BREAKING NEWS: APC has failed to meet expectations of Nigerians –Okoye, National Coordinator, Take Back Nigeria Initiative

A lawyer and National Coordinator, Take Back Nigeria Initiative (TBNI), Abumchukwu N. Okoye, in this interview said it will be a national disgrace if the raging certificate forgery allegation against President Bola Tinubu by the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar turns out to be true.

Among other issues, he expressed confidence that Tinubu will be vindicated…..CONTINUE READING HERE

What is your assessment of Nigeria as a nation at 63?

Firstly, let me commend the Management and staff of The Sun Publishing Company Limited and the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief Onuoha Ukeh for the recent presentation of a book titled “The making of modern Nigeria from Pre-Colonial era till date”. The book captured the state of Nigeria from pre-colonial era till date especially when we crossed an era of military rebellion. This is despite the fact that now things are getting worse. As it is, Nigerians have nothing to celebrate because the citizenry, on a daily basis, were confronted with issues of insecurity, poverty, and lack of basic amenities which every responsible government should be able to provide. Meanwhile, I join other world leaders to congratulate Nigerians for attaining 63 years as a nation. On my assessment of Nigeria at 63, so far so good, but much is left to be done to equate the nation’s 63rd years of nationhood. What Nigeria has passed through as a nation and came out as a united force, many countries could not survive it. Nigeria will get better with time.

What is your take on the aborted threat to again embark on indefinite nationwide strike by NLC after its two days warning strike following Tinubu’s announcement of provisional salary increase?

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) did not wake up early to its defense of the Nigerian workers as enshrined in its constitution. Where was NLC when former President Muhammadu Buhari administration took certain decisions and policies that are negatively affecting poor Nigerians now? For instance, NLC would have opposed land border closure by the immediate past government when it was clear that in Nigeria, there is no steady power supply for industries and factories to produce those goods and services that come through the borders. There was insecurity and the roads are bad yet government went ahead to ban over 34 items which are essential commodities which we could not produce. Unfortunately, after these borders were closed, bandits and terrorists were trooping into the country and NLC and other Civil Rights Organisations could not declare indefinite strike. So, gone are the days when the NLC had teeth and could bite. Because Nigerians have lost trust and confidence in the congress, hence the resolve of many workers not to join in the strike. Meanwhile, the NLC could not go on strike without reaching a truce with the Federal Government which include provisional salary rise.

Tinubu has assured Nigerians that there won’t be further fuel and tax increase, isn’t that a sign that he really wants palliatives to get to the vulnerable Nigerians?

If he says that there won’t be further increase, first let’s look at the statistics, hence the only way there can be no further increase is stability of the Naira to foreign currencies. Again, if the market forces say so. Right now, it is N1050 to one dollar. Most importantly, the refineries must start working before there will be no increase of fuel price and tax. Nigeria must start producing. The people want practical result and not government intension which may be very okay, but what are the results of government policies and programmes so far? We hear that both states and the Federal Government have distributed palliatives and cash to vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal. I have not seen a single person or a family that has received the palliatives or cash transfer from either state or Federal Government. So, whether price of fuel will not further increase or tax to Nigerians is a mere speculation or suspicion because we are yet to feel the impact. And I said it in my previous interview that stakeholders should have been consulted before fuel subsidy was removed because you don’t make policy out of anger or as a result of your preconceived idea. On his inauguration speech, President Tinubu said subsidy is gone and he repeated it at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly as Mr. President said this is the beginning. You cannot jump without running, hence you must run before you jump which is a very simple thing to do. Government must negotiate to avoid room for compromise and there must be positive results seen or have you seen any result within the 100 days of President Bola Tinubu in office? To many Nigerians, the hardship they have experienced within the 100 days of this administration is more.

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Another burning national issue which has attracted international attention is the allegation by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that President Bola Tinubu submitted a forged certificate to INEC during the last Presidential election, what is your take?

