2019: Nigeria is sitting on a precipice – University don
By Abavo Kingsley, Benin
Prof. Kingsley Ufuoma Omoyibo is Head, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin, Benin – City (UNIBEN). In this exclusive interview he x-ray the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari led – All Progressives Congress (APC) administration going into 2019 general elections, he declared that Nigerians are sitting on a precipice. According to him, the administration has failed to deliver on its three pronged promises; “corruption is still there, insecurity has hyped in a different dimension, and things are so bad in what is called the socio – economy, as there are Nigerians who cannot feed anymore, while unemployment challenge remains unaddressed. The three fundamental planks that this government stood on have failed.” The charismatic Professor holds the opinion that 2019 is volatile as there are people who do not even have hope in the system. “I am not against the government; I am only trying to say that the
things they promised have not been fully actualized.” But he argues that in the face of the prevailing situation, President Buhari and his APC will emerge to rule for another four years term in office. This is because no formidable opposition exists to up – stage him.
Prof. Nigeria today is being confronted with legion of social challenges which critics have often ascribed to what they term misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari led – All Progressives Congress (APC) administration. Your opinion sir?
Well I am not a politician. If you say misrule of APC government, then we must take antecedent look of what has happened? Before APC came on board, we had other political parties. But indeed, we must get it very straight; 19 years of democracy in this country is supposed to be celebrated. But again, if you say I should look at that, you used the word misrule but there should be correction, and today we are trying to correct. And if the governance of Buhari in the context of what we use as change mantra that came, then people will feel very bad that we didn’t get it right because a change mantra on three planks; I will curb the issue of insecurity, re- fixing the economy, and corruption.
Sir, x – raying the Buhari administration; this is one that promised a lot of hope for Nigerians considering that they were disappointed in the Goodluck Jonathan led – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration. Three years on, going to the fourth year, the people are again clamouring for what is now known as change the change because of the belief that socio challenges are on the increase and survival struggle is becoming more difficult. Please an x – ray of the performance of this Federal Government.
Indeed, they came with the mantra of change, the APC government. But again, we have challenges, you know, we are talking about 19 years of democracy and we had just one political party in power that boasted that they are the strongest, the most populous in power. But unfortunately, there was change that they could not even cope with. If you take an evolutionary perspective, at what point did we miss it? We missed it at the point where people were not prepared to speak the truth and change the change because Nigerians were overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, I mean not in the positive terms of the delicacy of the former government. Then Nigerians now embraced whether good or bad at the point there were institutional challenges in all of these. But the average man on the streets wanted change and I must grant; whether you like it or not a very good perspective to the immediate past handler of the baton to the current administration; the Goodluck Jonathan administration whom of course even conceded and accepted that no politician is worth the blood of any Nigerian to be in leadership. So, the man did that; I think that is the beauty of democracy. But now you want me to look at the x – ray of where we are. When the change came, we were happy by virtue that insecurity was at highest challenges. Two; economy, and third; corruption. If you look at that in proper perspective; corruption is still there, insecurity has hyped in a different dimension, which people are talking about cattle rustlers, and we are talking about unemployment. Nigerians were given the impression that three million persons will be employed every year, or possibly over time, yet, the youths are still on the streets. So, at what point did we miss it? The government should be circumsant to do what is needful. And Nigerians; the basic thing that people don’t even ask in all of these; is the fact that we can’t have two square meal. Things are so bad in what is called, the socio – economy. What are the things about the socio – economy? Between you and I, there are people who cannot feed anymore. However, the truth of the matter is, there is diversification. You said farming, not agriculture which we are now beginning to see some positive light in that direction. But again what is the plausibility with the herdsmen interactions now? You said agriculture and you now have what you call the basic issues. It doesn’t make sense. So where do we come from? I am not indicting any leadership.
