Says Uwazuruike never betrayed Nnamdi Kanu or Ndigbo National President of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie is trying to put out the fire ignited by supporters of the Indigeneous People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu and those of Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, Ralph Uwazuruike. In this interview with SaturdaySun, Okorie explains why the…
.Why restructuring may not work
From Rose Ejembi
Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav believes there is need for President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly reshuffle his cabinet with a view to injecting new and active blood into the system. Tsav who is currently the Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission in charge of Benue State said there are a number of hardworking personalities who are passionate about the development of this country and would perform well if appointed to man ministries and parastatals. He speaks on various issues.
What were your expectations for the country last year and were those expectations met?
We had many challenges last year. We had security challenges, economic challenges and poor infrastructure. The president said he was fighting corruption but corruption was still going on. So, in the end, everybody was confused and suffering. It wasn’t easy at all last year. But with the situation especially now that the military said they had crushed Boko Haram, things should get better. But I think it is not yet Uhuru and we should not yet rejoice that Boko Haram has been crushed because cases of insurgency are not what one can say he has crushed in one day because these insurgents have no marks of identity on their foreheads. You cannot easily identify them because they can mix with members of the public. And it is pertinent to note that these insurgents learn how to manufacture these bombs they use in bombing places. And the instruments for manufacturing bombs are everywhere in the society such that you don’t see them (insurgents) carrying these instruments all around. The only things that one may see them carrying about are guns. So, I think what we need to do is to be extremely vigilant. This is no time for Nigerians to relax and think that Boko Haram has been dealt with. We should be alert and then, government should also take steps to look into the problems in Niger-Delta and this Biafran issue so that all these problems can be resolved once and for all to pave way for peaceful coexistence in the country.
Last year, Nigeria witnessed what is known as economic recession and up till now, it is still grappling with it. What do you think can be done this time around (2017) so that we can quickly come out of it?
I am not an economist but as far as I am concerned, I think we over-depended on oil and neglected agriculture. That is why when these people started attacking oil installations, we realized that our export of crude oil had dropped and then we started having this problem. We must therefore go back to the drawing board quickly, diversify our economy, put more efforts on agriculture and other mineral resources. It is a known fact that the quantity of food we take daily in Nigeria is more in terms of money than the oil we produce. So, I think if we are able to sustain ourselves with agriculture, we will have no problem. Other countries in the world do not have oil but their economy is buoyant. Here, we are very lazy. We have lazy professors who have not been able to develop, invent or manufacture anything. All they do is sit down and speak big English. The people who work hard in this country are the ordinary people (the labourers) but the academicians have disappointed us.
Let’s look at the budget that was presented to the National Assembly by the President. Do you think with what we already have on ground now, 2017 will be a better year for Nigerians or are there other areas you think the Federal Government needs to focus more attention on for the 2017 budget to work?
Well, if there is prudent use of our resources, this budget may thrive. But if this stealing and dishonesty continues, we may come back to the same position as we were last year. What is bothering everybody in this country is that when people are stealing these monies, they don’t think about death. But I have not seen anywhere in the world where somebody dies and is buried with his wealth. You only use this wealth while you are alive. And if you use it by assisting the beggars and the less fortunate people, by clothing the naked and housing the homeless, you would have more peace in your mind. But here, people want to accumulate money and watch people standing in front of their house begging for money. And if we adopt that method, we are going to suffer more and more. Some people in this country have money but they don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes, only one person will have 20 cars. What is he going to do with them? There are some people who drive cars to match the colour of dress they wear. When they wear white dress, they drive white cars ands so on. That can’t help us. In other countries of the world, when somebody is growing, he buys a big house that will contain himself, his wife and children and once the children grow up and become independent, he sells that house and buys a smaller house. But here, somebody will build a whole village as his house so that people can know that he is a great man. We have no sense of value.
Most Nigerians are also of the opinion that President Buhari should reshuffle his cabinet. Do you share that opinion too?
I support that opinion because how can only one person be in charge of many sensitive ministries? That is too much for him. So, I support that Buhari should reshuffle his cabinet and bring in fresh blood. In this situation, we want people who can perform regardless of their age and qualification. There are some people out there who can perform if given the opportunity. There are many people who read because they want to have certificates and not because they want to have knowledge. There are some people whose sole aim, when put in positions of authority, is to amass wealth and live flamboyant lives. These are not the kind of people we want. We want people who would actually perform because Buhari came with a mission to improve the economy of this country, eliminate corruption and to entrench honesty in our politics. But to achieve this, he must bring in people who think the same way with him. If he brings people because they are party men, it will not work. In other places, you do not appoint people into offices based on their political affiliation, but people are appointed based on their capability to hold that office well.
Almost two years into Buhari’s government, would you say he is on the right path of taking this country to the Promised land?
People are complaining that many who fought for him and those who campaigned for him have not been appointed into offices. You can also see that certain allegations are being made against some of his very close aides about corruption and the rest of them and this is very worrisome. So, if he had brought the right people to work with him, maybe he would have achieved better. Now, the situation in which we are is that he himself does not seem to trust any of his aides and one cannot succeed in such a situation. And the success of any leader in any given environment depends on the people surrounding him. If you bring people of questionable character around you, you cannot achieve anything because it is like you are building and they are destroying. And the thing is you have been encircled by these people and you have no contact with people outside to tell you exactly what is happening. And if anybody comes to see you, such a person must go through them. And if they like, they can block such people from seeing you. This is the problem we have. If I were in position, I would employ anybody from any part of the country and regardless of which area he comes from. Because this country is sick and we really need to do something to save it from total collapse.
