BY DAPO AKINREFON
MR Tony Uranta is General Secretary of the Nigeria Summit Group (NSG). In this interview, Uranta suggested the declaration of May 29 as a national holiday to be known as MKO Abiola Day as the best way to immortalise the winner of the June 12, 1993 presdiential election. He also gave reasons why Nigerians should bear with President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of democracy in Nigeria since 1999?
I am one of those that have insisted that we have really not achieved full democracy in Nigeria. The same problem, like corruption, that has persisted and created a mockery out of our system is the same phenomenon that is pervading the system of democracy. We still have rigging at the polls, though, we all must agree that the last elections were much fairer than any previous election we have had, except may be, the June 12, 1993 general elections.
That election threw up late MKO Abiola as the winner, even though not announced as the President of Nigeria. In Ghana, corruption is random but in Nigeria, it is endemic and threatening the very fabric of society. Until corruption is fully tackled from the bottom up, corruption will continue to distort all the realities of the nation.
Some Nigerians are dissatisfied with the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. What is your take on it?
I think that President Jonathan has done well considering the circumstances under which he came to be president and which he’s been combating with. The challenges he is faced with, have never been faced by any previous leader of this nation before.
Those challenges were not born during his time, they were conceived before his time, but they grew up to become monsters during his time. The Boko Haram issue, the power issue, the issue of bad roads, bad healthcare issue among other issues have been with us for long.
If by 1982, we had power outage problems, we should not be surprised that if they were not corrected between the 1980s and 2010, we cannot expect Goodluck Jonathan to correct them in one year. We, however, can see the will, good intentions and the will to correct these issues.
He has strengthened the Ministry of Power by bringing on board an expert though there is for now no improvement in power. The issue of Boko Haram especially has really taken the front burner at the moment. In fact, they have constituted such a nuisance that the president has not been able to focus much on any other thing or even do much.
Do you think renaming Unilag after late MKO Abiola was the best way to immortalise him?
If the president had consulted the Senate and had gone through due process of going through the National Assembly to create a law repelling the act that brought the name and the University to be, I would think he did a marvelous job. But what he was aiming for, we can see, even his worst enemies can see that he had good intentions.
His intention mainly was to immortalise Abiola and he was looking for what kind of structure or project that would stand out and of course, Unilag would have been a perfect example. Even the Senate has so agreed and if he had gone through due process.
The students of the university have taken the president to court over it, but I would have preferred that he renamed May 29 as Moshood Abiola Day and created a national holiday for him or a stadium in Abuja.
The best way would have been declaring the day itself a public holiday.