Let’s look at corruption which has been segmentized. How do I mean? Sentiment came into the fight against corruption. I am not a politician but I do know that every corrupt leadership in the past gets into the ruling party and such people are well protected. Does it make it sane? No, but does it make it right? Yes! How exposed the ones from the other side? Corruption is corruption; it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Those from the former ruling party are targeted; sentimental; nepotistic; and of course, interest based. Come to the second segment; employment. Look at what happened in the last recruitment into what you call the security units. Again looking at insecurity, it has hyped especially from the other side where the current administration is from. There is a high stake of insecurity; only recently, Nigeria was hosted on the America watch list of saying that this is not a safe country for their citizens. So, the three fundamental planks that this government stood on have failed. But that doesn’t mean sincerely from the bottom of my heart that the previous one was better because even at that time; I am speaking from the world view of Edo State, but for Oba Ewuare II we would have been finished in terms of insecurity. Oba Ewuare II, the Ogidigan as he is pronounced, the man who of course knew about these three planks of the party yet he is not a party man. One, in terms of corruption, he dismantled the Community Development Association (CDAs), that today, development is coming up here. In the area of insecurity, he brought in the traditional norms, values, morals, and did what is needful. Talking about insecurity, there were people we couldn’t look at their faces here because they were lords into themselves. Then the third, employment, he has set up what is called private – public partnership. The man has become governance the same way he plays it, the same way Emir of Kano plays it. So, Oba Ewuare II is a master piece. Edo State is peaceful; the issue of insecurity that was to come from Gelegele; I didn’t know how he had a crack team to ensure that we moved on.
From your analysis thus far, what does the prevailing situation portends for this country going into 2019?
We are sitting on a precipice. The issue is that you could see volatility everywhere. What do I mean? APC conventions in the country; they are bedeviled by so much controversy. That itself is a challenge. I can only speak of the local Government Chairmanship election in Edo State but I won’t mention names; Egor, Uhunmwode, Orhiomwon for example; nproblem. Just in the contest before the local Government Chairmanship position. Look at the States in the North – East, every of it has challenges. Go to the States in the South – East, problem. Who is in control? We are talking about Imo State; who is in control? We are talking about that. We are talking about 2019, when the in – house of the pilot is on fire. That is at one point. Then you are not doing rationally right in the context of trying to do the needful, by hunting the people from the other side. Do you think there is genuineness of intent of those who are now crossing over to APC just because they want to save their heads from been rubbished?
Consequently, there is no genuine intent. We are all running a race like I said that will catch fire. 2019 is volatile. There are people who do not even have hope in the system. Jonathan was a gentleman; I give to him today or he is a gentleman or let say was because if given another chance as it is, he possibly would have said; let the nation smoke. Could we have another statesman? Let me give a perspective to this. Who will declare the results?
Sir, are you predicting that the 2019 elections will not be free, fair and credible drawing from your last statement that who will call the results?
How are you going to answer the question now of not even declaring the man as President in 1999 yet you have given him the highest honour? There are procedures. I am not talking legally but as a Nigerian who has studied the constitution and a Professor of sociology. The point here is; what do we want? Where is Prof. Humphrey Nwosu? Now you are doing what you are doing; Is’t because you are losing a part of Nigeria? Because if we say we have six geo – political region; no, and I say yes; we have six geo – political region; you are correct. On that particular crack, but we have three regions; the North, West and East. So in a an attempt to make us happy, it became six; North – East, North – West, North – Central, South –South, South – East, and South – West. Where did all of these evolve from? Is’t because people are angry about what the scenario is? Is’t a deliberate policy of what you call desperation? There is desperation with the current governance.
Is’t true within your conscience that Saraki will head an armed robbery squad? Is’t true that Obasanjo (OBJ) will not have a say? Is’t true that there is any politician without thugs? Is’t true that you don’t arm your political thugs? Is’t true thatyour thugs must tell you after you have armed them way back to win the election that you know what they are doing there after? Is’t true that we give palliatives; material or otherwise to those who assisted you to grow? Are you sure that a man that has a minimum of certain amount of money in his coffer will do that? Is’t true that one Efe Stewart honourable was messed up because of lack of justice in our politics? When I mean justice, I am not using justice carelessly. That he was picked because there had been selectivity? Is’t true that they are talking about consensus but imposition? Iam asking multiple questions as an academia and Professor of sociology.
Prof. from your x – ray of the ruling party should we agree like what a section of the people say out there that the APC administration at the various tiers is likely to be the Crocodile that eats its own eggs?
Indeed, they should be sincere to themselves. I have not said so, but if you say like the crocodile that eats its own eggs; there are critical issues here. The change mantra was very clear, and we were happy for it, and we are still very happy for it. Let me tell you something that will help us; in – house, we had an amicable settlement I think so between Oyegun and Oshiomhole. That answers the question you just mentioned. If a crocodile eats its egg, then it means that there is fire on the mountain. But get it very clearly; indeed what we expected is what we are getting.
