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‘Changes in Nigeria reflective of Buhari’s character’




Former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives and senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the last election in Edo State, Samson Osagie, in this interview with ALEMMA-OZIORUVA ALIU, said with President Muhammadu Buhari at the helm, Nigeria was already on the path of greatness. Excerpts:

’Positive changes in the public sector
That issue raises the character of a leader. With the greatest respect, the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan did not offer Nigeria, the kind of leadership that must not only be respected but feared. What you see happening today in different spheres of our national life is because of the perception of the character of the president of the country and that is why people will tell you that a leader must be one not just a person who is popular and who is respected, he must also be feared and he can only be feared for what he stands for.

Now in a country where impunity has been elevated to the status of state policy, in a country where corruption is always carrying banner headlines in every newspaper, in a country where people just do whatever they like with national resources, the perception of President Buhari as an anti-corruption leader, is sending jitters to the spines of hitherto corrupt public officials; not necessarily politicians now, even civil servants because like I have often said, the Civil Service constitute a large chunk of high level manpower in this country that encourages corruption so you can see that it is the perception of the leadership of the country that is making a few things to work.

We now hear that refineries are working beyond the capacities we used to hear, yes it is not as if these refineries were actually beyond redemption but because the system and the leadership we had at that time was not even interested in ensuring that the refineries work. The leadership was more interested in importing fuel because there lies the dollar money, there lies oil rents for the government and its cronies to steal from and that is why you can hear so many figures being bandied about as having gone down the drain.  

So what you see today is not because of the Petroleum Industry Bill, that Bill has not seen the light of the day because it was passed by only one chamber in the last Assembly so it is not a law yet. It is the character and the perception of President Muhammadu Buhari as an anti-corruption leader.
Allegation of slow pace and criticism
Those who criticise him for being too slow belong to the school of thought who want to stampede him to continue to do things the way previous government was doing even without getting good results. For a regime that promises change, it cannot take the same steps, the same formula those previous governments that have run the country aground. So those who are criticising him, particularly of the PDP stock, want to stampede him into losing focus but he is focused and he will not be stampeded. We are poor students of history in this country, we have forgotten so soon that President Olusegun Obasanjo when he became president in 1999 did not constitute his cabinet until after six weeks, President Goodluck Jonathan, even late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did not constitute their cabinets until after about two months. President Buhari has not done anything different from what his predecessors have done in terms of taking time to constitute his cabinet. Like in Edo State here, when Governor Adams Oshiomhole came in 2008, two months later, he was already being criticised for not doing anything but in less than one year of his administration, his impact was felt in all the local governments of the state. So government requires planning, making priorities and setting agenda for implementation.

Politics of Oshiomhole’s successor
Governor Adams Oshiomhole has raised the benchmark for performance in Edo Government House beyond the limits that whoever must be his successor must work very hard to either surpass or sustain. I expect that the next governor must ensure that Edo achieves sustainable development, that development which takes into the account the situation of the past, the current situation of things and the future of the state. We cannot take Edo back to where we were in 2007. He must think of improving on the revenue generation, invest in areas that have not been too emphasised so that he can strike a difference. The next governor has a lot of work to do, he has a very big shoe to wear, he must be a man who understands Edo state and he must be the man who is capable of running government without fear or favour. For us in APC, I believe that is almost taken as given without prejudice to the constitutional right of any person, we expect the next governor to come from Edo South, politics is about numbers, being fair, equitable and we believe that if we must win the next election, we must look inwards and try and select somebody from the South that will be able to get acceptability across the state. In any case, I don’t even think any of the political parties will go outside Edo South. But let us wait and see, I am not competent to speak on these issues, these are party matters.
Litigation over Edo Senatorial contest
I went to the tribunal in the first place because of the very blatant abuse of the election process by the PDP and of course some of the officials that conducted the election. If you see what transpired during the election, you will be amazed. The March 28 2015 general elections was so abused, was so rigged in a manner that defies all manners of decency, so what my opponent is trying to do through his lawyers is to ensure that the tribunal, the Edo people do not get to know the hard facts which grounded their supposed victory. They want the petition dismissed strictly on the ground of technicality so that the tribunal will not have the opportunity of looking at the merits of the case. That is the reason they have filed all manners of preliminary objections for two basic reasons; to buy time knowing full well that election petition is time bound and secondly, have the case terminated prematurely without looking at the merits of the case. So I expect that at the end of the day, the law as it is will prevail and ensure that justice is gotten because election petition is sui generis, it is different from all other courts and it must be heard on its merit and that is the whole essence of the

Electoral Act.
There is 180 days, we have done 90 days and we still have about 90 days. We have the whole of August and September for the tribunal to hear the mater on its merits with all the evidences and witnesses called. So August September and October is still very much available to us.
The National Assembly leadership crisis
I did say that what we are experiencing is part of the evolution of a democratic culture that has been governed consistently for 16 years by one political party and then there is a transition of power from that party to the opposition party. So the team that came together for the purpose that the opposition wins, is a combination of forces and it is those forces that are at work; you know the APC is an amalgam of different political parties, political interests and political tendencies from all strata of our political landscape; you have the PDP elements in the APC today, you have the CPC elements, AD elements, AC elements, APGA in-fact all the other political parties have their elements in the APC and that is what make the APC unique as we speak and that is what explains why this crisis has to emanate in the first place. I believe it is a challenge like I said the National Assembly and the party will find a way around it like you saw the way the House of Representatives case was resolved to the delight of so many Nigerians and I did predicted that those you see that are fighting today in parliament are not enemies it is just a difference of opinion, difference of political tendency.

In the future, there could be other issues, more pertinent to bring them together contrary to those ones that are separating them now.

So I believe that in the course of human endeavours, there must be agreements and disagreements and that is the dynamics of life itself so nobody should think that that is the end of APC no, not at all. It is a party that has just come in to governance at the national level, these are some of the challenges it must have and it will surely overtake it.

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  • Baba Adini

    Mr. Osagie, stop being a tribalist, a racist, and ethnic jingoist. If Oshiomhole, an Afenmai descent did not become the governor of Edo State, the state would have be wasteful looking at low level, impoverished with insecurity just as Lucky Igbinedion held sway as governor. Any qualified citizen of Edo State who is incorruptible and prepared to lead should run. Edo state does not belong to the Benins alone. Unless, the Ishans and the Afenmai refused to work together, the Benins will get the next governorship again and run the state aground for any of these tribes to resuscitate again. That is why, Ogbemudia is busy looking for a competent Edo man from any part of the state regardless of party affiliation or tribe to succeed Oshiomhole. A leaders should not see race or tribe as determinant for leadership, but should only see and have vision.

  • AA

    Which “changes” is he talking about? This is very low level propaganda – it doesn’t impress. Try harder, Mr Osagie.