There is danger ahead, he warns
*Says human rights activists committed a strategic error in 1999 *Reveals how Thabo Mbeki tried in vain to persuade activists *Declares that Obasanjoâ€™s problem was bad-belle
By JIDE AJANI,Â Deputy Editor &Â ANTHONIA ONWUKA
This interview had to be conducted in a strategic manner.Â Here was Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, who had been quiet for a while; but again, here was a landmark case in court and on which, perhaps, Nigeriaâ€™s democracy would have been built or destroyed.Â
So, getting the views of an Agbakoba became imperative. But how do you get an individual to speak in a manner suggestive of a possession of the power of clairvoyance? Agbakoba was requested to speak in a manner of either, or.
And so, while the interview was conducted penultimate week, it was agreed that once the judgment was delivered, he would avail Sunday Vanguard his views. He did. But this interview is not just all about the Andy Uba case at the Appeal Court.
It is also about the travails of Agbakoba as an activist. In this interview, Agbakoba made some disclosures.Â For instance, he revealed that South African president Thabo Mbekiâ€™s attempt to convince the pro-democracy activists in Nigeria to be part of the Abdulsalami Abubakar transition programme, came to naught.
He also revealed how his wife was abandoned while he was in detention, lamenting that â€œeven the parish priest did not come to the house to visit. The so called parish priest did not visit her while I was in detention; she was alone.â€ He shares his thoughts on the political reform programme and many other issues. Excerpts:
THE Andy Uba case
With respect to the judgment of the Court ofÂ Â Appeal regarding the Andy Uba matter, there was nothing else to have been expected from the Justices of the Appeal Court. It would have been terrible, honestly, if the judgment had gone the other way. It would have been frightful if the wrong things happened.
What do you mean by wrong things?
It would be terrible if, for instance, the Court of Appeal, had gone ahead to uphold Andy Ubaâ€™s election.
But there was an earlier judgment which validated the election and
(Cuts in) No, no, it is not true. People should understand what the real issues are. What happened was that Peter Obi made up his mind not to go for the election in 2007 and I asked him why and he said what is all this. Now I pause again, let me turn to another client of mine Martin Agbaso in Imo State. When Agbaso eventually wins his case, too, he would be sworn-in and once he has been duly sworn-in he would become governor from the day he was sworn in.
So when Peter Obi was sworn in three years later, and I didnâ€™t see the point, he was adamant. He said I am not going for any election because my tenure has not lapsed. I am going to the court and in the course of going through three courts, the first court he went to, he lost. He was in between the first and second courtsÂ when INEC conducted the election.
So when he went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court did not even look at the merit of his case. They declared Andy Ubaâ€™s election null and void as if it did not happen. That in English means that, that election that was conducted that saw Andy Uba emerging as governor for at least 17days, we wipe it away.
Meanwhile, there was a petition against Andy Uba in the election tribunal by others who were aggrieved for different reasons while Andy Uba had been elected governor. Now the tribunal, going by the judgment that this man was never governor, the tribunal now made a mistake and dismissed the petition but the dismissal orderÂ was made on the merit.
The tribunal listened to the evidence, held witnesses, perused documents or came toÂ the conclusion that the petition was in bad light and dismissed it. That was wrong. The proper order the tribunal should have made is Oh!, the Supreme Court has said that Andy Uba was never a governor, so we have no power to continue. We hereby strike out because we have not held but the difference between striking out order and dismissal is important.
The Court of Appeal held that the tribunal was wrong to have dismissed the petition. It should have been struck out. That is all. So, it is important to clarify things. The key point is that the Supreme Court in declaring that Peter Obiâ€™s tenure was running declared that Andy Uba was never a governor. That is all.
Now that the Appeal Court case has been disposed of, what are your views?
Well, what else were Nigerians expecting? Nobody should have expected anything different from what the Appeal Court Justices have done.
In fact, this puts to rest what all the pundits have been saying would happen, that the case could go this way or that way.Â All that is now over! The Justices have delivered judgment in the most appropriate way.Â Simple!
