I am Amazed At Buhari’s Level Of Unpreparedness – Okwu | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


I am Amazed At Buhari’s Level Of Unpreparedness – Okwu

Posted: Apr 11, 2016 at 11:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Maxi Okwu is an Anambra State-born lawyer and seasoned politician. He was a one-time National Chairman and Presidential candidate. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he speaks on his status with the All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) and other crucial national issues.

What is your present role in the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)?
With the judgment of the Supreme Court on January 15, 2016 dismissing our appeal from the lower court, I am technically out of APGA. You may recall that my roots in APGA run deep. As far back as 2002 just after registration, I became the number two man as Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party. It was as a consequence of the intra-party struggle that I exited in 2005 and took up a comatose party called Green Party of Nigeria (name changed to Citizen’s Popular Party) as National Chairman, and later its presidential candidate in 2007. All the same, I kept in contact with both sides of the APGA divide. Governor Peter Obi as leader of the party invited me back in February 2013, at a critical moment when the court literally decapitated the executive, to salvage the party. The rest is history. We are at the stage of exploring an amicable end to the APGA saga through the Chief Maja Umeh reconciliation committee set up by the party Leader and Governor of Anambra State. Let see how it goes.

How do you see the so-called rapprochement between former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, and the incumbent, Willie Obiano?

It is well and much desired. In politics there is no permanent friend or enemy. What is paramount is interest. It is in the paramount interest of Anambra State that both, who are mentor and protege, remain friendly and cooperative.

Do you think that APGA as presently constituted stands a chance of improving its 2015 performance in 2019 general elections?

It is in the greater interest of APGA, a party whose political growth is stunted, that a genuine and broad embracing peace is achieved. By 2019, the party would have been 17 years old. It has so much promise; but it is now literally an Anambra based party.

Would you agree with the notion that South East political leaders are self centred and do not leave legacies for coming generations?

There is merit in the argument. Compare Awo and Zik. The Awo political family endures in Afenifere and the ‘rouge’ elements who are now dominant, led by Bola Tinubu who has become a phenomenon in recent times. Where are the Zikists and Zikism? In my capacity as National Secretary of AD, I read the second lesson at Awo’s 13th posthumous birthday anniversary at Ikenne. It was there I saw why his legacy endures. Have you been to the Zik mausoleum at Onosi Onira? It tells the story better. In the present time, compare Tinubu with say Peter Obi or Orji Uzor Kalu. What happened to the Ebeano political machine/family of Chimaroke Nnamani?
The Nigerian state stands on a tripod. Don’t you think it necessary for South East leaders to rediscover the broken third leg of the tripod by extending hands of fellowship to their counterparts and like minds in Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states to be able to make more impact in the polity?

It would appear that the South East is political enemy territory for the dominant power at the centre today, the APC. The small pocket of resistance at Awka is not taken seriously. Owerri is an aberration, otherwise the old Eastern Region is a solid PDP zone. It was not designed nor strategised to be so, but it just happened. Recall that the region stood solidly behind their ‘son’ the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In fact the South East bent over backwards and burnt their political boat in the unprecedented solid support for the former president. The wisdom of that is yet to be determined. In my own calculations the Izon nation if not the entire South South owes Ndigbo big time.
The third leg of the tripod was broken by the military which fragmented the old Eastern Region so that they cannot speak in one voice, just like the event at the Biblical Tower of Babel.

If there is to be a repair or restoration, how would you suggest that this can be done and under what platform or platforms?
I do not share this view to the extent of the proposition that the fragmentation of the old Eastern Region led to the collapse of the third leg in Nigerian politics. If you talk of fragmentation, what of the other three regions, did they not suffer the same fate? The political tripod on which Nigeria was built hovered around the three Titans of pre and post Independent Nigeria and their political parties. Zik, Awo and Ahmadu Bello leading the NCNC, the AG and NPC, respectively. Also recall that pre the military intervention in 1966, we adopted the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy. We now practice the American type of Presidential executive. The latter is most suited for two dominant parties acting as a check on themselves and alternating in power. We have that in the APC and PDP. I am of the firm belief that the PDP is not the alternative to the PDP. The APC, except for elements of the defunct ACN, and some core PMB loyalists of the CPC, is more like the PDP changing jersey at half time. There will be an alternative to the APC come 2019. The PDP may survive, but it cannot recover. It is therefore not that alternative. What do you say of a party vis-a-vis the old Eastern Region interests its power base, zones it Chairmanship and 2019 presidential flag bearer to the North? Ndigbo particularly fare better through a third leg party in which they are dominant; from NCNC through NPP to the APGA as original proposed. The current APGA is yet to fulfill its historic mission. I pray it does so before it is too late.

With the emergence of Modu Sheriff as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, the party’s recent apology to the nation for mishandling the nation in the last 16 years and the reoganisation said to be going on within the party, do you think the party can return to snatch victory from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 general elections?
I have essentially addressed this question in the last one.

If the PDP wants to come back to power, what do you think it should do to achieve this?
The last sixteen years of the PDP maladministration were sixteen years of the locust. Why on earth would any progressive want them to come back? The apology is too late and after the fact. Where is the restitution?
How do you see the performance of the APC administration so far and its war against corruption?

It is over a year since President Muhammadu Buhari was given his Certificate of Return. It is pushing to one year of his administration. If the morning will show the evening, then I am not impressed. For someone who sought the presidency four times before securing it, I am amazed at the level of unpreparedness for governance. As we speak I am not aware of any high powered economic team to advise the president. Nigerians are suffering and Nigeria is in distress. Most of the time what we get is a blame game on what the last administration did or did not do. A veritable blame game or passing the buck! On the anti-corruption initiative, it is the same story. Yes, we have had a number of high profile arrests and sensational appearances in court, but not one person has been fully prosecuted and jailed. It is also obvious that the initiative is domesticated with the president. He is not carrying his party, the APC, the National Assembly, and the Judiciary along. In the APC states and most of the other states it is business as usual. For the citizenry, it is all about the fall of another big name, which they relish with sadistic pleasure.

There is a lot of hardship in the country – power outage, lingering fuel scarcity, nose-diving economy, etc. Who is to blame? Is the ruling party on the right track? What is the way forward?

I would not wish to be part of any blame game. Let those we have entrusted our mandate govern well. The guiding principle is clearly spelt out in Section 14(2)b of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government at all levels. I would also urge the president to stay home more and restrict foreign travels.

What factors would you say led to the recent resurgence of the demand for Biafra? What is your view on the continued incarceration of Daniel Kanu and his on-going trial for treason?

My position is that the structural imbalances of our Federation must be addressed. What we have today is an unjust polity. Let us go back to the original agreements by the founding fathers in the late 50s for a Federal Republic of Nigeria where no man is oppressed. Of course, we need to adjust slightly to take care of current realities. Again, the principle of self determination is an internationally accepted principle to which Nigeria and the comity of nations accede. On Kanu, let the rule of law and Constitution prevail.