Thank God it is still an allegation and I pray it turned out as false because if after all the certificate forgery leveled against President Bola Tinubu turned out to be true, then it would amount to national and international disgrace. Even as it stands now, Nigeria’s image in the global arena is daunted because our President is being accused to have presented forged secondary and university certificates to the electoral umpire in the last presidential election by a fellow contestant, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. Also, I blame the media handlers of President Tinubu for not properly addressing the issue rather than focus more on attacking Atiku. However, I believe that President Tinubu as an exposed person won’t present a forged certificate to INEC because if he does, it won’t only destroy his political reputation, but will be a national disaster. I pray it does not happen.

What is your impression on the All Progressives Congress (APC) government since 2015 till date?

I will start by saying how the ruling party administration has affected not only me but the people of Nigeria. Number one, the body language of APC in the presidency shows that they have no solution to insecurity in the country especially in the South-East. So far, they are not giving adequate attention to solving the problem of insurgency in the North East and in other parts of the North. What President Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu did while appointing his cabinet was to appoint Matawalle Minister of state for Defence. He appointed Nuhu Ribadu as Nation Security Adviser (NSA). How can a President that wants to solve security problem appoint a Mechanical Engineer as minister of Defence? It is just a simple statement that the Federal Government under APC has failed. I wish that people like the former governor of Borno State, Modu Sheriff should have been made Minister of Defence because those who are part of the trouble should be part of the solution. I don’t know why Nigerians always think or believe that defence simply means attack. We are looking at it that when I want to defend myself I must attack, but when a problem is created by words, solve it with words. If it was created by ammunition, solve it with ammunition. This is imperative because certain persons created the security problem in the North and they should be part of those appointed to solve the problem. Whether they are part of it or not, the problem created by your brother or sister, you should take part in solving it. That is what I’m trying to explain. Number two, the worrisome situation in Eastern Nigeria has not received proper attention from the APC government. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is still in detention and Eze Nwajagu is still in detention. And it is because of these unresolved problems that led to the emergence of the Labour Party (LP) Presidential candidate in the last election, Peter Obi. Today, it is clear that Peter Obi is an expression, Peter obi is not opposition, but a statement that South-East is not satisfied with APC style of governance because they are being sidelined. The treatment meted to Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu during the Senate President election is a slap on Igbo. Especially the non-compensation of Kalu when there is a political investment shows that APC which has never been on ground in South-East failed to appreciate Kalu and other South-Easterners who took risk to keep the party alive in the region by not compensating them by APC. What is the effect on the larger Nigeria? It means that the South-East is not needed. Going by APC selection method, South-East is in the 6th position in ranking because they are not the President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate, Speaker, House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, or Chief of Staff to President Tinubu.

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But so far Tinubu has balanced power through his appointments, isn’t that a good step?

I don’t care about the appointment of Service Chiefs and his sharing formula because they are subject to removal with time; I’m talking about a position that is backed by election and not selection. I mean somebody is voted for in an election as President, Senator or member, House of Representatives. They know if South-East has been made part and parcel of this government, the region would be calm and quite. But nobody ever thought of solving security problem in the South-East that way. Even after all that happened in Niger Delta, all they did was to grant them amnesty and setting up of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and establishment of Ministry of Niger Delta and also in the North. The anger that Nnamdi Kanu is still in detention after the court has freed him and the denial of South East in the political participation and inclusion of Igbo by APC which Peter Obi represents as statement and expression is no serious concern to APC since its formation in 2014. These are some of the reasons for the situation in the South-East. With all these I have enumerated, do you think it will augur well for APC in the region in the next four years?

Many will fault your assertion because during the APC Presidential primary and the February 25 Presidential elections, the Igbo and Orji Uzor Kalu did not support Tinubu to emerge winner, don’t you think this could have contributed to the sidelining of South-East in the major appointments? No, it is not true. Tinubu shouldn’t have been President if the North did not consider that it would be a political error for another person from the same zone to be sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hence they had no option but to zero it on Tinubu who is from the South. Also, Tinubu’s victory was made possible because the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) could not put its house together before the election. You saw how the former governor of Rivers State and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesome Wike with other four governors called the G-5 Governors frustrated the Presidential candidate of the party and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. So, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu winner. If PDP had brought out the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim or Peter Obi, they could have won the election because the North would have an option to deny Tinubu the Presidency. Nigerians had wanted power shift from APC to any other political party but at the end of the day because Tinubu and the entire South West supported former President Muhammadu Buhari, he got it. After we made a public statement that there was internal crack in the ruling party before the election, after the Presidential primaries, all the political structures in APC collapsed into Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s structure including that of Orji Uzor Kalu that gave Tinubu and APC Presidential victory on February 25. That Senatorial election in Abia North won by Kalu was not meant to be won based on the anger and expression of the people of South-East against APC but because of whom he is, that was why he won the Senatorial seat. So, Kalu’s Senatorial zone voted for his person and rejected APC at other elections including Tinubu. That should not be the reason to single him out to be used to punish the people of South-East, hence we are totally denied what we are entitled to.

