Former Minister of Health, Prof ABC Nwosu, has said the myriad of challenges confronting the nation was a consequence of the mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the BoT member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), advised the government to dust up the reports of some of the constitutional conferences held in the past and apply some of the recommendations.
What is your view on the state of the nation?
It has never been as bad as this since 1966, leading up to the civil war. There are too many insecurity issues. Nobody now wants to get on the road with his car and go home. If there is a flight, he would prefer that, and even the short travel to your home is still a problem. Nigeria has never been that insecure; nobody can plan in the economy and schools are systematically closed. The future is being threatened. There are so many separatist movements. It is not a question of I belong to PDP, APC. This is not a criticism. It is just stating the facts, but once you say it, there is the likelihood that the ruling party will say it is an opposition talk. We have never borrowed as much money as we have, and nobody really knows the true state of our finances. So, the nation is bad economically, security wise and politically. Mr President should pull Nigeria from the brink.
What brought the nation to this unsavoury situation and what is the remedy?
The first cause is the terrible management of our diversity, which has been unprecedented since our independence. The management of our diversity is the lowest and it has never happened. Nigeria comprises so many small nation states, and they are culturally, linguistically and politically different. The colonial masters recognised this. That’s why there was a negotiated document for independence. There were so many constitutional conferences both here and in the UK before the independence constitution was finally gazetted in 1959. You had the Federal Constitution; it was not dictated by a president. It was negotiated by the majority, the minority and eventually the minority questions were passed over to the Willinks Commission. Issues of revenue were discussed by a commission, the Raisman Commission. The terms of the commission were there in that constitution, which says, 50 per cent derivation, etc. It was negotiated; it was not dictated to the other. There were no senior and junior Nigerians, where senior Nigerians tell junior Nigerians how the country should be run. When you are so acting in this manner contrary to a constitution that was negotiated by our founding fathers before we were granted independence, you are likely to find frictions, which are likely to bring disequilibrium, the kind we are seeing now.
So, the remedy is going back to dialogue; going back to talking. My recommendation is that we have talked enough from Aburi to the Jonathan 2014 conference. So we should pick up those elements. I was part of the Jonathan conference. All the summaries of previous agreements reached were given to us. There are settled issues in Nigeria’s existence. People are now trying to reverse it because they have power and they think the situation has changed, and they are creating problems. George Obiozor will always tell you that any people denied justice are not interested in peace. There have been many arguments and separatist movements and agitations in Nigeria. People seem to forget that there were the Tiv riots of 1960 and 1963. That was the first time the military was posted there. It was about resistance. Post independence, many didn’t know that the coup, which they erroneously called the Nzegwu coup, was in effect, Ifeanjuna, Ademoyega coup. They talk of the revenge coup, but the Igbo didn’t think of whoever, whether by Ifeajuna or whether by Nzeogwu or the counter coup. No. What really mattered to the Igbo was the May 29 pogrom; why did citizens start killing fellow citizens? That is the main thing and every attempt to correct it, they will say let us not open old wounds. Then, there was anger in the regional areas. Isaac Boro, who was a student of University of Nigeria on government scholarship, was resisting what we eventually call, ‘Resource Control’. In the West, there was turmoil after Awolowo was jailed. I had the opportunity of speaking with Mazi Anyaogu Ukonu, he related to us how he was hidden in Ikenne, broadcasting the correct result when the wrong result was being broadcast by Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service. We have also tried to look at this. People were rejecting injustice; refusing injustice. The turmoil led to Operation Wetie, which was the resistance of injustice in the Western Region. Then, the main thing, the rejection and resistance of injustice by the East and the secession that followed. We came back in 1970 on ‘No victor, no vanquished’ and tried again, working it out and it was going smoothly and by 1979, we were almost back to rebuilding the country. We had the most remarkable conference in 1995. The West, understandably because of June 12, couldn’t participate, but the East came with their finest from Ojukwu to Ekwueme to anybody. I was in charge of the Igbo secretariat and know what went on and I know the consensus team led by Olusola Saraki, Shehu Yar’Adua. Everybody talked of Nigeria. I still have a copy of that report, and the constitution that was produced by the late Karibi-Whyte. The key thing there is the six geo-political zones agreement. Rotational presidency – north to south and vice versa – was also agreed on. It is a settled matter, but you go and unsettle them again. There was equilibrium and you go and create disequilibrium, and you are wondering how it should be corrected. What caused the civil war were the pogroms, as well as the breach of the Aburi Accord. Without any reference to the parties, the agreement was breached. Every Igbo man in the East will tell you that the demonstrations were ‘on Aburi We Stand.’ I have produced verbatim minutes between Chief Awolowo and Ojukwu on meetings of May 6, 1967 and May 7. I can go on and on to even lead you to Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and if we cast our mind back to Zamani Lekwot, who served Nigeria very well. It is just injustice, creation of senior and junior Nigerians, non-equity etc. Once you have anybody who sits at the top and permits those things, then Nigeria is moving towards disequilibrium. No, we shouldn’t allow that. We have enough settled issues in Nigeria that we can act on.
