Nigeria Still Crawling At 55 – Erubami | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Nigeria Still Crawling At 55 – Erubami

Posted: Oct 2, 2015 at 12:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Human Rights activist, Comrade Mashood Erubami is the President/Convener, Nigeria Voters’ Assembly (VOTAS). He was an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Egbeda/Ona-Ara Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives in the last general elections. In this interview with Oladele Ogunsola, he speaks on Nigeria at 55, bail-out for governors, President Buhari’s anti-corruption war and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

Yesterday, October 1ST marks the 55th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, how will you describe the journey so far? 

55 years in the life of a child is an age of maturity, when one is expected to be grown up, possesses wisdom and assume adulthood; when you know what is good from what is bad. At early age, you are expected to crawl before you can stand upright. But if a 55 year old child is still crawling, you can say that child did not grow well and must be physically challenged. This is how we can categorise Nigeria, it has refused to grow up and cannot be said to be developing well and fully matured. In the last 55 years, successive politics have been blotted by years of unproductive politics, unrehearsed leadership and unimpressive economy. The country, despite the human and material resources it is endowed with, is still living and dying in surplus, a paradox of poverty and hunger in the midst of plenty. .

Happily, the emergence of President Buhari is now giving hope of a better tomorrow as lives of citizens are getting better than the president met it. Within 100 days of occupation of power, President Buhari has put smiles on the faces of workers and Nigerians who were suffering from erratic power supplies are now enjoy its availability, even though there is room for further improvement and sustainability. The APC government is bridging the wide gap between the expectations of the people and change deliveries from its government. Nigerians are no more going about with long faces as they can see that Nigeria is being taken on the route of sanity taking the primary obligation of government seriously through provision of good welfare and reduction of insecurity in the country. What should be done is to put the old order in permanent chain to build a new foundation of hope for the citizens and making Nigeria the centre piece of good governance and development.

The president ordered for a low key celebration. Are you in support of that?

As Nigeria celebrates on low key, new measures that will seriously rejuvenate the economy, electoral reforms that will revisit the Uwais report as the first rung on the ladder of genuine institutionalization of democracy should be put in place. Also government must encourage private companies to be able to employ millions of unemployed Youths and adults while keeping up sustainable power and energy to power the nation and empower the citizens. Above all, corruption should be seriously fought, using the House of Representatives report on oil subsidy as a head start to send right signal to those who are enmeshed in corrupt practices. The low key celebration declared for this year independence is justifiable because there is nothing to celebrate than sleeping in the night and waking up in the morning and the thanks for that is to God.

A lot of criticisms have trailed the appointments made so far by the President, which side of the divide do you align with?

I align with the side of reason and understanding on the appointment so far made by the president. Looking at the appointments, they are few among the positions still to be appointed and by the time the National Assembly stabilises, more appointments would be allocated to areas not yet served appropriately. We must however not think we would seek equal appointments for each ethnic group, this will be against the spirit of this time which emphasises appointment based on merit. The huge appointment to people from the East and the South- South with low appointment into the Southwest under former President Jonathan did not confer special growth advantages on the Easterners against the underrepresented Westerners except in the areas of riches from corruption to just few appointees. The injustices in this will be revised when those who enriched their purses through public funds start to be prosecuted and sent to where they should belong. At this time nobody should talk about his ethnic group being harassed or being called to account. What goes round comes round. I believe the President promised that what seems to be lopsided will be corrected and everybody that should get a position will not be denied and every qualified person shall reap from his or her contributions to the parties’ success.

The fight against insecurity is recording some degree of success, how do you think this can be sustained?

Yes it is true, insecurity is reducing in general terms as it is not Boko Haram that represent the insecurities that have overwhelmed Nigeria before Buhari’s  assumption of office. Joyfully, the incidence of Boko Haram insurgency is being drastically reduced as the security agencies are gaining upper hand on the Insurgents and their operations. More people are being rescued on daily basis and closed schools are being re-opened and those rescued are being resettled in the established centres for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).There are avalanche of evidences in the drastic reduction in the number of reported attacks and number of casualties unlike before when scores of lives were terminated with the bracing hosting of the flags of the insurgents in the captured zones. The report of unrelenting wastages of human lives and properties are becoming a thing of the past. These successes were recorded because of the strong leadership put through in facing the scourge. The movement of the military Command from Abuja to the war epic front in addition to the provision of proper, adequate and appropriate weapons for the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency. What remains is to set up intelligence squads to address the new trend in suicide bombing which is a new style in guerilla warfare. This require concerted efforts to nip in the bud. I must at this stage sound a strong note of warning that Nigeria need to be very careful to ensuring that those being reported to be rescued are not Boko Haram Operators, their wives and children so as not to be recycling the Insurgents. Typical examples reside in the issue of over 1000 women said to be rescued after the Governorship election at a time we were desperate to secure the release of the Chibok girls. There was no prior announcement of the kidnap of over 1000 women and it was surprising and strange that we announce the rescue of over 1000 women that we never reported to be missing, whom we are yet to know their husbands, fathers and mothers, what they were engaged in before and how they were captured before the rescue. What in my view should be done to sustain this winning trend include the sustaining of the current efforts to reduce arms and ammunition proliferation in the country which must be intensified, New measures should be embarked upon to deal with general insecurity and rooting out insurgency and the phenomenon of kidnapping, armed robbery, ethnic and sectarian clashes across the country. Nigeria should intensify collaboration with stakeholder Nations like Chad, Cameroon and Niger to put a final stoppage to the spread of the Boko Haram menaces across the region of its wars. Nigeria should continue to maintain strong partnership among the regional leaders to be able to utilise the promised assistance from the international Community to curtail trans-border mobility and the ease with which arms are supplied and exchanged to be able to block the recruitment and training of new recruits. The country should make effective and sincere efforts directed at sustaining the Amnesty programs in the Niger Delta by ensuring the payment of allowances of the Ex-Militants including the avoidance of further environmental degradation, sustaining of the environmental cleaning of the Ogoni land and discouraging political marginalisation and economic strangulation being complained against by the stakeholders in the Niger delta region so as to restore confidence in Buhari government towards erecting sustainable peace and security in the zones and guarantee tranquility in the country. As a corollary, urgent reform should be continued in the police to strengthen internal security, starting from the head to the subordinate in a way that will make the force a Service Agent for the protection of the rights of the people including safety of the Society.

