By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Professor ABC Nwosu served as Political Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo at the onset of the Fourth Republic and was later appointed Minister of Health in the same government.
In this interview, he describes his erstwhile boss as a very intelligent and capable leader, submitting, among other things that anyone who ignores his advise especially on 2019 general elections would be doing so at his or her own peril.
How, in your opinion, has Nigeria fared in the last 3 years?
Very badly. Before people dismiss this simple answer as an answer from a front-bench PDP member, let me quickly add that I am also very worried for our country. These days Nigerians are no longer worried about whether they will be killed by joblessness, hunger and poverty, Nigerians are now more worried whether they will be killed by herdsmen, suicide bombers , kidnappers, armed militias, etc.
Nigerians more than ever since 1970 have begun to question the very basis of our nationhood. This is dangerous and the security situation should be quickly brought under control to give citizens more faith in Nigeria. Nigerians have seen through the hollowness of the anti-corruption campaign and the report of Transparency International and are now more focused on security of lives and property.
So, were you then surprised that the abduction of girls from Dapchi, Yobe State has occurred a year to the 2019 elections just like that of Chibok girls in 2014?
I was shocked, frightened and confused. My advice to the APC government is that it must swallow its pride and seek external (foreign) help in a determined effort to reorganize, reequip and redirect the intelligence and coercive agencies of Nigeria in a manner that shall bring the current insecurity situation under control in less than six months. Government does not have beyond this time-frame because too many people have died already.
And more will die if government does not take urgent and decisive action. The forces behind the current insecurity situation may be too much for any African nation to handle and concerted action -militarily, diplomatically and economically may be required. This was how this government began in 2015. It is no use playing the Ostrich now and repeating ad-nuasuem that Boko Haram has been technically defeated and that herdsmen -farmers clashes are communal issues or that herdsmen are foreigners. Nigerians are not stupid.
But you were in PDP and the PDP was in government when all these began to happen?
I have been a member of PDP from day one but I was not in government when these problems began. Incidentally, I was only in the government of President Obasanjo as a Special Adviser same as Prof. Ango Abdullahi. That government inherited insecurity in the Niger Delta and very low oil export and that government dealt with it.
That government inherited huge foreign debts and dealt with it. That government met a low tele-density and dealt with it by giving Nigerians mobile telephone system. That government met massive corruption and established in its first year ICPC first, and two years later, the EFCC. Even the whistle-blower idea is a PDP idea; therefore I do not really accept the garbage of propagandists called “sixteen years of PDP misrule” by a government that has taken Nigeria back into foreign debt peonage. I chuckle and simply point to many APC-government missteps since 2015 and retort by saying “look at who is talking”.
You are now responding like a partisan PDP politician…
(Cuts in) That is what I am and that is why I am committed to PDP regaining popular mandate and the responsibility to give Nigeria a renewed lease of life in 2019.
So you believe that PDP can take over government in Nigeria in 2019?
I do not know about takeovers but I believe that the PDP shall win the majority votes in 2019 general elections. I also believe that this would be best for Nigeria.
Because the PDP believes in Nigeria, a Nigeria that works for all and not just for some of its citizens. The PDP believes in a northern presidency as well as a southern presidency; an eastern presidency and a western presidency. The PDP believes in inclusiveness such that all citizens no matter where they come from will have a sense of belonging.
Thus the Obasanjo government of 1999 had a Vice President from Adamawa State, Chief of Staff from Kwara State, Secretary to the Government from Akwa Ibom State, National Security Adviser from Zamfara State, Inspector-General of Police from Lagos State, Director-General of NIA from Anambra State. Nobody felt excluded.
But former President Obasanjo has disowned the PDP and is now promoting a “Third Force”.
Former president Obasanjo has proposed a “third force” that is neither PDP nor APC. In fact, his most recent comments are anti APC government as he can respectfully go.
And all of us who have had the privilege of working with him know that one can ignore him and his advise at one’s risk, because he is a very intelligent and capable leader. I believe that his advice to Nigerians with regard to the “Third Force” is for us to stop being docile, to stop belly-aching over bad-governance or non governance and coalesce into a potent force-the “third force “. My understanding is that such a third force can only find political expression via a registered political party. I am convinced that for anybody who is not satisfied with the current trajectory of governance, the viable alternative is the PDP.
Even with people like Professors Tunde Adeniran and Jerry Gana leaving the PDP?
It would be the most painful if they leave. I do not believe that a person like Professor Jerry Gana in whose house the meetings to form the PDP were held in 1998 will leave the party. Ditto for Professor Adeniran and so. I believe that everything is being done to ensure that they remain a part of the party which they helped to midwife.
I believe also that politicians of like mind will come together under a common banner before the 2019 general elections so as to save the Nigerian project under a PDP government.
Prof, you are a prominent Igbo politician. Where do Ndigbo stand on all these; APC, PDP, “ Third Force “ or Igbo presidency?
Ndigbo are not only troubled by what Nigeria has become but also by what they have become in the diminished country they had very high hopes for at Independence. Consequently, forces more than third, fourth and fifth forces are currently operating in the south east.
Everyone outside Igboland sees only the neo-Biafra forces but the forces for restructuring of Nigeria are more potent and cut across all segments. In my view, Ndigbo are more interested in political restructuring of Nigeria than in Igbo presidency. As the time for 2019 election approaches, these forces and tendencies in Igboland will begin to be resolved in a manner that will permit prediction as to what Ndigbo will do in the 2019 general elections.
You mean inspite of robust opposition from the North, political restructuring remains the number one agenda for Ndigbo?
Yes. The opposition is from a few groups and individuals and not from the north really. Ndigbo cannot understand why in a federal republic any reasonable Nigerian will oppose devolution of power, decision-making, and resources from the center to federating units, thus granting greater autonomy to the government nearer to the citizens.
Who will be hurt if education, health services, maintenance of some roads , etc, now become also responsibilities of federating units? How will state police established by law diminish national security especially when it is states that currently provide much of the funds for the maintenance of internal security?
And will the monster of corruption not be substantially tamed if there are less funds at the centre (federal government)? Where will public officers steal billions of Naira from? Who is happy with the high cost of federal government and its size (over 500 Parastatals) with over 8000 abandoned projects scattered all over the country?
So until those who are opposed to restructuring proffer superior arguments, Ndigbo will continue to push for this single political action that will bring Nigeria back to true development and modernity.