By Emma Ujah,    Abuja Bureau Chief
Raymond Ugba Ikemefuna Morphy is a man of many parts.  From Cattle Ranching, Accountancy, Project and Strategy  Management, Transformational Leadership to Media and Communications, where he majors, having put in over 28 years in the industry and now the publisher of a new newspaper, the Summit, based in Abuja. 

In this interview, with our Abuja Bureau Chief, Emma Ujah,  Mr. Murphy bares his mind on the raging 2011 debate over whether or not Acting President Goodluck Jonathan should run.

He says it will be immoral for Dr. Jonathan to run for the 2011 polls on the platform of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).  Mr. Murphy insists that the Acting President is a beneficiary of the PDP Zoning arrangement and therefore should respect it by allowing presidency to remain in the North for the next four years.  The alternative, he says, is for Dr. Jonathan to leave PDP and contest on the platform of another political party.

What is the idea behind the Summit Newspaper?

Raymond Ugba Ikemefuna Morphy

Our basic concept is that first of all, we believe that democracy cannot thrive in a democracy where people are not adequately informed.  The foundation of democracy is knowledge and choice.  So we know there are still some gaps, even though some people feel that Nigeria already has too many newspapers. That is not true.

There are more newspapers in the city of Los Angeles than there are in Nigeria.  There may be various community papers or state newspapers representing various ideas and view points so we at Summit believe that Nigeria requires a socially active media and we felt that ideologically, we will promote that goal.

Are you saying that the Nigerian electorate are not sufficiently informed about the ideals of democracy?
That is why democracy has not done very well in Nigeria.  As you know, democracy revolves around choice.  Choice revolves around the capacity to choose.  So first is the knowledge and then the right value system to make the right choice.  So the role we can play as a media is to give as much information as possible.

By internalizing our views, we will be helping the people to make the rights choices. We want our democracy to grow beyond the level where someone would say, because I come from a certain part of Nigeria I should be the one to go this office or that office.  Or because a candidate comes from my village I will vote for him.

You talk of building the capacity in the electorate to make choices but we are faced with a situation in Nigeria where the choices the people don’t matter in determining who rules them.

That is part of the reasons why papers like summit must come to the scene.  The citizens of Nigeria have been educated wrongly to think that they are powerless.  In as much as we don’t advocate anarchy, we must uphold the sovereignty of the people.

The authority of the people rests on the their knowing that they have sovereignty.   It was Steve Biko, who said that the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor are the minds of the oppressed.  That oppressed mind who begins to accept that it is actually possible for the instrument of state to oppress him.

Let me give you a typical example.  You can’t enforce rigging, really, if the people don’t agree with you.  There a 150 million Nigerians.  We have less than 1 million policemen. So let’s say there is an election and the people want to have their will, nobody can enforce anything against their will.  But we don’t have enough commitment to take position.

In fact most Nigerians are no longer enthusiastic because they believe that their votes wouldn’t count.

That is the point I am making.  We all have to educate the people to know that sovereignty lies with them.  That is why the public officer is called a public servant. He is to serve the pubic good. The second schedule of the constitution makes it very clear.

The moment our people begin to appreciate that they have this authority, to actually determines who rules them and they have the capacity to enforce that, and it becomes a standard in Nigeria, then democracy can thrive in the country.

Looking back at your activities in the Up Nigeria initiative, how would you evaluate the perception of Nigeria by Nigerians?

First of all, I am one of those who hold the view that this country is mightily blessed.  Having travelled outside the country a little bit; having interacted with other characters from other countries, one thing I notice about Nigerians is that they have energy, enterprise.  We are “can do “ people.   But what we haven’t got right is our ethics.

Anthropology shows that society evolves to bring together people  to develop what they cannot develop as individuals and then reap the benefit of society.  For instance, if we are living alone as individual entities  you, then we have to make roads for ourselves.  But society has evolved such that we can come together so we can derive the benefit of economy of scale which makes it easier for us to contribute small amounts of money to put these infrastructure facilities in place.

Extreme selfishness negates society. And selfishness, you must know is a function of  is a function of corruption. And lack of understanding of the dynamics of society.

Take the kidnapping that is going on now for instance, it is a direct consequences of rapacious elites.  Elites that rob the people.  The people will be docile for a while.  After a while, a time will come and the people will say we won’t take it anymore.

But because these people do not have the right education to resist it through a socially acceptable means, they resort to deviant behaviors.    So kidnapping and all forms of anti-social behavior are function of the recompense by the ordinary man to what the corrupt elites have created as society.

In other words, the elites are to blame for the situation?

Yes.  Would you see a medical student who has hope become a kidnaper?  Would you find an engineering graduate who has hope that he would get a job become a kidnapper?  Would you find  boy who has hope that in two or three years’ time if he stayed on course in the university he would graduate and a job would be there for him become a cultist.?

The point in which we are now, we have to make it very clear that society cannot thrive when you remove the things that would make society thrive, which is what corruption has done o us. So extreme selfishness created room for all of that.

We are looking for a situation where extreme selfishness would be reversed through education.

One wonders if these corrupt elites are amenable to change through such education as you propose.
Very simple. Very easy to change. Why is everybody running to Abuja?  Why is Abuja so choked up.  It is because the states have collapsed.

The states have collapsed because those running the states have stolen all the money.  And they steal all that money and bring it to Abuja to enjoy and so the poor people also follow them to Abuja.  They are running away from the states.