Let’s go to activisim. Some people had looked up to you as another GaniFawehinmi, or even Alao Aka Bashorun, at least judging by the momentum with which you started your activism?Â Did you ever think much about that, especially now that people see you as having slowed down?
That I have slowed down?
Yes; and that in fact, you have decided to use law now to chase money?
Well, I think itâ€™s a matter of style.Â Iâ€™m not a Gani, neither am I an Aka Bashorun; I have my own imprimatur.Â I think that what Iâ€™ve done is good.Â And let me say this because the question came up somewhere recently, Iâ€™m sure that if you name five persons in terms of the struggle and the roles they played, my name would be there; and that gives me a sense of fulfillment.
The question can then be whether I can be on heat everyday; that would be another matter. But I have my slow moments; Iâ€™m human.Â But also, the second point is that in looking back, I think that my siddon look pose, is also being shaped by the social forces I see, even if I do not like to criticize my community.
When you say your community, you mean the human rights community?
Good, I do not know what your criticism would centre on but there are those who believe that the activists committed a blunder, that there was a strategic error at some point?
(Cuts in)Â You took it out of my mouth.Â Yes, I would like to believe that we committed a strategic error.Â At the time when I said we should go into politics, they said no.Â A lot of people said no because, for me, I thought that the work of pro-democracy activism was coming to an end; so when a lot of people ask why arenâ€™t you as noisy as you used to be, I let them know that I do not just shout for shouting sake; I let them know that the political space has also closed down.
Keep in mind that when we started in the early 80â€™s, we were the main actors in town.Â We were more or less the opposition â€“ the human rights activists against the military government of the day.
But the intervention of the politicians has sort of nudged us on and the type of things that weâ€™re doing in the country now the media doesnâ€™t notice them unfortunately.Â So, what you notice is that same noise; but the tools have changed.Â So they think we have slowed down.
But some people would be more incredulous by going further to ask if it is a matter of slowing down or you simply looked at the horizon and decided to harness the opportunities available to make money?
Everybody, including you, likes money. Ken Saro Wiwa told me, when I was deputy chief counsel to him, that the struggle is a very important thing to pursue but if I canâ€™t pay my rent then there is a problem â€“ Iâ€™m not suggesting that that is why I am now in this new pose that you have labeled meâ€¦
No!Â That people have observed?
Okay I agree with you â€“ that people have observed â€“ but the truth is that I have also paid my dues.
Look, when I came out of detention I had only N21,000 as asset.Â Thereâ€™s nothing that says you can not be concerned about society and also not have funds.Â Who, for instance, is going to pay the school fees of my three children?Â I donâ€™t think the Nigerian government would do that for me, nor will the government pay my bills; and if you know the number of people I support, my friends; some of those who have been my friends during the struggle, some who died, the last thing you want is not being able to meet your bills â€“ in fact, being able to meet your bills is a vital aspect of family life. And I have no apologies for that.
Family life!Â While you were in detention your wife wouldÂ have gone through some discomfort?
Ha!Â My wife was resigned.Â In fact, my wife used to say that our cook used to ask her, â€˜madam, but where are your relationsâ€™?Â Even the parish priest did not come to the house to visit.Â The so called parish priest did not visit her while I was in detention; she was alone.
But the priest could have been praying for your safe return?
But also visiting could have helped.Â But she knew that I had done this of my own volition and she had this thing about begging nobody.
Did your wife ever tell you to stop, even if resigning to fate?
But my family was fired up. You know these SU people when theyâ€™re fired up.Â Have you ever been fired up?Â When youâ€™re fired up you can go to the ends of the earth.
At that time I was absolutely on fire and what actually fired me up was this arrogant statement by the Abacha people, these members of the five fingers of a leprous hand said there was no other person in this country and then there was this thing, this pall cast on the nation that no one could talk.Â Now, Iâ€™m not fired up.Â Whatâ€™s in this country to be fired up about now?Â Nothing.
Donâ€™t tell me youâ€™re giving up on Nigeria?
