From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
By Brown Chimezie
Chudi Uwazurike, represented Okigwe South Federal Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives in the 7th Assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He disclosed that despite the numerous challenges facing the country, the country’s democracy has come of age.
You must have been following the violence attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, what is your take on it?
I can’t tell you how painful it is seeing South African come so low as to be hacking down other African strivers. I am part of a panel of experts discussing the prospects of organizing public hearing with the Senate Committee on Diaspora, on the visible xenophobia that has, since 2008 in particular, led to the loss of scores of lives – almost 70 in that year alone. No doubt South Africans are envious of Nigerians because we dominated virtually all the sectors of their economy through hard work and legitimate means.
It is unfortunate that South Africans suddenly forgot our nation’s painstaking anti-Apartheid record, which goes to the heart of the matter. If not for Nigerian police that restrained our youths, they could have gone on a rampage against South Africans and their businesses here.
What are some of the factors hindering Nigeria from attaining international best practices in governance?
Nigeria has often been rightly described as a country with enormous potential, given its location, population, arable lands and energetic population – but one that is forever stopping at merely having the potential for greatness. The facts are usually impressive, but the mutual antipathies among the federating units and ethnicities lead to despairing conclusions. The cheering facts are there for sure, with a dynamic youthful population that are highly creative, mobile, far from servile that only wants a chance at success and second to none in terms of self confidence.
This issue is a continuing pain, as any reading of the 2014 Confab Report, all 950 pages of it, shows. Nation-building strategies constitute the highest form of statesmanship, if you are to study the experiences of other nations – Great Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, even Egypt. What we have here from the bitterness over herdsmen killings of farmers across the country to the recent intertribal Ile Ife clashes, not to speak of the building inferno of the pro-Biafra ‘agitators’ and new Niger Delta ‘avengers’, suggest that national unity is so fragile that we need to sit up and think. Democracy calls for another thing in short supply, a commitment to equity of groups and entities in the union. For one thing, why do we speak of minorities and majorities as they do in more imperious lands, when we could be talking of patriotic and unpatriotic citizens; the key term ought to be fellow citizen, not minority tribes or religions. Since your exit from the National Assembly, what have you been doing?
I’m mostly working on a number of projects. One of which is revising a pan-Africanist biography of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. It’s been more than 20 years after his demise and that aspect of his huge legacies needs to be continuously explored. Beyond this, I have been busy with consultations for the senate and for the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies
What is your take on the new Ohaneze President, Chief John Nnia Nwodo?
Along with millions of Igbo around the world, I welcome Chief John Nwodo to the hot but historic seat. He is from my generation having being a student leader in the University of Ibadan a few years before I led ‘Ali-must-go’ protest for affordable education as president student union in University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I said this because I know the activist background Nwodo has and he will do his best based on convention and he would have priorities that will materialize for the benefit of Ndigbo. Being a nationalist in his own right, I know he will extend hands of friendship and amity to Afenifere, which he has already done as well as Arewa Consultative Forum and other socio-cultural groups and this, will be good for Nigeria.
What is your take on the continued detention of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu?
As an adviser to the Ako’nuche group, I was with the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nwodo and my friends Dr. Paddy Njoku and Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu to listen to his vision. It was clear he has a grasp of how the standoff can be addressed for a more inclusive Nigeria where the pro-Biafra activists don’t see the Igbos as marginalised by design. In that respect, I concur with fellow UNN Lions of my era, Prof. Pat Utomi of the Center for Leadership and Civic Values, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, the ex-Nimassa MD Ferdinand Agu, and Emeka Ugwu-Oju of the South East-South South Professionals, who have patriotically called for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, having been granted bail by the courts.
This is one of the areas in which this administration is lacking – timely attention to judicial rulings. Obeying the wisdom of the judges, even if painful for a powerful entity like the Executive arm, is the lesser of two evils in the long run. Unless the Department of State Services (DSS) has other bombshells no one else has, from all the evidence adduced so far, it seems that Kanu is guiltier of rhetorical flourishes than much else. The prisons may well be brimming if people are to be jailed for asking for the independence of their clans or zones – something that is as Nigerian as our bad roads. It is only when people cross the line to take up arms against Nigerian state that the sort of high treason charges we see in this case, would appear to apply. It is simpler and less complicated to abide by the courts and release Kanu at this stage.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s return has doused tension in the land, how would you rate Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s role in an acting capacity while Buhari was away?
President Buhari’s return has been heartily welcomed by Nigerians most of whom wish him well indeed. His absence and the obvious pain he was most likely in, was clear to most Nigerians who didn’t pay much attention to official spokesmen claiming he was well and hearty. After losing one President not long ago, many citizens are justifiably alarmed over how debilitating the President’s illness might be. We should also be happy that the system held, by and large – the cabinet carried on and the business of the nation was not jeopardized.
I’m very impressed with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who did well in terms pushing the programme of this administration while his boss was away. The same can be said of former President Goodluck Jonathan at the time he was Vice president. If we consider this angle and other factors, Nigeria’s democracy has come of age