•Why I asked God to fight for me against Obasanjo
Lawyer, journalist, and former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju was one of two governors elected in 1999, who failed to win a second term. In this interview, he traces the conspiracies he claims aborted his second term dreams, and for that reason, strongly rejects what he claims are similar conspiracies against President Goodluck Jonathan. He also reviews the proceedings and conclusions of the recent National Conference and dismisses the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, as a pack of troublemakers for the polity. Excerpts:
By Charles Kumolu
DO you see the state of insecurity as a reflection of a weak presidency?
I don’t see Jonathan as a weak president. Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, does not see him as a weak president. Majority of Nigerians do not see him as weak. Even many opposition parties and members do not see the president as weak. What we should remember is that there is a clear difference between a civilian president and military president. A military president rules by decree and it does not matter to him whose ox is gored.
In the case of president Jonathan his clarion call is adherence to Nigeria’s constitution, rule of law, equity and fairness. This form of rulership is very often seen as weakness on the part of the president whom many people expect to perform in a military fashion.
President Jonathan’s mantra of one-man, one-vote single him out as a real democrat, and he did not allow wuru-wuru as part of elections in Edo, Ondo, Anambra and Ekiti. He still maintained his stand on Osun election. So one can safely conclude that rather than being weak, President Jonathan will be remembered as the best active and action-packed President Nigeria has had.
What is your stance on the recent spate of impeachment of governors in the country?
Impeachment is not new to politics. It is a process of accusing a public or government official of misconduct while in office. In short, it is a legal process of removing an undesirable person from office.
It is a hard and difficult road to tread upon. Those who passed through it whether good or bad would not want to go through it again.
The PDP was not going round looking for whom to impeach, except when the occasion warranted it. The occasion came when seven governors of the party (PDP) decided to defect to APC, though two of those seven withdrew leaving five of them now in APC. If they had defected and kept quiet and not rubbed it in, it could have been condoned.
But one of the five committed further offence by charging the nation’s president with crime against humanity. Even if Mr. President were just a citizen, was the defecting governor entitled to abuse anybody anyhow?
So the State House of Assembly, following the procedure, impeached the governor and removed him from office. The remaining defectors are still spitting fire and brimstone against PDP and its leadership including Mr. President. So we can see that it was not the PDP that provoked matters that led to the impeachment. Those defected governors benefited enormously from the party.
They were given ticket to vie against other parties and the said governors won on the platform of PDP with active support of Mr. President.
Or should the party just sit there and watch their members polluted with the rabid and unspeakable venom the opponents pour on PDP and its members? Any neutral umpire will definitely give a good verdict in favour of PDP and very bad mark for opposition which kept provoking the major party that could easily swallow the rest of the opposing parties.
Many Nigerians have expressed fears that the final report of the National Conference may not be implemented as a result of pressure from some sections of the country?
My view is that very capable men and women who have distinguished themselves in various walks of life were carefully chosen and appointed members of the National Conference. Some people, mainly the opposition from APC, believe that if the conference failed, then the President has failed too. But this is not true.
And before the President accepted to convene the conference he was not that keen but was persuaded to do it in the interest of Nigerians.
There is no doubt that the opposition APC has worked assiduously to ensure that the conference failed. What they gained from that stance nobody knows. This is not the way opposition works in civilized countries of Europe and America. Nigeria cannot grow given the attitude of APC opponents.
So this would not be the end of the National Conference. As I have always said “the bones shall rise again”. The president remains the country’s leader and not minding the opposition.
On additional state for the South-East
Actually, this issue of Igbo marginalization appears to be over- flogged. But it is because no one is listening to the hue and cry of the people of the South-East zone since the civil war till today. No respite has come the way of the Igbo.
Creation of more states
On the issue of creation of more states for equity to reign, we already have six zones in the country. Either we add one state to South east to make six like others, or we add one more State to each of the four States for them to have seven states each. Because “equity is equality” the present 5 States of the South East Zone will move up to 7 in line with the other Zones of the Federation for the purpose of equality of zones and balance of the Federal Structure, this is the only solution everyone should support.
Many people from the South-East are of the opinion that President Jonathan has done more for the South-East than any other president in the country, hence the endorsement of his second term ambition?
I agree with the question that South-East Igbo have received from President Jonathan much more assistance than any former president has done. This may be because South-South and South-East were together in Eastern Region of Nigeria until the civil war disorganized the people of that region.
Many South-South people still answer Igbo names and President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is one of the many examples. But the major issue is that of bread and butter. Indeed President Jonathan more than any other President or Head of State has done more for the South-East, the home of Igbo.
His being with Ndigbo at the funeral of their hero, General Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, as well as being at the funeral of the world acclaimed writer, Prof Chinua Achebe shows a great rapport with Igbo people.
Some of the roads in the South-East zone were death traps till recently when Jonathan’s men began serious work on the roads, on erosion, on the Niger Bridge connecting South-East and South-South and other parts of the country.
It also comes to mind that it was President Jonathan that opened up the exploration of oil in the zone, his predecessor Obasanjo insisted that the oil was for strategic reserve, despite all the pressure I pounced on him, he didn’t bulge until Jonathan came with the goodwill of former Governor Peter Obi.
Even on appointments, the South-East have their own fair share of personnel and persons who have been a source of pride in their execution and delivering of whatever assignments given to them at that national level.
Although we thank God and our president for the much we have received, but compared with the bounty that goes to other parts of the country particularly the North, the difference is clear. I don’t want to go into details but the Igbo will continue to ask.
Still on the war against terrorism, how do you think the war can be strengthened?
The first time Nigerians woke up and heard of insurgency was during the presidential election of 2011 when Nigerians heard what they never believed, that if President Jonathan won the election that the country would be ungovernable.
Since 2011 till today Nigerians have not been able to trace the person or the voice which everybody heard.
And from 2011 till today Nigerians have not slept with their eyes closed. Boko Haram appeared to have established their base of operation at Bornu. As of today the insurgents have decimated three states of Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa. Churches, Mosques, Christians, Muslims, men, women, boys and girls were not exempted. They were virtually in charge in those three states. The climax was uprooting more than 300 girls in their exam halls and carrying them to unknown places. Till today nobody exactly knows the fate of those girls known as Chibok girls.
But Nigerians are very resilient, they always quickly adapt to any situation and they did it again.
The President and his army should be encouraged to do the best they can. Those blaming the President or the military on the insurgency must be APC members because they are virtually not in this world. That is why APC leaders at an Osun rally said the party would form a parallel government if PDP won the election. One wonders which constitution and law the APC members are following in that their party.
If the sect or insurgents cannot be defected as things stand now, they could at least be checked and stopped pending when God shall give us victory over our opponents and Boko Haram and APC. All must be defeated, if not today, tomorrow.