‘Politicians Should Conduct Themselves According To The Rules’
President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, Bala Bobboi Kiagama, told CHARLES AKPEJI in Jalingo, that the election can be rancour-free if politicians play the game according to the rules by desisting from mixing religion with politics and engaging in campaigns of calumny and character assassination.
WHAT is your take on the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) position that elections might be postponed in areas currently bedeviled by insecurity next month?
Fortunately, INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, did not added Taraba as one of those states where elections might not take place as a result of the ongoing security challenges in the country.
He listed Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and we are aware of what is happening in there. But that is not to say that we are going to disenfranchise our fellow brothers and sisters in those states.
We urge the federal government and the security agencies, but particularly INEC, to ensure that everybody, particularly those displaced, exercise their civic responsibilities and duties wherever they are.
Those who are within the towns and cities that have not been affected by the crisis should be allowed to vote.
Everybody should be seen to contribute his or her quota in making the new Nigeria we are building.
What could be largely responsible for the insecurity in the country, particularly in the Northeast?
It is caused by illiteracy, the hard economic conditions that have created, unemployment, among others.
To worsen the situation, our politicians/elites are taking advantage of this to use money to induce the illiterate youths, who are not employed as stooges. That is why we are having that kind of situations in the northeast. What is TUC doing in its own way to avert violence before, during and after the elections?
TUC is organising a kind of discussion with the contestants on the issue of playing the game according to the rules to avoid violence before and after the elections.
Also, we are going to make them understand that this country is greater than anybody.
So, we hope that apart from the messages we have been sending out for them to realise that election is not a do-or-die affair, they would conduct themselves in a very proper manner in accordance with the rules as a panacea for a peaceful elections in this country.
What is TUC doing to discourage religion from taking the centre stage of Nigerian politics?
Anybody who says religion should play any form of role in our political arena is a hypocrite. Politicians are not even religious people, so they should not use religion to deceive Nigerians.
How I wish Nigerians were enlighten enough to stone anybody who preaches religion for them. As far as I am concerned, as a labour leader, if you come to me and tell me about religion, I will tell you that my people and I will never vote you.
We want them to address issues. There is hunger. Does hunger and unemployment know religion or tribe? These are some of the issues we should face and not deceiving Nigerians about religion.
I am assuring you that anybody coming out to use religion to campaign is a hypocrite.
The recent killing of about 17 persons in France by terrorists recently made the whole world to converged in that country to show solidarity, while the reverse has been the case of Nigeria. Is it that the international community has given up on Nigeria?
That is the hypocrisy of Europe. Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted and there are a lot of killings going on in Nigeria, but world did not deemed it fit to show solidarity with Nigeria.
They even said they are going to assist us, but we have not seen, in concrete terms, the levels of assistance they have rendered to Nigeria.
It is a kind of European hypocrisy towards Africa and developing nations.
With what is going on in the electioneering campaigns, do you foresee the success of this coming election?
In the history of Nigeria, the forthcoming election would be one of the most contested. If you see the levels of campaigns going on, you will know that politicians have realised that the electorate are very important.
So, it is not the issue of sitting in the comfort of a room and planning how to rig. They have to reach out to the electorate, which is a good development, such that if politicians make promises, at the end of the day when the elections are over, we would be able to hold them responsible for such kinds of commitments they have made to Nigerians.
What is you advice on the present insecurity?
We advise the security agents to do their works without intimidating Nigerians with hatred. They should not allow themselves to be used by any of the political parties or politicians.
Let them know that Nigeria is bigger than anybody and as security agencies, they are committed to the unity of this country and be fair to all the parties.