Posted by News Express | 11 July 2015 | 4,137 times
Goddy Uwazurike is the President of Igbo Think-Tank, Aka Ikenga. In this interview reproduced courtesy of Daily Independent, he speaks on the seeming slow pace of the Buhari administration, rise in insurgency, bail-out for governors and other sundry issues. Excerpts…
It is over a month since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn–in, and any Nigerians are wondering why it is taking him so long a time to announce his cabinet. Is that not a source of concern to you too?
I know that definitely President Muhammmadu Buhari is slow. There is no dispute about it. Also remember when he went to South Africa, he made allusion about his age. Again, it is about 30 years since he retired from the Army, he has been a private man except when he came out to accept the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) job for a very brief period. So, he has been living a private and not a public life. I see him as trying hard to adjust to being the president even though he has contested for this same position for three consecutive times. So, Nigerians have a right to complain because there is no reason for the slow pace. Buhari had two months to prepare after winning the election. Also remember that Nigerians were crying that things didn’t work, so the campaign revolves mainly on turning Buhari into a Messiah who will turn things around. Now the same Nigerians are puzzled that is this not the same Buhari we called our saviour? There is no question about the fact that the man is slow but I ask Nigerians to be patient. Everybody has his own style. Some people are slow starters while others are fast. An example of fast starter is former President Obasanjo. In the process, he ended up hurting more people that the friends he made. So, Buhari has his own style. But what shocked me was when IBB overthrew Buhari 30 years ago. There was a comment he made which is related to what is happening now. So, I implore Nigerians to be patient with him and give him the chance to deliver on his electoral promises.
Boko Haram seems to be on the increase since the new government was sworn-in, even after the movement of the military headquarters to Maiduguri. What do you think could be responsible for this?
That issue of Boko Haram, I still believe it was a weapon against Jonathan. But I think it is a runaway horse. Towards the end of Jonathan’s administration, the military got its acts together and successfully evicted Boko Haram from Nigeria. But since President Buhari came it has escalated. People expected that being a general, he will have the technical know-how and will even march in the forefront and others will follow him to go and fight, but that was not the case. What the insurgents are doing is called guerilla warfare, they strike and run away without occupying the place. But the truth is that people are mistaken every attack as Boko Haram. There are three major wars going on in Nigeria today. One is Boko Haram which is already international, the other is the Fulanis attacking the Middle-Belt and the third one is the one happening in Zamafara. When we were at the national conference, the delegate from Zamfara and Kebbi told us about them. He said those who reside in the forest reserve in the North are killers, thieves and thugs. These are the three major battles going on. Under Jonathan, these same people are not active but now for reasons I don’t understand, they have become emboldened and so the North East, West and Central are getting their own shares of attacks. I think Buhari should know what to do. There is no room for grandstanding, no more blaming the Jonathan administration. That is now history. I hear Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State keeps blaming Okonjo-Iweala. He should sit down in his state and develop it because before you know, four years is gone.
What is your take over the transfer of some Boko Haram prisoners. The state governor said it was perfected during the tenure of former Governor Peter Obi and former President Goodluck Jonathan. What is your take on that?
I think there is a kind of misinterpretation going on. I don’t think the transfer agreement was done under Peter Obi. Obi left that place a very long time ago. Terrorists, kidnappers and armed robbers are kept in maximum security prisons. I know that as a lawyer. Boko Haram insurgents are classified as terrorists and what they are doing. You cannot keep them anywhere except in a maximum security prisons. Anambra has no maximum security prison. What they have in the state are makeshift prisons. Also, if you are arrest a person, and he is awaiting trial, you are expected to put him in a prison near the court where he will be tried. None of the Boko Haram prisoners transferred to Anambra will be tried in the state. There is strictly no reason for that transfer. And I don’t believe Jonathan will order such a thing. It is something that is being done in the present administration. I believe somebody want them to break out of prison. If you really want to secure them wherever they are, believe you me, you will put them where they will be secured from where you take them to court for trial. I can’t imagine the government taking the suspects from Anambra to Abuja or Maiduguri for trial and then bring them back. It is unfair to do that. Whoever initiated that transfer must be the enemy of the Anambra people. By the time those people begin jailbreaks and start attacking people, what will the government do. It is untenable to keep hardened criminals and terrorists in mud or makeshift prisons.
What is your take on the financial assistance rendered to some governors by the federal governors?
It is executive lawlessness. That is what is happening in most states now. You find a state that is unable to pay salaries for eight months, yet the governor of that state will be gallivanting in helicopter. The salary of a single pilot can pay the salaries of 100 civil servants. Yet, the pilot only work when he is needed while the civil servants work for 30 days non-stop. You also have engineers, hostesses being paid with tax payers’ money. The monies these governors spend on helicopters is mind boggling and the same man said he cannot pay salaries. Now when was the last time you saw any governor in any commercial aircraft? In the past, we see them but they seat in business class. But today, that is no more. Most of the governors have squandered the resources of their states. There is no reason for them to complain. I think Buhari should not have given them any bail out. To do that is to sanction what they have done as proper. These were the same governors that were spending money anyhow as if money is going out of circulation. Now they are crying of inability to pay salaries. Every month they receive allocations from the centre, what do they do with that money? There was a time Okonjo-Iweala accused these governors of unethical behavior and they were angry with him. She said whenever there is release of funds from Abuja, the value of naira falls because people will take that cash and convert it to dollars. That is what is happening now. The governors should go home and think of what they will be remembered for. Except they want to be remembered as governors who cannot afford to pay salaries.
•Photo shows Uwazurike.
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