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The President’s absence has not affected governance – Nwite, Pol. Adviser


By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
SENATOR Polycarp Nwite, Third Republic Senator, former Ambassador and at present, Political Adviser to President Yar’Adua in this interview responds to questions on the political issues of the moment including the President’s ill health and the call on him to resign. Excerpt.

What’s your take on the issue of President Yar’Adua’s ill  health and the call on him to resign?

There have been responses from the appropriate quarters. Everybody has responded. Well-meaning Nigerians have also responded that it is selfish to ask the President to resign because he is ill. Anybody can be ill. They only person who has authority over life is God.

It’s only God who can determine who will live and who will die. We didn’t determine the day we were born. So, we cannot determine the day we will die because all these calls for the President’s resignation were borne out of selfishness. The Senate has condemned it.

The House of Representatives has condemned it. The Governors Forum has condemned it. The Federal Executive Council has condemned it. I am saying that call is ridiculous and selfish because the President will conclude his term in office.

There are several issues within the PDP and this perception that it is leading Nigeria astray. What do you think?

I am the Political Adviser to Mr President. I am not political adviser to PDP. So, I will not answer that.

But you are a member of the PDP…

By my office, I should remove governance from partisan politics. There is a difference between governance and partisan politics.

If you ask questions on partisan politics, I will not be able to answer that because there are 54 political parties in Nigeria and by the nature of my position, I am interested in all the political parties and it is based on the activities of these 54 political parties that I advise the President politically.

Now you talked about the parties, you do realise some of them are just parties in name. They don’t exist.

I don’t know about that. They are all registered political parties and are recognised by INEC. Do you know how many political parties they have in America? Do you think it’s only the Republic and Democratic parties that they have? You can imagine that there are several others we have not heard of but here, we have only 54 political parties registered by INEC.

There are 54 parties but we all know PDP is dominant to the point that many fear Nigeria is turning towards a one party state.

So, are we now turning Nigeria to a one-party state after we have registered 54 parties? Is that what you are saying? I think the purpose of INEC registering those parties is to create more platforms for politicians. The government is not interested in making Nigeria a one-party state.

That is why there are Governors and members of the National Assembly who belong to political parties other than the PDP?

What’s your view on the superiority fight between the Senate and the House of Reps?

What is happening in the senate and the House of Reps is beyond me. Those are elected people and they know how to resolve their issues. I am not part of either of them.

There are three arms of government and I’m employed by the executive.
Since, you prefer to answer questions bordering on the executive, don’t you think there is a vacuum in government since the President was away?

Well, the governance is in order. Governance is on-going. Things are working out fine.The Federal Executive Council has said so. Anybody can fall sick. We are not the first country in the world whose President has gone to seek medical attention.

There is no problem in governance. I don’t know what people are looking for. Some of these people who are calling for his resignation can also fall sick and even die.

The President’s illness has not affected governance in any way. And that is what the Federal Executive Council has said. The National Assembly has also said so. There is no problem. Things are running smoothly. The President is a human being like all of us. He is flesh and blood and can be ill just like any of us.

Constitution review is one of the issues pending at the moment. What areas of the Constitution would you want reviewed?

The duty of review and making laws lies on the legislators. Others can make input. Nigerians can make input. The executive can make input and even the judiciary. But the duty of making laws and reviewing them is on the legislators and they are on it.

Do you think immunity on political office holders should be removed so they can face criminal charges even when in office?

That is the beauty of democracy. People have been suggesting that and I think such people should forward their proposal to the legislators. I have no comment on that because whether immunity is removed or not makes no difference as far as I’m concerned.

Would you say this regime is applying the principles of federalism?
Anybody who thinks the present regime is not applying the principles of federalism should air their views. But we are all aware that this is democracy and this regime is known for its tilt towards applying the principle of rule of law.

Once rule of law is being followed in the way things are being done, every other thing will follow.

President Yar’Adua is being accused of pursuing a northern agenda. Do you agree?
He is not. As his political adviser, I know. As an insider, I know. He is not pursuing a northern agenda. Nigeria has never had it so well until he came on board. I would say President Yar’Adua has been doing the right thing and carefully too. He has succeeded where generals failed. He has resolved the problem in the Nigeria-Delta region through amnesty. So, what are we talking ?

Now you talked about amnesty, when will the region begin to experience the post-amnesty promises?

Rome was not built in a day. Let us acknowledge the one we have done which the whole world has acknowledged.The international community has acknowledged what this regime is doing in the Niger-Delta region and that has won us permanent membership of the Security Council. This is to prove the endorsement of the good things Mr. President is doing.  And then, the rule of law is the beginning of good things to happen.

Are you aware some of these groups are beginning to rear their heads again in the region?

I’m not aware.

Do you think the Igbos are getting their fair share in this Nigeria?
They are.

So, to you the civil war is over?

You were not even born before or during the civil war and cannot talk about it. The civil war ended in 1970. Anybody born after 1970 did not see the civil war. The

Igbos are getting their fair share or is an Igbo man not the Inspector General of Police now? Was an Igboman not the Comptroller-General of Customs? Has an Igbo man not become Senate President?

And now, is an Igbo man not the Deputy Senate President? Is General Dike not in the Army? Is Nwadialor not the one that left Customs two weeks ago? Is there any state in Igbo land that does not have a representative in the Federal Executive Council in the past ten years? Do you need more? We are part of the system and we get represented.

What do you think should be done about kidnapping in Igbo land?

There is kidnapping all over the country. We have heard of kidnapping in Kaduna, in Kano and even Ogun State, Lagos and other places Kidnapping is a crime that needs to be tackled the way crime is tackled. It is not a Niger-Delta thing or an Igbo issue. It is a crime and the federal government is tackling it.

What’s your view on the system using people and later dumping them, like Ribadu and El-Ruffai?

I can’t remember President Yar’Adua using anybody and dumping him. This administration never used Ribadu or El-Ruffai nor dumped them.

The South-East has been clamouring for equity in the creation of states. Do you agree with this clamour?

Constitutionally, yes. They are entitled to it. Even the entire Nigerians have accepted that the Igbos deserve one more state or more. And the Igbos are to come together, organise themselves into a viable force and be able to actualise that agenda.

Would the South East ever be able to produce Nigeria’s President?

Why not? Is the South East not part of Nigeria? It’s their constitutional right. They are entitled to it. I don’t believe in zones. I believe that every people should be able to struggle for President and get it.

Are the people organised for it?

They should be able to answer that. What I am concerned with now is my official duty. The Igbos are very responsible people and I think they will put their house in order and would be able to pursue whatever agenda they set for themselves.

What plans do you have for the future politically?

My political future is in the hands of God, not in the hands of human beings. God has always taken me to wherever I am. I have been a Senator, an ambassador and now, I’m the political adviser to the President. I thank God for that. I have never struggled for any of these positions and wherever God takes me, I will accept it as my fate.


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