2023: APC’s N100m form amounts to cash-and-carry politics — Uwazurike

Posted by News Express | 25 April 2022 | 583 times

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•Ohanaeze chieftain Goddy Uwazuruike

 

Ohanaeze Ndigbo chieftain and one-time President of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think-tank, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, has asked Nigerians to expect an APC or PDP president that would be talking down on them after winning the presidential election – just because he paid a whopping N100 million or N40 million to purchase his/her ticket to run for the election.

In this interview culled from Sun, criticised the APC, saying that the party putting its presidential ticket for such an amount was immoral. He warned of the consequences of the actions of the two leading parties as he bared his mind on the next president he would expect to see, president of Igbo extraction and other sundry issues. Excepts:

How do you see the APC N100 million for presidential ticket for its aspirants?

I want to look at it from two angles: the then candidate,  Maj.-Gen Muhammadu Buhari once lamented that N27.5 million to purchase nomination form was very high. Then he said he was such a poor man who could not afford that. That he was looking for people to help him. That he was going to borrow the money from a bank. In other words, seven years ago, the money for the form was too high. But today, the cost of the same form is N100 million. Yet, Mr President has said nothing. On the other hand, that might be a way of reducing the number of aspirants in other words heading back to the consensus candidate option (even though some candidates have purchased their forms). Perhaps, the party is looking for candidate(s) who can dole out N100 million without blinking. And so, rather than considering the quality of the person(s), it is now about the cash somebody will bring that will make him a consensus candidate. In simple language, they are not looking for the best. They are looking for the man who has the cash even when Mr President warned against that some time ago. But during the APC NEC meeting, he was the number one man. He is the national leader of the party and not Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They all welcomed him and the decision was taken. So, the president’s party has made his successor the man who has the ability to bring out the cash – the one who has the ability to pay. That is the way I see it, and I condemn it. That is judging the ability of a man by the amount of money he can afford. And because of that, whatever he says is right. And what is the implication? In the next election, if an APC man succeeds Buhari, he will be talking down on us all – because he has the money. He bought his form for N100 million when the rest of us could not.

What does this say about Buhari?

What this means is that we are seeing President Buhari in his real nature when he is not contesting for election. Today, Mr President’s party which was then seen as the poor man’s party where people were contributing the money, has become the rich man’s party. It is now cash-for- president, and the president has shown a new side of himself – that money talks; whatever direction money goes, they go.

…But it’s the same with PDP?

PDP and SPD pegged their nomination forms at N40 million, N35 million respectively –very much lower, although PDP is trying to play smart. But if they are allowing people who have smaller amount of money to contest, then they are giving them a sense of belonging. When a man has a lot of money to spend in politics, who can stop him? So, PDP and SDP and perhaps APGA, having looked at the feeling of those who think they have something to offer, have   chosen to give them a chance. Lately, a university professor told me he wanted to contest for House of Reps on the platform of APC. But having heard how much APC form alone is going for, I began to wonder where he was going to get that kind of money. Buying the form is just a step. What about electioneering? Where can he get the money having been a lecturer all his life? Again, when you make it so hard for the best to participate in politics, what do you think will happen?

What’s the implication of this trend on our democracy?

I think what we are having now is a monetised democracy if you ask me. In Igbo language, we say aku na ekwu okwu (money talks). What I mean is that the next APC or PDP or APGA NEC will be made up of people who are in the money class. So, when you are talking about a paint of garri being sold for N1,500 up from N300, they will not understand what you are talking about. What that means is that the next APC or PDP president or governors will have nothing to do with the common man. Believe me! Remember Queen Marie Antoinette of France? When she was told in the mediaeval era that people were rioting because they didn’t have bread to eat, you remember her answer? ‘If they don’t have bread, let them have cake.’ She said that because all her life, she never knew what it meant for people not to have bread. You recall what later happened to her? During the French Revolution, the revolutionists cut off her head. So, we are likely going to see a Nigerian president who in all his life has not known what it is to go without food. If a man wants to be the president and does not understand the cost of living, then he will not make correct decisions. Because if you tell him you are suffering to buy petrol at N185 per litre, he will not understand you. He will be wondering what you are talking about. Such will be novel to him as long as he and his class can afford the price.

How do you see the high cost of forms and the fight against corruption?

I think that the war against corruption ended a long time ago. But the burial was done last week at the National Council of State meeting. It is curious that the number of convicts pardoned at that meeting is still not available. We are still speculating. We only know of two governors who incidentally joined APC before they were sent to prison. There is even a speculation that a Boko Haram collaborator who is a high-ranking military man is among them. So the war against corruption ended a long time ago in death, and has now been buried. Sadly, if our hard working EFCC can go harassing Obi Cubana for having friends who were spreading money at him during his mother’s burial, or call out his chief priest for sending cows to his mother’s burial, then something is wrong if they cannot go after some people who at the blink of the eye, can wipe of N100 million to buy presidential forms. They should be asking them: ‘do your tax support the amount of money you are spending? If you can afford to dole out N50 million for governorship, what is your source of income?

But some of them are insisting that friends paid for them?

In law, you don’t make decisions based on opaque terms and names. If your friends are the ones contributing to buy your form, no problem. They must have names. They don’t bring cash. In our law, there is a certain amount of money you cannot bring in cash. They must have sources of such funds. We must have their names. They must have telephone contacts, and bank accounts for us to know them. They must have BVN which was introduced by Goodluck Jonathan. That is the biggest weapon the EFCC has against anybody. If it wants to have anybody’s financial dealings, it can just press that. And once its operatives do, everything comes out in one page. So the EFCC has its job well cut out for it. Sadly, the immorality we are witnessing in this N100 million pegging for APC presidential form is mind-boggling. It is exasperating. 