Today most people would prefer that the states return to the peace that they had before and the only way it (peace) can return is for these same elites to do the right thing.

In many states of the country, big men don’t go to church anymore.  They don’t attend weddings anymore; they don’t attend funerals anymore- because they are afraid that they would get kidnapped.   The kidnappers are not kidnapping you out of wickedness, he wants to get some money out of you because he thinks you have too much money.  And you cannot justify this money that you have.

These corruption in our electoral system pulls us back.  All the opprobrium, insults we have received from the international community about how poorly we conduct our elections reduce us as a nation.  The other day, former American President Jimmy Carter said Nigeria leads the world in electoral offences.  We are at the bottom of the table when it comes to values.

Interestingly, look at the mass turn out of applicants who went to write the test for employment into INEC on Saturday.  It is because many people believe that since we are in election year, that is the place to make money.

First of all, as a Nigerian patriot, I believe in Nigeria as an entity.  Nigeria as a geographical expression is the constituency for the president.  That is given.  Therefore, every Nigerian has a constitutional right to run.  But the PDP to which Acting President Jonathan belongs  has a zoning understanding which has been implemented so far.

Therefore it is immoral for Dr. Jonathan or anyone else to seek to upturn this arrangement for personal interest.

I come from South-South but agree with those who believe that this is the turn of the North.  There is an understanding that power should be in the North for 8 years.  If Dr. Jonathan or any other person from the South wants to run, then he should another party on which platform to fulfill that ambition.

But for now, because the rules have been made, you don’t change the rules of the game in the middle of the game.  That will be immoral.

Secondly, the PDP is made up Nigerians, just like you and I, but like Nigeria is a political entity, the leadership that is drawn up in Government Houses by the PDP, tend not to represent the individual aspirations of PDP members, there are moralists in PDP.

But look at the kind of leaders that came up in PDP under Obasanjo, men that cannot contribute to the intellectual group of the party.  They could not contribute to the  social growth, moral growth, to the up-liftment of  society.  That was unfortunately what gave the PDP a bad image.

I am one of those who believe that the PDP should be re-organised, be re-formulated, not necessarily in terms of personnel but in terms of ethics, to accommodate the teaming millions of people who want to contribute to moral and social growth of the nation.

But for Jonathan who is in PDP, he has a constitutional right to but that right is limited by associating with a party that has a zoning formula which he himself has accepted by being the candidate of the South-South when the zoning was done for South-South to produce a Vice President and the North to produce the President.

The South has had it under Obasanjo.  It is only fair and moral for it to go to the North and remain there for eight years.  It will come back again if PDP wins.  After all, this argument would not arise if an APGA, for instance of PPA had won the Presidency in 2007 or wins in 2011.

I want to call as a South-South person that we should not heat-up the polity.  Already we have been going through crisis like a drunken man- staggering from rock to the other.  In spite of all the stories people tell about him, I think that Dr. Jonathan is a lucky man.  If he thinks well, he may eventually be retained as Vice President  to anybody who comes up from the North and naturally, he may also have the chance to be the South-South candidate for president and be in office for 8 years.

In other words, if he feels strongly that he must contest, he must leave PDP

Yes.  Or wait until 2015 when it will be the turn of South-South, that is my take on that.  As a Southerner, I have enjoyed the friendship of many detribalized Nigerians and quite a lot of them come from the North, I must tell the truth.

As someone from Ogoja, I my early education the South-East, I speak very fluent Ibo, I am sure you may think I am an Ibo man, but I am from Ogoja.   I have relationship with many Northerners- People like the National Security Adviser, Gen. Gusau, Prof. Ango Abdullahi , Zangon Daura, as well as, several others    and I have nothing but commendation some of these individuals.

Like when people speak of Gen Gusau coming back, I said it is a call to duty. Volunteerism and I find no better man both in experience and age for this kind of job.

Would it be correct to say there is no other Nigerian that can do the job?

I said I find no better person because the kind of comment you hear him make are wonderful comments.  Look I can quote him on this, “ he said I have been a victim of people’s maltreatment and that he cannot sit to maltreat another person.  You can’t beat a man who talks like that.  You can’t beat a man who says I have suffered this thing, it pains me and I cannot do it to any other person, I can’t be part of any arrangement to maltreat anther person.

That is the kind of man you give authority to.  Not a man who would use authority as an instrument of oppression.  Of course there have been speculations that he would run for the presidency.  I have heard it.  I don’t know how true it is but I do know that he is a man who is trying to make a good job out of the assignment given to him as the NSA.

I know made a bid last time and I was privileged to work with him as the Director of Strategy and planning and I think that if he declares to run, I am one of those whom he would probably call but for now I know he is concentrating on making Nigeria great.

I know that if he does a good job of this and Nigerians say look why not take the main job (presidency)  I don’t see him turning it down.

I remember that he was recalled   at the peak of the Jos crisis.  Incidentally that problem still lingers, going by reports of attacks on villages around Jos. Can you then say that the man has done so well, given the fact that it appears even the federal government has failed to end the crisis?

My answer is this, every wound takes some time to heal, even when you stitch it. it a few days for the pain to go away.  You must agree that the crisis in Jos has been there for a while.  You must agree that some of these crisis around us have been there for a while.  All these problems you call religious crisis are not.

They are crisis arising from the struggle for scarce and dwindling resources.  How about Umulere and Agulere.  These are the same people from the same place and yet we all know how long it took to end the war between the two groups.


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