Looking at the caliber of persons Tinubu appointed ministers and the election of the leadership of the National Assembly, what is your expectation?

FG has released N185billion to the 36 states governors and the FTC to as palliatives to cushion the effects of subsidy removal, but with the way governance is run in Nigeria, do you see it get to the vulnerable Nigerians?

I said it in my last interview that you don’t make policies out of anger, you don’t make a policy when you are jittery and you don’t make a policy out of emotional outburst. When and how was it planned? That was why I suggested that President Bola Tinubu must set up an economic team which I heard has been set up headed by the Vice President Kashim Shettima. I also heard that members of the Economic Team goes home at week ends and resume on Monday which shows that they are not serious. If they are serious because of the economic state of the nation, they should have been on standby like a doctor waiting on a very sick patient. All of a sudden, they came up with disbursing N185billion as subsidy which shows that the Federal Government is not serious because they have just given the politicians money to go and share to the detriment of great number of Nigerians and I assure you it won’t have any effect at all. We don’t want palliatives but government should make things easy for us.

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But each state got N5billion to disburse to the people?

Through who? You disburse cash to states through their governors and you expect Nigerians to benefit? That is why I said the Federal Government is not serious. If they are serious, they would have thought out a programme and projects of which its effects will escalate and then filter down to vulnerable Nigerians. For government to have given cash to states to be disbursed to the people, means that they gave cash to the governors to use biro and scatter it. They want to pay money into individual accounts, how much, what data and on what basis? If our demography is anything to go by, why should the states be given equal amount? It is not equity. I repeat, the Federal Government doesn’t know what they are doing. All they are doing is everybody should gather to share a peanut release by the governors. So far, the governors have told Nigerians that they only received N2billion out of the N5billion government has released to the governors as palliatives to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal. This money should have gone to health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and targeting especially areas the common man will heave a sigh of relief. Targeting areas a poor man who pays N10, 000 school fees wakes up tomorrow and hears that his child’s school fees have been paid by government, he will be very happy because you have given him palliative and a burden has been taken off his neck. If a sick man or a pregnant woman comes to general hospital and they are given adequate treatments, not only the doctors will take the glory, but God and the government. If a true farmer comes to government and took loan from the Bank of Industry and at end, the farm produced enough farm produce for the country, the government’s financial support was not in vain. The Federal Government could also used part of the money to pay taxes for the people. And Nigerians will be happy to pay whatever amount transporters charge them to take them to their respective destinations because part of their burdens are bared by the government through palliatives. So, it is worrisome that these billions of Naira are not put into energy, agriculture, education, health or infrastructure, but are given to few government officials and the management of this money is my worry. Watch out, these billions will be shared with machine in a day and nothing will happen.

Igbo have to do political audit?

As a trader or businessman a time will come when you carry out annual audit of your business to know whether you are prospering or not. Igbo political unity is in doubt in terms of speaking with one voice unlike the pre-independence era. We don’t have political identity because our political leaders have led us astray. When the likes of the former President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe gave hope and confidence to Nigerians, Igbo was proud to see their son leading Nigeria to great height. Unfortunately, the same Igbo is relegated to political background today. With our past experiences in democracy for 24 years in the new political dispensation, most Igbo have lost hope in the corporate existence of Nigeria because the tribe is greatly marginalized. So, its time for Igbo to conduct proper political audit and know how we can reintegrate into the mainstream of the nation’s politics. Why we must build new generation of Igbo leaders is because in politics, perception is the most dangerous factor…..CONTINUE READING HERE