Is that a call for EFCC to go after candidates?

No, no, without arresting anybody, without inviting anybody, without even making any comments, EFCC can just put down somebody’s name – it has the capacity, it has the system – and the names appear. When the BVN appears, every account they are signatories to will appear immediately. Then the financial transactions will also show. If a man has bought a form for N100 million, remember under the law, such transaction must pass in a certain way through the bank. It is in the law. And it has to be in writing. If EFCC has all these transactions, it can then invite the affected persons. Not this one it invites people and the press. The EFCC I knew can do that.

What sort of president are you looking at in 2023?

The man must have a recognised degree from a traceable university, and must have done his youth service. Although I don’t know of anybody who has not done his youth service since 50 years ago when the scheme started. Then the individual must have a known source of income. He must have a known business or businesses. He must be transparent in all his dealings. He must be transparently clean health-wise because we don’t want anybody who will be rushed up and down. He must be economically savvy. What do I mean? Somebody you will sit down to discuss world economics, and he will follow. For instance, Russia camped at the border with Ukraine for weeks. Anybody who has a little knowledge of Economics will know that Russia supplies Europe its gas and that is a trigger of shortage. If Europe interferes in the war, Russia will turn off her gas supply. But Nigeria has gas that is wasting – from Egbema in Imo State to the coast of Bayelsa State. We ought to start planning how to replace Russia as a supplier. Not this fathom one they are doing now called pipeline through the desert to Morocco which will never see the light of day. The next president has to be a transparently manifest economist – not necessarily someone who read Economics, no, but somebody who has prepared himself by knowing the economics of the world. That is what I’m looking for? I’m not looking for somebody who hears that there are loans to be given, and they for them – often without knowing the terms which could not be written in English language. So, we need a hands-on president. We need a president who can wake up at 6:00 a.m, and at 8:00a.m, he is in another state unannounced. Not one who goes around doing fanfare. We need a president who will be called to commission a road, and he will send his men to go and investigate if it is a fathom one. In a simple language, a practical person is all we should be looking for – a man or woman –  who can sit down and realise that ASUU being on strike for months is a huge loss to the country, yet we will still pay the teachers whether we like it or not, even when the students are not being taught.

Do you see such president emerging?

Oh yes, we have a good number of them, but my worry is whether they will in good conscience produce N100 million or N40 million to go and contest.

Do you see the electorate endorsing the right candidate?

I see the electorate being anxious about someone who will improve their lives. But right now, there is negative campaign going on. Pull him down. For instance, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says he is coming out. Now, the press in the Southwest is demonising him, calling him a betrayer. They don’t want to look at his quality. Peter Obi is coming out, the same for Anyim Pius Anyim and Dr Chris Ngige. Now, what is happening? We have some pastors becoming party agents telling us the Igboman cannot be president. We even have a certain Yoruba oba saying the Igboman cannot be president. Now, he has come out to deny his words, whereas he and the rest pastors as clearly saying the minds of those negative people, while looking for relevance. But I see an electorate that is not really interested in where a candidate might be coming from, whether the East or the West. I’m looking forward to a brighter future for Nigeria. I’m looking forward to people coming out and correcting what is wrong. And whoever that is coming in must be ready to correct the anomalies that have so far been perpetrated by this present regime. If he does not, it will be more of the same.

What will happen if the present electorate miss electing the right man?

They should not expect positive returns. Those in the small-scale businesses, what that means is inability to get small loans, inability to have water, export and import goods. They should not expect their roads to be okay for the good and bad to pass. They should not expect security on the roads and many more.

There is this call for president of Igbo extraction…?

Believe me, I’m a champion of a president of Igbo from the Southeast. At independence there were three major tribes: the Hausa – then we didn’t know anything about the Fulani – Igbo and Yoruba – a tripod. But in the past 20 years, what has been going on? It has always been an attempt to make the Igbo a minority. It is that simple devilish plan that I’m against; the Igbo have candidates. Now tell me: those Igbo candidates when they speak, what do you see? Competence, capability; you see people who know what they are talking about. You won’t see people rocking in their seats turning their agbada from one part to the other. Obviously, they are lost. Igbo have the people, and they are saying let an Igbo man run this country and let’s see a performing government.

What are their chances?

They are as good as those of anyone else. There are a lot of negative campaigns; there are a lot of demonising going on. But they will never ever, allow that to happen. If Barack Obama could become president of United States in spite of what even Bill Clinton said about the black man: ‘they will make noise and drop out,’ then anybody can. All I’m saying is: let there be a level-playing field for the Igbo. For instance, in 1999, two Yoruba were given the chance to campaign. No one interfered. That was fair. In 2007, we had four Fulanis. They were all there. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Buhari in particular are even from one state. So, why will everything change now because  Igbomen are coming on APC and PDP platforms? What is wrong about that? Are they going to rule for Igbo? No, they are going to rule for Nigeria!

What are your hope and fear for 2003?

I have a lot of trepidation in me – whether those who are in charge will actually stand up and be upright. What do I mean? The police chief has an obsession with the Southeast, yet the police have not been able to look clearly into what is going on. As far as they are concerned, everything is ‘helping you,’ and they never look beyond that. The INEC – yes, we have two wonderful people: Festus Okoye and Mike Igini there. But what about the rest? Can those who are in charge of our election really say yes they are independent? Can INEC go beyond what everyone knew in 2019 when it denied the existence of an Internet server? That is still hanging on its neck up till today. Can the military really be independent? What about the DSS? Can it really say it is loyal to the state and not to Mr President?


Source: News Express

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