June 13, 2009

Enemies of June 12 should stop posing as democrats —Onitiri

CHIEF Sunbo Onitiri is a chieftain of the Peoples democratic Party,PDP, in this interview with Sunday Politics, he lamented that the federal government is yet to make June 12 a national holiday. Onitiri, who was a senatorial candidate of PDP in 2007 elections, declared that Chief M.K.O Abiola is supposed to be honoured by past and present civilian government. He also spoke on other national issues. Excerpts:

By  Charles Kumolu

PEOPLE have continued to call for June  12 to be set aside as a democracy day,   given the significance they claim it occupies in Nigeria’s history. Do you subscribe to the idea?

I well I will tell you that we have not done well. And the reason is not farfetched.  Those at the helm of affairs now are not the right people. So there is nothing to celebrate. It is because those that are at the head of affairs now are not the right people that can take this nation to anywhere.

This country is unfortunate to have some element that have hijacked the political structure of this nation. When we fought for democracy, these people were against us. Infact they were enemies of democracy.

They didn’t understand the purpose of our fight.  If  we look back to the struggle of democracy of NADECO and the death of  MKO Abiola , you will know that June 12 is important.  MKO payed the  supreme sacrifice for democracy.  He died for democracy but some elements  who don’t want democracy to thrive , hijacked the structure and they are benefitting from it.

They are not out to render any service to this nation, they are out to loot the nation and that is what they are doing. Some of them  who fought against June 12 that democracy should are not supposed to pose as democrats.  What good do you think they can do for this nation? This are people who should not have been there in the first instance and that is the problem we are having in this nation.

I am still insisting that Abiola deserves to be honoured because of the ultimate sacrifice he payed. Those who are in the realm of affairs, 99% of them are not supposed to have been there, like Fela Anikulapo Kuti said that we have  vagabonds in power. Nigerians will never reap any dividend of democracy if these people continue to be at the realm of affairs in this nation , even if they celebrate 50 or 100  yrs of democracy, we cant go far with them. May 29 is not a democracy day, the democracy day is June 12.  June 12 was when we willingly exercised our rights to choose our leaders.

Would you say the National Assembly has met the expectations of many interms of the quality and quantity of bills passed since 1999?
Like I told you,  some of the people in the National Assembly are not supposed to be there. They are out there to serve their selfish and political interest. They will never serve the interest of Nigeria. That is why they have not been able to make quality laws.  When you are hear about National Assembly is when  they are looking and hearing money. They don’t even talk about the plight of the masses, the National Assembly is far remorse from the feeling of ordinary Nigerian. Some of them  rarely go to their constituencies .

Until we have change and when we have the right people at the realms of affairs in this country, that is when we will get it right.  I am talking about people who  are selfless.  When they are there, that is when Nigeria shall have the dividends of democracy.

Some have argued that the seven point-agenda has failed. And if we must move forward in this dispensation, the President should focus on one agenda instead of seven point.  Do you subscribe to that?

Even the seven point agenda or  whatever point agenda can never work because  the president is surrounded by wrong people who cannot perform. If you look at the ministers, they’ve been appointed by god-fathers and they are expected to pay back as well. How do you expect that type of team to deliver. They are not interested in the seven point agenda of  the president.  Until president Yar’Adua remove or drop all the ministers and appoint  professionals from the universities and religious bodies who are committed to serve the interest of the people, that is when any agenda can work. The war against corrupting is not even getting tougher, its even getting worse. In four years time, there will be nothing to show until he removes the ministers given to him by god-fathers, and those who hate this country.

The appointment of ministers and others into boards of some federal parastatals, have been described as lopsided by many who feel the North is getting a higher percentage of the appointments?
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the federal character commission. I believe the right people should be put in the right position. Federal character does not bring out the best because in some instances mediocres are used to just fill the gap. Ethnicity or geo-political zone should not influence where a minister or board chairman should come from.

Those appointments are not made based on merit, rather they are done based on godfatherism. That is why we keep getting it wrong. Until when godfatherism will be removed from appointments and promotions, that is when we will discover our bearing.

That is when we will have any appreciable progress because it sis painful that this things are not done on merit. It is sad that they are done on how the resources of this country can be shared. That is why we are not making progress. Don’t you know that Ghana is forty years ahead of us? We need to step up our drive towards nationhood.

Looking at what has happened to the Uwais report on electoral reform, vis a viz the recent rejection of the bill on registration of parties and the bill seeking for more roles for the police during and after elections, would you say the political process will be properly reformed?
The president has a good intention at reforming the electoral process, those around him would not allow him to do a good job on it. It is possible that some people feel threatened with some of the recommendations. But the reforms as submitted by Justice Uwais  should have been adopted like that without the tinkering it is experiencing. Or better still, there would have been a referendum where people would decide on what to remove or add.

It is unfortunate that no matter how good some people might mean for this country, some Nigerians would still work against it. And we must do away with it in order for our country to move forward. We should be patriotic enough to see ourselves as one, that is when we can deliver as a people.

But when we look at ourselves as Hausa, Igbo , Yoruba before recognising our Nigerian identity, then, there is problem.  The solution we need lies on the people. We need a conscious populace that can challenge the establishment. We need to ask God to remove the people obstructing our journey to nationhood.

The recent invasion of the Gbaramatu Kingdom in the Niger Delta, has attracted mixed feelings. What do you think can be a panacea to the needed peace?
The Niger Delta problem was caused by previous governments and it is only the federal government that can solve it. But the major factor in salving the crisis is sincerity.  The people feel that the federal government is not sincere, that is why some of the youths are taking laws into their hands. But I am insisting that only sincere dialogue can solve the problem.