No, Iâ€™m not giving up but you will agree with me that I can not have a good day every time. Iâ€™m on a political retreat and Iâ€™m thinking about whatâ€™s best to be done. You asked a question earlier about strategic error and I would also like to ask that why is it that PRONACO and other such processes have not worked?Â Why?Â Why is it that the CLO worked?
Why is it that the DA worked?Â The reason is that the social forces on ground today impede the kind of work that we do.Â And, therefore, to get round them, you need to think through the strategies. I told some people some time ago that if I were the Director of SSS, a lot of what we did wouldnâ€™t have gotten publicity.
Because our work is advocacy; and I remember when we had the Maroko incident.Â I didnâ€™t know how we would get by through the night and we called it vigil for democracy. I had my hip-flask there with me â€“ Beko taught me how to do that, just load it with brandy and put it in your pocket. Then the next morning, 6 0â€™clock, 7 0â€™clock, nothing happened.
The Maroko residents, more than 300,000, they were not there with us â€“ we were just about 10 people, thenÂ suddenly the Police foolishly came with about 40 patrol vans and made it a success and the next day 12 newspapers made it their front page.
Today, such advocacy tools are no longer available. So, my own take now is that we need to step back and engage constructively and Iâ€™m not sure that weâ€™re doing that enough. So, itâ€™s not only that Olisa Agbakoba is perceived to have slowed down, the entire human rights community is said not to be as effective as it ought to be.
You talked about strategic error and social forces in the polity.Â With the type of polity we have, how would they, the activists, have succeeded?
Let us try now because at the end of the day, you canâ€™t make a change without political power.Â The truth is that social activism has a limit but to make real change means that you must be part of power.
What then went wrong?Â Was it that with the intellect at the disposal of the activists they could not appreciate this?
Iâ€™ll tell you this:Â In 1998, we had a strategic session.Â First I must also tell you that even crossing the line from pure human rights activism had its own challenges because when CLO started, it started purely with concerns about prison reforms but as we moved on we discovered that it could not just work that way. So we redefined the political environment and that was how we had that great debate about the distinction between human rights organizations and pro-democracy.
I think Femi Falana disagreed and I think Gani also disagreed. So you can see that I am in the minority but I think that meeting we had in Ganiâ€™s house in 1998, where we said what do we do was instructive.Â Here was the government of Abdulsalami tinkering with the process.Â AD, for instance, did not qualify to be registered as a political party but it was registered.
The question was what do we do with the major outstanding issues on ground? For Chief MKO Abiola, when he was alive we called for his release; when he died we moved to the issue of GNU and SNC and we talked of government of reconciliation.
Thabo Mbeki persuaded us to take part in the Abdulsalami transition.Â He invited us to Abuja to meet with him.
I remember Chima Ubani insisting that â€˜this is betrayal, we know what the student bodies in this country did for you when you were in Nigeria here so we wonâ€™t come to Abujaâ€™. The poor guy said, okay, he would come down to meet with us in Lagos, that Nigeria is his base. He requested that we meet with him at the airport and so we went â€“ Ayo Obe, all of us.
He put it to us again that negotiated democracy is the only way-o; â€˜that was what we also did in South Africa when we found that we couldnâ€™t win, we negotiated and made sure that we got the best deal because the thinking of the government was that you people should have your own political partyâ€™; that was AD.
Theatre of engagement
But we said no. Then in 2003, we realized that we had made a mistake.
So, how did this realism come to play out?
Ha!Â Because we saw that politics is not the same as military administration. Some people may not agree with me but the military people are less vicious than the politicians â€“ Iâ€™m telling you.Â Iâ€™m not saying military regime is better than democracy but the politicians are more vicious.
Give one or two instances to support the statement because I can feel your frustration from the way youâ€™re talking?
The impact of corruption is an example â€“ may be because theyâ€™re fewer. Do you know the amount of money that get stolen in Nigeria today?Â The military are few, so they sit together and chop the thing. Look at Anambra State.Â Thatâ€™s why, in fact, for some of us you donâ€™t even know at what point or how and where to put your mouth in this thing.
