Governors Can’t Pay Salaries But Spend Billions On Elections – Onovo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Governors Can’t Pay Salaries But Spend Billions On Elections – Onovo

Martin Onovo
Posted: Sep 11, 2016 at 4:26 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Martin Onovo, an engineer, is the 2015 presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP). He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on the party’s recent National Convention and President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to ask for special powers to tackle the nation’s economy.

The National Conscience Party (NCP) recently held a National Convention in Akure to choose new leaders for the party. What was the outcome of the convention?

The National Convention of the National Conscience Party (NCP) was held in Akure, Ondo State, last July. It was very successful. It was preceded by a colloquium in honour of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. We re-elected Dr. Tanko Yunusa as our National Chairman, Comrade Ayodele Akele as the National Secretary, and others to the other positions in our National Executive Committee (NEC). The plans for the future of the party were reviewed and adopted.

How do you see the leadership that emerged at that convention? Do you think they are capable of leading the NCP to a more successful outing in the 2019 elections?

The leadership that emerged came from our members. Our members are known to be very disciplined and courageous. Dr. Tanko Yunusa is not new to the position. He is one of the oldest members of the party. He is the immediate past National Chairman and was also the immediate past National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC). His experience and very wide contacts will be very useful. We have confidence in his leadership.

What of the 2019 presidency? Did it not come up during the convection?

It could not have come up because the convention is not for that. 2019 is still very far from 2016 to be discussing the presidency now.

But, what is your plan towards the 2019 election? Will you like to take another shot at the plum position? Will you accept if your party decides to invite you to go for it?

How can you be asking me about 2019 in 2016? Am I God? Only God knows what will happen tomorrow. Do you know who will be alive by 2019? All our members are qualified. For the 2015 election, I contested the primaries and won. It is not a question of being asked or being invited. I contested before. We are committed to serving Nigeria in any capacity.

I am a member of the National Conscience Party (NCP), the oldest party in Nigeria today. We have the 10-CARE Programme as the manifesto of our party. We published the ‘Accelerated Development Agenda’ for Nigeria during the 2015 general election campaigns. We have a vision for a great Nigeria. ‘Man proposes, but God disposes’. I am a slave of God.

One of the challenges facing the NCP is lack of financial muscle to carry out more successful electioneering campaigns. How is the party grappling with this challenge?

NCP is funded by members and supporters according to Nigerian laws. We do not have and do not use slush funds. The real challenge is not the lack of funds for NCP, but the lawless application of slush funds by the parties in power. If all Nigerian parties can be made to comply with Nigerian criminal laws and the Electoral Act too, the political contest will be more democratic. The Electoral Act provided for election finance limits.

N1 billion is the maximum allowed by law for presidential elections But the ruling parties criminally loot public funds and apply them lawlessly to the elections with impunity while INEC corruptly  ‘sees no evil’. The same rulers in governments that are unable to pay salaries have hundreds of billions of Naira for elections.

A cross section of Nigerians believes that the NCP is a South West affair, and that the party is far from being a national party. How would you react to this assertion?

This is outrageous! The NCP is the oldest party in Nigeria today – founded since 1994. The NCP is a national party with very viable chapters in all the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja. These state chapters are overseen by zonal executive committees in all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. As at the 2015 general elections, we had a National Chairman from the North West, a presidential candidate from the South East and Vice Presidential candidate from the North West. The founding members of NCP in 1994, led by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAM, SAN, were from all parts of Nigeria. The National Conscience Party (NCP) is a truly national party.

Would you say your party is doing enough to make impact during the Lagos Council election whenever the state’s electoral agency gives its nod for the poll to take place?

We got a court judgment against the Lagos State government on the local government elections. It is important that all true patriots insist on the Rule of Law against the stone-age lawlessness of the APC. For the NCP to make any impact, the elections must be free and fair. As long as elections are lawless and fraudulent, only criminals will win.

What is your take on the inability of the PDP to hold a successful National Convention after several attempts due to its leadership crisis and contradictory court rulings and orders?

It is clear that the incompetent, undemocratic and lawless ruling party is intolerant of any opposition. Several actions of the ruling party confirm this. The so-called anti-corruption war is a charade to intimidate and destroy opposition parties and patriots. The abuse of the judiciary through political manipulations is to promote tyranny. The partisan use of the security forces against opposition parties is a threat to democracy. The PDP was a tragedy in government, but the APC is clearly catastrophic in government.