And with all the agitations coming almost from all parts of the country, do you still stand on your position that there shouldn’t be any restructuring of the country?
You see, if we say we must restructure this country or divide it so to say, so that every component part should go, we may not be at peace for a very long time because we have intermarried and made friends from many places and many people are living in other places other than their places of origin. If we agree to restructuring, then we might have to say everybody should return back to his or her place and that may be the beginning of war amongst us. Those who are saying these are the same set of people who are agitating for states. They are agitating for states all because they want to lead in those states to steal money. Even those who are today crying for Biafra, they may not even be there if in the end, the Biafra comes into existence. I think God created Nigeria the way it is and I know that God does not make mistakes.
What would you proffer as solution?
Buhari may fight corruption but the fear we have in our minds is that even if he stays for eight years, the corrupt politicians would sit back and watch so that by the time he finally leaves, corruption will come back more aggressively. What we need is determination from our minds to stop this act of corruption. And in that case, let us vote for people who will solve the problems of this country. Let us not vote on party basis because that had failed us. As far as I am concerned, there is no difference between the APC and the PDP. To me, the only difference between the two parties is Buhari. This is because those who are in APC today were in PDP and some of them rose to prominence through the PDP. But because the APC is in government today, all of them have gone to the APC. If tomorrow, a new party comes and is able to win election, all of them will leave APC and go to the new party because Nigerians are very inconsistent. If you rely on Nigerians, you are wasting your time.
What is your take on the issue of Magu and the SGF?
I understand the matter is being investigated by the Attorney General of the Federation. So, we are waiting to see or hear what the outcome of the investigation would be. For now, no comment.
The issue of farmers/ herders clashes have continued to be a recurring decimal in many parts of the country. What solution do you think can be proffered to this incessant clashes?
I think nobody has handled this farmer/herder clashes sincerely and without bias. Everybody has been handling it to favour his side. Look at what is happening in Southern Kaduna now. I have read the story of the southern Kaduna people and I have also read the story of Miyetti Allah. The Fulanis have no other business other than rearing cattle. The farmers have no other means of living other than farming. If you destroy the farmers’ crops, they will have no food and if you destroy the Fulanis’ cattle, then they would have no food too. Government should therefore device a method of settling the dispute between these two groups of people. The Fulanis are such a people that if you offend them, no matter how long it takes, they must revenge. It is this reprisal and revenge that are worsening this situation. And when this happens sometimes, anywhere they see a Fulani even in the city, the people would pursue them and kill them. This thing is becoming a recurring decimal and is giving a lot of problems to this country. So, we should get honest and unbiased mediators in Nigeria who can proscribe solutions to this problem. If a Fulani cow destroys somebody’s farm, the Fulani man should be charged there and then to pay immediately. On the other hand, if a farmer steals or kills a Fulani cow, appropriate action should be taken as required by law. But the issue of ‘you have done this, I must revenge’ is what is worsening the whole thing. The situation has gone to the extent that sometimes these people stop people and identify people of the other tribe and kill them. This is becoming very worrisome and I hear people blaming Buhari but what can he do? He is a Fulani man and he knows what this people can do. Buhari cannot go out to police this thing himself. If we are honest to ourselves and we believe in God, let us handle this matter without bias. A few days ago, I heard Asari Dokubo calling on Southern Kaduna people to launch a counter attack on the Fulanis. He is up there and does not know what is happening but just relying on newspaper publications, yet he is trying to fuel an already bad situation. Many years, people were honest and could live peacefully with one another but now things have gone so bad that they no longer have mercy for human lives. It is unfortunate that people do what they want these days. But governors should do something even if it means establishing a unit that would go into the bush to police it by trying to enforce laws on rearing of cattle or certain relationship between farmers and herdsmen. However, the issue of land which is very much in need comes in because as population increases, land becomes very scarce. It is a worrisome development. People have talked about ranches which is also good but who will give his land for that purpose.
What is your take on the process which led to the emergence of the new Tor Tiv and how would you advise the monarch to handle his assignment after coronation?
Although people have complained that there was injustice in the process, I was not there so I can’t talk about it. But, I think they have made a right choice. The man who was appointed Tor Tiv is one who has travelled wide. He is a man of the people and not a local champion. He must have followed what happened to the late Tor Tiv. So, I will advise him to distance himself from politics.
He should regard himself as the Tor Tiv of the whole Tiv nation including non-Tiv people resident in his domain. He should not attach himself to any person or group of persons in order for people to respect him based on that behaviour. If he cheapens himself and aligns himself with any political party, maybe what happened to the late Tor Tiv would happen to him. He should regard his appointment as a gift from God and not the work of any individual. The moment he realises that God made him Tor Tiv and not any individual, he will be on the path of success.
How would you react to the fact that the new Tor Tiv would swear with the bible instead of the traditional method of using Swem?
That would be a very wrong thing to do because the Tiv people have a culture and tradition which all our chiefs swore by. If he swears by the bible, he would be going against our culture because nobody forces anyone to become Tor Tiv. So, if you want to be Tor Tiv, you must abide by our culture and traditions. And if you want to be a clergy man, go and train as a pastor but don’t come and introduce that to us. Every society has its own tradition except if he wants to destroy our Tiv culture. If he destroys our culture, it would not be good.