•SARAKI: APC should stop disgracing itself
Professor Alphonsus Bosah Chukwurah Nwosu was a minister of Health in the Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In this exclusive interview with Vanguard in Abuja, the elder statesman x-rayed contemporary issues in the polity and submitted among others that the ruling party, All progressives Congress, APC, should stop disgracing itself over the quest for the removal of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
His take of prevailing gale of defections in the polity
Moving from one platform to the other is not new in Nigeria. Some have ascribed it to the current politicians not being serious but people had always moved whether from NCNC to Action Group or Action Group to NCNC and people moved from NPP to NPN, so it is not new. What is worrisome and I think troubling to the APC is the massive movement away from a ruling party to opposition. That’s what is new. The normal thing is that people are moving from opposition to a ruling party. What we are seeing now is a massive movement from the ruling party to the opposition. I think that is what prompted the siege to the National Assembly which again has not been seen before in our history. The only conclusion one can reach from all these happenings is mis-governance by the ruling party and dissatisfaction of politicians with the parlous state of things in Nigeria.
Do you blame the government? Some people feel the current government has performed well
It can only be put on the doorstep of the present administration because these have happened under the present administration. Politicians are moving from the APC majority to the PDP minority. This can only be put only at the doorstep of the present administration. The National Assembly was also under siege by masked men of the state security agency. That again is squarely at the doorstep of the present administration. The present administration suspended, sacked or dismissed the director; that again is at the doorstep of the present administration, so there cannot be any excuse by the government…
Nigerians are tired of excuses like Mr. President saying he was not aware that the Inspector General of Police was not in Benue State where he had ordered him to take action. A government is elected to govern and not to give excuses. After more than three years, the excuses are too much and are really annoying to the extreme.
His take on arguments by a couple of Igbo people in APC that Buhari’s second term is the shortest route to Igbo presidency.
I don’t want to abuse those people otherwise I would have used the strongest abuse for them. All I say is that such Ndi Igbo should have their Igboness and Igbo-DNA re-examined. How can a people who survived the civil war, how can a people who rebuilt themselves after 20 pounds ex gratia award from their legitimate monies in Nigerian banks; how can a people whose education and careers were completely truncated by three years of a most vicious civil war; how can a people who did not have South East Reconstruction Commission and a lousy 3R programme and rebounded in 1979 less than 10 years after the end of the war begin now to mouth the nonsense that their future, their being, is dependent on voting for a particular political party and a particular individual even in their clear anti Igbo policies? Those Ndi Igbo have lost their credence in Igbo land and I challenge them to go and say these things in Onitsha market or Ariaria market in Aba.
In those places you have mentioned you still have Igbo who are members of APC running for Senate and House of Representatives
Are there no members of the PDP in Katsina? Are there no members of the PDP in Lagos? Are there no members of the PDP in Kano? All over Nigeria there are members of PDP and APC and that is what it should be. But I am telling you the prevailing mood and view in Igbo land. Those who are complaining about 97% and 5% may be in for a worse shock in 2019.
His reaction to calls by the APC that the Senate President Bukola Saraki, who defected to PDP, should vacate office.
The President of Senate was elected by members of the Senate and holds office at the pleasure of members of the Senate. The distinguished senators can change their presiding officers at their own will. The Senate President does not hold office at the pleasure of a political party. The political party only applies subtle pressures on its members who are members of the Senate and I think that the sooner APC understood this the better. The Chairman of APC should stop public statement and grandstanding on the matter.
But the APC still holds the majority in the Senate…
If they have majority members in the Senate, their senators should remove their presiding officers. Under the PDP, senators removed their presiding officers many times. Did you hear PDP disturb the public peace because of it? Wasn’t Evans Enwerem changed? Wasn’t Chuba Okadigbo changed? Didn’t David Mark spend eight years without being changed? So, presiding officers of Parliament hold office at the pleasure of parliamentarians, who elected them. No more, no less. The APC should stop disgracing itself.
