BY BEN AGANDE
Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange is a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan from Bayelsa State.
In this interview he gives reasons why the Northwest should wait till 2031 to contest the presidency, says the Boko Haram insurgency is political and gives reasons why State Police should be established. Excerpts:
What do you think should be the focus of the ongoing constitution amendment exercise?
I don’t believe that we need to create more states because the more you create, the more the demands. It is better for us to stay with the present arrangement except to balance the geopolitical zones; it would be okay to create an additional one state in the south east. We should not create more than one state in the south east so that they too can get six states in the zone.
Outside that, I want the local government to be removed from the constitution as a third tier of government. Allow each state to create as many local governments as it can. The allocation from the federation account should be shared to the two tiers of government; the federal and the state governments.
Each state should manage its affairs in terms of the second tier of government they want to create. They can also create a third tier of government. Because we now tie local government to federation account, people begin to clamour for more local governments. Those who are producing the wealth have less local governments. The military used their fiat to create many local governments for some areas while some areas are shortchanged. I am of the opinion that we should scrap the local government as a tier of government. It should remain under the state governments.
What of the call for the setting up of state Police?
There is nothing wrong with having local police no matter the name you call it. I know people are afraid of state police because we are not mature for it now. Those who are in authority will use it against opponents. But let us not forget that they will not be in office for ever. If we are well informed, there would be no fear for state police. It will be more effective but I also understand the fear that those in authority will use it against their opponents. The state police can better manage the security situation in the country.
Despite the successes recorded against the Boko Haram sect, bombing of churches has continued. What in your opinion is the government not doing right in its fight against Terrorism?
Government is not doing anything wrong in order to attract this kind of nonsense. I believe, and I am waiting to be contradicted, that Boko Haram is a political set up and it will continue to exist as long as those who feel that power must not shift to another place, that they are the custodian of Nigerian power hold unto this position.
They believe that the West got power when they fought using their press, that south-south has used militancy to get power so they believe that this disturbance will force Nigerians to give them power. It is a political gimmick. It is not terrorism as being painted.
If you are talking of unemployment, it is a national phenomenon. If you go to the oil companies you will discover that you have more people from outside the oil producing communities than the people from the area. So if you are talking of unemployment, it is a general problem. The way out of the Boko Haram is to ignore them where you can and attack them where you can. It should not be taken as a national problem. Yes security measures should be taken especially areas that are likely targets but it should not be seen as a national problem. It is a political creation.
Do you agree with those who say that President Jonathan should not contest the 2015 presidential election and should allow power shift to the North?
Have you ever looked at the number of years each zone has ruled? Why are we talking about it only from 1999? Nigeria did not start from the Obasanjo era. Nigeria should seen from 1960 so if you are taking records of leadership, you must start from 1960.
So how many rulers have we gotten from the Northwest from 1960 and how many years have they ruled from 1960? How many years has the North Central ruled since 1960? Anybody who is telling you that it is the turn of the north is not being considerate at all. At the end of President Jonathan’s tenure, the next people to rule this country should be South East.
When we say power must shift, why are we restricting it to North and South? We have six geo-political zones and power must shift from one zone to the other and not from north and south. It can never be north and south. When the South South finishes, then it must go to South-East.
At the end of South East then it can go to North East. North West should not even come in at all. Thank God it is not written anywhere but I do not believe that the North West should not even think about it at all.
Critics of the president say he is not fighting corruption.
Do they expect him to gather the people and shoot them? He must pass through due process and the courts might take time before giving judgment that does not mean he is not working. It is not a one man show. I am happy that he is strong and bold to say do this.
The special panel headed by Nuhu Ribadu is a clear example. How many people in Nigeria can take their opponent to head a government agency? He has given a commitment that he would work on the report. That is how far he is fighting corruption. The main area of corruption in Nigeria is in the oil industry and he is facing it squarely.
Even in the power sector we have seen improvement. We believe that next year would be better than this year. These things are gradual.
We are in a civil rule and the president cannot do anything by fiat. he is doing his best and people should not expect him to behave like a military president.