By Ngozi Nwoke
Kingsley Ogundu Chinda is currently representing Obio/Akpor Constituency in the House of Representatives. In this interview, he spoke on insecurity issues, restructuring of Nigeria and the 2023 presidential election.
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What is your reaction to the persisting insecurity in Nigeria?
First, I would say that Nigeria is sliding and sliding very fast into an almost stateless situation. We are going back to that stone age prior to civilization where society is hitched on the strength of individuals to survive. That is a case of survival of the fittest.
In other words, we are losing the essence of human life. We are losing the essence of coming together as a country and having leadership and rulership. And that is why our constitution states that the primary purpose of government and governance is protection of lives of the people and provision of welfare for the people. This government has lost its salt, and so, is almost useless. When salt has lost its taste, it becomes useless.
We have lost the essence of governance because people can no longer sleep peacefully; they cannot move around or travel safely, in any part of Nigeria.
A situation where the airports, the train stations, the sea and the roads are not safe for travel, is a dangerous situation. So, I think that we need to do something urgently, not as a government, but as a people who are frequently and adversely affected by insecurity. We need to take our destiny in our hands and begin to change a new cause.
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We have relied on the APC government on two tenures to tackle the insecurity issue but it failed. It keeps making promises without fulfilling them.
Our lives no longer matter to the government. It has become a norm to us in Nigeria that scores of people are massacred everyday.
The Abuja-Kaduna train incident where bandits attacked and killed innocent and harmless citizens, still has over 90 people held hostage by the same bandits who are requesting for ransom.
Yet, members of the executive council including the president still sleep with their eyes closed and I wonder how they are able to find sleep when Nigerians cannot guarantee a peaceful sleep.
I wonder if any of the executive council members would sleep if they had their wives, children or relatives held captive by bandits. This government has become too insensitive to security matters and we can no longer watch our loved ones being slaughtered like chickens every day. Nigerians should wake up from slumber, stand up and fight for their destinies!
When you say Nigerians should fight for their destinies, what exactly do you mean?
Yes. Nigerians should wake up and fight for their destinies. There are constitutional means to change a government. Nigerians should adopt the constitutional means by calling on their president, local government leaders, representatives, senators. You voted us to serve and represent you, you elected us to be there to speak for you.
So, when you don’t get the adequate representation you desire and deserve, you demand for it. Either you recall us or call on us to proceed with the impeachment of the president.
One day to me is a long time. People say it’s only one year left for the president to leave office and there will be an election. How many Nigerians will die because of bad governance and poor leadership between now and next year? Is it worth making the sacrifice? Nigerians should use the constitution and call for a change of government constitutionally.
And if a president is impeached and is successfully removed from office, the next government would sit up and know that Nigerians are now alert of bad governance and conscious of their fundamental rights. This is what I mean when I call on Nigerians to wake up and fight for their destinies.
What practical mechanisms do you recommend the government should use to tackle the insecurity?
We need a commander in-chief that will lead from the forefront. We need a president who is on top of tackling the insecurity challenges. If I am the president of Nigeria and I assign tasks to my security chiefs, I must give them a timeline on when to achieve the tasks. And on no account will they report back to me without producing results. If you cannot achieve them, you quit.
We don’t want to see headline news of how the president met with security chiefs. What have they achieved with all the meetings? We are tired of that gimmick. The government should also merge the result they are getting with the amount of money they are spending. They cannot continue pouring money into security without any visible result.
Today, a senator is now calling on Nigerians to carry arms to protect themselves. Do you think anyone will survive if everyone carries arms? When you continue to use one method to solve a problem and it gives you the same result of not solving the problem, you have to try other means. You do not keep using one method and expect a different result.
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What about the use of intelligence gathering? What do security operatives do with them? You hear where terrorists will give notice of the day they will come to attack an entire community and nothing would be done to tackle them to a standstill; nothing would be done to protect the people, because the security forces are waiting for an order and that order will never come. How can terrorists be more powerful than the military?
Nobody will say that the military is not well equipped. Nobody will say we don’t have the capacity to match the insecurity to a standstill. The entire problem is from the leadership. We lack the requisite leadership structure and until the leadership structure is changed, we will remain where we are. This is the only recommendation I can give to tackle insecurity.
