Isah Misau, Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, represents Bauchi Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
Better known for his conflict with the ex-IG of Police, Ibrahim Idris, the lawmaker, who lost his bid for re-election, speaks on the general elections and why the All Progressives Congress (APC) should avoid the mistakes of 2015 in the sharing of principal positions in the 9th National Assembly, among several issues
What is your assessment of the 2019 general elections?
I participated in the presidential election and contested election into the Senate. I dare say that our leaders are not what they preach. If you look at the presidential election, a lot of things happened. There was intimidation of voters; we had open use of money with video evidence to prove that; even in a state, we saw the Commissioner for Finance giving money to the people to go and vote on the day of election. And for the security men, they were aware of some of these things. They said they did not take action because they were waiting for the Independent National Electoral Commission to tell them to arrest. But when it comes to the opposition, you would see their overzealousness. What I am saying is that the presidential election was not free and fair. Some candidates were going to the governor to get clearance, begging him to be declared winners. What is the connection between the governor and INEC?
For the first time, the election in Bauchi State, for instance, took many days for results to be announced. I participated in the 2011 and 2015 elections. Within 24 hours, you got your results because there is nowhere in the state that you cannot enter within eight hours. If an election is concluded; within eight hours, you will find out that somebody should be declared a winner. But we know what happened.
And for the governorship election in Bauchi State, the governor (Mohammed Abubakar) was openly defeated. He is a Muslim; I don’t know why he doesn’t believe that power belongs to God and He gives this power to whoever He wishes.
Therefore, he should know that God has decided to remove that power from him and give it to somebody else. Even the person taking the power should know that it is temporary; it is just four years. If you don’t do well, they will wait for you and at the end of your tenure, they will decide what to do with you. It is a lesson for everyone in power. Four years is just like two days.
The spate of inconclusive elections has assumed a norm in the electoral system of Nigeria. Where did the nation get it wrong?
If you look at the term inconclusive election, it is not even part of our laws; it is not part of our constitution. The constitution states clearly that when somebody wins with clear majority votes, that person is declared a winner. We are just lucky that inconclusive elections didn’t cause violence in Nigeria. There is no way somebody will win an election and you tell him that it is inconclusive because you have cancelled votes somewhere. Was he the one that cancelled the votes? INEC is the one that cancelled the votes; so, it cannot punish somebody for what it has done.
INEC cancelled those elections and there are reasons for cancelling those elections. You cannot say you cancel a unit because of over-voting and you say you will come back and conduct another election in that area. Even in the INEC guidelines, once there is over-voting, you cannot do election there because the fault is not from the candidates; the fault is from the people who allowed such a thing to happen. If you look at it, it is not in our laws. INEC had four years to prepare for the elections and it did not do anything until it was six months to the elections.
Why wait for one year to the election time before INEC will start sending its budget to the National Assembly? Why not start preparing early, especially the sensitive materials, the ballot boxes and other things? Why can’t INEC even cooperate with the National Union of Road Transport Workers or other transport agencies instead of waiting for every four years to buy new cars that will work for one or two months? At the end of the day, nobody even knows where those vehicles are; whether they are auctioned or not. Every four years, we continue to buy the same materials.
What should be done to discourage this emerging trend of inconclusive elections?
I think what we are supposed to do is for the National Assembly to bring up a law that will state categorically that where someone wins an election, the person should be declared a winner, unless there are places where voting did not take place at all due to card reader malfunctioning or unforeseen circumstances like natural disaster.
But if there is a failure of card readers and other things, the law says the following day, you can conduct the election.
You were in the 8th Senate and you could not make it back to the 9th Senate. What would you be remembered for?
I don’t know what Nigerians will remember me for but I know I have done my best. I have never seen black and called it white and I have never seen white and called it black. I don’t do that because of my upbringing and my security background. That is why I saw the kind of injustice the government was trying to do to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and I supported him 100 per cent. I have no regrets. For not winning a re-election, I am not bothered. I left the Nigeria Police and went into politics because I saw the injustice in the police and I was thinking that in politics, I will be able to correct those things. I saw that even in politics, it is still the same thing; it is just the Nigerian society. I have done my best. I am happy and not bothered because power belongs to God. I always believe that nobody can stop me from winning election and nobody will say he is the reason why I lost the election.
Will you challenge the process that led to your defeat in the court of law?
We are going to challenge it. The processes from the beginning to the end are flawed. I have so many grounds against the person who won and we have already taken it to court. Whatever is the case, we are happy with what we have done in the 8th National Assembly and I have no regrets.
The elections of principal officers in the National Assembly are coming up soon. What do you expect?
The only thing is that if the APC didn’t stand firm, there would be a repeat of what happened in 2015. They became nonchalant until when the thing had happened.
You had a serious fight with the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Do you have a personal grievance against him?
No, I was just doing it for Nigerians and for the country. I was just doing it to correct the system. Even while I was in the Nigeria Police Force, I never met him. But as the IGP, I had given him many pieces of advice in writing. It is just that when you know something is wrong and you know you have the capacity to correct it, you will do your best to change it. A lot of people in the Nigeria Police look up to me at that particular time because they could not talk and I didn’t want to disappoint them.
How dïd you feel when you were accused of leaving the police without following laid down rules?
It is even embarrassing to the country and the police that somebody, who left the Nigeria Police Force after more than seven years as a superior police Officer, you didn’t know his whereabouts until when he started challenging the system.
Even when I won the election, the then IGP, Solomon Arase, wrote a letter to congratulate me.
Do you think that Nigeria should be restructured?
When we talk about restructuring Nigeria, it can be in many forms. It is just a big word. Restructuring for what? In Nigeria, we just don’t obey the laws. You can restructure some things.
What are the things you think should be restructured?
Whatever we see that is not working that needs to be amended by law, we should amend it. We are still a developing country; so we cannot be in a hurry to attain the position of America or the United Kingdom within a short period; it is a gradual process. But the first thing I want Nigerians to understand is that we are all the same; religion is just a belief; tribe, a basis for communication. Once we are able to understand that all of us are one and united people, we can achieve anything. This country is one of the best in the world.
What is your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade?
I have always said that we have not seen anybody in four years being prosecuted under this fight against corruption. A lot of corruption is taking place in this government and they have not been taken to court because the government or the system is shielding them. For me, we still have more to do in the anti-corruption crusade. – Culled from Punch.