By Olakunle Olafioye
A former presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Dr John Kennedy Osuala has said that the prevailing security challenges in the country will not affect the next general elections in Nigeria.
This is he expressed confidence in the ability of the Nigerian military to rescue the nation from the current situation.
Osuala, a native of Imo State, who contested the last election on the platform of Rebuild Nigeria Party (RBNP), made some suggestions on how to resolve the crisis in Imo State.
He also spoke on other national issues.
Do you foresee the possibility of elections holding in Nigeria in 2023 considering the prevailing insecurity?
The signs are regrettable. Insecurity here and there, but I believe the government can do something to solve this problem. We have the instrument and the capacity to do that. So, I pray that the government will rise to the occasion to handle the situation because nobody is comfortable with it. If we are attacked by a foreign country, does it mean we cannot defend ourselves? We can defend ourselves. We have security forces that are properly trained to do that. Some say that they are conventional forces and not special forces, the authorities can re-train some of our conventional forces to become special forces that will be able to contain insurgency and their guerrilla tactics. Nigerian soldiers have over time proved their mettle during peace-keeping missions to foreign countries. So, if we can be the best when we go on such assignments what stops us from replicating the feat at home? Something may be wrong somewhere, but I believe we have capable men and women in the armed forces that can handle it. As a political leader, I cannot say because of the insecurity in the country that the election should not hold. Holding the election could also be solution to these problems. When a new government takes over from this government through a democratic means, the incoming government will know that it’s the challenge of the moment. By working with the existing security system and making contacts here and there, we should be in a position to handle that. But our main objective should be to cooperate with the current government in ensuring security of lives and property in the country. So, don’t blame any politician for planning for 2023 because if you say because of insecurity you want to keep quiet before you know others will carry on and before you know it you are defeated. It’s only a naïve politician that will fail to prepare for the next election because of insecurity. It could even be that it is your opponents who are sponsoring it. Nobody should give an excuse that the insecurity in the country could stop the next election because that election holds the prospect to bring lasting solution to the current problems.
How do you reconcile your confidence in the Nigerian army with your view on the resort to seek foreign help in tackling insecurity in Nigeria?
During the Second World War, the British military, despite being one of the best in the world, still got the support of the American military. There was a coalition because nobody is an island. Seeking foreign military help does not show lack of confidence in the Nigerian military.
Recent experiences have shown that most Nigerians no longer have confidence in electoral promises by politicians because successive leaders in the country have shown that electoral mere promises are baits to lure the electorate rather than their true intentions to make a difference. Why is it so difficult for Nigerian politicians to live up to their promises when they get to power?
We have two classes of politicians. We have political office seekers and we have political leaders. Political office seekers, somebody may be working somewhere and some people may go to him and ask him to come out and run for an office. Such person never nurses the intention of running for an office. They put pressure on him to come out and when he gets there he will not be able to perform because he did not prepare for it. And then he would do the best he can, which may not be good enough. And then we have political leaders, who are the likes of Chief Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello. When you have those who want to serve the people as political leaders, not office seeker, they know what they are capable of doing and know the agenda they have for the people. Chief Awolowo said that if he was give 24 hours as President of Nigeria that he would do something. He knew what he could do in 24 hours and nobody has faulted him, but the majority of today’s leaders are not like that. The majority did not prepare for the positions they find themselves and when they get there they won’t be able to perform. Unlike myself, I have worked consistently for over 10 years on a blueprint for Nigeria: the Global One Vision and Mission. Nigeria should aim to compete with the best in the world, the US, Britain, China; not competing with Ghana, Burkina Faso and Lesotho. Most of these people who fail and disappoint people are office seekers who never prepared to lead. We still have people like Awolowo in this country.
During you previous outings you made massive industrialization your major agenda. Is that changing considering the prevailing security issues in the country?
Our overall policy thrust is Global One Vision and Mission for Nigeria; to make Nigeria the best nation on earth. When you plan to make Nigeria the best nation on earth, dealing with insecurity and other challenges are parts of it. It is a comprehensive agenda. Tackling insecurity is included; job creation and others are included. Lack of employment opportunity is part of the problems that led to insecurity. Those young men and women did not have anything doing and if you don’t have anything doing that will turn to problem this is what amount to insecurity. So, we will continue to take that as a key thrust of our programme. Again we can partner with foreign security forces to quell this problem. In fighting insecurity, you don’t run away from job creation. Those behind this security challenges are young people if they are properly engaged they won’t have time to engage in nefarious activities. All these problems are rooted in lack of employment opportunities for the young people. Get your young people engaged and let them channel their energy away from crime, then you have a secured country. There are existing plans we can use to achieve these things. The Central Bank, for example, has so many policies that we will leverage on to do these things. We have the money to achieve these things. We are not producing almost 70 per cent of what we need. So, when we say industrialization we want to put in place mechanism of producing most of what we need internally in Nigeria. Where do we get the money, the money is in CBN. They have what we call Real Sector Facility Support to give people startups. The money is in Nigeria, these facilities are there in the CBN, but people are not taken advantage of it and the politicians are not explaining it to the people. The money is in this country. What I am saying is what the Bank of Industry calls One-Community-One–Industry. There are over 2000 communities in Nigeria and when you do that that is industrialization. If we don’t industrialize Nigeria we will not make any headway.
You sound so confident that there is money in Nigeria whereas emerging signals prove otherwise. Recently, there were claims and counter-claims that Nigeria has resorted to printing money in order to meet certain obligations.
It is the approach that will be different. Is it everybody in Nigeria that is paying tax? I am telling you that we have the money to do whatever we want to do. There are so many ways of raising money. We will use true economic policy to get the money we need to run the country. The money to run this country is in this country. We will leverage on the population of the country. We are more than 200 million people and whatever we are able to get is sufficient to run the country. It is how you apply the revenue that matters.
Your state, Imo, has been in the eye of the storm for some time now. How do you think the crisis rocking the state can be addressed?
My take is that there should be constructive engagements between the leadership of the state and various communities. Some people are aggrieved about the way the governor came in. So it is very difficult to know where to point a finger. But above all he is the governor. I will admonish that we all work with the governor and let the governor also work with the people. If you are friendly with the people and they are friendly with you there will be less challenges and all that. The matter is a little bit confusing and no one knows where it is coming from, but I know that with good intentions Imo State will get back on track. There should be peaceful overtures to certain interests and stakeholders so that everybody can come to the table because essentially it will end on a conference table. Nobody gains anything by burning police stations and destroying state facilities. I urge the governor to rise up to the occasion as the leader of the state and reach out to his friends, associates and former friends and bring this ugly situation to an end.
There has been clamour that the Southeast should be given the opportunity to rule this country. What is your relationship with the leaders from the zone considering your interest in seeking your party’s (APC) nomination?
I have a cordial relationship not only with the Southeast leaders, but also with leaders across the country. I have a nationwide platform with which I have established solid relationships with leaders across the country. I have been in politics for a long time. What I have been doing all my life is helping people to get to positions.