Buhari Played a Smart Game with June 12- says Maduka - jerkand


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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Buhari Played a Smart Game with June 12- says Maduka

Chris Maduka, a political scientist and activist, is the National President of the New Tone In Leadership Foundation. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and honouring the late Moshood Abiola even as he touched other crucial national issues.
How do you see the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and the honour done to Abiola by President Muhammadu Buhari?

June 12 means different things to different people, depending on who you are. It is a mixed basket. But, people are misapplying June 2 for political reasons, which should not be the case.
MKO Abiola was a likable person and a man with a large heart. The declaration of June 12 is good and the honour done to Abiola was well deserved, not just because he stood for an election and won, but because of the struggle he put up for the defence of democracy and died for it. June 12 is not just for Abiola alone. It is for all Nigerians. All of us are champions of June 12. But, I don’t think that Babagana Kingibe deserved to be honoured. He jumped ship, unlike Abiola who stood by June 12 and died for it. By declaring June 12 Democracy Day, a right thing was done.
Some people believe that President Buhari’s declaration was deceitful and wrongly timed. What is your take on that?

President Buhari played a smart game. He saw an opportunity and utilised it. Those who say his action is deceitful may be right. Everybody is cashing in on a national tragedy. There are also several other wrongs that need to be righted. Those who question the timing are not completely wrong. President Buhari has been in power for three years. Why did he wait till now? He is not known to have openly condemned the cancellation of the June 12 election.
How do you see the crisis between President Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo?

The crisis between, the two is a welcomed development. The nation’s governance has long ago been an Army arrangement. The Army had been dictating how the nation is being ruled. The military constituency has all along been determining what happens in the country. Governance has always been a gang up against the ordinary Nigerians. So, I applaud the disagreement between Buhari and Obasanjo as long as it will be for the benefit of Nigerians. People are being killed in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country. They all kept quiet until Gen T. Y. Danjuma spoke.

Would you agree with the calls for President Buhari to probe and try former President Obasanjo over the $26 billion power project?

It wrong for people to say President Buhari should try somebody or investigate somebody. Does he have the power? Have Nigerians resolved to right the wrongs of all former Presidents? What of PTF Fund? How many billions were involved in PTF fund? WE should not using justice as a political tool. Nobody is above the law. Obasanjo can be tried. Even Buhari is not above the law. Many things have been setting the nation back. They include powerful traditional rulers, powerful religious leaders, powerful business executives. There is no saint in government. A lot of them compromise their positions, taking illegal gifts. Corruption is not only stealing money.

In Imo State for example, people talk about Governor Rochas Okorocha. But, did he act alone? What of those who worked with him? When we talk of corruption, what happened to the Abacha loot? Did Abacha act alone? If Nigerian government goes through judicial process, apply all checks and balances and Obasanjo is given fair chance to defend himself, and not where two or three people will sit in their office and issue a warrant of arrest if they feel that Obasanjo has a case to answer, let them start the process of probing and trying him today.

What of former President Babangida? What of Gen. Abdulsalami? What of Buhari himself? What of the Permanent Secretaries? What of the civil servants? It is not easy to steal money. There are many people involved.

You just mentioned Governor Rochas Okorocha. How do you see the crisis that greeted the Imo State congresses of the All Progressives Congress?

There was no crisis. What is happening is that internal democracy is taking its root. Okorocha cannot wake up to make his son in-law governor. He cannot even make someone a village head, not to talk of making someone a state governor. Now, let every aspirant go to the primaries. I applaud what happened in Imo APC during the primaries. We are not practising dictatorship or autocracy. We are practicing democracy. What happened during the APC congresses in Imo State was the will of the people. The people who own the party have taken back their party from Okorocha. Let all the aspirants for the governorship position in all the parties face themselves in their parties’ primaries which will be fairly conducted. One person cannot give Imo people a governor.