You donâ€™t know where to, the thing is terrible. I could deal with soldiers.Â When Marwa came down from his plane on March 27, 1998, and said that he had drawn a line in the sand, the theatre of engagement then was Yaba Square.Â I went there and got beaten.Â Nobody forced me to go there but those were the challenges.
Now that we hear that the Court of Appeal may declare that Andy Uba should be sworn-in as governor, if that happens, I donâ€™t know whether I would like to wear my wig and gown again.Â So, when you see that people are not talking like before, it is because the depth of mischief that politicians are up to is unimaginable.Â They have continuous ways of mischief making and itâ€™s not the same with the military.
The soldier would just say I want to be in office and if this small boys would not allow me, put them in jail and that was all. But politicians are a different ball game.Â My experience as a very informed actor is that it was easier to deal with soldiers: confront them, tell them what you want, either they back-off, change or donâ€™t do it. But at least you know the rules of engagement. For politicians, there are no rules, anything goes.Â Absolutely anything.
Youâ€™re even sounding scared the way youâ€™re talking?
Ha! With what weâ€™re seeing now, confronting the soldiers was Sunday School picnic. By 2003, it became obvious that we made a mistake and that was how Gani, Abdul Oroh, Falana, Clement Nwankwo now went in.Â Whether we would have made a difference if we had joined in the beginning, I can not say but I think at the time that the space was open, had we gone in, it might have.
There was this talk of you attempting to go to the senate, you abandoned the project.Â Was it because of this typeâ€¦
(Cuts in) Where do you start?
You seem frightened even as we speak?
My friend let us say it the way it should be said, it is frightening.Â Let us be honest.Â You see the impact of politics cuts across the whole spectrum of our lives because there is nothing that works today.Â Billions voted for roads, no roads; billions for education, no education; billions voted for power, no power.Â Take a look at Lagos â€“ and I am not saying this to spite anyone or justify military rule but just to show the depth to which we have sunk.Â Take Lagos, itâ€™s essentially a Gowon-built; essentially, letâ€™s be honest.Â Everything has come out of what the soldiers built so where did all the money go to.
The money is ending up in the pocket of politicians and that is why the game has become more vicious.Â Is that what I should go and put my head.Â In fact, one guy once asked me that â€˜suppose a ballot that would give you victory is being snatched and your man on the ground calls you and says the only way I can recover the ballot is to shoot the man, would you do that?Â If you can do that then welcome to the game; but if wonâ€™t then just go and take your law and be talking in newspapers.
What was your response?
Of course I canâ€™t do it now.Â I canâ€™t.Â Look at Chukwuma Soludo now.Â He has not started; the man has not started-o, they kidnapped his father.Â He has not even engaged the game it is still at the party level, they have gone to kidnap the old man; that is baptism of fire. I donâ€™t think I would like to be baptized that way; that because I am in politics they will go and kidnap my wife or family. What kind of politics is that?Â So, everywhere you go in Nigeria, there is one word: cynicism. People are cynical in a way that I have not seen before.
But some people say we are faced with the challenge of fighting corruption and then employing due process to fight the battle?
Yes, there is an issue there.Â Look at Nuhu Ribadu. He demonstrated that he had the will, the zeal and the commitment to get the work done, but my question, for instance, is: what is his role in telling us who should be Nigeriaâ€™s president?
They told us the story of how he and El-Rufai met and practically persuaded Olusegun Obasanjo to disqualify Peter Odili.Â How can that be his job?Â And that is the quarrel I had with him in my years as the NBA president.Â I told him.Â â€˜I can see the passion, I can see your great fight to save the country but if you get selective thereâ€™ll be a problem. So, even Nuhu Ribadu, with all his passion was affected by the Obasanjo syndrome.
That is Nigeria for you, a very challenging country.
The activism of the NBA under your leadership was construed to be a defence for every step the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar got involved in and Iâ€™ll give you an example: The judgment of the Supreme Court which said a vice president could dump the platform of the political party which brought him to power and remain in office, with his membership of the FEC, NEC and NCS, does that bode well?