On the disturbing number of presidential aspirants in PDP perceived lack of consensus among them
It’s not disturbing at all. What if there were no candidates at all for the PDP? Many people think that the PDP has been so rubbished that nobody would run under it. Would that have been preferable? The fact that you have so many means that the PDP currency is still viable. What the PDP shall do in the coming weeks before the primaries will test its ability and capabilities as a political party. In 1999, the PDP had no consensus, we were all in Jos, but the principal contestants were President Obasanjo and former Vice President Ekwueme and others. The only person who was persuaded not to contest was Abubakar Rimi because it has been zoned to the South. At the end, President Obasanjo won and former Vice President Ekwueme and other contestants said the primaries were transparent. And nobody went to court. Thereafter, the chairman of the party and the presidential candidate went to former Vice President Ekwueme to offer him the Senate Presidency for inclusivity as PDP sought to form a truly national government. That is how mature political parties act in an inclusive manner to make sure that all constituent parts of Nigeria are represented. When President Obasanjo formed a federal government in 1999, he had an all-inclusive government. The political party sponsored by his zone, the AD which did not vote for him even in his ward was accommodated. He brought two members from the AD, late Chief Bola Ige and the daughter of Yoruba leader, Pa Abraham Adesanya, into government. He also brought APP into government. That was how Chief Vincent Ogbulafor came from the APP into the federal government in 1999. The PDP brought these parties into government of national unity because the PDP was concerned about sustenance of democracy. That is what is expected of the APC in order to keep this country united.
Has that changed? Hasn’t APC done same?
In one sentence, how is 97% and 5% the same as what I have just described?
Is former President Obasanjo remotely working with the PDP now?
To the best of my knowledge, the former president formed a movement based on the concept of the “Third Force.” They have adopted a political party; the Action Democratic Congress, ADC as their platform. The ADC along with 37 others formed an understanding with the PDP, each one without losing its identity and they have agreed in that understanding that they will support a single presidential candidate. I think it is to that extent that I know. I also know that the National Working Committee of the PDP has met with former President Obasanjo.
Politics is about human beings and rigidity doesn’t help much. The welfare and well-being of the people is paramount. In politics, if a situation is going against the welfare and well-being of the people and their own personal interests, politicians change their minds.
The APC benefited from the massive disenchantment of PDP members in 2014/2015. The PDP has since apologized and is definitely working in a totally different direction than it did then. It is scary to the APC that this is why many people are now leaving the APC and going back to the PDP. How this will translate in a general election is yet to be seen. It is only unwise people that talk of “16 years of PDP wastage” even with the achievements of sustained democracy; growing the economy especially the communication and the banking sub-sectors, introducing mobile telephony, the massive debt relief which the APC indiscriminate borrowing has reintroduced, etc. Wise citizens examine the APC government performance in over three years. Wise people know that APC has not earned 28 Dollars per barrel of oil but that oil price has been above 70 dollars per barrel for more than a year and that over $600 million Abacha loot have been recovered in this period. Have all these monies been spent in feeding school children and the APC social investment programme which is very opaque and difficult to audit? The much touted foreign reserves is a function of the steady and increase oil prices and people know these things. So, when people are using their telephones and texting without realizing that there was no mobile telephony before PDP came in 1999; that the central concern in democracy is freedom, human rights and the rule of law, they are not being fair to the PDP. Tyranny can never be preferable to freedom.
Some top politicians like former governor of Akwa Ibom, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, left the PDP. Won’t that affect the fortunes of PDP?
I don’t know. I am not God. Only Senator Akpabio knows why he changed parties. Rumours are in the air but only he knows why he changed. Many of us are also old enough in politics to know that there are many contending forces in Akwa Ibom State. He belongs to one of the forces. There are the Ibibio who are in majority and the Anang to which he belongs and the Eket which the incumbent governor belongs and the Oron whose views will also matter in 2019. So we will simply wait and see. Former Governor Donald duke wants to be president. He is part of the Third Force. I like him personally and he is within his rights to have his ambition. My only concern is that they are running against wise politics that the next president should come from the North and that restructuring has become the central concern of Nigerians especially Nigerians from the South. Good governance will always be required but how will good governance assuage resource control of 50% derivation or State Police, etc?
For example, in 1960, the revenue formula enshrined in the constitution, arising from the colonial commission, the Raissman Commission on revenue and agreed to by the founding fathers of Nigeria was 50% on derivation, 20% to the federal government and 30% to the federation account (distributable pool). That was the binding agreement under which the Nigerian federation was born. So when I hear anybody talk of good governance, I wonder which of these new advocates of good governance is better than Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Tafawa Belewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and Dr. M I. Okpara, etc.