The South East leaders have come up with several groups as the 2019 elections are coming. How would these groups give the zone a new direction?
Some of these emerging groups, it will be noted, do not have constitutional or legal powers. They are pure pressure groups. But, they are very important emerging at this time. Ndigbo really needs them and I make bold to say that I am very much involved in many of them. They include Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Igbo Intelligentsia Forum (IIF) and Nzuko Umunna, among others. The organisations have done far more for Ndigbo than some of the pre-existing and more recognised bodies over the years.
For example, it is the ADF that made the tactical move through institution of law suits to hold some of those that committed acts of violence and murder against Ndigbo. You are looking at highly committed men and women of integrity, that are fully dedicated to the overall wellbeing of the Igbo, culturally, politically, economically and other wise.
It was Nzuko Umunna that championed the recently held ‘Handshake Across the Niger’ in Enugu on January 11, 2018. This brought the East and West together in a symbolic move to foster Southern solidarity and consensus because these two major ethnic groups have been exploited by the Northern Caliphate.
You can imagine a situation where Igbos, who hold town hall meetings monthly or yearly, now met 24/7, discussing ideas, sharing information and carefully holding Igbo leaders, both appointed and elected, accountable. This has been a very remarkable development. It is all thanks to the new phenomenon of social media. With some of the achievements I mentioned, we are not there yet. But, through these groups, a new attitude is evolving that will lead to Igbo revival through its own internal restructuring.
How would this new Igbo revival you are talking about affect the 2019 general elections in the South East?

To be quite honest with you, what most Igbo will like to see in Nigeria is not the elections as usual. They will like to have a full democratically restructuring of this country. Interestingly, our South West counterparts met in Ibadan in July 2017 and issued a national declaration, which they called Ibadan Declaration, which they rejected the 1999 Constitution, as flawed and not people-oriented and called for full restructuring of the country before 2019
Most of our people and some of us have made similar call. In fact, we have said that on Ibadan Declaration we stand. So, it is very important that our focus should be on solving the endemic and perennial problems of this nation fully and completely instead of proceeding on business as usual when the red flags are being flashed before us. We have the opportunity today. Tomorrow may be too late. This is what those organisations are driving towards. To sum it up, it is all about ‘Live And Let Live’

As Governor Rochas Okorocha’s two-term tenure is coming to an end, a lot of intrigues seem to be playing out in Imo State. How do you see this development and what does it portend for the state?
Imo State is called ‘The Heartland of South East.” It is therefore very important that that centre piece remains stable and progressive. We have had enough of shenanigans and unseriousness in Imo State. It is time for Imo people to rise up, wake up and take their destiny in their hands by going for a candidate that will make a radical departure from what we have seen in the past decades.
For example, Anambra State has turned a positive corner. It is not yet utopia, but, the governors have been competing with each other in terms of service delivery, unlike Imo State, where it seems to be the opposite, and which governor will outdo the other in embezzlement and subjecting the people to servitude and hopelessness. For the 2019 elections, it will not be politics as usual, it is not about any party. It is about who will best serve the people.; who will revive the comatose industries, rebuild the civil service and institutions that have been balkanised.
In the next election in Imo, it is about who will give Imo people back their confidence and make hem believe again. The level of despair and apathy is unprecedented.

What is your view on the issue of power-shift in Imo State, as many believe that Owerri Central, and not Orlu, should produce the next governor come 2019?
Honestly, a lot of people have expressed the opinion of getting a completely new face, complete new mindset to make a radical departure from what has been in existence, which is the recycling of the same people. It is the same problem we have in all over the nation. But, we have to be objective because Imo is not lacking competent men and women of integrity. But the system, as currently structured, make these men of integrity stay away and make Imo unable to realise its potentials. Your guess is as good as mine.

So, what do we do? That is why I harp on restructuring because the system exists not only in Imo State, but across the nation. It has made it impossible for the best to emerge. Imo people should go for the best. He should not be one that will build a street light which will die a few months after. He will be on the side of the people to usher in these calibre of individuals. Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu did it in Lagos State. That has been his everlasting legacy. It can be done in Imo State.

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