Adopt the National Confab report, says Akpomudje
Chief Albert Akpomudje, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, member, Body of Benchers and a Life Bencher, bared his mind on some pressing national issues including the current administration’s first anniversary. Akpomudje who is the Secretary of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) spoke with CHIDO OKAFOR in Warri.
State of the nation
There is no doubt that Nigerians are going through hard times. This is a fall out of the previous administrations not wholly from this present administration. The only encouraging thing so far is that the government is heading in the right direction by doing everything possible to reposition Nigeria by the policies now put in place, particularly the fight against corruption.
My advice to the present administration is to try to cushion the hardship being experienced by Nigerians so we do not have a negative reaction. One thing that can make Nigerians cope with the present wave of hardship is if the government can improve the present level of power generation and distribution, as the situation is worse than in the previous administration.
Missteps of the present government
Like I said on the issue of power generation and distribution, under the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration we had a better output of electricity. Presently, it is like we never had public power supply at all. What is most disturbing is that those to whom power generation and distribution has been privatized to are not coping with the task of generating and supplying electricity regularly, while the regulatory body put in place to check these persons is turning a blind eye on these persons without any form of check.
A typical example is Udu Local Government Area of Delta State, where the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has the responsibility to supply Nigerians living in that local government electricity. Because of their (BEDC) inadequacies there was a spontaneous reaction by way of protest during which certain persons took the laws into their hands and vandalized one of BEDC’s offices. Even though we do not support such actions, the Company for the past two months has decided not to distribute electricity to the entire local government area. Though the regulatory body in charge is aware of this situation they have not been able to call the BEDC to order thereby allowing Nigerians in that local Government Area to suffer in untold hardship.
Corruption in the judiciary
My reaction is that it is an unfair statement. What is informing this perception about the judiciary has to do with procedural bottlenecks in our Courts, from the High Court to the Supreme Court. It takes too long before a person who is aggrieved gets justice. In the same vein, a trial of persons accused of corruption takes too long before it is concluded. Because of the length of time, it makes people forget about the matter when it eventually ends.
For example the average time you can conduct a matter at the High court is between 3-5years; Court of Appeal, between 5-10 years, and for an appeal to be heard at the Supreme Court takes about 10years. So in all, it takes about 30 years from the High Court to the Supreme Court. Those originally involved must have died by the time the suit is finally decided.
Closely related to this is the fact that even after you have judgment in your favour, it is usually frustrated by stiff bottlenecks in the process of enforcing it.
Way out of fuel headache
It is true that we are an oil producing country, past policies of government created this oil subsidy; perhaps with good intentions at that time but the oil subsidy has become a conduit pipe by unscrupulous businessmen to siphon money from the economy. I think the best approach is what the Government is now doing by removing completely the subsidy so that we can tackle ones and for all the problems created by government subsidizing the price of premium motor spirit (PMS). Even though the effect is biting hard on Nigerians, it is better to bear the hardship now for us to gain it in the future.
Is Regional Government imperative now?
As a person and considering my ethnic affiliation as an Urhobo man, I do not encourage regionalism. This is because the Urhobo ethnic nationality has no region to claim in the strict sense of it. We therefore prefer to remain in the present political structure of states within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Agitations for a sovereign national conference
Nigeria is a functional country. The agitation for sovereign National Conference has a lot of problems associated with it. What the last administration did with the National Confab was a welcomed development. I recommend that the decisions reached at the conference should be looked into and implemented by this present administration. Besides there is no way you can set up a sovereign national conference where all shades of opinions will be satisfied. The danger of calling it a sovereign National Conference is a challenge in itself as there is no yardstick of determining what makes an ethnic group sovereign and distinct from every other group. Take the Urhobos for instance, we have a lot of ethnic divisions within this ethnic group ranging from the Okpes, the Udus, Ughievwens, the Olomus, etc. who tomorrow can come up to say they are sovereign and clamour for division. So Nigeria must remain as one.
Buhari’s change mantra
I will say that we have not seen the change as such, apart from the prosecution of corrupt public officers. However, the one–year period is too short to expect the kind of radical change, which Nigerians are yearning for. Realizing that the Country was in a mess after the last administration, particularly the issue of corruption, it would be expecting too much for all the changes to take place within one year of this present administration. We advise Nigerians to be patient and see what will unfold in the next few years.
The Government must also realize that they should not stretch the patience of Nigerians beyond limit, they must be up and doing for Nigerians to see the changes in this administration.
Way forward for Nigeria
The way forward is that Nigerians must remain united as one indivisible entity. We urge Nigerians to give the present administration the needed support to get the needed change promised Nigerians and we appeal to “the Militants”, “the Herdsmen” including “Boko Haram” to let Nigeria survive by shunning all their negative activities to the Buhari administration.