‘Government should restore confidence in Nigerians’
Convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) Ayo Opadokun, in this interview with MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE, explains why government must restore confidence in the people and tackle other urgent challenges facing the country.
The Britain administration has been criticised for non performance. What is your assessment?
I sympathised with Nigerians for understanding of the situation. I believe that people have good reasons to be unhappy with the situation. But, I also understand from my knowledge of the state of the country, when President Muhammadu Buhari took over power, that the degeneration in the living condition of our people and state of poverty had become so worrisome. Perhaps, if the last administration had remained in power for another six months, only God know what could have happened. As for President Buhari and state of the economy, it is a fact that the measures being put in place have yielded immediate positive dividends. I think the government recognizes this fact and sympathized with Nigerian people, who are clamouring for a better deal. Therefore, economically, I think they need to think outside the box, to rescue the situation. That is not unmindful of the fundamentals that were not within the control of the Buhari’s government. It was not the Buhari’s government that instigated the upstaged agitation of the Niger Delta Avengers, that totally brought about the only mean of foreign exchange to the nation to the lowest ebb. When they broke pipes, they made it impossible and difficult for the economy to proceed as it ought to be. If that is the major means of the earning of our foreign exchange, the consequence could only be imagined. To make matters much difficult again, Nigeria operates a money economy as a result of the dubious, irresponsible and criminally minded economic policies of past administrations; Nigeria was only exporting crude oil which is responsible for over 80 per cent of its earnings. The price is controlled by the international market and whatever happened is due to market forces which Nigeria could not determine. So, we can understand that why such consequences are being faced by Nigeria each time the price of oil goes down at the international market. The recession that we are in now, I just want to sustain the hope of our people, what they claim is being done with 2017 budget, if it is judiciously implemented, perhaps we shall see Nigeria will be gradually lifted from recession. There are some Nigerians in the Buhari’s administration that can deliver and are already doing so. The Lagos State government for instance has been able to strike an anchored with the Kebbi State government to the extent that we now have the LAKE Rice. I can only image that if they continue and what Dangote Conglomerates are bout doing in rice, the Abakiliki rice production, I believe that matters of domestic food supply will be well tackled.
What is your personal assessment of Buhari?
The Buhari we used to know as military head of State can no longer be said to be the same Buhari. One can understand that there is a difference in age when he first came on board in December 1983 and he came back 2015. So, one can understand the gap. My first from all that I have seen is that perhaps he is no more in control of his government. What has happened over the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is an indication that perhaps President Buhari is no more in control of his administration and he has a divided Presidency. We are all being treated as nonentity as a result of the disastrous consequence we had in the rejection the nomination of Magu by the Senate, in respect of one panel headed by the Attorney General of Nigeria (AGN). What this means is that Buhari did not do enough background check on Magu before he nominated him. That is an indictment on his leadership. Secondly, it does not help his image, that the Presidency sent a name to the Senate and yet, another arm of the Presidency went ahead to write very pretentious and dubious report on the nominee of the President. They should not imagine that some of us are fools, the AGN is part of the divided Presidency and you are asking him to the report of your divided Presidency. That is one part of the story, again when I look at the way President Buhari has handled security matter and people being beheaded, people being killed massively who say they are herdsmen in some instances like in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba and Kaduna, it is like ethnic cleansing. They will set fire to the homes of the indigenous owners, when they try to escape, they shot and kill them or slaughter them like fowls. They carried out this heinous act for many months until the belated action of the General Officer Commanding the First Division of the Army came to the rescue of the people of Southern Zaria. They have been telling us that they are on top of the situation, being in there normal rhetoric. The most important function of government in any modern state is the protection of lives; if it get to a situation where people had to resort to self help them government must have lost value. You can understand the kind of agony some of us undergo because of the need to bring about decent society. The current republic we are in did not come so easy, some of us paid with their lives. Some paid with their blood, some with their liberty, and some with a lot of sacrifices. Because of our dedication to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, we fought better living condition for our people. There is no doubt we have had a raw deal with the Nigerian Army generally. When they are not there directly, it is their agents, accolades, loyalists that they have sponsored. So, they are still in control and have done so much damage to our country.
The President anti-corruption stance has been criticized as one-sided. Where did government get it wrong?
Let President Buhari be reminded that the only worthy consideration he presently enjoys from both the international and the domestic community is the significant view that he has established commitment to fight corruption, as a marathon runner rather than a relay-racer. No doubt, his government economic policy measures have not produced expected positive results. We remain within the bracket of war ravaged areas of the world in spite of our being the 8th largest exporter of crude oil for almost 25 years. We exported averagely 2 million barrels per day at 100 USA. Yet Nigeria’s Human Development Index statistics and our GDP analysis is within that of countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Burundi, Congo etc. Thus, Buhari should appreciate that throwing out Magu, the leader of the Anti graft agencies to be so humiliated by the Senate leadership cadre whose membership are being prosecuted for criminal offences by the EFCC is counter-productive and unhelpful to the president’s image.
Buhari gave many former governors and other politically exposed persons an undeserved platform to vent their anger against a productive public officer. Who else will want to be so vilified for helping Nigeria to tackle the menace that corruption has caused all of us. That the Nigerian state cannot provide any commensurate social services and infrastructure is because of corruption.
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