By Dayo Bensn,Â Political Editor
Mr Ikechukwu Oligbo,a lawyer and security expert in this interview with VanguardÂ spoke on delisting of Nigeria from list of potential terrorist countries by the United States of America, its implications, incessant kidnapping in the country and other national issues. Excerpts:
Nigeria has just been delisted from list of potential terrorist countries, how did the situation affect Nigerians abroad and what are the implications.
It is a big relief and pure common sense on the part of the international community that Nigeria â€™s name was removed from the list of potential terrorist countries. It is the right decision. I believe that it should not have been there in the first place.
Players in this saga from the United States, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom ,Ghana and Nigeria know that no one single country is to take all the blame for the security failures that occurred in respect of the attempted terrorist suicide bombing of a US flight in Detroit by Mutallab.
We all agreed that it was the radicalisation of Mr Mutallab in Yemen and some bad association during his time as a student in University of London in the United Kingdom that are the main factors to blame and it has to be remembered that Mr Mutallabâ€™s father did the right thing and reported his suspicions to the American Embassy.Â One could not have asked more of a law abiding and decent Nigerian asÂ Muttallab’s father. So the only key role Nigeria played in his life was his being born in Nigeria and of Nigerian parentage. NigeriaÂ had nothing to do with this young manâ€™s radicalisation and criminalisation.
I believe that common sense has prevailed in this decision by the United States in removing this albatross from the neck of all decent Nigerian citizens, the issue of re-branding can now commence in earnest.
What is your general assessment of Nigeria â€˜s democratic process?
I have always emphasized about the credibility of elections. It must be seen to be free and fair andÂ Nigeria has not got a good image and record when it comes to that. It would take something extraordinary to put us towards that path. As we all know, even in developed countries, elections are difficult to organise but we must try our best to enfranchise every citizen of Nigeria .
I am not a politician and not a member of any political party but regardless of our political affiliations, we must work together to bring some sanity and integrity into the political processÂ as 2011 is around the corner but we must demonstrate confidence in our ability to conduct a free and fair election. However, election has a lot of stumbling blocks which would undermine any effort to conduct credible poll. Prime among those obstacles is the absence of any concrete legislation which would impose stern punishment for violation of any aspect of the countryâ€™s constitution or electoral acts in the course of scheming for election victory.
As long as Nigerian politicians understand that they can threaten the conduct of a free and fair election and get away with it, the longer the country would never experience a free and fair election. We cannot accept a country where the so-called leaders only succeed in leading us into a ditch all the time.
We have become the scorn of other countries, we are called a big for nothing nation. Other countries are saying that it is only a country like Nigeria that a sick manÂ can remain unconscious for months unending andÂ be ruling from a sick bed from any part of the world all in an effort to maintain an awkward political arrangement. Even if all the people from that region where he isÂ from were sick, at least there may be some of them who are still conscious enough to know what they are doing.
Do you think the recent ministerial appointments would improve the economic and political situation in the country?
Every injection of new energy, skills and ideas into a project or place is always a welcome thing and I believe that the new ministerial appointees would do theirÂ best possible to improve the lives of the populace that is what democracy is all about and I wish them all the best in their new assignments.
As an expert in security operations, what suggestions do you have to improve on the security situation in the country?
Regarding the security in the country, we have to first start with the most plaguing at the moment which is kidnapping; to check this security operatives must ensure that every mobile telephone is registered and traceable. Purchase of phone sim cards should be regulated in such a way that anybody who wants to acquire it must produce a credible photo of identification. Any simcard dealer who does not adhere with the security rules and regulations will be charged with a criminal offence. Secondly, intelligence from informants is crucial to identify king pins or the kidnapping masters who organise and send out these criminal groups to kidnap innocent citizens for their greedy financial lust.
Arrest and prosecutions of kidnappers must be seen to be effective. Any kidnapper arrested must be punished severely to serve as deterrent to others.Â Bribery of law enforcement agents or any officials to release the crook under any circumstances must be discouraged. Also the use of Closed Circuit Television CCTV in strategic areas to capture images and faces of criminals could help in solving some of these crimes. There are a lot of other things that can be done to help slow down this heinous and dangerous crime.