How would you assess the performance of the current government?

According to the Kano State APC Chairman, Hussaini Mairiga, the current federal government is a ‘total failure’. According to the CNPP National Chairman, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the current federal government is a ‘complete failure’. According to Newspaper Columnist, Dr. Femi Aribisala, this is the worst government since independence. We agree with all three positions. In addition it is clear that the federal government in its deceitfulness has destroyed public morality.

With its divisiveness, it has destroyed national unity and cohesion. With its parochialism, it has destroyed national security. With its lawlessness, it has subverted the Constitution. With its visionlessness, planlessness and incompetence, it has destroyed the economy and we are now in a great depression with increasing unemployment, inflation, poverty and suicide.

From alleged forged Cambridge WASC certificates to false election promises, the use of slush funds for elections, the violation of election finance limits, the use of under-aged voters, the falsification of election results and the violation of the constitutional requirement of federal character, to the waste of six million Pounds Sterling (N3 billion) on the treatment of a simple ear infection in the United Kingdom, the current government has gone from one iniquitous and destructive action to the next. We insist that the federal government must first, formally apologise immediately to Nigerians for all these destructive actions that have led us to national ruination.

The Nigerian economy slid into a recession, how would you explain this situation the nation has found itself?

We warned the federal government that its visionless, planless, divisive and deceitful activities will lead us to national ruination. But its attack dogs defended it falsely. Today, it is clear that we were very right. According to Gen. Colin Powel, ‘Leadership is solving problems’. According to the late Prof. Chinua Achebe, ‘The trouble with Nigeria is the leadership’. Both fads are relevant. Some others have said that, ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership’. It is clear that the current political leadership in Nigeria is responsible for this economic depression, insecurity, lawlessness and impunity.

How do you see the plan by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek special powers to tackle the nation’s economy?

Having a special power is unjustified. It is unjustifiable. It is tyrannical and dangerous. It is dangerous in the hands of this lawless APC government. What is it that he needs special powers for? What he needs is not special powers to tackle the economy, but economic direction. The truth is that there is no government. President Buhari is incapable. Many people have been saying so. He is old, sickly and incapable of handling the economy. He lacks the experience and training.

But, he can do so with his economic team…

…(Cuts in) Does he have an economic team? If he has a team, it is weak. Prof Yemi Osinbajo is a lawyer. Emmanuel Kachikwu (Minister of State for Petroleum Resources) is a lawyer. The other one is an accountant.

He lacks people who can manage the Nigerian economy. Lawyers are not well equipped to manage the economy. He needs economists. What he needs are economic experts. The Nigerian economy is a very large economy, not just in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Not just because of oil. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (former Central Bank Governor and now the Emir of Kano) has already said that he is weak. There is no catastrophe that he needs a special power for. The oil price is no issue. There is no cataclysm that cannot be handled.

What do you think are the major challenges of the President Buhari administration so far?

The major challenges may include a lack of integrity which started with false campaign promises and continued with the elaborate deceit and propaganda machine of the APC. Another challenge is the visionless and planless position of the ruling party and their candidates which the Minister of Information once confirmed to Governor Ganduje in Kano that their government spent the first one year planning. Another challenge is the clueless incompetence of the economic management team. Other major challenges include the divisive sectional agenda of the government and the dictatorial lawlessness of the regime.

Don’t you see the administration’s successes in its anti-corruption crusade within the first year of the administration as a major achievement? What success?

Corruption of the anti-corruption war cannot be counted as success by any patriot. Selective prosecution of personal enemies and political opponents is a very corrupt violation of the Constitution and the oath of allegiance. Out of the ‘United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes’ (UNODC) estimated $400 billion stolen from Nigeria by public office holders, how much has been recovered? Out of the long list of suspects, how many have been convicted? The Nollywood arrest, media trial and mob conviction of political opponents with lawless violation of court orders cannot be called success. They are a very destruction of the foundation of our democracy. We want an anti-corruption war that is not selective and that is guided by the ‘Rule of law’. Nigeria cannot be returned to a one-man dictatorship. The alternatives to the ‘Rule of law’ include anarchy and one-man dictatorship.