Eminent lawyer, Chief Mike Ahamba is known for not calling a spade by any other name when it concerns giving his opinion on general issues. In this interview with STANLEY UZOARU in Owerri, he warns that continued security threat could lead to postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); which translates to tenure extension for President Muhammadu Buhari. He also talked about why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar should be voted for by Nigerians, among other issues.
What’s your reaction to the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari may be leaving behind, N77 trillion debt as he finishes his tenure in May?
It’s very worrisome and I’m concerned about it, I don’t know why APC is leaving government and creating problem for everybody. Where did they invest this money? Security is not working, education is not working, I don’t know which aspect of Nigeria is working. All the roads are bad, so, where did they invest this money? I’m not accusing anybody, but let them tell us. We’re entitled to know. Fuel has gone up to N500 a litre. I bought it. Where have they invested this money they said we’re owing? We’re entitled to know. It’s our money and it’s also their money. We all own this money? Where have they invested it? That’s all I want to know.
What’s your view about security in the South-East in the past year?
Well, I don’t think security in South-East is as bad as it used to be, and this is because people who are pushing it have realised it’s not the way to go. You can’t be shooting yourself in the foot in an effort you think you can gain something that will be better, people have realised that, that aspect of agitation is not good enough and they’re falling back even though belatedly. Let them keep it that way. The issues that are being raised can be discussed peacefully. It doesn’t require arms and ammunition. Let us use our brains, not our muscles.
There were rumours recently about the likely postponement of the election because of security threats. What’s your opinion on this?
That is why I’m telling people who are creating this problem to stop. There’s a constitutional power enabling postponement of election in these circumstances. So what it means is postponing the departure of this administration for another six months, and you’re doing it because you don’t like the administration. Meanwhile, what you’re doing will keep you for another six months. I think people should allow us hold this election and let the right person be elected. Let all the parties be courageous enough to leave the people to make their choice. Whatever they decide, they go on with it. That’s what democracy is all about, so anybody doing anything to stop the election in February hates himself and his people, whether they are southerners, northerners, easterners or westerners.
It appears so many people are excited about this election. Why is it so?
Because new issues have arisen – issues like voting personalities and not parties. This is what most of us have been preaching for a very long time. In fact, the way I described it is that the party is like the masquerade; it doesn’t affect how masquerade dances with its face, and when you want to assess a masquerade, you can’t assess him based on what he’s wearing on his face, you access the masquerade by how his legs and rhythm are moving. The party is the masquerade people can throw off at any time, their dancing ability and beauty should go on even after they might have left the arena. So, it’s the right thing to go ahead and vote individual and not the party.
What are your expectations for the country this New Year?
I will say what I hope for because my expectations might not be the mind of the government. What I hope is that they would allow a free and fair election to hold. Let us for once have a free, fair and credible election in action and not in words and when that happens, the right person will emerge. And I know the right person.
Who is the right person?
Atiku Abubakar. He is the right person for this time. A lot of things make me feel so. Some of them could be said and some could not. From all I know about him, even the criticism about him, he’s the most destabilised. That’s very important now. Secondly, he has gathered enough experience after being Obasanjo’s deputy for some years. And all these accusations, who will come out and not have accusations? And again, he has agreed during the convention that if there should be zoning, it should be zoned to the South-East, he said he would not contest if it’s not that way, and when they declared it open, he had the right to contest and he did and won.
What about his statement that he will be the stepping stone for an Igbo presidency? Don’t you have problem with that as an Igbo man?
What’s wrong with that? He’s contesting for president and said, look, vote for me, it’s a political statement every politician makes, why are people laying emphasis to this one? He didn’t say the South-East should not contest. He said if you support me, I will support you. I will make sure it goes to you next time around, and note the fact that he said that if zoning is done and it’s zoned to the South-East, he will not contest. That’s a very friendly statement. While I don’t object to anybody contesting from anywhere, I want to say that those things he has said are the positives for him. He has not insulted anybody. He said vote for me, if I win, I will support you to rule because Nigeria is a combination of nations. I think we have one hand now stretched to shake, the other hand never stretched out for us to shake. Ojukwu said we should have a handshake across the Niger and Benue. The person that has stretched hand for us to shake is Atiku Abubakar. These things must be taken into consideration. Even now, if I want to contest, people must say something about me. It’s usual in politics but the important thing is that, what is the basis and what’s the experience like? Now we must know that rulership of a state is not same as rulership of a federation.
In your state, Imo, there was a statement by some PDP leaders from Mbaise clan distancing themselves from the endorsement of Senator Samuel Anyanwu by some members of the party. What’s really going on in Mbaise?
Nothing is happening, it’s just that the hunger problem in Nigeria is affecting some purportedly big men. That’s the origin of all these things. First of all, we were all in Abuja and the national body of PDP advised that everything about governorship should be suspended until after the presidential election. Why should any genuine member of the PDP be writing to endorse anybody? That’s indiscipline. In any case, as far as we are concerned, it means nothing. Mbaise is intact: we know where we are going and we know why we are going there and we shall remain there. I will not say where we are going because we all agree that we should be quiet about it and I’m a man of honour. So, those who are writing know where the people are and they want to destabilise the situation but they won’t succeed. They’ve already shot themselves in the foot, and I can assure you, most of those people who signed the purported report can’t guarantee the votes of their families. Those who have the votes in Mbaise are not part of it. In any case, we have denied it and I signed it. When people like us make statements in Mbaise, you can’t ignore them. I’ve not said anything against anybody, all I’m saying is that let’s leave it as the national body has put it and on that I stand. In fact, Emeka Ihedioha advised us to keep strictly on that.
People are already insinuating that Ihedioha and Samuel Anyanwu are going to fight heavily on who becomes the flag-bearer of PDP in the state. Are you saying there won’t be something like that?
Well, they’re free to do so. All I’m telling you is that, you don’t move into the ring until the referee asked you to do so. If you’re playing the game before the time scheduled for it, you’re wasting your time. All I’m telling you is that those people are not in a position to destabilise Ihedioha in Mbaise. When the time comes, we’re not bothered about them.
What’s your reaction to the demise of President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor?
It’s a pity really. Actually, when he took that position, everybody who loved him knew that he was not sound health wise. It’s unfortunate really that Ohanaeze should bury its President General. All I can say at this stage is that may his soul rest in perfect peace and I hope Ohanaeze would rally round to give him a befitting burial.