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‘Our problem is leadership and elite hypocrisy’

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Nwosu

National Chairman of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu, speaks on this year’s election, insecurity and leadership in Nigeria, among other issues. He spoke with Godwin Ijediogor.

You have been protesting since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the re-election of President Buhari. Why is that so?
This year’s election will remain a sham, and could derail our democracy, and bring about many untoward consequences if the presidential result that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared stands.

The beauty of our democracy is that there are processes of redress if any candidate or party feels cheated?
Sure, the judiciary has a role to checkmate politicians, especially the executive arm from undermining the constitution. So, I am glad that Atiku has gone to the tribunal. We wait to see what the court does.

What could have informed your authoritativeness over the matter?
I am a missionary involved in a nation-building struggle. My politics is different; I am not a desperado and have never been a jobber.

Our problem in this country is leadership and elite hypocrisy, whether under military or civilian rule.

As we speak, there are a lot of persons angling for appointments and playing ostrich, see no ill and speak no ill of the rotten system, because they want to protect their oil well or ill-gotten wealth. This applies to all parties and even non-politicians.

You seem to knock Buhari and INEC so much, does it mean you don’t see anything good in them or they have not recorded any achievements worth recognising?
This government has been the most insensitive in Nigeria’s history and the ministers seem lawless and not creative in anyway.

First, the government distanced itself from all the contents of the party’s (APC) manifesto. The President takes responsibility for nothing, and from the beginning, started the de-marketing of Nigeria, calling us all corrupt in every internal fora and referring to our youths as lazy.

Worst is the way he handled the first transition from a party that has been in power for a long time to an opposition party, and the disdain with which he treated regions that did not support him.

APC lacks the civility of the democratic system and it manifested in their poor judgment and leadership. The unrest, criminality and poverty across the country clearly summarise the Buhari legacy.

How can Nigeria make progress, especially now that the President has seen the need for true federalism?
It is coming too late.

The government lacks credibility and cannot be trusted. Buhari has lost the mandate to decide for Nigeria. He has options to redeem himself, certainly not this path.

Many still believe former President Olusegun Obasanjo is to blame for all that is wrong with our ?
That is absurd! As far as Nigeria democracy is concerned, Obasanjo remains a recurring factor, and positively so. We tend to forget that leadership does not happen in a vacuum. We lead within a space and time, in organisations or nations, big or small. It must be a human ecosystem, a prevailing environmental condition and within a given period.

So, leadership happens in a context. The contextual space of our democracy today is not what it was when Obasanjo was elected 20 years ago.

Until Obasanjo’s presidency, Nigeria was not able to navigate civil rule beyond the constitutional one tenure without disruption. Obasanjo solved this problem that started from our independence.

So long as he remains alive, we should expect him to shout and act when things are not going well. Obasanjo deserves encomiums. We should not take what he has done for granted.

In adopting ADC, again, he has seen what many may not know yet, and I am very proud my party was identified by him.

Obasanjo is not a man with a pigeon-hole mentality; he is a big picture thinker and a large spectrum operator and leader. Because of his relational capacities and open nature, he has many funnels to access and process information.

No matter what you may say, his very open and kindred spirit attracts men and women of all ages, big and small, from all regions, nations and continents to him.

Certainly a man of destiny and highly endowed, as one of the most revered international statesmen, the country, Africa and indeed the world has a lot to benefit from him.

At his age, he is very much alive, he has a good and deep understanding of issues of state and remains one of the most patriotic Nigerian of all times. The complexity about him is that he has the advantage of experience and age and also has amazing youthfulness of heart.

How come his identifying with ADC didn’t translate to votes/victories?
Obasanjo identifying with ADC shows he is a deeply futuristic leader. He has impacted ADC, this will certainly manifest.

There was no election; the process was rigged. And our values and guiding principles do not allow anyone associated with ADC to be involved in any form of electoral corruption. Obasanjo warned us never to get desperate and attempt to emulate other parties. So, we are different.

What is your take on the current insecurity in the country?
Security has broken down. This government has lost control and should pack and go for the country to begin the process of healing.

Do you think the two major political parties- APC and PDP- are inclined to zoning the presidency to the Southeast in 2023 in the spirit of equity?
The Igbo question is what Nigeria must deal with. It is the most crucial matter on the table now outside the rigged and fraudulent elections.

Unfortunately, the APC national leaders and the President lack the leadership and vision to address this problem. They think power for power sake and are too consumed by self-righteous parochialism to think of the good health of Nigeria yesterday, today and tomorrow.

At this stage of our nationhood, no ethnic group can dominate the others without causing serious dislocation. Any person having such agenda is not thinking well for the country. We should be strengthening the bond of unity and building diversity values into our culture. I have not heard of PDP’s 2023 plans.

But El-Rufai and Tinubu cannot be president. The Northwest has served two terms with Buhari’s first term. Yar’Adua served one term. The Southwest has done eight years with Obasanjo.

The Northwest should be careful and exercise restraint, even their northern brothers may become disillusioned with them if they wish to dominate the rest of the country and continue to want to take more than a fair share in the Nigerian enterprise.

Good governance, and leaders being deliberate in promoting diversity in governance, will help the country. Continued parochialism will kill Nigeria, lead to tragic end and obvious ugly consequences. The Northwest and the Southwest regions cannot afford to come from their Olympian position to become ostracised.

After two terms, one of the other regions especially the Southeast, deserves the Presidency. I say the Southeast not only because I am from there, but it also sends a strong message for the Nigeria project. Equity is critical.

Don’t you see a relation between Obasanjo’s ways and Buhari’s government?
The Buhari government is amorphous and clueless. The quality of the team is of concern. Propaganda and governance are not the same. They all seem to be missing in action in governance.

Can you compare the composition of government of Nigeria under Obasanjo, Yar’ Adua and Jonathan to that of Buhari since 2015? Again, Buhari seems to be comfortable with fueling division. Can you imagine another President from any other region playing Buhari kind of ethnic politics? This kind of politics will only undermine Nigeria. We must start to have leaders to unite us.

No head of state has taken the rest of the country for granted as Buhari and APC administration. Not leveraging our diversity has been one of the major challenges of the APC as a party and government. They struggle in many other areas, but their seeming cluelessness of the fact that the strength of the country is in its diversity, and it is as good as its weakest constituents create all the tensions in the country today. And they will attack every other Nigerian except themselves for their failings.

During the Jonathan Presidency, all parts of the country had their fair share of federal presence and patronage. Obasanjo and Yar Adua’s governance structures are clear testimonies that our country has gone far beyond where APC inertia-government has dragged us.

Please do not try to compare Buhari and Obasanjo; they are opposites and miles apart. Obasanjo believes in and thinks Nigeria, but with Buhari, especially with his recent performance, there is nothing.

By 2015, civilian government has already gained the rhythm of a stable democracy. There is no way to explain what Buhari and APC have done with the presidential election, rather than self-serving, egocentric and abuse of presidential power.

This brings our democracy and country to a shameful crossroad after the statesmanship display of Jonathan.

The only saviour we look to is the judiciary. To continue our democratic journey, the judiciary now has a chance to assert its powers, just as the National Assembly did.


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