Alhaji Mumakai Unagha was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). A pioneer vice president, South-South, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Unagha, a lawyer, speaks on number issues.
You were a presidential aspirant but you never contested the primary. What happened?
Yes, it is because of the unilateral increment of nomination forms by the party. Some of the aspirants, including myself challenged it at the time. We said the APC as a party of change ought not to have unilaterally increased the fees from N20 million to N45million. So what is the change agenda that we are talking about? And of course, increasing it to N45 million means that Nigerian youth who have no access to funds or those who have not stolen from the public fund will not be able to purchase the forms. So those who stole our common wealth are those that will access the forms. And that has been part of our agitations. There is also a provision of the Electoral Act that prohibits such increment of fees, that you must not spend more than N1 million for the purpose of nomination forms and election, that has been the source of our original agitation. Otherwise we were ready if it were to be within the limit of N20 million or N25 million, many of us would have procured the forms.
Politicians are already strategising ahead of 2023 presidential poll, will you still run?
I consider it too early to talk about it since 2023 is still very far away, but let me say here that it is not over yet. It is only Allah that will determine my faith in 2023, it is Him alone that determines our future and plans since nobody knows tomorrow. However, I can assure you that I shall contest and no amount of financial intimidation will bar me. Insha Allah, I will face whomever that is coming.
You are not scared of the big names being bandied around?
Why should I be scared? I am confident that since they all passed through a woman and I came from a woman too, I am convinced that I will make it. Yes, they have the wealth or the financial muscle, God is with me, I am not afraid. I also believe that a new national chairman will come on board before 2023 general elections; therefore, I am confident that there will be a level playing ground for all aspirants unlike the 2019 when our national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, caused an irreparable damage to the party. We must look forward for an era where one man will not be all and all in the party.
I say with all sense of decency that the continued stay of Oshiomhole as party chairman is a recipe for perpetual crisis. He is well-known to be intemperately talkative, hyperbolic, and belligerent. Recent events have shown that the more he talks, the more crises he creates; and he does not know how to stop talking. We cannot sit idly by, while an individual is being used to destroy our great party. Therefore, anyone supporting Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole as the chairman is an enemy of the APC, President Buhari and Nigeria in general. He is a very controversial figure and so not suitable for his current position. Yet, the APC is a large party with a huge tent. There will always be an ideal role for him after he exits as party chairman. Deploying him as an attack dog is a win-win situation. Not only will Oshiomhole have unchecked freedom to orate as he may please, he can also be a huge asset in countering similar voluble personalities in the opposition ranks like the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode.
What will you do differently if you are elected Nigeria’s president?
My focal point if I had contested and eventually won would have been a little broader, not limited to the total reclaiming of the power sector. I would have divested on the agricultural area of the economy. There is total collapse in the power sector, which is the key to economic growth. When we tackle this area with genuine intention, 90 per cent of the nation’s problem would have been solved. The second area is the security challenges, which the federal government is contending with. I hope that it will be outdated in the nearest future. However, let me advise Mr. President to separate the three major federal parastatals that are lumped together, I mean Power, Works and Housing for better delivery.
How will you assess President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance so far?
Buhari inherited the economic and insecurity logjam we are currently facing today. It was not his creation. Yes, he is not perfect, but I think Nigerians will appreciate or value him more at the end of 2023 or when the new president would have emerged. I can assure you that before the end of 2023 Nigeria will witness a total economic revolution. I also envisage that the current security challenges will be outdated. No apology at all, he is going to consolidate on his achievements of the past four years now that he has been re-elected and sworn-in. I will not only queue behind him, I will give him my blueprint to move the nation forward. He needs our support and our anticipated programmes and agenda.
You were listed as a witness against President Buhari at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, why did not fail to testify in the end?
Yes, one of the parties came to me severally, persuading me to testify at the ongoing tribunal but I declined. I told them that I am a core APC member and that I cannot betray my party, I cannot see myself being used to fight against my party. I recalled the days of Arthur Nzeribe of the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), and I said to myself, I would never do that for the love of my country and democracy. I was one of those who fought during the days of the military junta, therefore, it will be unwise for me go back to the dark era.
What is your take on the unending security challenges facing the country?
There is no doubt, the current security challenges facing the nation is overwhelming and at a boiling point. But they are not insurmountable.
It is however true that the country is currently boiling as bandits are ravaging the North West and the North East. To say the least, every sector, even Kaduna State, which used to be a home of the North is another war zone. The North, which used to be a safe place for all of us, has become a combat zone, no longer peaceful for habitat for all. People live in fear daily and sleep with one eye open and the other closed. The South West too, is gradually being penetrated by herdsmen in the presence of our armed security men. From the North to the South are tales of either killings or kidnappings. Therefore, I am calling on Mr. President to approve the recruitment of two million able-bodied young men and women into the Nigeria armed forces. The recruitment of the two million able bodied men and women will meet the international standard of one personnel to 400 persons. The recruitment will reduce unemployment among Nigerian youths thereby leading to reduction of crime and anti-social behavioral attitude. The military top brass of the armed forces should conduct internal screening within its ranks and file to ascertain those holding dual citizenship. It is likely many top military brass are not patriotic to the country as they hold dual citizenship. Again, the authorities should check the porosity of our borders, which results in illegal migrants coming into the country because of the docility of our immigration officers. It is obvious that one can hardly distinguish a Nigerien from Katsina man or the Niger man. Similarly, in the North West, every Dick and Harry carries Nigeria citizenship. Until drastic steps are taken, Malians, Chadians and Somalians will be entering the country without checks, which of course, they are already doing. But once we decide to check their influence, it will help us in combating the menace of insecurity.
Finally, tell why you think APC lost woefully in Delta in the last election?
To be honest with you, the APC governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru was not ready for the election, which has been his usual style since he ventured into politics in 2001 on his return from exile. This election is the worst in the history of Delta State. Ogboru never campaigned nor allowed his house (APC) to be in order. He went into the election with a divided house, so how does he expect to win? He took Delta North and South senatorial districts for granted, even within his faction of the party; they were divided on the choice of his running mate and House of Assembly candidates. I can tell you with all sincerity that Chief Great Ogboru never believed that the political dynamics in Delta State have changed. This is not the politics of Okada riders, he believes so much in commercial tricycle and motorcycle riders that have no voting cards. Ogboru’s greatest mistake was appointing former governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan as the director-general of his 2019 governorship campaign organisation. They all gave the national leadership of the party a wrong signal that all was well, whereas things were not well. We lost the election because of the stubbornness and arrogance of the governorship candidate and those with him. At a point, they boasted that they could do without Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, Victor Ochei, Prof. Pat Utomi and others.
If you recall, before the elections, you asked what the chances of APC were in the governorship and I told you it was very blink, blink indeed. I also told you I was not sure of the party taking over Delta State, except something mysterious happen, which I knew will be very difficult because PDP will not sit or fold their arms to allow APC take over the state it has been governing since 1999. Delta State is the only strongest PDP controlled state in Nigeria at the time. The decision to have indirect primary in Delta State was forced on the APC members so as to reduce the growing influence of some APC leaders in the state, and we paid the price.