What is your take on the restructuring of Nigeria?
I totally agree on the restructuring of Nigeria. This country is large, not in terms of just landmass alone, but in terms of diverse cultures, ethnicity, traditions and religions. You have people looking at things from different perspectives. We have the federal, the state and the local governments. If we are operating a federation, we should operate a federation truly speaking. The need for state policing is not one thing we should be arguing over. There is a need for state policing, there is even a need for community policing.
Our security architecture should be completely overhauled. What we have now is a federal command system which we have tried and is no longer working or achieving any result. We should adopt a new system where states are allowed to secure their states autonomously. Even down to the local government levels. There are crimes the local outfits can handle. The government must consider state policing if it really means to tackle crimes and insecurity in Nigeria.
What is your general assessment on President Buhari’s administration?
Early enough, on the floor of the parliament, I started calling for the impeachment of the president on grounds of insecurity because I believe that Nigerians’ lives should matter to any responsible government. And I had a clear notion having read the hand writing on the wall that the insecurity was not getting better but rather getting worse.
When I called for his impeachment, some members of the parliament were asking for my suspension from the house for calling for the impeachment of the president which is a constitutional right anyway.
Nigerians have lost confidence in this government. The government should tackle the insecurity to avoid being suspicious and complacent. The government needs to build confidence in the people.
I am a parliamentarian, I am a public servant, I am also involved. And the best I can do is to condemn what is wrong and attempt to do the right things in the right way. But the minority will have their say and the majority will have their way. I will never be tired of saying that the right things should be done.
Our economy is completely down and it will be more difficult after Buhari leaves office. Nigerians should be prepared for the worst because the country is borrowing loans and has no plans of repayment. By the time he leaves office, if we do not have a competent leader, I am afraid if Nigerians can survive the hardship.
In my assessment of the Buhari-led-administration, I would say that this government has performed abysmally.
What are your expectations of the 2023 presidential election?
I expect both the presidential candidates, the electorate and the voters; i.e., the people, to put the interest of the country first over their own tribal, political, religious and individual interests. I urge all candidates to be sincere with their campaign promises, from the house of assembly, national assembly and presidential levels.
We must begin to put the interest of our society and country first before any other personal interest, because it will benefit all of us when the society and country is in good shape. I also expect that a lot of maturity will come to play with the new electoral Act which we hope will be implemented to the letter. Less of rigging, less of acrimony, less of the problems and struggles that come with elections.
It is a civil exercise. Not a militarized election. I expect a free, fair and credible presidential election. The military should allow civilians to freely carry out their civic rights without intimidation or any form of molestation. I expect the citizens to be civil enough and behave orderly to ensure that the right thing is done.
What do you think of Governor Wike’s presidential declaration?
I am one of those who can prove with facts that Governor Wike’s administration has done excellently well in Rivers State. Having worked closely with him, I know his intentions over social and developmental issues. I think that what the people of Rivers State are doing is to donate Wike to Nigeria. If we allow him to take charge of the Nigeria project, I tell you he will make tremendous improvements. I totally and wholly support his presidential ambition.
I implore Nigerians to look beyond what they are seeing today, and allow someone who has the capacity, passion and vision to pilot the affairs of this country. Not someone who will make promises and not fulfill them. For Wike, every word he says means a lot to him because his integrity is tied to his words. Nigerians should crosscheck his track records. From council chairman of a local government, to becoming the Rivers State Chief of Staff, to becoming the Minister of State for Education, and to now a state governor. He has tackled insecurity in Rivers State. His recent achievements aside the infrastructural developments, is the soot that has lingered for over a decade.
The people of Rivers State called on the federal government which is in charge of environmental issues but they did nothing. Wike led from the forefront to tackle the soot and today it has reduced tremendously. That is what leadership means.
When the COVID-19 broke out in Nigeria, it was also evident how he championed the pandemic. He was on the streets himself ensuring that people adhered to safety measures. You may not like his leadership style, but what matters to him is that the life and property of the people are secured.