By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Though he belongs to the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the euphoria from the party’s victory at the last general elections is not lost on him to close his eyes on key issues the incoming government should do to be different from the outgoing People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
To this end, Chief Sam Nkire, former a National Chairman of the Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA in this interview asked the president-elect, General Mohmmadu Buhari to step on toes if he wants to succeed. Amongst other things, he warns him against abandoning the common man who voted for him.
What does General Mohammadu Buhari’s electoral victory mean to you?
First of all, as a Nigerian, not just as a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, I am overjoyed. I am so happy that Nigeria has got an emancipator, emancipator because, for me, the PDP government of 16 years was heading to running Nigeria aground. It was heading to disaster, heading to ruining the economy of Nigeria.
It took actions that would have led to dismembering of Nigeria. If for instance APC didn’t win, maybe by now, many people especially Igbos in the North would have been sacked from all parts of northern Nigeria. Even northerners in the east would have been sacked from the eastern part of Nigeria and so on and forth. And I also believe that most of the problems President Goodluck Jonathan had were in the last 8 years when government took no responsibility for the protection of lives and property.
Government didn’t see its role as key to the development of both human and natural resources. At a point, it became a cliché for the police, for instance, to say security is every man’s business. You go to the Ministries, the civil servants tell you that administration is every man’s business. You go to the average soldier, he says soldiering is every man’s business. A government like that doesn’t take responsibility. It means that a policeman expects a civilian that is barehanded to fight the armed robber.
The soldier wants help from the civilian. In fact, there were civilian JTFs because the soldiers were overwhelmed. They couldn’t perform. Why couldn’t they perform? They lacked equipment and they shouted give us equipment. We can’t match Boko Haram. But the outgoing government preferred to change and buy new presidential jets for the President. Some governors preferred to knock down the old government houses and build new ones whereas building a new government house to my mind is not a sign of development. You are just providing luxury for one man, one family. Oh! This car is not befitting for the Senate president.
This car is not befitting to the speaker. Oh, he needs pension. It is all about public servants and civil servants. So, with the coming of Buhari I believe the government is going to be lean and smaller and less expensive. With what we heard about the national assembly or the legislative arm of the government gulping 25 percent of the annual budget, I don’t think Buhari will approve of that because that is too big. Nigeria’s elder statesman, one of the forefathers still living, Alhaji Maitama Sule said that when he was in parliament, Nigeria ran the parliament with less 5 percent of the annual budget. Today, we are using 25 percent.
Oh, the Distinguish Senator must have seven cars, he must travel to every seminar called in South Africa, Mali, anywhere. They will make claims even when they go there to sleep. Those things are unnecessary. They bloat the government and reduce the money required to do projects, to cater for the health of the people, education and to make Nigerians secure by equipping the security organs.
The president-elect penultimate week said he would reopen the books of NNPC. Do you buy that idea of probing NNPC?
Why not? Well, whatever the president-elect will do to make scapegoat of offenders who have defrauded Nigerians, I support him in doing it. My little disagreement is that he shouldn’t have said it now. He should have kept it to his chest and then when he assumes office he does that. He can go back to any date as far as I am concerned to make people pay back the money they have stolen. I have no quarrel with that.
Before the last General elections, media was awash with reports of contracts to OPC and all that for pipeline surveillance and protection, the kind of contract they awarded to ex militant Tompolo and his company. Do you see the incoming government working with such organisations?
Well, once a government has been swept away, it ceases to exist. The new government takes charge and whatever it decides to do, that becomes the way. If the government or presidency of Mohammadu Buhari thinks those contracts were not properly given out, were not given to qualified people, of course, the government will cancel those contracts.
And from what I know of the incoming president, he will not waste a day to cancel those contracts because these are the reasons why Nigerians rejected the PDP government. Because, they did things that shouldn’t be done. They did things without recourse to the law. They did things with impunity and knowing Buhari as a man who abhors impunity, a man we can say is one of the incorruptible persons, I will be surprised if doesn’t revoke the contracts that were wrongly awarded .
Your party has had issues finding which zones to produce the next senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Do you think APC will eventually find a mutual ground on the positions considering the intrigues?
I have a different opinion about zoning. Zoning, yes, can be applied. But it should be applied to balance deficiencies. I will like APC to do things differently. We talk about change in our party, APC. We must change from the ways of the PDP. The emphasis must not be zoning at all cost. We must look at people who participated, core APC members.
We must look at qualified people. If we don’t get qualified people, our government may not be better than PDP. Nigerians must see a difference. Nigerians must see that change has come. I am disturbed that we are almost singing PDP songs in may aspects. “Oh, this is for us. Share this, share that”. That’s not the way to go. We must look at the people who will deliver the goods. I don’t say that amongst the politicians in APC, you don’t have experts or honest people who can drive the agenda. We have surplus of manpower. But we have just got to look inwards and not be driven by zoning only and get people to drive the cart.
If we make a mistake, what happened during the Tambuwal era will happen. In the south east, APC has 3 members in the House of Reps. We don’t have any senators. The party should be able to make compromises and not rely on the rules of the House. And let the Igbo nation produce the Speaker at least. Or at worse, produce the deputy Speaker from these new members. If you don’t do it, the people of the zone will feel unwanted. That is a personal opinion. But as a true party man who believes in democracy, our party even though zoning is not engraved in our constitution, the culture of our party allows for zoning.
What do you crave for the south-east?
SGF is zoned to the south east. I will crave also that the deputy speaker at least should also be given to the people of the south east. That will bring more members to the party. The reason the zone didn’t do well was because we just had only one Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha covering 5 states. If we had a deputy speaker at least, and SGF from APC, of course our party would have done a lot better than we did at the last election.
What agenda would you set for the incoming government?
The first thing is to tackle insecurity and go ahead to tackle corruption. The down trodden voted for Buhari because they wanted him to fight corruption, to do something about poverty.
Do you see Buhari stepping on toes to achieve all these?
Without stepping on toes, Buhari can do nothing. He can not succeed. Do you know the majority of people that voted for Buhari are the poor people? If Buhari comes to power and decides to align with the rich, then his government will fail. He has to do something to ameliorate the suffering of the common man.
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