Senator Smart Adeyemi is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation and represents Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly. In this interview with some Journalists, Adeyemi explains why he is pushing for the abolition of the same faith ticket by political parties in fielding presidential candidates and why President Muhammadu Buhari will sign it amongst other issues. SUNDAY ISUWA was there.
How possible is it for President Buhari to append his signature on a new electoral amendment a few days to election?
You should understand the concept behind the amendment to the electoral act. It is not to undo what has been done. As it is today, you cannot go to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC ) to withdraw anybody’s name. The time for changing of names or substitution of candidates is over. However, we are trying to look at this: putting in place a legislative provision that will make it compelling for political parties to take into consideration the sentiments of Nigerians. As lawmakers, we have the responsibility to make laws for good governance of the country, not just for good governance but laws that will enhance the peace and unity of the nation and by extension, a nation where people will be united and live in peace. After Shettima emerged as running mate, a lot of apprehension and fears by the Christians came up. Some Christians have to refer to Abiola and Kingibe and said the situation at that time which made Christians not to talk about it was that Nigeria was not as troubled as it is today; the insurgency, banditry and other problems that emanated from Boko Haram were not visible. Today, Churches have been pulled down and of course, quite a number of mosques and Imams have equally been killed. But in politics, people look at probably what concerns them; they don’t look at what the other person is talking about. So I felt there was the need for us not to allow religion to be an issue. And the major thing is to give confidence to all the major faiths in this country. The problem we have today is there are leaders but they don’t know this country. They know Nigeria from the angle of their communities, zones and visit to some cities, but mine is different. No one can tell me that Christians are more than Muslims or Muslims are more than Christians. I just read a book written by a white man. He talked about religion in Nigeria and he said Nigeria is made up of half Christians, half Muslims. And I think he is very correct because people speak out of ignorance. There is no state in Nigeria I don’t know. I don’t want to go into the percentage of Christians and Muslims in each state. But if there is going to be any religion that will be more than another, it won’t be more than five percent. So Christians and Muslims are well spread. But I think we don’t require that. Nobody cares about who is the President as far as there is freedom of religion. What we have experienced in this country, when you seem to see a domination in appointments or contracts, people tend to be apprehensive.
If you throw up one inadequacy in the current act, people will begin to point out others and seek a plethora of amendments. Take the issue of diaspora funding for instance. Have you taken this into consideration?
It’s just one or two lines that will be added to it. The amendment is not seeking to reverse the train that is already on track. We are talking about the next dispensation. The proposal is not about Tinubu or Shettima. Laws can not be retroactive. It is futuristic. If you commit an offence before a law is in existence, you will be judged by what was available that time. What we are proposing is in order to ensure the peace and stability of Nigeria. Because in this country, you have a large army of pastors and Imams who probably have no jobs. So they look for opportunities like this to ignite problems so they can be seen to be championing their faith. I love this country and I don’t want Nigeria to break in pieces. I want to see Nigeria where there is justice, fairness, equity; where whatever is good for the north is good for the west and for the east. I want to see a nation where everybody will be proud to say I am a Nigerian. This can only happen when there is fairness, equity and justice. APC deliberately zoned the presidential slot to the South so that there can be peace. And that is why some of us have remained in the APC. The northern governors came together and said there was an agreement that power should rotate to the South. Well, other parties are having problems now because they don’t believe in the unity of Nigeria. For the Northern governors to come together to say all aspirants should concede to the South, I think they deserve commendation. If you look at Tinubu -Shettima, the two of them, they have something to offer. For you to assess an individual, you first of all look at his antecedent, what people think about him, what he has said about himself, then you draw a conclusion. The antecedent of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to me, he has the credentials required to govern Nigeria. He succeeded in setting the governorship structure in Lagos where Christians and Muslims rotate governorship, where Igbo, Hausas hold political positions in Lagos.