Buhari Not Comfortable Working With The South –Ugwu-Oju | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Not Comfortable Working With The South –Ugwu-Oju

Posted: Sep 20, 2015 at 12:03 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Emeka Ugwu-Oju is the president of South-East-South-South Professionals (SESSP). In this interview with Temidayo Akinsuyi, he speaks on the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint ministers after 100 days in office, lopsided appointments and other issues. Excerpts:



Are you not worried that over 100 days of President Buhari’s assumption of office, he is yet to appoint ministers?

There is a constitution which is made for the governance of the country.  That constitution sees a need for there to be ministers. And now there are no ministers.  Maybe if there is no need for ministers, there wouldn’t have been any need for ministers.  So, for one reason or the other, right or wrong there is a need for ministers.  But as we speak, there are no ministers.  So, logically it means that something doesn’t add up.  If there is no need for ministers, then that provision should be removed from the constitution.  What we see when there are no ministers is that the need identified for the appointment of ministers is not being followed.

I don’t think that the president has said there is no need for ministers. What we are hearing is that he needs time to ensure that he gets the right people.  The question now is, ‘was that necessary?  If there is need for ministers, why wasn’t it anticipated that governance will start on May 29? And in  the event that the contestant wins the election, he already knows how his team should look like, both in terms of constitutional requirements and spread. 

If  I need to appoint 36 ministers, then I need to have a pool of 100 where the 36 I need will be selected from. Unless maybe he never believed he is going to win and so he never planned for the team he is going to put in place. Or maybe from the time he was declared winner and the time he was sworn- in,  he doesn’t have enough time to put his team in place, so he needs enough time, maybe 100 days or more to appoint his ministers. So, I leave Nigerians to judge. But the fact remains that the present constitution that we have anticipates the need for ministers and I don’t think Nigerians have said ‘ we don’t want  ministers’.

What is your take on the appointments made by the president so far?

The appointments are very disappointing. The president through his action is trying to say that he cannot work closely with certain parts of the country, especially the Southern part, though some people might say it is just the South- East. This is the first time in this democratic dispensation that we will have all the key aides of the president coming from the North and none from the South, which is not good for our federal system.  It is a wrong decision taken at the wrong time. The idea of the appointment being done on merit and competence is fantastic but for me, it has to be on merit, competency and inclusiveness.  This time around, there is nothing about inclusion. So, what is the essence of talking about merit, competence and leaving out inclusiveness?. My personal preference would have been to have Ogbonnaya Onu as the SGF and Babatunde Fashola as Chief of Staff. If both of them are not competent, then somebody has to explain to me what competence and merit is.

Do you think these appointments were based on the statement allegedly credited to the president that those who gave him the highest votes will get 95 percent while those who gave him the least votes will get five percent?

Of course. The president himself said it that he has broken no laws by appointing those whom he feels comfortable with, those he trusts. This implies that he doesn’t trust anybody from the Southern part of the country based on his appointments so far. But the reality is that those I will call the A-team, both elected and unelected, both executive and legislative are all from the Northern part of the country. And this A- team if may list them include the principal secretary, SGF, Chief of Staff, NSA, Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Senate president. These are people who have direct access to the president if they so wish.

Some ex-ministers who served under former president Goodluck Jonathan recently addressed the media where they asked Buhari to stop taking credits for Jonathan’s achievements. Do you agree with them?

I think the ministers have said their own and PDP should also be joining issues with the APC.  But speaking as the president of SESSP, something that strikes me which hasn’t really been looked at critically by Nigerians has to do with the issue of the seemingly improved and reliability of power.  By the time Jonathan left government, power was almost zero.  But when Buhari came into power, suddenly things started to pick up.  As a professional, I am trying to look at the statement of the permanent secretary of Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, who said that the only thing that has changed and has made power more available to Nigerians today is not because the water level has increased but because since Buhari became president, there has not been a single case of disruption of the gas pipelines*****. 

That is the only factor that can be ascribed to this improvement in power supply. Somebody should ask why is I that when Buhari became president, suddenly the sabotage of the gas pipeline stopped? I think that should be investigated. It is laughable when some people talk about the fear of Buhari as the factor responsible for the improved power supply. Do these ones know how the power sector is structured?  The distribution companies can’t make money if there is no power. So, it is in their interest for there to be power.  Unfortunately, there is no power and this is because a lot of the power being generated is dependent on gas supply. And there was sabotage of gas pipelines. Who was sabotaging the pipelines? Is it Jonathan that was sabotaging it because he doesn’t want stable power?  Or was it some elements that did it so that they can get rid of him? Let the investigation prove that.  If we want to address power sustainability, we should find out what happened so that such incident won’t  happen again in the future.

Do you think that the new govern-ment would be keen on implement-ing the resolutions of the national conference, especially given the call for a fresh one by some Northern leaders?

I think the government’s major platform is change. In other words, they are saying we want a Nigeria that is different from what it is today. And they have looked at the areas of insecurity, corruption, and economy. But then as professionals and also from the feedback we’ve got from our people, you can’t do much about those three items if you are not on the same page with the people. And the people are saying that Nigeria can’t work if the structure is not right. And to get the structure right is to start implementing the national conference resolution. It is not the magic wand but it is the foundation. So they have to take it serious, key it into their agenda, make the implementation of the na­tional conference number one item on their table.

That is when you now have the leeway to tackle other issues. If the government wants to succeed, they don’t have to beat about the bush than to start restructuring the country so that they can have the platform to tackle corruption, unemployment, etc. We in Southeast Southsouth already have our 20-year development agenda which we are bringing to the table. We want other people too to see it that way and we are commit­ted to that. We from southeast southsouth believe that implementing the national conference as the basic template will give us the enabling environment to fully achieve or actualize our potentials.

Comments (1)

  • Sep 21, 2015 at 6:48 am ogbemi monday

    May i ask,is this the first time we having increase in water level that did not translate to steady power supply.secondly the last govt was paying a whooping sum of N1.5b every month for pipeline surveilance contract to a militant warlord with nothing to show for it xcpt increase in bunkering, vandalisation and oil theft bcos there were no consequence for any act of economic sabotage.But now a new sherrif is in town who will use the sledge hammer on any form of negligence,sabotage, corruption.pls let situate our contribution to national discuss.

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