Former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and lawyer, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha

We learned little or nothing from June 12

By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor

Alhaji Mumakai Unagha is a lawyer, activist and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview, the 2019 presidential aspirant said among others that Nigeria’s democracy is still being controlled by the military. He also blasted the two major political parties, the APC and  People’s Democratic Party, PDP over  the cost of their nomination forms for the 2023 polls.

On his assessment of Nigeria’s  democratic rule 23 years after

To me, we are still experimenting democracy even though it has come to stay in Nigeria, this is because the people have not taken charge yet as it is still being determined by the military. The military still dictates who becomes president, governors e.t.c. 

The constitution was factored by the military such that whoever wants to contest any elective position rushes to either Abeokuta or Minna. President Muhammed Buhari, a military general came to Nigerians and Nigerians keyed into him but he disappointed us. I cannot withstand my political friends and family for the shame due to my unalloyed support to him. At a point, I said to myself, why not military but the only consolation is the popular saying that the worst civilian government is better than the best military dictatorship because of the abuse of human rights.

We have learned little or nothing from the June 12, 1993 presidential elections and the issues that arose from it.

Our democracy is sick, corruption is high now. One of my most fervent prayers, which of course, is the prayer of every Nigerian is that June, 2023 should come quickly.

I don’t hide my feelings because at a point in time, there should arise from among men those who speak the truth to power. The biggest challenges Nigeria has today are the North and the West. They are the ones drawing the country backwards. They do not want to move with time and that is why the country is at a standstill.  

The day the North and West, especially the North, would say they are tired of this marriage of convenience, that day Nigeria will be restructured. As long as the oil of the South-South flows to the Sahara desert, Nigeria’s development will be hanged in the air. What I consider as the best option now is a partial break up or restructuring.  

Are you still of the opinion that Nigeria should be restructured?

Nigerian is in urgent need of restructuring, that is the only way the country can move forward such that any region that wishes to develop can do so at its own pace devoid of war or rancour. I don’t see why there should be war or bloodshed. 

The allocation madness every governor rushes to Abuja to collect monthly at the end of every month without focus or developmental agenda, has made every section of the country lazy and over-dependent. I have said it in several fora that the country is overdue for restructuring, those still canvassing for unity as it is now, are not sincere to themselves. 

They are a set of lazy people and parasites without focus and initiative to transform their regions. With the oil wealth, nobody is ready to take the bull by the horn simply because at the end of the month, they rush to Abuja.

In 2019, Comrade  Adams Oshiomhole hiked nomination form fees for president, governors, senate, reps, etc, leading to your withdrawal from the presidential race. Now, Senator Abdullah Adamu has worsened the situation, how do you see it?

Our democracy has been hijacked by those who stole the country blind and still stealing our common wealth. They are now using the stolen wealth to buy the conscience of the people. Just imagine the high and prohibitive nomination form fees. The trend going on now is, they are handing over to their children and wives to rule. After they have mis-ruled us, they are handing the people over to their children and wives because Nigerians with genuine intention and goodwill may not have the money to prosecute election. They are deliberately impoverishing the masses perpetually so that they can be sub-servient and continually enslaved. The masses, especially the youths, have no choice than to sing and dance with them provided they have crumbs as daily bread. The sad note here is that our democracy is driven by insecurity and corruption without any hope of abatement.  

The just-concluded primaries held across the country by the political parties where votes were bought are indications that all is not well with our democracy. A very dangerous precedence has been introduced by the ruling APC, which may be difficult to enrase in the nearest future. I cannot imagine a political party that prizes itself so high that it can endanger the future of our youths.

In Delta State, the governorship ticket of the two major political parties, PDP and APC were won by Delta Central Senatorial District, what is your take?

That is the expectation of the average Deltan. It is left for Deltans to vote their choices notwithstanding the political party. However, there are days of pay back which I’m convinced will play out in the forthcoming general elections. There are some politicians in Delta State who believe that they are very smart, while others believe in the winner-takes-all syndrome.   Of course, this will be the test case for them.  

Party primaries show there’s no place for Ndigbo in Nigeria — ABC Nwosu

Being the concluding part of the interview with former Health Minister, Prof. ABC Nwosu first published yesterday

Some people are saying that it is better to play a second fiddle than not playing a fiddle at all?

Sometimes, it is best not to play any fiddle at all. 

What is the problem with playing first fiddle? Everybody has played the first fiddle in Nigeria except South-East. Why is it that it is right for every other part of Nigeria to play first fiddle, except the South-East? And they are expected to be content playing second fiddle till thy kingdom come.

