Interim Government Will Erase All The Gains We Have Made Since 1999 – Sagay

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Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the controversy on whether a Presidential candidate must score at least 25% of all the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (FCT). He also shares his thoughts on the statement by the Department of State Services (DSS) on plot to install an Interim Government. Excerpts:  

The debate on whether a presidential candidate need to score 25 per cent of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory to emerge winner of Nigeria’s presidential election is still ongoing. What is the position of the constitution on this thorny issue?

The debate on 25 percent requirement in FCT to be declared a winner in the presidential election is a needless one and it is most uncalled for. There is no constitution in this world in which you give one state or entity of the country a veto power over the rest of the nation. Those who are mooting the 25 percent requirement to in FCT are desperate people who have found out that by all other parameters, the laws have been fulfilled with regards to this election and we must go to the next stage which is the presidential inauguration. The inauguration is inevitable by law but they are so much desperate to stop it. There is so much desperation going on in this regard and I think it is unfair.

So are you saying the constitution doesn’t say that getting 25 percent in FCT is a criteria that must be fulfilled before a candidate is declared winner?

Nigeria’s law is very clear that where you are not satisfied with the outcome of an election, you should go to court. How is it possible for one state to be so important that no matter how well you perform in the other 36 states, it becomes a stumbling block because you didn’t get 25 percent there? The proper interpretation is that you should get 25 percent in two thirds of the states; the states in this regard includes the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). So, if you make your two thirds in other states without making it in the FCT, it is irrelevant. You have made and qualified to be sworn-in as president. Those who are raising this issue of 25 percent requirement in FCT are just doing it out of desperation. There is a desperate spirit somewhere absolutely trying to ensure that the inauguration does not take place. Instead of simply waiting for it to simply take place and then they can go to court and lay down their arguments. So, the argument on 25 percent requirement in FCT to be declared winner is absolute nonsense.

The DSS today said it has confirmed plots by some political actors to introduce an interim government in Nigeria. What is your take on this?

When people do not get what they want, then they resort to doing anything that will frustrate the winner of the presidential election. That is the way they are looking at it now. They don’t care about the consequences of an interim national government. Interim government is not democratic; It is an imposition. Once we allow an interim national government, we have lost everything we have gained since 1999. All the records of democracy that we have been able to assemble since 1999 will just be dashed to pieces. We will start crawling again towards democracy. Those plotting interim national government are not interested in that. The immediate thing is that they don’t want power to go to the person who has been declared as the winner of the election by the appropriate authority. They are not looking beyond their noses. That is why I said there is a level of desperation that is incredible going on in the country.

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