By Ndubuisi Orji
As the nation prepares for the first year anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, a social critic and chieftain of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Professor Protus Nathan Uzorma has advised the president to work and stop the blame game. Uzorma, a professor of philosophy in the University of Uyo was the UPP deputy governorship candidate in Imo State in the last general election.
In this interview, he urged President Buhari to expand the scope of the anti-corruption war of his administration to cover members of his party, the All Progressives Congress(APC), who are equally accused of corrupt practices.
What is your take on the state of the nation?
When we look at the state of the nation right now, you will discover that things are actually at the verge of embracing the philosophy of self-discovery; things are really getting out of hand, things are really bending upside down, because the envisaged and highly trumpeted change is yet to be seen, yet to be visible in the present administration.
Even though we must commend the effort of Mr. President in trying to fight corruption; in trying to curtail corruption; not really fighting corruption because these are really two different things you know. The principles of fighting corruption and the principles of contending with corrupt people are two different things. We appreciate the efforts on ground; we have already seen visible efforts he has made in fighting corruption but the problem of Nigeria is not only corruption. There are areas that need proper attention like this issue of violence, this issue of killing, the bad state of the economy; the economy is very bad.
All over the world, we know there is a global economic recession, but the state of affairs as it relates to the Nigerian economic system right now is a thing that vilifies the highly trumpeted change and as a result, I think there ought to have been a proactive measure that ought to have been taken by this present administration to deal with the issue at hand.
If you look at the emphasis of Mr President on the issue of corruption; fine. The point is they should extend hand. We know the issue of arms deal, the funds that were meant for arm importation that was maybe said to have been used by the PDP for the presidential election and we know what happened.
Now we know PDP or people in PDP cannot be said to be the only corrupt Nigerians; there are also corrupt persons even in the APC. We want to see Mr. President extending the fight against corruption to his political allies – maybe those who even sponsored him. There was an allegation that the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi assisted in sponsoring Mr. President’s campaign and we have not really asked ourselves if that allegation is to be established; was the money from Amaechi’s purse? How much was it? And some other questions. We know there are corrupt people in APC, but we have not seen Mr. President extending his fight to that extent.
Again, we are talking about fighting corruption, so many governors are corrupt.
Often times, the present administration has blamed the immediate past administration for the failures of the country, but many Nigerians are saying that one year after in office, we’re still blaming the past administration for the problems facing the country instead of thinking of how to make progress. Where do you stand?
I must tell you that inefficient leaders blame their predecessors where there is inability to perform. You don’t apportion blame. There is no perfect administration or leadership but we expect that what the past administration did not do well, the present administration will improve on that and not apportioning blame to anybody. If we keep apportioning blames that PDP did this, PDP did that, well Mr. President may not have the time to use his inner corrective psychology to build a very stable system that will indeed advance the nation. So, it vilifies principles of political philosophy to see Mr. President apportioning blame on the previous administration. I mean it shows lack of competence. But I am sure that if Mr. President and his team could sit down collectively, this issue of corruption is a department of an administration. There should be other areas; they should be able to put strong economic team together to be able to wriggle out solutions to our problems. There is problem in this country and we should not be looking at what Mr. A did or didn’t do. Take what happened recently in Enugu State for instance, do we now say that because the governor or the commissioner of Police there or the commander of the 82 division did not respond, this that, we don’t apportion blame to anybody.
But if a leader meets a particular problem, he should be able to devise a means to solve the problem to move the nation forward. That is what leadership is all about. It is only where you lack the competence, where you lack the dexterity, where you lack the skill of leadership that is when you begin to apportion blame. Mr. President should stop apportioning blame; he has all it takes to move this nation forward.
How would you assess the APC-led administration one year after? Would you see the party having delivered the change it promised?
I must tell you according to Socrates who say that the innovation of an original thinker meets with the opposition of the traditionist until at last, the evidence becomes irresistible. The system here, within one year in office, the evidence on ground to an extent, is absolutely resistible and not irresistible. We appreciate the fight against corruption; I must appreciate that. I have done a comprehensive work; I am a researcher. I have done a comprehensive work on political corruption in Nigeria, challenge to national development; it is a book that will soon be in the market. I have followed Mr. President’s fight against corruption step by step and I have produced volumes of which will soon be launched. But I have criticized his step, I have appraised some of his steps and I have also proffered solutions to fighting corruption. To that, I will give him 70 percent but let him extend it to his political allies because there are also corrupt people that are with him.
Now, if I should holistically assess the performance of APC government, in a nutshell, I would rather call it a beautiful egg with a rotten yoke. In the principle of logic, you can’t classify such as a good egg; because in as much as we appreciate the fight against corruption, of course everything is bad absolutely for year nothing. You just blame! You blame Mr. A, you blame Mr. B. There are killings here and there and these killings have even extended to the South-East.
You know! I feel worried about the state of the nation. Mr. President should sit-up. He should sit-up. Within one year you are still apportioning blame.
The crisis between herdsmen and farmers has gone on overtime but recently, there has been different proposition of strategy of how to curtail them and one of such is the Grazing Reserve Bill which has caused so many controversies. Do you think that is the solution and if it is not, what do you think the country should do?
One of the principles of entrepreneurship in a contemporary society is that the entrepreneur is supposed to have modalities of handling and dealing with crisis.
The issue of the herdsmen, that has really caused a lot of problem in our nation has been there, but if you watch the rate, it has increased now; it is different from what it used to be. It is worrisome. Indeed, it is worrisome. In Igbo language, there’s a saying that when you see a man dancing outside or on the road, the drummers are in the bush. What we want Mr. President to do is to fish out the drummer because there must be sponsors; look at the kind of guns they are carrying.
The other day, it was reported in the newspaper that they carry AK 47 – some of them. In this country, I am aware that such machine guns cannot be licensed. The police cannot give you license for that. So, where did they get that kind of a thing? And they use it on people; butcher people. If we say approving or giving them a site or the National Assembly to apportion a grazing site for them and project that into a bill is to say the least, an abomination.
The reasons are obvious because a situation like that, if I am a farmer, I should be able to take care of my farm. If I have poultry farm, it is a personal business; the government should not even think of that. It is amazing. But that tells you to an extent that there is a conflict, a serious conflict in the up and the down, because for somebody to talk about grazing bill, it is amazing. I have read much about it and I have asked myself, if I have a business, I should be able to manage my business nah! That is a personal business. So, it should not be talked about and I am of the view that these people instead of constituting nuisance, constant killing, raping of our women and all that, I would rather advise the government to take them back. We have a lot of large space; if you talk of where the large spaces are, they are in the North more than we have in the South.
So, they can go back there and continue to graze there and train whatever. Nomadic faming has a modern look. There is a modern approach to it. It is no more the ancient method; there are new methods. They should be able to look at this new method and get their acts fixed and then forget these innocent people they have been wasting their lives. When you watch it on Youtube and WhatsApp, you will be so shocked. Young boys, young girls massacred. For what reason? It is amazing.
Mr. President must sit-up. He must sit-up. If you read what Prof Wole Soyinka said about it, he was blaming Mr. President for his silence. How can there be such killing in a particular zone and you say you are keeping silent; you are now forced to say something. That justifies what he said in the United States that I am not going to be fair with everybody; I will support those who will support me and I will not support those who will not support me. I think that to an extent appears to justify that assertion or such postulation that he made.