Posted by News Express | 10 October 2020 | 1,347 times
Lagos-based legal practitioner, Chuks Nnalugha, who doubles as legal adviser to both Anambra Indigenes Lawyers’ Forum and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State chapter, has said that the 60th independence anniversary broadcast where President Muhammadu Buhari tried to justify the fuel hike, when Nigerians have not recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which paralysed their sources of income, simply showed that his government lacks human face. And, that trying to equate Nigeria with Saudi Arabia with regards to price of petroleum products, is the peak of the incumbent administration’s ignorance. In this interview, he also speaks on the recently concluded Edo governorship poll, the forthcoming Ondo and the 2021 Anambra governorship elections, among other national issues.
News Express: How do you see President Muhammadu Buhari`s October 1, national broadcast?
Barrister Nnalugha: Well, to say the least, I was shocked beyond words. I don`t know if the problem is President Buhari himself or his aides; because whoever wrote that speech demonstrated crass ignorance. Even a child in primary school cannot compare Saudi Arabia with Nigeria with regard to prices of goods and commodities. For you to compare two countries, you have to ask yourself: what is the per capita income of the citizens of the two countries? What are the social benefits available to the citizens of the two countries? There are also the issues of availability of infrastructure as well as social amenities. These are the indices that one can use to compare two countries.
In Saudi Arabia, if I am to use Nigerian currency, their per capita income is more than N300,000. How can you compare a civil servant that is earning above N300,000 per month with another that is earning only N30,000? Apart from that, the Saudi government has a lot of incentives and welfare benefits for its citizens. That is why you cannot hear of Arab Spring or other types of unrest in Saudi Arabia. The reason is government takes very good care of its citizens. That shows you that whoever wrote that speech is a buffoon. He or she knows next to nothing. So, the fact is that one would not have been angry over the hike in the price of fuel price since subsidy has been removed but, in a situation whereby the average income of a Nigerian worker is N30,000 per month, which is still even in dispute as most of the states are not paying it. How do you expect a worker that has a car to buy fuel at N160 per liter and go to work and back, five days in a week; feed himself and his family; maintain the car and other things? The increase has further compounded the already compounded problem of the masses.
What do you think should be the way out?
What the government should do is to increase the per capita of the average Nigerian worker, because at the end of the day, that they want to mop money from the system, where will it go? Let the money be deployed to the benefit of Nigerians. Since the era of President Shehu Shagari’s administration (1979-’83) till date, we have been hearing of revamping the refineries; we have been hearing of steady power supply; we have been hearing of good roads and functional hospitals, but to no avail. So, let the masses have more money in their hands, the fear of inflation would be sorted out. As at today, Nigerian masses are taking care of their electricity through generators. Nigerian masses are taking care of their health through private hospitals. Nigerian masses are taking care of their education through private schools. Therefore, there is need for more money in circulation. The economy is already bad, so there is no need for fear of inflation. N30,000 would do nothing unless the issue of infrastructure is looked into. However, if this is not done, we may get to a situation whereby it can no longer be possible to manage. That is the reason why concerned citizens of this country have been clamouring for restructuring. The question that I have been asking is: how much does it cost to have functional refineries? There are rumours of powerful Nigerians who own refineries abroad and are refining our crude oil and sending it back to the country. What magic did they do that Nigerian government cannot do?
What is your view of the September 19 Edo governorship election?
A combination of factors made the September 19 governorship election in Edo State to reflect the wishes of the people. They include the foolhardiness of the former national chairman of APC, Nigerians are tired of god-fathers having their ways all the time, the threat from the international community, like US and UK; and INEC, for once, played by the rules. I commend the people of Edo for coming out en masse to vote for the candidate of their choice during the election in spite of the threat of fire and brimstone by the politicians. Some of the politicians had wanted to scare the people of Edo from coming out so that they would be able to do what they know how to do best, thumb print and stuff into the ballot boxes. But it did not work. Edo people took their destiny in their own hands and, as you know, a saying has it that a rat cannot eat something that the owner is awake.
The ballot box snatchers were caught in their tracks. There was the video of the Oba of Benin dancing after the election. He was happy and dancing because, a lot of people had thought that Edo would be no more after the election given the threats and counter-threats that we heard before the election. But at the end of the day, the election was peaceful, free, fair and credible. It was a cause to dance and celebrate. Edo did not go up in flames as a lot of people had anticipated. Again, greater number of the people was happy with the outcome of the election. So, Obaseki should make sure that the villagers that came out en masse to vote for him are not disappointed. He should try to put smiles on their faces. It is also a very big lesson to our politicians who think that they are gods in their localities. It is now very clear that they don’t even have the support of their people, but merely living on hypes. It is now clear that they only win election through rigging.
Ondo election holds Saturday, October 10; what advice do you have for the people of the state?
My advice to the people of Ondo is to take a cue from the people of Edo. They should be steadfast with their conscience. They should not succumb to intimidation or the yearnings of godfatherism, both within and outside the state. There is a popular slogan that, Ondo people don`t serve foreign gods. I hope that they should maintain it. As I said earlier, they should vote according to their conscience. I also want to appeal to INEC to exhibit the umpire`s neutrality as impartial arbiter that they exhibited in Edo election. INEC should once more make Nigerians happy by conducting a free, fair and credible election.
You are from Anambra State and the governorship election is just a few months away. What do you have to say about it?
Anambra is an interesting state in that godfatherism was openly destroyed even to the knowledge of kindergartens by Chris Ngige; and successive elections after Ngige have followed the same pattern and the wishes of the masses. Igbo are known for going for who they believe would care for them. They know how to separate the chaff from the grain. That explained why during the second term election of Governor Obiano, godfathers emerged, but they could not find their way. I have seen some of the people that are warming up to throw their hats into the ring. They are credible men and women, some of them are even presidential materials but warming up for governorship election. I wish all of them luck .When the time comes, we will analyse their capabilities and competences one by one. However, I want to appeal to Obiano to try as much as possible to leave a good legacy, so that those who will come after him will be proud to say that they want to step into his shoes. The airport project which he has started, he should try to complete it before he leaves office, as well as other projects. In short, he should try to complete every project that he has started.
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