Chief Martin Onovo, a petroleum industry expert, an engineer and activist, is the 2015 presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and currently, the Head, Policy Positions, Movement for Fundamental Change (MFC). In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he spoke on the fall-outs of the November 11 governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states, the alarming free fall of the Naira and other crucial issues. Excerpt:
The Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa off-season governorship elections have come and gone. What is your general impression on the elections in the three states?
What happened in Kogi and Imo states cannot be called elections. It was questionable to participate in any election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the leadership of Alhaji Mahmood Yakubu. We support those that have launched the #EndINEC campaign. In Kogi and Imo states, we saw the abuse of security forces by the ruling party. In Kogi, we saw some INEC officers with result sheets completed before their arrival at some polling stations. In Imo, we saw the violent assault of Labour Party collation agents. We saw a Senior Advocate of Nigeria go to polling stations with security operatives to assault INEC officers and hijacked election materials in Imo State. We cannot ascertain yet if the security operatives are fake or authentic. We will presume that they are authentic until it is confirmed otherwise. What we saw was a celebration of crime, criminality, lawlessness and impunity.
How would you explain the victories of the two main ruling parties, APC and PDP in the three states?
We anticipated the victory of the PDP in Bayelsa State for very many reasons. These reasons include the political history of Bayelsa State, the performance of the governor in his first tenure, the endorsements he enjoyed by local and national political leaders, the organisational strength of his campaign and the challenges faced by his major opponents. As there were no democratic elections in Kogi and Imo states, the ruling party cannot claim any victories there.
What do you think accounted for the poor performance of the other political parties, generally regarded as smaller parties?
You are insisting that there were elections in Kogi and Imo states. But, the facts show otherwise. Please, is it part of the electoral process that INEC officers will arrive at polling stations with result sheets completed before their arrival at the polling stations? Is it part of the electoral process to declare fraudulent results that are different from the actual results from the polling stations? Is it part of the electoral process for a Senior Advocate of Nigeria to go to polling stations with security operatives, assault INEC officers and hijack election materials? You can only assess performance if democratic elections are conducted.
Despite the negative image of the ruling parties, APC and PDP, they have continued to dominate the political scene and even waxing stronger? Why is this so? Can Nigerians ever pitch their tents in the other parties?
We disagree on this. You cannot rig elections and claim that Nigerians are with you. If Nigerians are with you, you will not need to rig elections. The ruling party lawlessly dominates the political scene with violence and fraud. Democracy requires the rule-of-law and the integrity of the ballot. The ruling party violates both the rule-of-law and the integrity of the ballot.
What would you say accounted for the dismal performance of the Labour Party in the three states?
The performance of the Labour Party can only be assessed if there are democratic elections. The Labour Party will perform very well if the elections are democratic. The Labour Party won the last presidential elections with a very wide margin, but INEC published fraudulent results in favour of the ruling party.
Could you assess the performance of INEC and security agencies in the just-concluded elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states?
INEC has continued to act with impunity in favour of the ruling party. It was INEC that sabotaged the BVAS and IReV systems to conceal the fact that the Labour Party won the last presidential election. With the sabotage of these systems, INEC proceeded to declare fraudulent results in favour of the ruling party. The performance of INEC is intolerable and we support the #EndINEC campaign. The security agencies have the leader of the ruling party as their Commander-in-Chief. The ruling party lawlessly abuses its control of security agencies.
Could you please explain the further depreciation of the Naira as against the Dollar in the last few days? Would you say that Yemi Cardoso and his team are not failing Nigerians?
The Nigerian economy Is import-dependent and the Tinubu tyranny is incompetent, unpatriotic and prodigal. We warned Nigerians repeatedly against the reckless removal of the PMS subsidy. With the removal of the subsidy, hyper-inflation followed and depreciation of the Naira followed exactly as we predicted. Further depreciation continued for many reasons, including the incompetence of the Tinubu tyranny; the activities of speculators; the rush for FOREX to mitigate the loss of Naira value, etc. The Cardoso’s team in the CBN is ideologically ineffectual and professionally weak. Their neo-liberal orientation is inappropriate and has failed repeatedly and will certainly fail again. Professionally, the team is over-dominated by commercial bankers that lack central banking orientation.
How do you see the handling of the recent assault of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president, Joe Ajaero, in Imo State by the Labour Movement, the Imo and Federal Government and the police authorities?
The assault of the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, by the Police and Imo State government’s thugs is a failed attempt to intimidate all Nigerians to silence. The response of organised labour with a national strike is strong and appropriate. The claim by the Imo State government that the NLC was interfering in Imo State politics is tantamount to an admission of guilt. The redeployment of the Commissioner of Police by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is cosmetic. He should face disciplinary actions. The Police Area Commander that led the team must also face disciplinary actions. All the policemen, Imo State government officials and thugs that participated must be investigated and charged to court.
How did you receive the Supreme Court judgment on the presidential election appeal?
We were not surprised at the judgment of the Supreme Court. Remember that we earlier heard the judgment of the same Supreme Court on the 2020 Imo State governorship election and the 2023 Ahmed Lawan senatorial nomination. In these cases, the Supreme Court disregarded the facts and our laws and delivered outrageous judgments. Therefore, we knew that we could not trust the Supreme Court as presently constituted to consistently deliver justice. It is not acceptable to us that the Supreme Court will use technical jargons to reject the facts and disregard the spirit and letter of the Constitution. From the composition of the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) and the Supreme Court panel, it was clear that the leadership of the Nigerian judiciary had violated the Constitution and skewed the panel to favour the party in power. It is our considered opinion that the Supreme Court panel was unlawful and so lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. That makes the judgment legally void. The panel clearly violated the constitutional Federal Character requirement. It is beyond doubt that Jagaban Tinubu was not qualified to participate in the election on several grounds, including perjury, forgery, citizenship of Guinea, forfeiture of $460,000 proceeds of narcotics trafficking in Chicago, USA. The overwhelming majority of Nigerians know the facts. A dysfunctional judiciary cannot change the facts. Jagaban Tinubu was not qualified to participate in the elections and he lost the elections woefully. He was a very distant third. Even Jagaban Tinubu himself knows this. Both local and international observers reported the fraud. The international community knows this and international news organisations have published these very widely. Even the BBC did a report on the fraudulent results in Rivers State. According to Afenifere, the Supreme Court ratified brigandage. We agree with Afenifere. According to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, it is a judicial enthronement of criminality. We agree with her. According to Dr. Olu Fasan, Ph. D (Law@LSE), the Nigerian judiciary is corrupt and dysfunctional. We agree with him. According to Hon. Justice Dattijo Muhammed, JSC, “It has been in the public space that court officials and judges are easily bribed by litigants to obviate delays and or obtain favourable judgments’ ‘. We also agree with him. Nigeria has been rightly classified as a failed State. The next step is complete collapse and the Supreme Court has initiated the complete collapse of Nigeria. The members of the Supreme Court must accept responsibility for this. (Sunday Independent)