We all know what it means now.Â Bola Ige was in AD and he was made minister, he remained in his AD and in fact at that time I contemplated suing.Â Any one who crosses, like Ikedi Ohakim, should vacate. Well, the thing that they say is that there are some qualification but in the case of Atiku, clearly, you should be out which also now returns me to the issue of the rule of law which, as far as I am concerned, is a farce.
Now or before?
Never!Â It was never there.Â The only time the rule of law prevailed was when we had a Belgore court when he decided that the only institution which was capable of stopping political thuggery was the judiciary and he made a deliberate effort to be very realistic although people might criticize it but it was effective in saving Nigeriaâ€™s democracy.
My question subsists and cross carpeting?
Yes, you resign.Â There are no two ways about it, you resign but nobody ever resigns â€“ that is my problem. How do you get these countrymen to obey its own constitution.
People are talking about the PDP but what about the Nigerian constitution? Nothing works.Â And I heard someone say it is about values.Â So if you tie people into a process and nobody wants to respect that process what do you do?
So, Nigeria is in need of a strong president; a very strong president who has a clear agenda of what he wants to do and how he wants to go about it. My wife was asking me about Hamid Khazai of Afghanistan and why he still wants to hang on and I said what do you expect from a third world country?Â Hosni Mubarak is thinking of his son to take over now.
But you were never known to have called on the Vice President to resign then?
YouÂ mean as NBA president or as an individual.
In any capacity and that fueled suspicion that even as NBA president you were working for Atiku?
There were so many things to talk about; whether I did or did not, I canâ€™t even remember.
The electoral reform?
(Cuts in) Yes, I think that is what Nigerians can look up to as a possible solution now; it would be of value.
One of the biggest challenges is the issue of lack of internal democracy in the parties and even the INEC chairman keeps complaining about that.Â It is the single biggest challenge and in our committee report we insisted on it.
Our doctrine of non-interference has not helped and it is not helping and what it means is that if we all agree as members of a party that the rules of the game requires you to do certain things and you win and get the nod of your party it is believed that it is well.
When that problem confronted the Supreme Court in 1979, the Supreme Court said it was an internal affair of the party and that it could not interfere. But thank God the same Supreme Court has taken a broader attitude to the matter and one can also say that that legislation has failed.
So, Omehia did not take part in the election in the party yet he became governor. How would anybody feel because that is a naked usurpation of Amaechiâ€™s right and the Supreme Court did the right thing.Â That internal democracy thing is important because the party hides under that to create these impunities but if that internal democracy thing is entrenched, then we wonâ€™t have such usurpation.
My brother won the primaries of his party but another individual, using the instrumentality of some powerful people in Abuja got her name on the ballot and the Supreme Court overturned it.
Reforms! You talked about a fellow posing a challenge to you regarding violence at the polls, you backed down and the fellow said you were not ready.Â How can we tackle the issue of violence at the polls?Â How does an INEC stop violence?
I see the point youâ€™re making because the best way to tackle the concern you raised is this misplaced belief that our problem is with the laws but no.Â If you take Nigerians to America and bring Americans to Nigeria, while Americans would make Nigeria begin to work with all the laws as they are, Nigerians would turn America upside down because democracy scholars are all agreed that impunity when allowed breaks down the system.
Let me veer off.Â People talk about the role of the judiciary every time, in particular the Supreme Court.Â Why, because the judiciary is isolated.Â The President of Nigeria can not appoint a chairman of the Supreme Court contrary to the wishes of the Supreme Court itself.Â It is that strong.Â They set the rules and it has tenure except for bad behaviour.
Their money doesnâ€™t go through any channel but is a first line charge. If we do that with INEC, then we can debate the matter whether the incumbent chairman of INEC, Maurice Iwu, would be a different person.
But I must tell you that Iwu is a different person now than when he was under Obasanjo and the question is why.Â Clearly, Obasanjo put him under severe pressure than Yarâ€™Adua is doing. I think the starting point would be strong institution and then capacity building.Â It is about enforcing the rules.
