How APC Can Resolve NASS Crisis – Simeon | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How APC Can Resolve NASS Crisis – Simeon

Posted: Jul 14, 2015 at 12:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Public Affairs Commentator and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Executive Member in Lagos, Rev. Francis Ujunwa Simeon, is always very vocal when it comes to discussing issues of national importance. In this interview with EJIKE OMENAZU, he suggests some priority areas for President Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts…  

The 2015 political campaign polarised Nigeria along religious lines. As a religious leader, how would you see the development and its significance to the nation?

You see, prior to the 2015 political campaigns, the Boko Haram terrorists had wreaked havoc on the Church in Nigeria, which they see as their major enemy. Over 800 churches were burnt down or destroyed by Boko Haram Islamic sect that has a jihadist agenda especially in the North.  Thousands of Christians were maimed and slaughtered in cold blood and many churches could hardly open for service in the North East for fear of Boko Haram. Today, the situation has not changed. The sect does not hide its agenda of Islamising the country in order to enthrone the Sharia Law nationwide. So, at that time, there was widespread anger among Christians nationwide especially as Muslim leaders at the highest level did not do much to call the insurgents to order until the situation got out of hand. Moreover, in some states where Muslims were in power, allegations of discriminatory policies against churches and Christians were rife. Consequently, many Christians became wary of anybody suspected to hold Islamic fundamentalist views that could be inimical to the security and welfare of the Church. That was the religious climate preceding the 2015 general election campaigns.


But why did religion become an election issue?

In 1993 Christians voted en masse for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket without thinking about it. In 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections, religion was not an issue. But in 2015 the politicization of religion was largely triggered off by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and other Muslim bigots coupled with the nonchalance of some Muslim leaders in the face of the sectarian onslaughts against the Christian church.  The Nigerian churches saw themselves as endangered species and had to guard their flanks. As a way out, religious leaders should not dabble into politics while political leaders should not stir up religious sentiments in their politicking and official conduct.


What agenda would you proffer for the Muhammadu Buhari administration?

In the course of the election campaigns, President Buhari and his party promised so many things, which he might not be able to fulfill in the present circumstances. By now, he must have discovered more problems than he had bargained for.  On security, he should build on Jonathan’s effort and completely flush out the Boko Haram terrorists. He should also work with Muslim clerics to de-radicalise those aspects of Islamic fundamentalism, which give rise bigotry, religious intolerance, sectarian riots and insurgency. This is very necessary for religious harmony and continued peaceful co-existence in the country. He also has to declare total war on kidnapping and armed robbery all over the country.  On electricity, he should sustain the privatisation programme but try to look into problem areas such as the sabotage of gas supply as revealed by Prof. Nebo, the former Minister of Power. He could also open up the space for more core investors in order to stimulate competition and efficiency in the sector with a view to driving down the tariff to affordable levels as in the telecommunication sector.  Also, all the key projects initiated by the Jonathan administration should be completed to avoid the abandoned projects syndrome. Accordingly, all the critical infrastructural projects in the South-East and South- South should be continued with to avoid a feeling of alienation and political persecution.  On the oil sector, Buhari should ultimately aim at repairing the refineries or constructing new ones for the production of fuel both for local consumption and export. In the interim, he should deregulate the sector if that will lead to the availability of fuel at affordable prices. Tackling corruption is going to be a tall order for Buhari, given the pandemic nature of the scourge. He is going to confront a monster that bestrides the nation like a colossus. He earnestly needs our prayer for divine wisdom and courage to prosecute the war unscathed. Evidently, President Buhari is a man of integrity without any skeleton in his cupboard. But are those around him like him? Are they sincerely on the same page with him in this war? When he fought the war against indiscipline (WAI) in 1985, he was an unfettered General that ruled by fiat. But now he is a civilian president circumscribed by vested interests, the rule of law, human rights activists, the law courts, political opponents and the likes of Amnesty International to mention but a few.  He should start the war from his cabinet, then to the civil service, and from there proceed to his party, the APC and to the political class in general. The war should also extend to the judiciary and the armed forces and from there to the larger society.  If he succeeds in bringing down corruption nationwide by 50 per cent, in four years, then he would have achieved a lot even if he did not fulfill any other electoral promise.  He would have brought noticeable change beyond sloganeering.


What is your advice to the national lawmakers considering the crisis that followed the elections of the Senate President and the House of Representatives Speaker?

You see, in this life, what goes round comes round. The melodrama playing out in the National Assembly is a conflict between party and personal interests. It has nothing to do with national interest. In the 7th Assembly, the PDP zoned the Speakership to the Southwest, but the ACN (now APC) encouraged and supported Tambuwal from the Northwest to fulfill his personal interest by emerging as the Speaker contrary to his party’s choice. Rebellion was encouraged thus setting a dangerous precedent. In the twilight of his Speakership, the same Tambuwal, as Number Four citizen, abandoned the PDP platform that brought him to power and defected to the APC. He was welcomed with jubilation and celebration. The APC did not see it as immoral and unethical.  The Golden Rule in Luke 6:31 in the Bible says: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Now the APC is in power. The same rebellion it once supported has come home to roost.  It is now facing rebellion not only in the House but also in the Senate. It is now the turn of the PDP to support the ‘rebels’ against their party. The fall-out of all this is the show of shame being witnessed in the House where supposed lawmakers engage in fisticuffs rather than a battle of wits.  How can such lawbreakers make progressive laws that will drive the change mantra of APC? It is most unfortunate that the APC is starting on a wrong foot and this is sending a wrong signal that Nigerians might be having a change for the worse if the situation is not arrested. I pray it will not be so.  Rather than being overbearing and wielding the big stick, which might lead to more recalcitrance by the ‘rebels’, the APC should do a lot of horse-trading and compromises to resolve the conflict in the interest of the nation.  It must also respect the independence of the Legislature. A stitch in time saves nine.