There is need for intensification of general reforms and repositioning in the Military, Police and the intelligence as priority in the Country security agenda programs. The other area requiring immediate intervention is the Post Boko-Haram insurgency Rehabilitation scheme which must be visibly seen to be receiving the desired attention of the government.

What do you think can be done to ensure that workers are not owed salaries again by the state governments?

The phenomenon of unpaid salary is bile in the dish which no governor will wish to manage again, once they are bailed out of this present sad moment. As it is, the issue of unpaid salaries came as an accident and not necessarily designed to punish any worker. In fact most governors in the past regale in using “regular payment” of salary to justify their efficiency and prudent management, so no one would be comfortable not paying. Since it has come to become a part of the events that make the history of the 8th Republic, its occurrence is not without some lessons to learn. Administrators must now know that revenue projected cannot be wholly relied upon especially if its realisation is not fully under their control, where the resources realised is based on the forces of demand and supply. The fact of the matter is that the dwindling revenue from oil as a result of global crash in oil prices is not solely responsible for the low revenue accruing to the states which in turn led to their inability to meet their social obligations, particularly shrinking the capacity to pay salaries as at when due. It was mainly inflicted as a result of deliberate vindictive political policy of the ruling party to crush the development processes embarked upon by the progressive Governments across the states which the Federal Government envied despite coasting over 52% of the national revenue and could not show anything for it. Whereas, all APC states that together with other states can only get about 30% of the revenue became massive construction haven, building new roads, expanding old narrow roads, building life saving bridges here and there, delivering free education, free health facilities and improving lives, providing security and increasing gainful employment. Ogun State, Osun and Oyo were known to have engaged 20,000 youths in their first term in office, factories were attracted, uniforms were freely distributed to students and one meal per day was practised in Osun with lots of model schools built and equipped. Instead of the Federal Government to learn from these, it only succeeded in opening corruption factories making his technocrats to perfect the use of public office for private gains. It was therefore not accidental that he laid land mines of dwindling revenue for states to slow them down and set them against the people who originally loved them. This vindictive and backward policy would have led to a serious bloody revolution had the PDP won the Presidential election on April 11, 2015. Many more states would have joined the bandwagon of unpaid salaries, huge amount would have been owed to contractors who in desperate bid to remain afloat would have laid off staffs, many factories and Banks would have closed shops, sending millions of their workers to join in the unemployment market at which juncture life will have become brutish and short as parents would not be able to pay their wards school fees and nothing will be available to share to traders and informal workers. Such was the devilish plans that the PDP arranged for us in Nigeria, Which God forbids.

What I therefore think can be done to ensure that workers are not owed salaries again by the state governments are many, foremost the governor must learn to cut their dresses according to available clothes. Fundamentally, it is not much of planning big against little resources but planning against unearned resources is the issue. Whatever development projects that is planned to be erected must be need driven and must be planned on earned resources. When you derive your projects from the needs of the people, you set it against what is available and assure the people of what is visible from the remaining resources after meeting basic obligations like salaries, health, education and security. There will be no ground for owing debt, because what you have has been placed on what you need and what is possible is what you will do. You will be saved from the harrowing disgrace from the same people you would have gone out of way to satisfy with white elephant projects but who in the end could not be paid salaries and who will start singing protest song against the government.

So far, how do you assess the performance of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in keeping the ruling APC on its toes?

The PDP is of no value under the current dispensation as its rating as an opposition party is abysmally low in the eyes of the people. So far, the party has not succeeded in putting the APC on any wrong scaling, in fact, their opposition to the party has not been well meaning before Nigerians whose lives they have sat on for the past 16 years without any justifiable policy to upturn their miseries. The opposition PDP ran Nigeria aground and caused the decay of 16 years from which the country is yet to come out. The fears they seek regularly to create in the mind of Nigeria have been unjustifiable because people cannot understand the PDP new-day economic wizardry which it want the APC to learn, when it is still fresh in the mind, how Nigerians suffer years of economic and social agonies, hunger and paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty when the party was in the saddle. Their strident criticism is considered as mere noise making that forecloses the grim economic and social situation in which they left the country which they did not only ran aground but also left prostrate. They are merely ranting and shouting to regain their voice and stay relevant. There is nothing spectacular that the PDP can do either to drown the achievement of the APC though, it can continue to raise its voice to keep the ruling APC on its toes only because of their right to freedom of speech. Unfortunately they have been making wrong moves which have been exposing their ignorance that their party caused the 16 years decay which the Buhari/ APC government are being called upon to erase enduringly.