If rules are enforced and internal democracy is entrenched, it percolates down.Â There is a raw struggle for power and once people know that the rules would be strictly enforced, even you as an Omehia would not try it. Even the petition that people take to the tribunals, some people just go there with frivolous petitions just to be settled.Â Itâ€™s an across the board enforcement of the rules.
Your tenure as NBA president, what single most significant thing would you point at as achievement?
I think NBA stopped the decline of democracy.Â I had a debate on the issue of due process.Â There were two competing values as you pointed out earlier:Â Anti-corruption and the rule of law crusade of the NBA.Â Our view is that it is better to allow nine guilty men go than to convict one innocent man.
When we supported Joshua Dariye, it wasnâ€™t because Dariye was a saint, no; but five people can not impeach Dariye because that figure does not constitute two thirds of the house.Â Peter Obi; Rasheed Ladoja, Ayo Fayose â€“ people were shouting donâ€™t go there but we insisted that these people can not just be thrown to the dogs and Iâ€™m happy that the Chief Justice of Nigeria agreed with us because the idea was to cause confusion because when the governors were just being impeached any how to cause confusion as part of the Third Term thing of Obasanjo â€“ twenty-something governors were up for impeachment at that time.
I said twenty-something governors were up for Â Â Â impeachment at that time and it was meant to cause confusion in the land.
Are you sure of this fact?
Ha! It was the rules laid down by Belgore as Chief Justice.Â He set the rules for impeachment and circulated it to all the states and warned any CJ that if you violate this youâ€™re out and this effectively killed the Third Term. The arrangement was hydra-headed because the attempt to carry it through the constitutional amendment did not sail through, so the other one was simply, implode the system and create confusion.
You talked about Nigeria needing a very strong president and people would tell you Obasanjo was a strong leaderâ€¦?
(Cuts in)Â He wasnâ€™t focused; that was his problem. He had bad-belle.Â I met with him, superman.
As NBA president?
There was this time he used to do this Saturday Forum thing and we were invited from the justice system and I wasnâ€™t even NBA president.Â As NBA president I met him, especially when he got this award from the Pan African Lawyersâ€™ Union, PALU.
I was obligated to go. I could see a man who had passion, real passion, a man who was actually committedÂ to see Nigeria going forward but this bad-belle thing; I donâ€™t know, chei!Â He ruined it.Â He was very vicious.
But he had the passion for this county. He once asked Bill Gates what Nigeria could do to move forward and face the challenges of the future. Gates told him Science and Technology.Â He picked out Isoun Turner, a master brain and part of the project was space but people do not know that that is the future â€“ most of the applications we use now are space-based and that was how NIGCOMSAT came about. But Iâ€™m amazed that a man of such vision failed: good policies but bad politics.
He got distracted by the rofo-rofo of politics; that was the mistake.Â He didnâ€™t distinguish between his role as president of Nigeria and leader of PDP. So, everyday he plotted, schemed.Â And you know it is easier to forgive, that is you go easy on yourself when you forgive but when you do not, you are consumed by it, you are also trapped.
The energy he would have displayed and used in working for Nigeria he wasted on petty politics.
Look at all the issues now, like it or not, most of the reform agenda, he laid it down. Lee Kwan Yu was a strong president but he didnâ€™t allow that type of thing to consume him.Â Iâ€™m sure that Obasanjo would, in his quiet moments reflect and admit that he made some mistakes.Â Lee Kwan Yu, when heâ€™s happy he looks back at what he turned Singapore into.
When they interviewed Yu and talked about human rights abuses, he simply admitted but was quick to add that people should go and see what he turned Singapore into, a first rate city.Â So, for Obasanjo, what can we really point to?Â Obasanjo can not point to anything.
He would usually say â€˜you know my timeâ€™, yes, I agree, but point to something. Where are the roads? NIPP, fantastic thing but it didnâ€™t work and he had eight years.Â He left noÂ legacies.Â That is the lesson for future leaders. I had that vision when I took over the NBA.
