more proactive.
Besides Nigerians, even international communities have raised alarm over political violence in 2019 and listed some states including Kaduna that will experience crisis. What is your take on this?
Definitely, the stakes are high in some states than others. Some states are generally prone to violence. If you look back at all election violence in this country, some states are prone to violence. So, we expect those ones, even under normal condition to present some concern. Where I am afraid people will not keep quiet is that people are now enlightened and they will want their votes to count. Where hanky-panky takes place, people will show anger. Already we are in a state of anger because of the prevailing poverty and people are now going into that election to make change. This is the actual election for change out of a situation where all the promises made to them were not fulfilled. So, they want to go and make a change. If you try to truncate that change, I am afraid, that is the likely area where violence will erupt. But if you allow the people to exercise their rights to vote who they want and the right to get correct result, Nigerians are not that mad, there will be less violence.
You must have read the assessment of Nigeria ahead of 2019 political dispensation and prediction by The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that Buhari will win 2019 election. What is your reaction?
You are a Nigerian. You and I are here. You don’t need an institution in America to tell you how bad it is now. If we accept to continue to be in this condition, well and good, it is the choice of Nigerians. And if that is what they will vote-in the current government for, it is well and good. I will tell you a joke. I met with a Cameroonian when they said Paul Biya was going to go for the 7th term, they said yes let him continue, they know there will be an end one day. So, if Nigerians are ready to say okay, let us continue the way we are, it is okay. Hunger has no boundary, kidnapping has no boundary. Now you are about rushing home. If people prefer that conditions and they vote the ruling government, then it’s all well and good. It is their choice. But we are giving them an option of prosperity, security and progress.
From all indications, what are your expectations in 2019?
Victory all through for PDP because we are promising Nigerians a new page and they will see it. We can do it better.
Let us come back to Kaduna. The problem in Kaduna has been a source of worry for people within and outside the state. Just recently a first class traditional ruler was killed. What is your reaction to security situation in Kaduna?
The level of criminality is very high in Kaduna. There was nothing religion, nothing ethnic in the recent crisis. They were more of criminal activities going on. I stumbled on somebody who said if that crisis could have been allowed to last for another two days, it would have been worse than what people think. There was nothing religion. It is between the have and have-not. That is how the crisis is playing itself out now – the have and the have-not. That is why you see kidnapping. In the rural areas you see kidnappers kidnapping people in urban areas. The bulk of our situation, poverty is gradually grinding people to a halt. So, the sense of reasoning is shallow. No job, no market. That is why the crisis is boiling.
As a former leader and security expert, what is the solution?
Good governance, good economy and justice to everybody, not to a selected few. That is all. We will sail through good governance and good economy. That is what people want to see. People are not interested in who sit in Aso Rock, their interest is if they leave house today, they will come back with something in their pocket or stumble on a job to do and get something. That is what people are interested in. Who sit in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House is not their business, as long as they can go to Kachia market, come back safe and go to Kujama market the following week and make some little profit. That is all.