DR John Kennedy Osuala, presidential candidate for Rebuild Nigeria Party, RBNP, at the 2019 presidential election believes that the dream of the Southeast to produce the next president of Nigeria is hinged on a number of factors.
Chief among these, he said, is the need for the zone to settle for a formidable political platform that can aid the realisation of their ambition.
Osuala, though believing that every political party has the potential to drive the ambition of its candidates, insisted that any party desirous of ousting the two dominant parties in the country must prepare for a serious work. He spoke on other major national issues affecting the country and Nigerians in this interview.
The mind game for 2023 Presidency has begun in earnest. And one of the dominant discourses is the Igbo Presidency. What is your reflection on this?
I prefer to call it presidency from the Southeast not Igbo Presidency because there was never an Hausa Presidency or Yoruba Presidency. It’s either Northeast or Northwest presidency. The fact that out of 59 years people from the Southeast have only been opportune to be there for just six months means that the Southeast has not been there for 58 years and six months. If people want to be fair minded, I expect that it should be the turn of the Southeast in 2023. Don’t mind our friend, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam el-Rufai flying the kite that there is no longer zoning and all that. That is his personal opinion. For us we know it is politics. So, we are not moved by such statements. Nobody hands over power to anybody, you must work for it. And for the 2023 race what Nigeria needs is somebody who is cosmopolitan and who understands the issue of development because development is very important. We need people who can move this country forward from the stage we are to the next stage. So, the issue is about competence and about vision. Our population is hovering around 200 million, in the next 10 years we will be the third largest country in the whole world. So, Nigeria needs a leader who can steer the affairs of the country to take over from President Buhari and build on his contributions and re-engineer the entire country. The Southeast is blessed with people who can do that. So, I am saying in 2023 Nigeria needs a president of Southeast extraction not Igbo presidency.
For sometime now, members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, have been at loggerheads with political leaders from the Southeast over certain allegations. How do you view this in the light of the need for the zone to be united in the build up to 2023?
We will always get people of divergent views on issues. What we need is somebody from Southeast who is capable of carrying the entire country along not traditional or Igbo leaders. I don’t want to get bogged down by this issue. Sometimes, these people take stands that run contrary to matters at hand in the country. So, we don’t have to join issues with such persons. We should be concerned by issues affecting the whole of Nigeria and how they can be addressed. The Southeast should start considering the issue of major party’s platform to use to realise their dream. And for people of the zone to become president it has to be PDP of APC. If you talk about PDP, Atiku may still want to run for the presidency. But the best bet for the Southeast is APC because Buhari will be completing his tenure because there is no incumbent APC in 2023.
You contested the last presidential election on the platform of Rebuild Nigeria Party, RBNP. I am surprised to hear you recommend APC as a party to contest on for the Southeast. Does it mean you have defected to APC?
No, but I will like to choose a party that is a national party. Party affiliation is a choice. If you don’t like a party you change to another one. And one must join a wagon that will take him to his destination. So, we have to look for a party that has the capacity to deliver somebody from the Southeast. Any serious minded Southeast presidential aspirant or candidate will have sympathy of the country if he or she runs on the platform that has national outlook. I am favourably disposed to APC because if you look at the new team of ministers we have now are people who I think will work well with President Buhari.
So many political parties were listed for the last presidential election. But analysts narrowed the contest down the contest to a two between the APC and PDP even before the election. Why would you say Nigerians prefer these two parties to several the others in the country despite the fact that we had people who seem to have the capacity to perform better on other political platforms?