So in other words, if South-East cannot play the first fiddle other fiddles would go?

My opinion is, we should wait until we can play first fiddle before they think that we are too satisfied to play second fiddle, that we are not prepared to play first fiddle. Where it gets upsetting is because the problem facing Nigeria is very complex. Those who think it’s business as usual, that when they are presidents, they’ll dash away and give their friends huge contracts, it will not be the same. Now, you have to stop insecurity that is all over the country. 

We were in this country, I still have my passport where one thousand Nigerian pounds got you more than seven thousand dollars. Some of us went to the best schools in the world, children of illiterate mothers, children of poor fathers and palmwine tappers went to some of the best schools. I know I went to a government college in the East and I know that in my set, there was nothing called Division Three or failing. I took school certificate just a year after the present head of state. I am a 1962 WASC holder and it was WASC not WAEC. I had a class mate whose father was a palmwine tapper, his one eye was taken by cataract, he had five distinctions and the children of ministers didn’t pass. These were the leaders we produced. 

In the East it was Opara, in the West it was Awo. Are we thinking of such things? It was the human capital that enabled us to grow so fast and now what do we see? Your father is not rich enough to send you to a private school, you go to a village school and then whatever you get is why nobody can make correct sentence. 

Where did those people study after going to local schools in Nigeria? They went to Harvard, Cambridge and people like me went to Imperial College where we distinguished ourselves. It doesn’t happen now and we are eating up the future, we are not satisfied with eating up the present. These are serious problems that would face a president, not to talk of being in a church and you can see the number that died and you see the governor is livid with anger.

There were people who did it and they are all human beings but each time we do these things, it diminishes humanity. Each time this happens and the government allows it, it diminishes that government’s legitimacy because the first rule of government is protection of life and property. How would you feel as a person alive and your wife and children went to mass that day without you and such a story emerges? For anyone who knows the Catholic Church, we know that the Mass is the highest. I am a Catholic I am passionate about this.

These things are not right, they should be able to say as individuals, as government that these actions are wrong before God and man. If we’re not able to say that, then we are not humans, we are less than humans.

That also brings us to the killings happening in the South-East, the destruction of properties, the kidnappings and killings and whenever it happens it is usually attributed to the IPOB and ESN

IPOB has been screaming at the top of its voice that it is not responsible for those things, that there are infiltrators who have been planted to give the South-East a reason for not producing the president. Nobody has investigated this, nobody has brought to book all the people responsible for all these deaths to try them. I have received some death calls and when it became intense, we wanted these death calls investigated and I had to travel out when Dr. Chike Akunyili was killed because I had death calls.

No one has been arrested?

Who has been arrested for burning Ohanaeze President Generals’ house? He is not an unknown entity, he was  Nigeria’s Ambassador to Israel, USA and he was Director General of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs. His house got burnt and nobody can tell us anything about it. He is still there, surging on. Many of our best and educated people with doctorate degrees from Olympia, how do you expect such a person to be happy?

They burnt my cousin’s house in Nnewi, Dr. Chu Okongwu after serving this country in a distinguished manner as Minister of Finance for Nigeria. He was PhD Havard and the thing broke his heart. He was not a known IPOB or anti-IPOB or anti-anybody. He was just living his life, making the least number of enemies he could. They burnt his house, this broke his spirit and we took him to the hospital and he died there. We just buried him

 unceremoniously and quietly. How many Nigerians knew that their minister was buried quietly? These are the things that can’t continue to go. Who enjoys that naira exchanges for over N600 per dollar? No one is happy with it. I recall that some of my cousins were sent to Britain to study before America became popular. Our fathers doing their jobs at post offices or as police with the exchange money in post office were training their children who came back and became Attorneys General, some became doctors.  

Some private people would buy money order or postal order to train people outside. At this exchange rate, who does that? Once we can tell ourselves that things can’t just simply go on like this, then we start saying to ourselves what has societies that have progressed been built on, then we would realize that first of all, they were built on common principles that have served the world -justice, equity and equality.That is why Americans call them self-evident truths. That is what made Martin Luther’s speech. I believe that America would do things not because of colour but because of the context of the character. We believe Nigeria would do things ultimately based on what is right and what is wrong.

Some quarters are saying that there might be no election in 2023?

We don’t know, at least I am still a member of the PDP BoT. 

We were getting ready to vote for the candidates and when it reached the time, we didn’t vote. We were not delegates, even members of National Working Committee. The president didn’t sign the Electoral Act and so we didn’t vote. I don’t know what would happen tomorrow. If millions of people are disenfranchised, well I don’t know tomorrow.

Subscribe for latest Videos


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.