All right, let us look at the very recent actions of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Federal Government has scrapped Polytechnics from the education system, and H.N.D elevated to be at par with University degree, while existing Polytechnics will now be campuses of the Federal Universities. Few days later, he acknowledged that the annulled 1993 Presidential election was the freest ever in the history of Nigeria while the acclaimed winner; Chief M.K.O Abiola was conferred the highest national honours of GCFR. What do you make out of all these?
What I make out of it all is one world; desperation coming back even when there are constitutional unrealities and what is’t? Desperation! Is’t today that that bill for H.N.D was presented to NASS? Is’t now that he is supposed to do that? Is’t now that he knew June12 is the actual democracy day of liberation that things must go right? Listen, the truth of the matter; is’t now that we are talking of the South – West with Osinbanjo the Vice – President supposedly to do the right thing? Look, when there is a desperado, you now begin to look at how things circumvent. Is’t now you have not too young to rule? Look at the issues. Not too young to rule have been signed into law. Look every policy decision now is on the basis of what I call; desperacy because right now there are people from the other side who are not talking but they know that is exactly what it is. Not too young to rule; is’t today? Even when there are constitutional errors; you said not too young to rule without qualifications. What qualification will 18 year old have to go there? How do you think that even if I am going to House of Assembly for examp-le, does it mean just anybody? Why now you say H.N.D that we have been
Debating should be equilibrated to University degree of course there were very good egg heads who said that H.N.D should be B. Tech. What is M.I.T? Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the same thing with what you call Polytechnics.
Prof. talking about impact of latest actions of the President on the ordinary man from my own findings, the ordinary man on the streets wants to have food on his or her table without much trouble. They want to see prices of food and services forced down. The simple comparative analysis they make; what was the cost of bag of rice when Goodluck Jonathan was there and the cost of even the local rice now? Do you think this will shape the decision of the electorate as we journey into 2019?
We need food. The first thing in life is what? Food, shelter, and clothing. Every other thing outside these is secondary. But the beauty of what I will tell you about this current government because when we compare, we should at least give credit to some of its decisions and policies. The position in terms of oil, we have diversified but there are challenges; the average Nigerian is hungry; very, very hungry. How many persons can eat even one meal? I didn’t say square. Look at the dollar rate, where did we get it from? We are in trouble in this country. I am not against the government; I am only trying to say that the things they promised have not been fully actualized.
So what suggestion are you proffering to Government as possible solution?
First, let us eat well, we are not eating. People are hungry. The populace should be seen to have food on their table. They promised reversing insecurity but there is no security yet. Don’t think it has not expanded to where we are now in the South – South that there is security. There is massive insecurity. How could you burry 70 people from a particular place? How could you say that every blessed day up till just now, we hear in the media that some people have been killed. saying they kill. They die in communities even on their farms and you say there is security? These are the critical perspectives. They die in the market, they die in their homes, some are killed in the farms. Where is the employment that you promised?
President Buhari had told the whole world that the ravaging herdsmen are Ghadhafi armed group in the Libya civil war that infiltrated Nigeria. How do we reconcile this against the back drop that he is yet to declare them terrorists and enemy of the State that should be crushed by our security forces?
He is the Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces. Whether you like it or not, he has his national security adviser, he has what is called the minister of interior; he has the minister of defence. They should answer that question. That is why I said there is a grand conspiracy somewhere. Let me tell you why sometimes I am even soft on the President, it is even happening in his own axis that gave him huge votes. The point I am making, is that his national security adviser, his interior minister, the mini9ster of external affairs, himself as Commander in – Chief of the Armed Forces, knows what to do.
Flowing from the fore – going, do you see a coordinated opposition that could withstand the ruling APC in 2019 just like it happened in 2015?
Nothing for now; get it very straight. We are still waiting because there is still some six months to time. No formidable opposition. The opposition is collapsed.
In the prevailing circumstance should we now be expecting that President Buhari will return in 2019?
If he still lives, the man is the President!
Lastly, many political commentators have argued that the current National Assembly is the most tumultuous. Your take?
Saraki, this young man, fantastic guy, bright, intelligent, medical doctor, he has a profile that is envious to many persons but the truth of the matter to be very candid, the day that there was that parallel congress that made him the Senate President, was when his problem started and this is now the payback time, I rest my case.