‘No matter where their votes went, the Igbo deserve positions in APC government’
Timothy Uzodinma Nwala, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Abuja and President, Ala Igbo Development Foundation (ADF) spoke to NKECHI ONYEDIKA-UGOEZE about the Buhari presidency, the leadership crisis at the National Assembly and the place of Ndigbo in the current arrangement. Excerpts:
Controversy over pace of government It depends on the area you have in mind; one area everybody is anxiously watching out for is the area of setting up the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which is the body with which the President will run the country.
FEC is in the constitution and there are things the President cannot do without FEC otherwise he becomes a sole administrator. I wish he has constituted his cabinet by now.
Anyway, he came from the military and military people are said to be very militaristic, they don’t look for any gaps. I think he wants the government to keep running, that is why he is doing some of the things he is doing but a critic may take him on and say indeed he is behaving like a sole administrator of the country but giving the Nigerian situation and the fact that the National Assembly that is going to confirm his ministers is still in turbulent state.
I don’t even know what would happen if he had submitted the list of his ministers whether they would have been in the mood or they would be fighting while considering it.
Those are the things one has to consider in making a judgment as to what it going on now but I think everybody is getting a bit worried.
But on the other hand, one would also like to know what is happening in the states, have the governors set up their own executive councils or is it part of the general malaise of the Nigerian society? Because everybody is an executive, executive president, executive governor, that culture is one thing all of us should be fighting against.
If President Buhari is serious about change that is one thing himself should also stand up and make sure the constitution is respected and that governors don’t run the states as their private property. He should set the pace and ensure that he govern in accordance to the constitution.
Possibility of the promised change I remember that when Buhari was the Head of State in the early eighties, many of us were very enthusiastic about the things he did. We supported it and we were not sorry about the people who suffered under the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) except that the people are saying there was some discrimination and favoritism in the way those who committed various ills were taken on.
That some had soft landing while others were seriously dealt with. But I remember again in the area of economy, Buhari as the Head of State then, took some bold steps in trying to get rid of this country having an apron string tied to World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He wanted to end Nigeria taking loan from the World Bank and the IMF for obvious implications, some even said that was part of the reasons he was overthrown.
I do know now we still have the problem of running an independent economy, an economy that is not a victim of both international and local looters because when you start talking of the looting of this country, all these billions they are accusing former governors and others of stealing, where are they keeping the money? Is it within our country or outside the country? If it is outside the country, there must be some form of collusion with outside forces.
So we used to be very enthusiastic about his nationalistic posture then, I don’t know what is going to happen now, many people are saying that by the way he came into power now, there is no way he can stand boldly against some external forces some of which may have been interested in his coming into power.
I know that age is one problem but as a person I believe that if Buhari was the same Buhari of yesterday, he will be very firm in protecting the interest of the country.
But I know that aspect of geo-ethnic problem, there is no way the forces from his zone will not stand between him and the interest of other people because I know the nature of Nigerian politics that those who hold power now, will want others to feel that they hold power and allow others to get whatever they get as gratis.
That is where we are going to have problem. Everybody is watching to see whether Buhari is going to stand tall against these interests from around him and from outside.
South East zone in the current arrangement Resource and power sharing is not among political parties. It is among the zones. Whether the South East voted for Buhari or not, when they are sharing resources they have their own right.
When they are sharing ministerial positions they have their own right, the same thing with Board appointments. Even if there is no APC man in Igbo land, they cannot say that Igbos won’t get anything.
I also expect that as he really wants to bring change, some of the people he would appoint would be APC members because he can find good and reliable people outside APC, the problem he is going to have by relying only on APC members is that they are going to be expecting some pay back because they put him in power.
They may not even want him to query them when they go wrong but he can query other people. So what I am saying is that Igbos didn’t vote for Buhari doesn’t mean anything in terms of their rights.
Boko Haram suspects in Anambra prisons It doesn’t make sense sending Boko Haram suspects to Anambra Sate. I think the people have made their views known in unmistakable terms, the traders, Civil Society Organisations, the traditional rulers, the governors and other major stakeholders have said no to it.
Some people said it started from Jonathan but it doesn’t matter when it started, the South East may not blame Jonathan for the action, however, the question is why Ekwulobia of all places? I learnt so many states in the North even rejected it.
What are they doing with the Boko Haram people? If you prove that they have been responsible for butchering thousands of people, why do you keep them? Buhari is lucky that people are already rejecting it so he has good time to look at it and avoid it. There are examples to learn from in different countries.
You don’t send such people to a place like Anambra. There are parts of this country away from the special areas where you can build mighty prisons and protect it even with a battalion and make sure that when they have served their terms, you rehabilitate those that you think need rehabilitation.
You can send them overseas if you can’t rehabilitate them in this country. Can you see the escalation in their attacks and activities even with Buhari in power? One thing they may have done is to exonerate Buhari from all the accusations that he was behind Boko Haram. I think the relocation of the Boko Haram prisoners should be well thought of.
By sending them to Anambra, you make the place a target for Boko Haram attack. You know how weak our security and intelligence system is in this country.
They have attacked so many places. They attacked fortified prisons in Kogi state using improvised devices, so if you send them to Ekwulobia, you are endangering the people, and it is like importing Boko Haram to Anambra. It should not be done.