Raphael Ede, Enugu
Ray Nnaji is a lawyer and a one-time National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is also a former Chairman of PDP in Enugu State and ex-Chairman of Nkanu West Local Government Area.
Nnaji said that President Buhari has disappointed Nigerians, pointing out lack of economic direction as his major mistake and failure. This is even as he begs Nigerians to give his party, the PDP, another chance to govern the country so as to remedy its past mistakes.
He also talked about IBBs’ letter to Buhari, herdsmen’s killings and need to restructure Nigeria.
What is your thought about the letter former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, wrote to President Buhari not seek second term and the controversial letter former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) equally wrote?
The Obasanjo’s third force has to stay. You know Baba is always saying things philosophically. Actually he has right as an elder statesman to say what he want to say but, that of IBB, he started denying his statement. The police looking for Prince Kassim Afegbua when they know that he is a right-hand man of IBB are of no importance. He couldn’t have said what IBB didn’t tell him to say. Baba is in a vantage position to know certain things we did not know. Even when he said that former President Jonathan should not go further and respect the agreement they had and before you know it, he tore our card and said he is no longer a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). People didn’t take him serious until it came to pass. So Baba is philosophical because of his position as one time former head of state and one time former president. He is in a position to get some information some people might not have; I don’t think he writes for just write sake like people condemning him wants us to believe- ‘you’re always letter writer’. He said the mind of so many people and nobody should condemn him because he expressed his right of expression and he has done it.
Do you see OBJs’ third force changing anything?
His message is like campaign programme. He has said it and so many people have taken it for consideration. So what I am saying in effect is that one single person cannot send Buhari packing, though his message is sensitising the electorate who are the voters that will decide his fate. But I am telling you like Fr. Mbaka said there is need for the president to change.
Don’t you think President Buhari has failed Nigerians considering the rising hunger/hardship in the land?
Let me be frank with you, initially when Buhari came in I thought with his antecedent and his track record, though I am PDP and I will continue to be in PDP, I have sympathy for him taken into consideration the time he was Military Head of State, I thought things will change. But what we are seeing today is quite different from what makes most us to say if this man is president things will change. Because even if you are recovering and a lot of money government always mentioned is not reflecting on the lives of the people, then it means something is wrong. People are suffering that is not what it ought to be. We know quite well that the PDP our party didn’t do too well. They helped in causing the crisis in the economy of this country, but now he has come in; this is the third year, he would have been in position to unite and have focus on economy but what we have seen is that there is nothing like focus. We know quite well that PDP didn’t do well in certain areas but PDP left the currency at N150 now what is the exchange rate, N350 and it continue to rise. How much is our local debts, what is unemployment rate, what of insecurity? Actually this government did a lot in areas of insecurity by curtailing the excesses of Boko Haram, though they are still there but pockets of them but does it end there? No. This government has stayed more than two years but some people have argued that two years is not enough time to access government; regrettably we don’t have clear picture of where our economy is headed. Corruption, yes, is endemic in this country even when Buhari took over government in 1983, corruption was the major reason they gave. Even the military coming into the governance of this country from 1966 was the same corruption they gave as reason. So corruption has been there and it has started for a long time so it cannot be an issue one can narrow down to say that because ‘I am fighting corruption that is major achievement, while people are dying.’ If I am a member of APC I would have advised that our president should step outside for a new brain to come on board. Besides, cabals have hijacked power from him.
Is this not why eminent Nigerians are saying that Buhari should not re-contest election in 2019?
No. constitutionally he has right to a second term and this is not a non-party affair. He is not an independent candidate. It is his party that will now determine during their primary whether he is going to emerge, and if he emerges as the flag bearer of his party there is nothing you can do. The only option left for the electorate is to vote for another candidate. It only when you don’t have another platform that people should be making these calls but, we have alternatives.
You indicted your party, the PDP of contributing to the economic woes of Nigeria. Does your party have moral justification to ask Nigerians vote it again?
Let me ask you, when your son fails an examination what do you do? Is it not to go back and repeat it? So if PDP has found out that they have problem and now they are ready to correct it allow us another chance. There is opportunity for a second chance that is what we are saying. If anybody is saying that PDP didn’t contribute to the problem of this country, such person is not telling himself the truth. But what we are saying is that we have actually found out that this is our problem and we are ready to remedy it. Give us second chance that is what we are saying.
Is your party now a credible alternative to APC?
Yes. We have seen where APC has failed. We have also seen where we have failed and we are analysing the two, with a view to come out with a solution.
In your State, Enugu, can you honestly be proud to say that your state is working?
Yes. There are many indices to measure good governance and these include; security, education, employment, infrastructure and others. Security wise, Enugu State is most peaceful state in Nigeria today. On education go and look at what he has done and the state is not doing badly. Infrastructure, the government has done well; there are so many projects they are doing that people were not aware of. They should make known to the public some of these projects both the ones executed and those ones under construction. This is why people are saying that the government is not working. For the people that are saying that he is not doing anything in the state capital, the previous administration has done enough in the capital. This administration has to face areas attention has not been paid to and there are many such areas in the state, which this government has focused its attention on, but while he is doing that people should equally be made to know.
APC government has continued to oppose restructuring but recently they came up with restructuring proposal. Is it not a ploy to get second term since Nigerians have decided to vote the party with plan for restructuring?
Let me tell you, restructuring is very important. People have discovered that concentration of powers under the central government is one of the problems we are having in this country. But the people are running away from restructuring because they are afraid of survival if independence is giving because of the fact they have actually believed in the feeding bottle federalism whereby everybody run to the federal to collect certain things. There are some states that cannot survive if restructuring is allowed and that is why so many people are against restructuring. Restructuring will allow certain group of people who have certain things to actually show what they are made of and the country will be moving and this can be done by removing certain percentage of powers that were concentrated in the centre and give to the zone. Those people that are benefiting in the non-restructuring at the detriment of others will continue to oppose restructuring and Nigeria will continue to be held down.
What is your take on the farmers/herdsmen’s clash in the country?
This is another form of Boko Haram. People are saying herdsmen but I think this is Boko Haram under herdsmen umbrella and they have devised another means of carrying out their evil attack on innocent Nigerians. Were herdsmen not in this country before now and were they as dangerous as they are now? But I don’t know why the federal government is so lukewarm about it. If they had come out with strong policy this issue would have become a thing of the past. When Ekiti State came up with anti -open grazing law nothing happened but immediately Benue and Taraba came up with the law heads began to roll and many state governors are afraid of enacting the anti-open grazing law for one reason or the other. Now the federal government is introducing colony and I don’t understand why they want to do that.