When you come in, you must have an idea of what you want to leave behind. Yes, we need a strong leader because Nigerians are a very unruly people but that then also leads us to the issue of followership.Â Nigerians are very unruly.Â Even in Big Brother, Nigerians make the most noise. On the whole we need a good leader, strong and focused.
As Nigeriaâ€™s President, how would you have managed the everyday push and shove of leadership in the countryÂ â€“ your deputy is at war with you, some of your governors are against youâ€¦?
(Cuts in) It wonâ€™t happen at all in the first place.Â Why did all those things happen? Those were part of Obasanjoâ€™s problems.Â When I was reprimanding Okadigbo, he told me that Obasanjo came to open his house, the following day his problem started. How can that happen?
The President of Nigeria is the President.
Look at America. Is it not the same America where Bill Clinton gave them eight years of prosperity and George Bush came and changed the whole thing.Â Look today, even the meltdown, Barrack Obama came and changed the whole face of international politics and international relations.
Thatâ€™s why his Nobel Prize is earned.Â Within a year he changed the geo-political tension in the world.Â The other man called Bush, even without being asked constantly says â€˜weâ€™re at warâ€™, keeping the political temperature up. All that weâ€™ve had is just about cause and effect.Â When the cause ceases to have effect, the effect ceases.Â Obasanjo was the cause of everything.
Why would his deputy be stabbing him in the back?Â Why?
But I think that as President, if youâ€™re open all that wonâ€™t happen.
People misread your position on anti-corruption and due process to mean that you were in the pocket of the then vice president; in fact people saw the NBA as the campaign arm for Atiku?
I didnâ€™t even know the man that well-o.Â I appreciate that point but I had more relationship with Obasanjo than Atiku.Â One on one, no.
But you wonâ€™t believe what some people out there are saying.Â Some even create a linkage and say that your campaign to become NBA president was bank-rolled by Atiku and so, as NBA president you were merely paying back?
No, I didnâ€™t have a relationship with the vice president, at all.
The Cabotage law; we have it in place but look at the ports and the congestion.
I criticize the way in which the powers that be make appointments.Â If you want the shipping industry to work, you should have the right attitude.
Every coastal nation creates rules to promote its own indigenous capacity and if you hope to be taken seriously, you have to show me the ships you have.Â Saudi Arabia is one of the largest shipping-owning nations and what they do is they isolate shipping activities to their nationals.
In Nigeria, that is not the case and so we have been excluded.Â So, cabotage, which is largely drawn from the Jonesâ€™ Act in the United States, is all about that.
The point the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi made, that Nigeria is a nation of immense wealth without linkages and thatâ€™s why we produce crude but we canâ€™t refine here. Oil, Gas and Shipping is so immense that we can do better.Â The industry is well worth about a trillion dollars.Â We suffer from regulatory failure.Â What I would have liked to see is a situation where law would have a good space in our national discourse.
That is what weâ€™re doing now, working in the states, banking and Iâ€™ve drawn up at least 50 private bills which weâ€™re pushing.Â That is the challenge. Legislation is the key to development.
Now, Anambra State: How can your state be rescued?
That is why rather than start something why not just stay out.
Everybody canâ€™t stay out?
Well I think the solution would be if INEC applies the rules fairly strongly and credibly it would stop the problem.Â Although I admit that INEC has no control over internal democracy within the parties.
The courts have a role.Â INEC can supervise the primaries and they can then say and I donâ€™t know at what point the whole thing gets messed up because PDP says the justification for Soludo is that the primaries failed. In fact I donâ€™t know how all these cases would play out but INEC says it is obeying the court order which says Soludo should not be fielded and again we await the judgment of the Appeal Court on Andy Uba.
Peter Obi said he would not go for the election of 2007 because he insisted that his tenure was not up; you know Peter Obi is a rugged man.Â He insisted and went through the three courts and he won. Now the case in the Appeal Court, I donâ€™t see how they can give the judgment people are suspecting they want to give.