Uwazuruike – There’s No Alternative To Restructuring Now | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Uwazuruike – There’s No Alternative To Restructuring Now

Posted: Aug 28, 2016 at 3:58 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Goddy Uwazuruike is a lawyer and President of Aka Ikenga, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Think Tank wing. He was a member of the last National Conference, and a strong advocate of restructuring. In this exclusive interview with the Chika Nwabueze, he says bad governance destroys the economy and keeps away investors. According to him, the only way out of the present quagmire is restructuring. Excerpts:


It’s over a year since the advent of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, would you say you are satisfied with the state of the nation presently?

I’m not satisfied; I am not satisfied because Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC gave us high hopes during their campaign. They made a lot of promises to Nigerians, now they have been in power all these while and it appears as if they are not prepared for governance. In a simple language, I think they didn’t know they will win the election. In other words, they were not prepared for governance, but to fight. In this circumstance people are bound to ask themselves questions, are we better a year or two ago than we are now? Can I compare my economic stand a year ago and now? I know that I could borrow money in the past years, but can I do same today? What we are concerned with now is how to get money and eat. In fact survival is the name of the game and it does not speak well for Buhari and his economic agenda.

You said the APC-led government did not prepare for governance but to fight, how do you mean?

What I mean is this, when you were campaigning for the office of the President, you have your manifesto, your blue-print for action. In other words you are prepared to hit the ground running. So, if you are prepared how come all you have is all motion, no movement? As it is today, there is no plan. We are talking of things getting better next year, the plan for things to get better next year must be established now! I’m not talking of agriculture; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched agriculture road map recently. This is not time for farming because we are getting into harvest at this moment. So, if you are talking of farming that means February/March 2017, and when you talk of harvest it means we are already in the third year of Buhari’s administration. I think you get my drift?

On the economic front, you can’t talk of manufacturing, which manufacturing sector can get up and say yes, we are doing well under this administration. If there is no manufacturing then there is no economy. Our economy is not dependent on importation, it’s dependent on what you can produce, consume some and export some. As it is today our manufacturing sector is comatose because it depends on generator, not electricity. Cost of powering generator is killing to manufacturers and if this is the situation, how then do you want factory to be on? The implication is massive job losses and multiplying effect of unemployment. As it is, I can say without fear of contradiction, there is no economic movement in the country in the right direction.

Granted that the economic outlook appears gloomy, are you saying that the Buhari government has not made any impact even in the fight against corruption and insurgency in the Northern region?

When we are discussing about governance it should be holistic- fighting corruption and insecurity are normal things in governance. We have established agencies set up to address them with the support of the president, even that one is parochial because it is not universal. In this case, all we hear is arrests and prosecution of those who financed the election of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidates. What about those who financed the APC elections? It does not matter whether it is state or federal government funds, but let the investigations be total. Even those PDP chieftains who decamped to APC to avoid prosecution, and arrest are now untouchable and it is a question mark on the government resolve to fight graft.

On the fight against Boko Haram, the President has done well, but the battle is not over. Boko Haram is not degraded, they are not defeated and they are still fighting. Remember they don’t wear uniform and as long as they are able to go in and out without being detected, then it is not yet over. I’m aware of the recently released video in which they said all sorts of things, they are still a force. I encourage more fight; I encourage fewer rancours among the political figures in the fight against Boko Haram.

What is your take on the renewed clamour for restructuring of the Nigerian system?

Let me start by saying that what is politically important is politically inevitable; restructuring is a natural way of life. It is when you stand at a place you become archaic and not useful to any system. Nigeria must be restructured along the yearnings of majority of the people. At the National Conference we took that battle and we won on the floor, and I can tell you that the consensus agreement was that we shall have restructuring. But today, those who opposed it now have the upper hand, in the sense that the present federal government is not interested, which I think is very sad.

The power of the centre must be reduced, the power of the states must be increased, and the cost of governance must be reduced. That is why when I hear government complaining of salaries I am amused, yet you see them junketing around the globe. This governor would say the other state owes workers seven months and I owe less, what about the pensioners? That is extremely dangerous, wicked and unpatriotic.

Are you saying that the present government is opposed to restructuring?

Definitely, this federal government is not interested and it has shown that in both words and in their conduct. It is through restructuring that we can have regional autonomy, I don’t know what they think it is, but it is important. When we restructure people have a sense of belonging, it is through restructuring that we decide that local government will be the affairs of the state. So, we don’t have one state having 44 LGAs, Lagos with its population having 22, and then all the LGAs in the South East not up to Kano and Jigawa States. When we restructure we reduce the cost of running our democracy and open up the economy. But not as it is today, we are shaped in a way that nobody can survive.

So, how do we come out of this quagmire?

The answer is simple and straightforward, let the executive arm go through the report of the National Conference, if they can look at it, then restructuring would have taken place. But to say I would not restructure, I will not look at the confab report, I think it is like starring at what is so obvious, and ignoring like the Ostrich what is in plain sight.

Many Nigerians are worried on how political appointments under this regime are skewed in favour of a section of the country. At the level of Ohanaeze Ndigbo have you done anything about it?

Well, we started condemning it when we noticed this tendency to marginalizing some sections of the country. We came out more than a year ago to condemn it and we have never stopped condemning it. This country belongs to all of us, the constitution is also very clear that the government must reflect federal character. I’m not talking of ministerial appointments, no, so if we have a country where South East and South-South are completely eliminated from sensitive positions, then something is wrong. A situation where North has 70 per cent and South 30 per cent is not fair, it is injustice.

Do you think some of these actions or inactions are responsible for the renewed agitations for Biafra and militancy in the Niger Delta?

The agitations for Biafra in the Igbo South East and militancy in the Niger Delta have been there long before Buhari came to power. It depends on how each handles it. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo tried to use force that was why he moved into Odi, at the end he achieved nothing. It was the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua who took the first step, then Dr Goodluck Jonathan came and took a very practical step. He handed over the protection of the pipelines to the oil producing regions and Tompolo and OPC were fully utilized in that sense and peace was restored, there was no trouble until Buhari came and relived them of the job.

What of the agitation for Biafra! It is a natural thing, you can’t use legislation, and you can’t use force of arms. It is in the heart of the youth, so what you do is to go into negotiation and dialogue and learn to manage it. These are things restructuring will resolve. The man that produce the oil has no farm land, no employment and has become a refugee in his own land, that is not fair.

Are there some things you wished Dr. Jonathan could have done better as president that he didn’t do?

Jonathan belongs to the history of Nigeria; he is not part of the present system. When you say he did this and that then you must go back to Obasanjo, because you can’t move forward by looking backward. Government is a continuum and Jonathan has done his bit and moved on. It is left for Buhari to decide his place in history. Bad governance destroys the economy, as it is today no investor will come.

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