Former Minister of State for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Nakande, speaks to ISAAC SHOBAYO on the state of the nation and other sundry issues affecting the country.
Recently, APC Governors posited that there would be no zoning for elective positions on the platform of the political party. As one of the foundation leaders of APC, what is your opinion on this?
Zoning arrangement is not a law. It is just part of the convention and arrangement to carry everyone along within the party. The purpose of zoning in APC is for inclusiveness at all levels, from the national to the local government. For example if the chairman is from a particular section of the county, the presidential candidate will be from another part of the country. It is the same thing for other positions. This is done to bring about peace, harmony and inclusiveness within the political equation at the federal and even at the state level.
But to read in the newspapers that governors under the platform of APC said there will be no zoning, I don’t think that is proper. It can lead to bickering and division within the party because there are those who believe it is their turn to occupy certain positions.
But from all indications, don’t you think a section of the country which is already saying it is their turn might feel shortchanged and look at the arrangement as a fraud?
Apart from what we read in the newspapers, I don’t think it has been discussed any level of the party. I want to say that whoever came up with this idea in the APC hierarchy does not mean well for the party. It will not foster unity among the party leaders, especially at this trying period when there is crisis all over the country, including political parties. We need to give everybody in Nigeria a sense of belonging. If this has been accepted by the party hierarchy, I want to advise that it should be rescinded and also additional thinking should be put into it so that we can continuously move the country forward.
Quite a lot of people are of the opinion that 2023 general election is being threatening as a result of insecurity in the country…
Without peace, you cannot do anything. You can’t go to school; you can’t vote or do anything reasonable. Peace is the bedrock of development anywhere in the world. So, we need peace to advance this nation. That is why I said the decision of the APC governors on zoning will exacerbate the crisis we have at hand as a nation.
Currently, there is a threat to the governorship election in Anambra State as a result of insecurity and there is no section of this country that is spared of violence in one form or the other. If it continues like this, will there be election in 2023?
There’s no way the country can have conducive election under this terrible situation we found ourselves in this country and that is why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week cried out loud and clear that this incessant insecurity may mar the 2023 elections. Also beyond burning of police stations, some of these miscreants and thugs are now burning INEC offices so that election can be postponed. All these are invitation to anarchy. If election did not hold in 2023, God forbid, it can lead to a situation that might cause a deep setback to democracy in the country. We need to think twice so that we don’t play into the hands of the enemies of democracy. The arson and violence in the county need to be curtailed.
From all indications, the Federal Government and the military have been using the same method and approach to fight insurgency, don’t you think the time has come to change the approach in order to get better result and lasting solution?
Different kinds of approaches have been propagated by different people. The international community, local have at one time or the other advise in one way or the other. But the bottom line is that those that are in the field, that is, the military keeps saying it is lack of adequate arms and ammunition and other military hardware that is frustrating their efforts. I am pleased to say that I saw in the newspapers what the military needed to prosecute this insurgency have started arriving. We hope that with the increase in armaments, the military will be able to turn the tide in favour of Nigeria. I believe once we can subdue the insurgents other criminal acts that are happening in the country will also go down.
The Southern Governors recent called for a national dialogue to address myriad of problems confronting the country. But others are thinking otherwise. What is your view on this?
There’s nothing they said that other sections of the country have not said. The solution is for us to have the political will to address some of the issues that have been raised by various groups and community across the country. I don’t think the way and manner they are approaching it is right because they have already politicised it. You can’t just wake up and say certain people, because of their trade, should leave some parts of the country. If other parts of the country insist that certain people should go as well because of certain trade or businesses they are doing, there will chaos.
ECOWAS protocol which allows people from neighbouring countries to come into Nigeria anyhow has being identified as a major reason for insurgency. Don’t you think this should be reviewed as part of the measures to tame the insecurity?
ECOWAS means Nigeria because we constitute ninety per cent of the body. Looking at the ECOWAS charter, if you said it should be reviewed it means many Nigerians in the ECOWAS countries will be sent parking. We know the countries where these bad elements are coming from, but we need to talk to them with aim of addressing the situation on ground and then rejig the entire charter itself. But if we say everybody should go back, Nigerians will be more affected.
Quite a lot of your contemporaries participated in the national conference of 2014, why is it difficult for the present administration to look into the report with aim of adopting it to address some of the salient problems in the country?
Other citizens of the country had also addressed similar problems, so how do you know that these issues are not being addressed. They are being addressed, but what we are saying is that you don’t have to bring any report out to address all these issues. All those that are saying the issues are affecting them know that the issues are being addressed. I don’t think we need to convene another conference and the question I want to ask is that why is it that the convener of the conference did not begin the implementation of the report before he left. People just want to politicise things or make noise.
But there are indications that none of the issues affecting the nation, especially the common man, is being addressed by the current administration.
The issues affecting us that need to be addressed are multifaceted. They cut across all sections of our national economy and believe me, Nigeria is not a cowboy country. We are not in the jungle. I agree there are challenges of insecurity in the country, all these issues are also being tackled by the National Assembly through the ongoing constitutional review. Also why do we think that it is only the government that can address these issues? Everyone has a role to play, not just the government alone. Leadership is not just political leaders who are elected or appointed. Leadership cuts across various levels, be it in the private sector, in all aspect of our lives including the religious sector. I think we need to talk to ourselves and have moral rearmament so that we can address the challenges bedeviling the country.
It is like there’s a clear departure from the past, especially the first and the second Republics. Ruling parties at the federal and states levels are not being guided by their parties’ manifestos in running the country. Don’t you see this as a minus?
Every political party has a manifesto. It is just that there’s no sufficient electoral education and most of the political parties don’t have true internal democracy. So the party and the manifestos are there, but we need the civil society organisations to hold these parties accountable. We need proper accountability. They should be able to give account of what they say they would do. They are not being held accountable so that is why corruption has become endemic in the country. As soon as they are elected, they begin to follow where the money is. We need to go back to the drawing board. Nigeria is so blessed with so much resource at our disposal, but with all these problems we keep missing it.
In the past, you can say this is what this or that political party has achieved. But under the current dispensation, it is difficult to point to cogent areas the administration has touched. What is responsible for this?
On this, I agree with Femi Adesina that this particular government of President Muhammadu Buhari has done so much but under reported. I was even surprised that this came from Femi Adesina because being he is a Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity. And having identified that achievements of his principal are under reported, should not he have done the needful to correct the perception? The administration has done do much though there are saboteurs within the administration, but I think those responsible should have showcased all these in all the frontline media not just a particular one.
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