The ongoing efforts by a group of political parties and the Coalition For Nigeria Movement (CNM) to form an alliance to sack President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) from power in 2019 has been described as an exercise in futility, by Mr. Olatunde Fawibe.
He also spoke on other national issues.
What is your reaction to the present state of insecurity in the country, especially the killings in some parts of the north?
It is an unfortunate development. The killings are very sad, and also an act of irresponsibility on the part of the perpetrators. Kidnappings for ransom, ritual killings, and killings of fellow human beings under whatever guise amounts to crime against humanity, the present state of insecurity is portraying Nigeria in bad light. Although you have more killings in the north, generally speaking other parts of the country are also recording killings and it high time our security agencies rise up to the occasion to prevent the situation from degenerating into state of anarchy.
How do you think the situation can be brought under control?
You need to know the root cause of a problem before you can proffer solution. Poverty is a major cause of some of these problems. Unemployment and Illiteracy are other factors. Colonialism, religious and ethnic bigotry are also some other factors affecting us not only negatively but has polarised the country. Some of these factors have not only created cracks among the various ethnic groups in the country but now are also threatening to tear us apart. We therefore need to do something urgent to preserve the unity of the country.
For me, the best solution to all these crises is for us to restructure. Restructuring is the solution. Let us be honest with ourselves, Nigeria is not working, and the country is at risk of plunging into anarchy unless our leaders find the courage to do the needful.
Some Nigerians have suggested the idea of having a single legislature as part of efforts to reduce cost of governance, what’s your take on that?
I wholeheartedly support those who are making such calls. Why do we need to have two legislative houses? What is the use of the bi-cameral money-guzzling legislative chambers instead of one that is lean and inexpensive? The budget for the senate and House of Representatives in 2017 was N125 billion for less than 500 people. Bicameralism is a waste of resources.
Why, in God’s name do we have three senators from each state when we could have maximum of two (2) and spend a fraction of what we do now to maintain them. We should make legislative work part-time.
How would you assess the ongoing anti-corruption war by President Muhammadu Buhari?
Well, I can give his anti-corruption war a pass mark, whether it is on perceived opposition or on his political enemies, he has been able to catch some thieves, and recovered some stolen assets. He is also likely to secure some high profile convictions toward 2019 general election in order to brighten his chances for re-election. Corruption is a symptom showing that things are going in a wrong direction, and we have been treating symptoms without cure. What I think Buhari’s administration has been able to do was to enforce correct application of rules and regulations on one hand and sanction against those who do not comply to the rules.
His reputation on anti-corruption is notching up globally; Nigeria has been able to move up on the table of Transparency International ranking on corruption from 144th position out of 175 countries in 2013 to 128th out of 180 countries in 2017. Nigerians are now more respected outside of the country because of the anti-corruption perception but I do not think that this administration is as pious as they are making us to believe.
Opinions are divided over what FG should do with recovered loots, what is your own view on this?
Not all recovered assets belong to the Federal government, the ones for the states should be retired to the respective states, and the rest assets should be used for the execution of specific, identifiable, measurable, realistic and impact-based projects.
The only Petrochemical Company owned by Nigeria, Eleme Petrochemical Ltd (EPCL) at Alesa Eleme in Port-Harcourt was sold to Indorama of Indonesia in 2006, till date as a nation we do not have any Petrochemical Company. The recovered loot can be used to set up sizeable petrochemical plant across each of the geo-political zones of the country.
The recovered asset can also be used for development of Industrial Parks or Farm Settlements across the federation. My opinion is that it should be used for something specific, identifiable, measurable, realistic and impact-based so that the expenditure over such projects will be justified and a signage inscribed on the project that it was built with proceeds of corruption. Otherwise the loot will be re-looted and end up in looters pockets.
What is your own position on the formation of the Coalition Movement for Nigeria (CMN) and Nigeria Interventionists Movement (NIM) both now referred to as third force, to sack Buhari and APC from power in 2019?
It has transmuted into a political party, the coalition and the third force movement has collapsed into Africa Democratic Party (ADC). Except there are major political changes, I have my doubt if ADC has what it takes to wrest power from APC in 2019. They will need to do a lot of work if they want to cause any major upset.
The party, ADC was registered in 2006 and stood for election in 2007 with Professor Pat Utomi as the party’s Presidential candidate, and he had around 50,000 votes at the time. But is that a party that will wrest power from APC? The party also stood for election in 2011 and 2015 with different Presidential candidates but failed woefully at the polls.