By Henry Uche
Former chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group and president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Dr Sam Ohuabunwa is interested in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
In this interview, he spoke about his New Nigeria Group Agenda/ movement, the current situation in the country among other topical issues.
What is your take on the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria?
No normal human being is happy. Personally, I’m distraught because I value human life. Whenever I hear that people are kidnapped, killed or brutalised, I have this feeling, suppose it’s me or any member of my family. I feel pains because humanity is one. Nigeria is supposed to be one, so whatever happens to one is supposed to affect the other. Honestly, I never thought that Nigeria would get to this horrible situation. Thus, much more is needed to be done to change the ugly tide.
How do you feel particularly about the activities of killer herdersmen?
The truth is that political leaders have not manned up to stop this monster from a neutral angle; that is from non -partisan point. That’s why the problem remains. You can imagine the minister of justice /Attorney general comparing cow movement with dealers of automobile spare parts; that is the height of partisanship. That frame of mind cannot bring solution to the problems in Nigeria. The government has shown clearly that they care about a particular group of people at the expense of others. As a person, you have the right to hold opinions and personal biases but once you become a governor or president, you must bury your personal bias and embrace all and sundry. This is what Nigeria political leaders don’t know.
Did you expect less from the AGF? Is he not following the footsteps of his master?
I was utterly embarrassed. I didn’t expect that from a “supposed “ learned person. For God’s sake, he is not Attorney general of one man; he should speak and act in a way and manner that shows independence of thought and neutrality of mind. Yes, he could be following the steps of his master. The AGF ought to communicate in a more healing, reconciliatory manner. He should advise the president aright and not otherwise at least for the toga he puts on; the world is watching. His utterances should be inclusive, he should not be defending one group against another. There is no relationship between banning animals which destroy crops, and human beings who do legitimate businesses.
Do you think Nigeria’s situation is irredeemable or are we heading towards Somalia?
If Nigeria problem is irredeemable, I wouldn’t be talking with you, thus I believe it’s redeemable. But it requires change of course, change of orientation; we need a new Nigeria where equity, justice, fairness, and all the tenets of democracy would rein supreme. A country with economic prosperity, not a strangulated economy as we see it today; the country bleeds economically and otherwise. A country that would move from third (3rd) world to first world; from there we shall progress to productivity enhancement which would require investment and ultimately create jobs which create wealth and wealth deals with poverty. We see a country where potential are utilized, where destinies are supported, where purposes in life are fulfilled, a country where every child would be treated equally and enjoys equal opportunities. That is the country we expect. Luckily, I met that kind of country in the past. I met it way back in the 60s and 70s when we grew up. The Nigeria I knew then is what I envisage again but I desire to take it a bit higher but at worst, we should take it to the same level and condition it was in the 60s and 70s.
There are discordant voices as to where the next president should come from, coupled with the Electronic transmission of election results brouhaha, do you think elections would hold in 2023?
Yes, I believe it will under any condition. But we need very credible elections; that’s why we support the electoral Amendment bill especially the electronic transmission of results. Because for a long time, our elections have been fraught with so many loopholes and conflicts. Remember, Late president Yar’Adua admitted it. And that was why we opposed Jonathan when he wanted to run under a faulty electoral system; so we advise that he fixes the skewed electoral system first else you won’t win. So 2023, elections would hold but we are afraid; the NASS should stop telling us cock and bull story and all that hogwash about network problem and electricity in their very constituencies they represent. Yes, they carry out electronic transactions through their phones without complain. You can see how NCC contradicts itself on network coverage report. You and I know that every nook and crannies of this country have network coverage at least with no smart phone, our people can get network, even in Arochukwutypical village where I come from. So, they are telling half truth which is outright lies. They are striving to preserve their perpetuity in office. But when it’s God’s time for a better change, it will happen no matter how people try to resist it, it will happen. Their plan is to throw the country into confusion but God will frustrate them, howbeit, every right thinking person will support electronic transmission of results.
Is restructuring the way forward?
Yes, very well. It’s few persons who are bent on suppressing others that enjoy the skewed status quo. You know we are supposed to operate a federal system of government where the federating units are free to manage their resources and be in charge of its welfare at the same time; the central controls a critical sector with a minimal power; in this case, it has the shape of a pyramid, but the situation in Nigeria today is reverse. The federal system of government we claim to practise is concocted; what we have is an inverted pyramid, that is why the country is unstable because the structure is disorganized. So, the call for restructuring is a call for a change back to the right form, shape and design it ought to be. Call it reform, call it re- Engineering or reconfiguration, call it rigid, it all means retracing our steps and putting the foundation in the right position, form and manner.
This is a country where the intellectuals elect mentally -poor persons; why do people with ideas, leadership capacities choose to stand aloof?
The truth is if you are a self- respecting person, one driven by moral and ethical codes, if you are driven by morals, you won’t want to dabble into a space where your values are put in the line or challenged. Many of us have tried to go close to politics, but the way it been practice gives it a very debilitating name . secondly, the kind of characters that swim in politics have made it look as if it’s their enclave and when they see good people coming in, they consciously set obstacles for you and you run away. Third, they have monetize Nigeria politics, that if you are a civil servant or a private business man or woman, they intimidate you with too much money, so you are unable to compete because with thelevelof poverty in the country many people listen to the stomach infrastructure you spoke about, thus, the monetization and demonisation in Nigeria politics is becoming unbecoming. And besides, Nigeria political equation is not balanced because there are no constants, here anything goes, everything varies. In Nigeria, so many people have what it takes to lead excellently, yet they lose out in elections because someone else is announced the winner, so their is no logic. There is no predictability, so no sane person want to near such system. Predictability starts from the wards. If you can win from your ward you can predict the ultimate outcome. Now there are so many methods, some are good, some bad -but which ever; at least you know the outcome, that is one problem solved. The next challenge is winning the outer electorate, which strategies to deploy, is it by giving them money, gift items, by your ideologies or what, hopefully we shall get it better because for now we are not getting it any better, it has been one step forward, five steps backward. These are things that makes men of ideas stand aloof. I have been in the background writing series of articles but theydidn’t help, until God told me to stop writing and pontificating, I should go there and offer myself for the work. So God convince me , then I over grew these inhibitions, now I’m ready to go into the field and face it squarely and by His grace we shall make it and enforce a change. We have waited enough for some people to effect desired changes but all to no avail, and some people have told me not to waste my little resources on politics, instead I should use it and get myself pleasure outside this country. These people have resigned to fate and run away from Nigeria because they believe Nigeria is irredeemable. But they are wrong. So they laugh at my move and we are serious. We want to make Nigeria the hope of Africa. My conviction is divinely motivated.
How prepared are you in the presidential race for 2023?
First- our vision is to build a first world country that would work for all. We need a country that would exude the virtues of industry, freedom, equity, integrity, justice, love for one another, true patriotism, sense of responsibility, belongingness, morality and Godliness. For now, the New Nigeria Group has reached out and set up structures in at least 30 States and still moving; we are a movement, not a political party yet; we want to garner much support especially from young people; in the cause of this move, we are building structures; with the structures, we shall either align with a proper established political party or a political grouping. We are recruiting young people across divide. This movement is for young people. Our mission is to make Nigeria better or if anything better is not feasible, then let’s take it back to where it was in 60s and 70s. We have seen better days before. Why would we deteriorate? Are we not supposed to get better and improve as days go by. If we can’t get any better, then we must return to our better days when Nigeria has value in the comity of Nations. Nigeria must move from a fourth world country to first world Nation. We must move from a country that kills talents and destinies to a country that supports destinies and talent.
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