BY EMEKA MAMAH
SINCE the emergence of democracy about 12 years ago, many Nigerians including politicians and non politicians have been advocating for change in the way things are done for the better. One of these Nigerians who has been consistent in agitating for change in the polity is the former member of the Alliance for Democracy, AD in Enugu State and now the National Chairman of the Citizens Popular Party, CPP.
Chief Maxi Okwu spoke in a short interview. Read on:
What is your take on the six year tenure for governors and the President as proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan?
Everything about the six year tenure proposal by the President is wrong, both in terms of timing and concept. In the first place the nation is in the middle of huge security challenges from several quarters; Boko Haram terrorists who have practically frustrated peace, order and good governance in the North East particularly in Borno state.
The Federal Capital Territoty, FCT, Abuja is not left out as occasional threats from the group send the seat of the Federal Government into a lockdown. In other parts of the country, armed robbery is on the increase rendering most of our highways unsafe. The kidnapping saga has not yet been contained. There is a looming labour industrial action over non implementation of the Minimum Wage Act. The list is endless. The administration has paid scant regard to Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution that makes security and welfare of the people the primary purpose of government at all levels.
This cut and nail approach to the constitutional amendment process in our humble opinion is counter-productive. The Abdulsalami Abubakar junta- imposed Constitution which we currently operate suffers from fundamental and structural deficiencies that go beyond the mandate of the current administration including the National Assembly, NASS.
The solution should be wholistic at a specially convoked People’s National Conference to resolve the national question. This Constituent Assembly must be composed of representatives of the component units or peoples that make up Nigeria. The fundamental agreements reached by the founding fathers of the nation in London in the late 50’s have been truncated and rendered otiose by prolonged military rule. We must get back to the realities and recreate a truly Federal Republic of Nigeria. The question of tenure would consequentially be taken care of at that exercise.
Do you think that President Jonathan has any further services to render, having said that he has no priorities and knowing that there are serious security challenges, poor power supply, poor network of roads, unemployment among others but decided to take up the issue of tenure elongation as his priority?
If the morning shows the day, then its already dusk at dawn. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEF spent a better part of his honey moon on inanities. He promised a transformational government which we are yet to see signs of. The team he put together to drive this agenda is essentially uninspiring except for a couple of individuals.
We are yet to see any bright spark from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala or Prof Barth Nnaji. Having said that, the buck stops on the table of the President, who is constitutionally defined as the Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. In less than 30 days it will be 100 days of the current administration and there is very little to cheer about. I would urge on GEJ to buckle up and tackle squarely urgent matters in his in-tray. Nigerians are really getting impatient. They voted for change and not chance.
Your party, the Citizens Popular Party, CPP, did not participate effectively in the last general elections. How are you getting ready for the 2015 election, knowing that a stitch in time saves nine?
Well, my party has been a victim of the moniterisation of our politics. Secondly, there is too much prebendalism by the electorate, who have become cynical of the process. The level of hunger in the land is so much that for pittance from public office holders who have cornered huge resources through abuse of their offices, they are easily induced to sell their democratic rights.
From day one, we have seen CPP as an vehicle to catalyse the coalescing of progressive forces with an agenda for genuine change to wrestle power from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP. To some of us the past 12 years of the PDP administration of this nation could be likened to the years of the locust. It is a pity that it will continue till 2015. We are resolved this time around to get our acts right. In this strategy CPP is an infinitesimal though, an important part of a whole.
What advice would you like to offer Jonathan to ensure that he achieves some measure of progress for the country before he completes his tenure?
He must concentrate on the exhortations of Section 14 of the constitution. That is, make the security and welfare of the people the primary purpose of his government. He must have zero tolerance for corruption which is eating away at the soul of this country. To do it he must rise above the fray by being transparent and lead by example. By so doing, most public officials at the federal level, including the ubiquitous governors would fall in line. Let him begin by a public declaration of his assets and tone down the protocol and hustle around him.
Do you see Mr. President as somebody who will abide by his promise not to contest election in 2015, judging from past experiences?
I do not believe it for one moment.