BY CHARLES KUMOLU
The General Secretary of Campaign for Democracy, Mr. Ifeanyi Odili makes a holistic scrutiny of the activities of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in this dispensation and concludes that much has not been done to keep the present leaders on their toes. He also questions the rationale for the recent endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office
It is generally believed that the Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, have not been active in this dispensation. How do you react to that?
It is not that we have not been active. We are still very active. The people we are dealing with are too heady. In fact, it seems we do not even know where to start from. We have too many problems and challenges in this country. If you have a child and you have been giving him training, chastising him for a long period of time and he heeded not, you may say, “well if you want to die, please go ahead and die, I have tried my best for you, I have had enough.” That is the situation on the ground. For I8 years, Nigeria has been aimless in the hands of political marauders. In fact, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti told me a few months before his death that he preferred the military guys we sent packing to these politicians. The man must have said so out of annoyance and frustration based on the widespread unpleasant socio-political and economic situation at that time. One thing I want to make clear is that in military era, we had a common enemy but today we have so many enemies and so many interests within and among the CSOs. That is why we threw one of us out because his political interest was becoming very embarrassing.
Many also argue that some perceived failings of this administration are not being challenged by the CSOs unlike in the past when governments were put on their toes. How true is that?
They are not far from the truth and that takes us back to what I said inter alia. I said that our interest has been divided. Did you not see what happened when President Buhari was battling for his life as a result of health challenges? Instead, ob focusing on issues some were busy campaigning for his re-election when he was on his sickbed. Can you see how unrealistic, daft and senseless we could be? When we are no longer speaking with one voice, our interests have been divided, our house is divided against itself, how then would the politicians not have their ways? But I have good news for Nigerians. CD is out again. As I am talking we are assiduously working closely on how best we can save this nation from the hands of these political foxes and wolves.
At the level of Campaign for Democracy, CD, what are the things you are doing to deepen democracy especially as 2019 approaches?
Nigeria is our cross but demons have taken over. So, the first thing we are about to do is to charge our Muslim and Christian faithful to seek the face and mercy of God by asking for his forgiveness because our leaders have done what is evil in the sight of God. We are mapping out plans to get the masses sensitized on why they should rise up to the occasion. Because any further imposition of bad policies such as the wicked increment of fuel pump price will be met with stiff opposition. Our institutions are almost grounded. We will mount pressure on the federal government to cut down its running cost. Our collective patrimony is being sunk into the National Assembly, NASS. We are going to stop them.
The Contributions of the CSOs to anti-graft campaign are very fundamental, in the light of that, how best do you think the war against corruption can be prosecuted inclusively?
If you had listened to me on TVC News last week, I said that before anyone is nominated to take up a government job, let the government subject such a person to psychiatric test to find out if the person is of sound mind. Unsound mind as enshrined in Nigerian constitution is not only when one is a lunatic. When a person is not behaving rationally, he is considered to be an unsound mind. Is it not an exhibition of madness for someone to keep about $ 4.8 million in an empty flat? That is no longer robbery or corruption, but madness. So how can we prevent such menace? A medical test is a solution. Apart from this, we are working also with our mother in the struggle Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, a leader of another big sister organization who has been leading a serious campaign against terror and corruption in Nigeria to fashion out how best we can assist the government to fight corruption. Don’t forget that we faced soldiers eye-ball-eye-ball and we can still do more if the need arises.
The CSOs have been accused of being tools in the hands of politicians, in what ways can that impression be corrected?
There is no other way to correct that impression than to be disciplined and focused. We in the CSOs have to be disciplined first before we can do anything. Someone that is not disciplined and financially independent can easily be manipulated. Until we go back to the streets to confront these looters, reclaim our past glory, some of us will continue to be tools in the hands of these politicians.
Some All Progressives Party, APC, chieftains recently endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term? Do you think the President has done much to deserve tenure?
They are talking about a second term when he has not delivered on his first mandate. We have spent half of his tenure treating an undisclosed ailment, and some who thought they were fooling the rest of us are here talking of a second term. I have asked some of my friends in the APC, who endorsed him if Buhari really merits that endorsement but they said, “Odili you are no longer a small boy neither are you new in this game, Buhari is going nowhere.’’ If that is the case, why fooling the old man? Why do they want him disgraced out of office in 2019? Until this moment they have not given me a convincing and definite answer except one of them, who asked if someone has not been disgraced out of office in the past.