By Ndubuisi Orji
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Lagso State, Chief Tunde Daramola has called for a paradigm shift in the country. Daramola, a former national ex-officio member of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), told Daily Sun that Nigerians cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.
He also spoke on other issues:
How would you assess President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the past one year?
President Buhari’s one year in office has been able to expose to Nigerians and the entire world the rot that he inherited from the 16 years administration of the PDP. I am sure that if President Buhari knows that it is this bad, he may not have accepted to lead the country at this time; but I do believe that leaders are chosen by God and it must have been God that chose him to come and lead Nigeria out of this dungeon, out of this rot we find ourselves.
For now, it is very difficult to assess his one year, because when you meet a house in disarray, you must first of all reorganize the house, that is the present position in Nigeria. To reorganize Nigeria is what we have done in the last one year and the international community is equally aware that Nigeria needs their cooperation.
You perhaps want to ask me about achievements in the past one year; without a solid foundation, there cannot be anything to achieve. One of the most dangerous problems is insecurity of lives and property, especially the Boko Haram menace and between me and you, everybody knows that President Buhari has been able to deal a deadly blow on the Boko Haram menace and the other minor insurgencies, because you cannot improve the economy in an atmosphere of insecurity – threat to life, threat to property.
So, I want to give that major credit that with a safer environment, Nigerians should be rest assured that from the second year of his tenure, things are bound to take a new and positive direction particularly with the economy.
The President in the past one year has done much of complaining; how the past administration did this, did that, and gradually most Nigerians are no longer comfortable with the president. As a member of the party, do you share these views?
I am not talking as a party man, I am not talking for the party, but as a member of the party and a Nigerian. As a concerned Nigerian, I want to start by saying that there is no gain without pain. Even childbirth causes serious pain, but at the end of the day, the joy of childbirth is the gain of the family expansion. But needless to say that Buhari was not elected to come and complain; Nigerians put their trust in Buhari, because they believed he is a sincere human being and he is a very disciplined person. We knew Buhari from 1984, that he was a-no-nonsense leader; he does not engage in frivolities. He is not carried away by accumulation of wealth.
It is important to have a conducive environment. We should be able to sleep without any fear, without anybody kidnapping us, without anybody bombing us, and that was one of his promises and it is not an easy thing to fight an insurgency.
How would you assess his anti-corruption crusade; members of the opposition PDP say the fight is selective?
Corruption is one of our biggest monsters after insurgency. I sincerely believe that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation. Corruption is so endemic that it is not only in government; corruption is within the common man on the street. The common man believes that once you are a little comfortable, the interpretation is you must have stolen money. And if you have stolen money, they are willing to steal their own share from you. So, people are looking for how they can cut corners to make money, because they believe the boss that setup the business stole the money to do so.
Can I assess the anti-corruption crusade? Well, the only thing I can say is a lot of people are being exposed on a daily basis, and I do believe more people are to be exposed. The yardstick to ourselves would be how much success is achieved by the government in terms of money recovered.
People tend to want to be mischievous. Buhari did not go after the campaign fund of the PDP. Buhari was looking into the military’s activities, because like I told you, insurgency was prime, number one on his agenda. He was looking into the activities of the military; practices that were not supposed to be made.
In the process, he found out that the money that were allocated to the military for counter-insurgency has been diverted. Are you telling me that was the only money that was used for campaigning in the PDP? Absolutely not! We have not heard anything about the NNPC money or CBN money; we are mostly talking about money allocated for counter-insurgency that was giving problems to Nigerians.
So, let us face the issue. They have not started to look into campaign funds; but they have found out that money that were supposed to purchase military hardware have been compromised and diverted.
The 2014 National Conference report recommended restructuring; is your party opposed to that completely?
The party wasn’t opposed to constitutional reforms. It is just like the argument some people are raising that I was reading on the media, that why is it okay for Buhari to raise the price of fuel and it wasn’t okay for Jonathan to raise it? It is a simple answer. If I have what you call sincerity of purpose, if I am genuine, and you see the other person as not sincere and your fears were correctly founded, what happened to SURE-P? SURE-P was a total disaster; it was an avenue to steal money. So if it was okay for Buhari, it was because people believed and trust him. It is a matter of trust and it is that trust, faith, hope; they have faith and they hope in Buhari. It is what Buhari has and it is the only thing left. If that faith and hope is jettisoned or there is an element of disappointment, then we are done for.
Many have criticized the President’s approach to protest by IPOB members in the South East and other crises. Do you believe the President is handling the issues well?
I hope you are going to talk about labour too? You know the truth about activities in Nigeria. We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. Obviously, if you ask me, the system we are running in Nigeria, I am not sure is what we require. How about a unicameral assembly? How about a regional arrangement where you still have a country called Nigeria responsible for military, responsible for customs, responsible for immigration and responsible for foreign affairs?
I said we cannot be doing things the same way and expect different results, because in the past, people agitate by resorting to arms and they were settled and that is why, when you see somebody who doesn’t understand the system of settlement, all these people that you are talking, taking arms, IPOB, Niger Delta Avengers, MEND, in the past, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), in the past they have used it as a means of extortion. They have not actually used those organizations for the emancipation of their people.
They have used it to line their pocket. They are not genuine agitators, believe me. But if you are talking of autonomy to regions, because I even think the states are too unwieldy, because if you cannot generate revenue within to sustain yourself, you should not exist as a state and you cannot continue to be a beggar state, where nothing comes from within.
But if there is a constitutional arrangement and the zonal arrangement is embraced, it may be better for Nigeria’s unity. So all this craving, fractionalization does not help; it does not help development. It is counterproductive.