There is an opportunity for every party, but this opportunity means that a party that is desirous to displace the two parties will have to work extra hard. And in working very hard you will have to reach every part of the country. Secondly, you must also have the resources to do that and you must have the people. Most of the people who registered those parties did so for some other objectives other than to capture power. When you have that intention you will definitely work hard for that party. So, those who are really out to get power to solve the country’s problems are not in these parties. If you are a practical politician and you want to be successful, you must hit your wagon on a train that can take you to your destination. Everybody has a chance to succeed, but they must work hard. You must convince people. During the last elections, many candidates stepped down, but I didn’t step down upon all the offers. When you see parties stepping down for another party you will understand their intentions. We were not more than five that didn’t step down. When candidates start stepping down how do you expect their parties to grow? You declare yourself a candidate and halfway into the race they offer you money and you step down and you still claim you are out to serve the country. Buhari failed several times and stuck to his gun. The problem of most of those parties is that they are not really out to get power. I am not a politician that is out to be settled. If you want to settle me, settle me with Nigeria’s presidency and I will settle Nigeria with growth and development.
Insecurity in Nigeria appears to defy military solution. What would you say the government is not doing right?
I know the president is a former GOC 4 Armour Division, Jos. He is a trained soldier and I know if he focuses more attention on security he will get it right. I am not yet persuaded that he doesn’t know what to do. But this time around, I think with the team he has: the security adviser, the Minister of Defense, he will get it right. It cannot be beyond him. Does it mean if we are in a war with a foreign country they will defeat us? Those people are not equal to the armed forces of another country. I know that when the proper things are done and let the people show patriotism. We need more patriotism, we need more commitment on the part of every body involved in this security challenge. If you love Nigeria more than you love yourself you won’t want us to remain in this condition. The soldiers are there. We have one of the best military in the world. So, if we can prove to be one of the best outside why can’t we replicate this at home? On the part of the citizenry, because of poverty in the land, there seems to be some level of complicity because when you give the right information the security apparatus will know what to do. There is also lack of patriotism too on the part of the people. If you notice certain wrongs going on, we have the duty to relay it to the security agencies and they will know what to do. But when people fail to show commitment to the country, there will always be problems. Boko Haram is a Nigerian problem. It is not the problem of the Northeast alone, it is Nigerian problem in the Northeast. So, many people feel unconcerned, thinking it is the problem of the North. We must change our attitude, we must know that a problem in a part of the country, is our collective problem. Look at the way we all reacted to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, that shows us as Nigerians. Ninety per cent of the victims are from the Southeast, but nobody is talking about the Igbo being the major victims; all we are saying is that Nigerians are being attacked. Buhari is doing his bit, but he needs supports from the people.
What is your assessment of Buhari’s second term so far?
He has just started, but I want to tell you that because of the caliber of people he has in his cabinet now I believe he will perform. He has a team of people who can work and he has given them reasons they must deliver in their ministries. So, if everybody delivers his ministry Buhari has delivered. I know that because of the people he has now he will do well. I am expecting an improved result in this second term.
About 19 state governors failed to constitute their cabinets more than three months after taking rein of office. What does this suggest?
It is not a good sign because some of them are even in their second term. You should have an idea of those who could work with you before your election. It is not after you have been elected that you will take several months to constitute your cabinet. It shows that you are not ready to deliver. Awolowo said give me 24 hours to rule Nigeria, you can do a lot within 24 hours. But you waste so many months to constitute your cabinet, what are you doing? That is not alright. It is not acceptable. What they are doing is that they are running sole administratorship. How can they move their states forward without cabinets? It doesn’t speak well for democracy or good governance. The governors must know that all the calls about restructuring in the country is because the governors are not doing what they are supposed to do. If for instance, if all the states are doing well, people will not be calling for restructuring because Nigeria is already restructured. We are a federation of 36 states and the FCT. What needs to be done is to add more federalism to the system. The states are not delivering that is why there are so much complaints. A state is equivalent of the region in the First Republic. In the First Republic Ahmadu Bello was doing well in the North, Obafemi Awolowo did well in the West. What he did then some people are yet to achieve it. Nnamdi Azikwe also and all that. So, you don’t need the Federal Government to do all that. If all states are handled well Nigeria is handled well. People are calling for restructuring because the state governors failed to do what they are supposed to do.