The North Will Always Have Its Way – Alabi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The North Will Always Have Its Way – Alabi

Posted: Oct 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Barrister Kayode Alabi, Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) believes that after 56 years after Independence, some of the problems of nationhood are still remaining in Nigeria, even as he stresses that there has not been real reconciliatory effort since after the Nigerian civil war. He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU. Excerpts:

Nigeria recently marked its 56th Independence anniversary. Could you give an assessment of the nation’s journey so far?

Nigeria at 56 still has the same basic problems. Although there are some elements of progress here and there, we have not been succeeded substantially. We have not moved away from the problems of history, basically ethnic and religious squabbles. Nigerians have not given recognition that thousands of people were killed. There is need to give official recognition and apology for the killings of several thousands of people from the South East. It is not enough to just say that it was a civil war. Thousands of people were killed for no other reason than that they were Igbo. There were also several other unjust killings. The nation should officially address these to assuage some bad feelings in parts of the country. They cannot just be swept under the carpet if there is going to be total reconciliation.
The fact that some people planned a coup should not have led to the mass killing of people who had no relationship with the coup. That is why till date, they not fully participate in the political development of the nation. There has to be a genuine national reconciliation. This is very important for Nigeria to move forward. Look at the North East. In the last seven years, the Boko Haram has engaged the nation. They have grievances against the nation. Even in the South South, people have grievances here and there. Look at what is happening in the Niger Delta. Nigerians still see themselves according to their ethnic groups they belong.

Do you think some of these issues could be resolved through the restructuring of the federation?

I believe so. The call for restructuring is a call for the devolution of powers. It is the decentralisation of power. It does not mean breaking the country. So it must be supported. The national Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has not really united Nigerians as envisaged. If the government will agree to restore the federation, it will help to assuage the feelings of animosity in the land. Many of the problems in the nation will disappear while the states or regions will become viable. By restructuring, we mean the legal system that determines revenue sharing and issue of equity. We are taking about having a true federalism. We are not just talking about restructuring in terms of states and regions. We are talking about the legal structures that determine sharing of resources. We are talking about restructuring in terms of political, economic, social and institutional. For instance, why should the President decide who becomes the INEC Chairman, or the Governors dictating who should be the States’ Electoral Commission Chairmen? |Why must the Inspector General of Police be a Policeman? Why should states depend on the federal for finance, power and security? Why should we not have state police?

What is your view on the current state of the economy?

In theory, from the statistics emanating from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministry of Finance  and other government agencies, we see some semblance of improvement. But, the reality is that the quality of life of most Nigerians is worsening. Inflation has taken away the purchasing power of Nigerians to less than what they used to have. The quality of living is poor. People find it difficult to eat. The nation is not manufacturing and still relies heavily on importation. The nation’s economy is therefore at its lowest ebb.

Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic team is capable of turning the economy around?

What can an economic team do? There are things outside their ability. They cannot determine the prices of goods and value of the dollar. The issue is the dwindling oil revenue, import dependence economy. We use what we get from the crude sale to import. Nobody bothers about manufacturing. If you bring back Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, she cannot change the oil price. I don’t have high expectation from the president’s economic team. Nigeria is caught in the vestiges of the world politics.

Would you say the president needs a special power to deal with the economy?

Personally, I think giving him such emergency powers will not be a good idea. It means he does not have a well-thought out strategic plans. He should have sustainable plans. All the bottlenecks they are talking about are within his powers to circumvent. The people in government arte are under him. If such powers are granted to him, it will enable him to divert resources to unexplainable areas. He will not be accountable to anyone. The nation has been under emergency for over 20 years.
Would you support the proposed sale of some public assets to revamp the economy?
It will not be a wise decision for the government to sell these public assets. But my fear is that, even though people have been telling the government not to sell, they may go ahead and sell them secretly. My advice is that instead of outright sale, the government can partner with the private sector to manage the assets. The private sector is better equipped to manage such assets. So, I advice the government to partner with the private sector on the basis of Private Public Partnership (PPP) in the management of these assets.

With the much publicised cracks within the All Progressives Congress (APC), do you see it surviving as a united platform for the 2019 general elections?

If you say survival, APC will survive. But, it will not be the same shape. It will not be the same strength, effect and impact. The name APC may survive. This is the first successful merger by the opposition parties, winning and controlling the federal government. So, what was once a dream is now a reality. Because of the nature of the Nigerian politics, which is ethnocentric, with its sensitiveness to religion and primitive acquisition, parties grapple with these problems. Such crises are expected in all parties. This is because of the politics of where you come from, your ethnic group or tribe, your religion. So, there cannot be a balance of power unless there is restructuring. The North will always have their way because the balance of power is tilted to their favour. As it is in APC, so it is in PDP and other parties.

Do you see your party, APGA, as the alternative to both the APC and PDP?

I am certain about that. APGA has a clean public record. The record of PDP for 16 years is that of treasury looting, perversion of the constitution and the rule of law. The APC is obviously failing, carrying out the same policies of the PDP. Since the APC took over, there has not been free and fair election. Jonathan cured the PDP of that by conducting free and fair election, which he lost and handed over to the rightful winner without question. If you come to APGA, you refer to Peter Obi and Willie Obiano. Their records are excellent. APGA is the first party, even before the APC, to describe itself as Progressive.  APGA is a vehicle, a party, for genuine reconciliation. Agitations and militancy as it pertains to the South East can be resolved through APGA. So, all Nigerians should embrace APGA.