Postponement Of Edo Election Will Redress Anomalies – Ogbebor | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Postponement Of Edo Election Will Redress Anomalies – Ogbebor

Posted: Sep 16, 2016 at 4:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Colonel Paul Ogbebor (rtd) who was the first Nigerian to be admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1964, played a prominent role in the execution of the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970. Now an industrialist, he spoke with ISAAC OLAMIKAN on the postponement of Edo election and other issues. Excerpts:

What is your opinion about the postponement of the gubernatorial election from Saturday, September 10 to Wednesday, September 28?
The security agencies are doing the work according to the rules and the constitution of the country. They observed that a security risk is looming if the election was held at the earlier scheduled date (Saturday, September 10). It was the most reasonable thing to have been done. The best option it really was. To say that there was no security risk facing the conduct of the election is to turn truth on its head. The extension will go a long way to redress some anomalies that would have stalled the process. The political parties should also use the period of the extension to further reach out to more voters thus improving on their support base.

We recall that in an interview you earlier granted, you did advised that President Muhammadu Buhari should be given six months period of emergency power to address the issue of economic recession settling in. Now, that he has actually made the demand do you feel fulfilled?

Certainly, if I make a suggestion and the suggestion is being taken, I should feel fulfilled and give kudos to Mr. President too for thinking along with me.

If you are to advise him on how to tackle our myriad of problems within the period of emergency, which of the problems would you advise him to tackle first?

Emergency powers means he should be given a free hand to put things right to put aside red tapism and fight our myriads of problems headlong. This is not the first time. When Alhaji Shehu Shagari was there (as President of Nigeria), he asked for six months period of emergency to confront some issues. That was between 1981 and 82. He was granted. I see no reason that he won’t be granted the permission to do whatever he needs to end the crisis. During the time of Shagari, the issue of internal terrorism had not gotten to this level. In President Buhari’s case, when he took over on May 29, 2015, the insurgents in the North East had their flag flying in 14 local government areas in that part of the country. That means he didn’t take over the whole of Nigeria. I must give the president thumbs up because he has been able to deal decisively with the issue and it is almost becoming a thing of the past. There is no single part of the country that the insurgents occupy as at today. As that one was abating, the Niger Delta crisis started. The Niger Delta’s relevance is that it is the source of about 96 percent of our economic mainstay. In Shagari’s era the price of oil was high. Right now, it has dropped considerably. Also, back in those days we were producing about 2.5million daily, unlike now that we can only boast of about 1.3million per day. You would also recall that during the last days of his administration, between April and May 2015, then President Goodluck Jonathan could not pay workers salaries. He had to resort to borrowing to meet up. That was how bad the situation was then. By then oil was selling for $78 per barrel and 2.5million barrel was been pumped daily. If we are now still able to pay salaries despite all these shortfalls, we should give kudos to Buhari. Look at Venezuela that was almost 100 percent dependent on oil. They have gone so broke and the situation has gone so bad that many of the citizens are running away and are now queuing for everything – water, food etc. We have not reached that stage. We can still get bread in the street to buy. Somebody came to meet me recently; he complained that things are bad. I said “why”? He said he bought a bag of rice for N25,000.00. I told him that is his choice that there are good quality made in Nigeria rice that sell for less than N10,000.00 per bag. The nutritional value of the rice is better than that of the imported one. So, why do we waste money on extravagance? Not only that, we should know that we are in recession now. We should cut down on our flamboyant lifestyle. But how do we now sustain where we find ourselves presently? What we should do is to reduce our penchant for flamboyant things and we should also inculcate national discipline. We can only achieve this through emergency powers to be given to the president. Depending on how fast we are able to get out of the woods, I will suggest that we keep extending it until we are sure we are in the right direction. I have heard many people say that Buhari cannot manage the economy. Do you manage what is not there? It is not possible. If for instance, we want to go into agriculture, it is going to take a three years cycle. It is not an overnight thing. It is only after a three year cycle that agriculture can yield results which we can now start depending on.

There are fears that if President Muhammadu Buhari is given emergency powers, he may end up been dictatorial in his approach to governance. What is your take on that?

Who will his dictatorship benefit? Is it his family or the military? Those are non-issues. And when you are giving him these emergency powers you should let it be known to him that it is solely to engage the economy and bring it back to life and to also fight corruption. Most of these problems confronting us is caused by corruption. And a set of people will wake up one day and say they are avengers. Who are they avenging for? Like Professor Wole Soyinka said if you put in N1, 000,000.00 to fight corruption, it will put in N10, 000,000.00 to fight back. What would you say in a situation where a budget is passed to the National Assembly for confirmation only for it to be padded by the legislators?