Why is PDP experiencing an exodus in recent times? Do you have a masquerade in the party that is chasing people away?
I love the masquerade, and I’m associated with it. I’m seriously reconsidering my continued stay in politics. If I leave PDP, is APC better? I’m considering whether I should continue with politics at this stage. I have barely two years to be 80. I can’t stand with the shock of agreeing something today and changing it. I’m happy and privileged to be one of those that sat at those meetings that led to the creation of the PDP. I belonged to the Committee on Contacts and Mobilisation, chaired by Lawal Kaita and I have repeated many times that PDP had four pillars. We started as All Politicians Submit in Eko Holiday Inn, Lagos. One of the pillars was purity of politicians, where the problems of Nigeria were defined and we find solutions. Education is a problem and it is not something we should politicize. There must be a statement that each child born in Nigeria is entitled to education and this is the way he shall have it. Each adult is entitled to jobs and that is how he would have it. It is not like, this job is for Fulani, Igbo or Yoruba; it is for Nigerians from anywhere. Bola Ige and others were in those meetings in Prof Jerry Gana’s house at Mandela Street, Abuja. Ekwueme was the interim chairman. Ciroma, Isa Kaita and others were there.
The second thing was that there must be rotational presidency, and that the first one must move south. Northern politicians with integrity were there and they forced and enforced that Abubakar Rimi did not run. The third one hinges on the economy and we should run a mixed economy -private sector driven and we were going to privatize. All these were discussed. When you hear people who don’t think seriously tell you that political parties were not founded on principles, no, it is that the people who were not there when those principles were completely analysed, enunciated and distilled out have come looking for what they can use the platforms for, and they began to bastardise those principles.
So, I have reviewed these things and in the past weeks, my heart has been worried because I don’t see what I’m still doing in politics anymore. When you sit and agree on something, some people who were not there, the new generation comes in, they look at their pockets, their many houses and how rich they are and they say, why can’t I review these principles. Until we change this attitude, we can’t really build a country.
PDP has not provided the needed opposition the way the APC did to push it out in 2015, and the PDP is talking about returning to power in 2023. Are you as confident as they are?
I have a completely different perspective. The APC is not a political party and it never provided any opposition. APC is a conspiracy to get power and they designed a road map to get power. That is not opposition. It hasn’t any blue print on restructuring, it hasn’t blueprint on education in Nigeria, job creation. If they had, they failed in all of them. Unfortunately, PDP is not doing so. That is why I said I was reviewing my entire entry into politics. All over the world, politics provides the platform for anybody who wants to make maximum effect on the country; who wants to improve on the lives of the ordinary people. Only recently, I was in Ebonyi State because I was invited.
The governor is thinking of establishing a school to be run by the Catholic Church, where the best students are assembled, that was the first time in recent times I heard such a thing that people are thinking of producing the thinkers, the innovators of tomorrow.
The first time I saw a government having that as a programme and handing it over to the church, because it said the church has the best organisation, best system to train an individual both in moral and teaching. Nigeria should be thinking in that direction so that by 2050, a lot of these things we import will be ours. We have to rethink what politics is all about. The more I think about it, the more I ask myself, what am I still doing in politics?
Are you not afraid that the way things are going, Nigeria may eventually turn to a one-party state, given the manner PDP members and others are flocking into APC?
That is not my problem – whether Nigeria turns into one party state or a half-party state. I have two problems. The first is whether Nigeria will continue to exist as it is; whether it will now move on to the route designed for it. When you see Prof Lumumba saying, when Nigeria wakes up, Africa will fulfil its mission…these are my concerns. Whether it is a half-party state or one-party state, human beings will stick to have their needs and some will fight to have more than others.
The post Buhari has mismanaged Nigeria’s diversity –ABC Nwosu appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.