By  Daniel Kanu

Former Presidential candidate of National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2015 elections and head, Policy Positions, Movement for Fundamental Change (MFC), Martin Onovo, an engineer, in this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, speaks on critical national issues, including the Okuama killing of soldiers, insecurity, hardship in the country, the Tinubu leadership, among others. Excerpt:


How will you react to the killing of 17 Nigerian soldiers at Okuama in Delta State?

According to, in 2021, “Nigeria is now a failed state”. We must admit that Nigeria is a failed state. Lawlessness and impunity prevail and running riot everywhere.  Insecurity and poverty are widespread. We have large territories controlled exclusively by bandits and terrorists across the country. The Okuama incident must be viewed in the context of a failed state. Okuama and Okoloba have a land dispute that has lasted for many decades. Both sides have suffered fatalities recently. From reports from the Okuama community, the Commanding Officer and his men went to Okuama as mercenaries recruited by the Okoloba side to subdue the Okuama community. After a meeting with the Okuama community, the Army attempted to abduct some Okuama community leaders and the people resisted. The Army applied force and the community fought back. According to the Army, the Commanding Officer and his men went there for a peace meeting and were killed in an ambush. The story of the Army appears inconsistent. Also, the destruction of the Okuama community by the Army in retaliation for the loss of its men is highly unprofessional and must be condemned. The Army has made itself the complainant, the judge and the hangman. The Army is not above the law and cannot take the law into its own hands. We need an independent investigation to determine the facts of the incident and recommend corrective actions. Our Army cannot attack innocent citizens. That is not their duty. That is not acceptable.

There were reports that some innocent villagers were killed and some homes burnt. Was it the right thing to do by the Army?

The Army cannot deny its retaliatory attack on innocent citizens. The new reports on the attack showed videos and heavy military equipment like gunboats. The killing of innocent villagers and the destruction of the Okuama community by the Army in retaliation for the loss of its men is highly unprofessional and must be condemned. The Army did not allow anybody access into the community, so who else were burning the houses?

Things are getting harder by the day for Nigerians. Why are things getting worse than the Buhari era which citizens thought would be the last terrible experience?

We must get the leadership right first. Once the leadership is wrong, the values will be wrong, the vision will be distorted, the policies will be wrong and the implementation will be corrupt. Consequently, things will get worse. According to Prof. Niyi Osundare, “Incompetence weds corruption”. With the crass incompetence we have observed and the grand corruption that is brazen, things will likely get worse for the public and “better” for the political cannibals that have seized power. The only regime in the history of humanity that can be worse than the Buhari regime is this present ad hoc Tinubu regime. They are both sponsored by the same unpatriotic ruling party.

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Insecurity in the country is growing by the day. Do you think that the state police option will provide solution?

The root cause of this insecurity is not the absence of State Police, but the failure of the political leadership. Consequently, we do not consider State Police as the best option for Nigeria, now. State Police can very easily worsen the security situation in Nigeria now, if mismanaged. It is clear that governors will abuse State Police and use them against their political opponents. We are aware that some governors are not paying up to the national minimum wage in their states. We know that some governors owe many months of salary arrears. These conditions in some state governments are very risky if they occur in any state with its own police. Currently, we have State Police commands of the Nigeria Police Force. These State Commands can respond adequately if we have the right political leadership. When Gen. Abacha was in power, he used this same security structure to maintain a very high level of security throughout Nigeria. We have used this same structure since the colonial Police Act 1943 and the subsequent national Police Act of 1979 and subsequent updates till the Police Act 2020. It has worked well in the past. We must do a ‘Root Cause Analysis’. The root causes of the failure of the Nigerian Police Force may include failure of the political leadership, politicization of the Police Force and endemic corruption in Nigeria. If these are not corrected, then even the proposed State Police will also fail like the Nigeria Police Force and further complicate the security situation. The State Police option is a desperate choice laden with serious dangers.

So far, how will you assess the President Tinubu-led government?

Quoting Aisha Yesufu, Nigeria has no “President”. We agree with her. A President for Nigeria can only emerge from an election, not from a brazen declaration of evidently fraudulent results. This is why we say that what we have now is ad hoc. So, this  ad hoc regime of Jagaban Tinubu is a complete catastrophe that was accurately predicted by so many. Currently, public morality has been thoroughly perverted, INEC has been annexed by the ruling party, the judiciary has been recklessly rubbished, the national economy has been ruined, mass poverty and insecurity have been amplified. All macro-economic indices have reached the worst levels since independence and the insecurity has reached an unprecedented level. It was easy to foresee the catastrophe a Tinubu regime will bring and many persons accurately predicted this catastrophe. The three properly published principles that led to the development of Singapore from a third world to a first world country are honesty, merit and pragmatism. The three principles are being contradicted by the undemocratic Tinubu ad hoc regime. As it is currently, we need to stop the regime or it will push the country from its current “failed state” status to “complete collapse” status. 

Do you still want Nigeria to be restructured?

Yes. Restructuring is even more imperative now. The current structure is skewed and imbalanced. The imbalance is a source of friction and crises that distracts Nigeria from its developmental objectives. If we restructure Nigeria to have six, eight, 10 or 12 component units, we can achieve so many desirable features, including some economies of scale; efficient custom-made development agenda for every region; healthy inter-regional competition; more concerted focus in each region to develop their particular competitive economic advantages; improved security and reduced poverty. This was the experience Nigeria had in the First Republic when the North developed its groundnut pyramids and other products, the East developed its palm oil and other products and the west developed its cocoa and other products. During that period, the three regional economies grew at very high rates. That great experience can be repeated again with restructuring.

What do you think is the cause of the present high cost of living crisis?

The present high cost of living crisis is directly due to the incompetence and corruption in this ad hoc Tinubu regime. We had warned publicly against the removal of PMS subsidy before the restoration of domestic refining, but the incompetent ad hoc regime did not listen. Presently, the regime incompetently pays more subsidy that the Gen. Buhari regime. Also, the incompetent attempt to close the FOREX rate gaps also resulted to further devaluation of the Naira and a wider gap between the official and parallel market rates. The cost of the incompetence and corruption of the ad hoc Tinubu regime is very high. “Knowledge is power” and “my people perish for lack of knowledge”.