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Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, has revealed how he, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, joined forces with former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, to mobilise members of the 5th National Assembly to kill the third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007.
Speaking with a team of The Sun editors in Government House, Katsina, at the weekend, Governor Masari said the reluctance of Obasanjo to leave office, after two terms of eight years, led a super power nation to lobby Nnamani and him to reject the 2007 flawed presidential election, with an offer to support them to emerge as interim President and Vice President respectively.
Explaining what transpired behind the scene at the twilight of the Obasanjo administration, Masari said he had to join others to defend the overall interest of the country, rather than promoting a selfish agenda.
According to him, “we started a journey from 2003 to 2007. Immediately after 2007 election, Ken Nnamani and myself, and some few others started meeting. PDP was so pervasive in the polity that it failed to reform. I know the role we played – not only about stopping the third term, but also to sustain the 2007 election, as bad as it was.
“I think Senator Ken Nnamani and myself deserve some recognition, as we not only killed the third term, but also saved the 2007 election. An international election monitoring team led by a senior official from a super power nation  invited us to a meeting, with Ken Nnamani, some senators, and myself and told us there was no election in 2007. Indeed, the 2007 elections were flawed, and really there was no election. And I said, ‘yes there was no election.’ And they said, ‘why shouldn’t you move against the present government.’ They said we should use our chamber to make a declaration that there was no election. I said we would not do that because the constitution has not given us power to do that.
“I told them that we had stopped third term and if we took that road, the President could simply declare a state of emergency. On the 29th of May 2007 our mandate, as legislature, would expire; the President would be the only one the constitution has given the right to remain in office to conduct a fresh election. I said we had exercised our own power to kill the third term, but if Nigerians could organise themselves, the whole nation can call on the National Assembly and give us extra constitutional powers, which I knew was impossible to do.
“So we really rejected that idea; even a motion was suggested that we should call for another election; but we said we would not do that, because we knew the consequences of condemning the election; it would throw the country into chaos. Those in government were not people who were friendly to us. But we made the sacrifice because of the nation. We knew that only God would protect us from them. We took that decision so that we didn’t throw the country into confusion. In fact, we even refused to table the matter at the House to debate it, whether there was an election or no election.”

On the election, he said: “Clearly, there was no election. In 2007, there was no election. People were only brought into office by the former president. This is because elections were conducted on ballot papers that were not numbered. Yes, they were just papers, which I can print here.” 

Expressing worry over how political parties are run without reforms in Nigeria, Governor Masari said it was wrong for those with executive powers to run political parties. His words: “The governors determine the leaders of the party, leaders with full executive powers, not ceremonial leaders, but they should be ceremonial leaders; the power should rest on the working committee of the party. When the party became ceremonial, the governors became executives of the party; the president was chief executive officer of the party at the national level.
“We pushed for reforms in the PDP; the party didn’t want to do convention to even elect (Vincent) Ogbulafor. They had no intention to do so; we pushed through our reform agenda and eventually there was convention that produced Ogbulafor.”
Speaking on how best to run political parties, the governor said: “Instead of ceremonial heads, we should have executive officers of the party. So, if the party decides not to work, it is the party that has chosen not to work, certainly, not because of the interference of the president.  Let’s say we are still in the process of perfecting our democracy.”
While calling for an improvement in the nation’s electoral system, Masari adjudged the 2015 elections as one of the best in the nation’s history. According to him, “I think apart from 1999 elections, 2015 election was the best. But then some former military leaders were beating their chests that they conducted better elections than politicians themselves, probably referring to elections of 1999. But the election of 1993 was seen as accepted by all to be fair but was annulled by the military; so it is the only credit they would have been getting, but today we have the card reader, and I’m sure Nigerians have already started working on how to make card readers better in 2019. I hope INEC is also trying to reinvent itself to come up with more scientific ways of conducting elections.
“I do believe that if we stand with the course, we would reach that destination. For us, the means must justify the ends. Process is better than outcome. If we do that, Nigeria would be a better country for us.”
Also commenting on the violent clashes in parts of the country, the governor said: “It’s surprising that over 50 years of independence, we are still battling with identity. In some states, they call you settler. I don’t know what settler means; so a settler means a foreigner literally, because it means that you are not entitled to what other people considered as indigenes get.
“Go back to history 100 years ago, everybody must have come from somewhere. So it’s an issue of you come in the morning, I in the evening. So we don’t need all this struggle, all this trouble, all this fight. There’s no way you can avoid someone who has been here for 100 years.
“The sooner we find accommodation for ourselves in this country, the better. In any case, what percentage of the country’s landscape have we used? Not more than 40 per cent.
“America is great as a result of collection of so many cultures, so many brains, so many intellectuals coming in. Now you sit here and say ‘somebody from Kano is a settler in Kaduna or Bauchi.’ Ridiculous.

“On our own part also, if you go to settle in a community, the first thing to do is to understand their culture, and their tradition and their religion. There is too much preaching of enmity in Nigeria by different so-called leaders – political, religious and traditional. The worse one is coming from religious leaders.”

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