Yabagi Yusuf Sani was National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and currently the party’s presidential candidate. He met with the National Executive Committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the Enugu residence of its President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, a day before the body endorsed the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Sani spoke to Saturday Sun on the state of the nation, and why President Buhari must be shown the way out of Aso Rock Villa, among other issues. He spoke to MAGNUS EZE.
What was the thrust of your visit to the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo?
We visited Chief Nnia Nwodo as a personality in this country and President General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; he is also a man that is respected across the length and breadth of this country, even abroad. So, we believe that coming to him as the presidential candidate of ADP is necessary because we have a message, which we believe that Nigerians, especially opinion leaders should hear. The message is that this country deserves better than what we have today; the pains are too much on the land. We believe that Nigeria will attain greatness and we believe that we need to reach out as a united country, rescue this country, give it the kind of leadership it deserves and make the citizens of the country to start enjoying the God-given resources; human capital which other countries that do not even have one per cent of what we have, are enjoying.
I am talking about you living with your two eyes closed, having employment, security and being your brother’s keeper; so we believe that in this country our GDP can grow at a faster rate than it is growing today, we believe that because of the size of this country, because of the population and because God has prepared Nigeria to lead, God put so much resources in this country, like we have oil and gas, solid minerals, agricultural potential, these things, particularly, the oil and gas sector, we need to make hay while the sun shines. If we do not take care of our oil and gas sector, as we speak, believe me in another ten years, it will not be as relevant as it is today, that’s if it is still relevant. So, we believe that other sectors of our economy are yearning for development, such as agriculture like I said, housing, education, health, power, other infrastructures like roads and things like that. These things, we can’t do it with borrowing; taking jumbo loans from countries few years ago were developing countries like Nigeria.
So, we believe that we have all it takes to be able to provide employment for our graduates, we have all it takes to live in peace, we have all it takes for us to be united, for us to have quality life. Our government; my administration is a promise of greatness, that is why we are asking Nigerians to ask themselves as a nation, are they better off for instance now compared to how they were in 2015 for instance, just about four years ago. If the answer is no, they should fear God and know that the PVC in their hands is their conscience; it is not a meal ticket. They should know that, they should not go and take say N20,000 from politicians to sell their votes, which will even finish in a twinkle of an eye. They should know that they shouldn’t be a contributor to the misery of this country because if you vote for any of these bad choices, believe me you are contributing to our misery in this country because the other one had done nothing, that was why we voted against PDP in 2015 and unfortunately for us we made a mistake, we brought on board, somebody who does not know how to use the power given to him. The wife of Mr President came out to tell us that they are no longer in charge, where are the men in this country? Only two individuals who are faceless; who were not elected, in fact, who were not seen when campaign was going on, are today at the helm of affairs of this country. So, Nigerians should ask themselves, do they want faceless individuals to govern them in this country who have power without responsibility or they want to vote for somebody who would be responsible to them, who would have the fear of God because he knows the power was given to him by the people, he will be accountable to the people.
I don’t blame President Buhari because of his age and health but some people would want to hold this country to ransom to continue to milk it. They think we are stupid, they think Nigerians are fools, they think we did not see through all the schemes; they think Nigerians did not watch the debates for candidates that recently held; they think Nigerians did not see how the president could not pronounce a candidate’s title when he wanted to hand him a flag. They think that Nigerians did not see how Osinbajo was trying to help the president for every question that he was asked when they appeared on an NTA programme. These show that this president is no longer in charge; it wasn’t his fault. It is not the fault of Buhari, it is just nature, and nature says if you cannot do it honourably, if they are not Mr. President’s enemies; I think they would have advised him not to contest this coming election. I would love everybody to ask themselves, is this the kind of president we would like to have or we want to go back to Egypt? Do we want to go back to our vomit? No! President Obasanjo said Atiku is not the messiah, he is not a saint; so, if the choices are not favourable to this country, must we sacrifice the future of this country, just because of two individuals? For God sake, we have almost two hundred million Nigerians and Engineer Y.Y. Sani has stepped forward, I should be given the mantle of leadership because I know I have the knowledge, I have been exposed in some privileged positions in this country especially where it matters; I’m talking about the oil and gas sector, I’m talking about the knowledge that has to ensure that the economy operates in accordance with international best practices. What am I saying, I am saying that if you consume electricity, you shouldn’t be cheated by those handling it, if you make call and they bill you for one minute, it should really be one minute; if you drive your car to buy fuel, they should not pump air into your car. I have helped this government to introduce what is called legal metrology, which is making all the industrialised world economies to function in the manner they are functioning; in the language of commerce, it’s standards. Today, our oil and gas sector is run manually. That’s criminal because we can’t keep account.
What is your take on restructuring?
Our constitution is the type that recognises restructuring, it is inbuilt. What am I saying, you have two parts in that constitution; one is concurrent list, and the other is exclusive list. For instance, if we believe that agriculture should not be the business of the federal government which is today in the exclusive list, we take it from there and put it on the concurrent list, so that each state can now take care of its own agriculture; if we believe that education should not be in the hands of federal government, we take it from the exclusive list and put it in the concurrent list, if we believe that oil and gas, minerals in the various parts of the country should not be the exclusive preserve of the federal government, we take it to concurrent list so that every state that has oil, should take care of their own economy by ensuring that they pay royalties to the centre. That was what was happening in the 1960s before the military intervened. If we had elected the right calibre of people to go to the National Assembly, they would have done all these things we are talking about without anybody interfering because all they need to do is to come together as they were doing before to amend the constitution. It doesn’t need bringing people together to spend billions of our money and at the end of the day the reports are not even implemented. So, we already have a living document, which can always be amended to suit what the country deserves at any point in time. So, we are for restructuring.
Today, look at the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, even the Treasury Single Account (TSA), it is a laughable thing; who monitors the inflows to the agencies that you now say you have only one account, how does it come into that account? FIRS for instance, who is monitoring the collection of our revenue? I know for fact that more than 50 per cent of what the FIRS collects from petroleum sector which is Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT); today we don’t have metres that tell FIRS how much the operators are to pay. So, it’s based on guess work; the operators of the industry that are paying billions of dollars to FIRS and between the FIRS staff and the manager, they will sit down somewhere and say ‘how much do you want me to write’. We must find a way to end all this nonsense because Nigeria is rich; we can pay N100,000 as the minimum wage. If I can make the metres to be working regarding the PPT, honestly, we can pay the N100,000.
How do you react to the current travail of the Chief Justice of Nigeria?
Well, I am not surprised by what is happening, because in the first instance, you do not have a political party that is worth its name. The rag tag group put together and called APC is not a political party. If you don’t have a political party that is worth its name, nobody is there to superintend over what the Federal Government, state government or local governments are doing; which means there is no supremacy and that is why you have at the national level, the executive, legislature and the judiciary are at each other’s throat. But they are supposed to be working independently in harmony. What am I saying, the executive arm, nobody is in charge. Yes, it has been proven that the president is not in charge, so, the cabals that are ruling are ruling like gangsters, they try to make sure that they have maximum rulership; that you don’t have a democratic government anymore. That’s why they are harassing the CJN, Senate President so that those institutions would not be able to perform the functions assigned to them by the constitution, simply because you don’t have somebody that is in charge. There’s a government but there’s no governance. So, Nigerians should rise up; we have an opportunity to change the narrative of this country, let us take the country back to our hands and run it like a proper government. That is what democracy is all about.