Martins Onovo, former National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP) was the 2015 presidential candidate of the party. He said with the way things are going now, only restructuring can save Nigeria. He also spoke on other national issues.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been called on to resign over the rising insecurity in the country. What is your take on that?
It is very clear and straightforward. Look at the example in the United States of America (U.S.A.) where though President Donald Trump is being falsely accused, but because of the high level of integrity they have in their system, they don’t allow any form of personal interest or incompetence in the system. Compare that to what we have in Nigeria, what we see goes beyond what is seen anywhere in the world in leadership. I want to be strategic in this. Look at security, for instance, over 2,000 Nigerian troops have been killed by insurgents, over 20, 000 civilians have also been killed and over 2 million people displaced from their homes. The story that insecurity has been contained in Borno State is totally false. We all remember what happened in Ukpabi Nimbo in 2016, we also know of the recent crisis in Edo State, we know what happened in Adamawa State, we know what happened in Plateau State. All this is within a space of one week. The fact is that the government cannot continue to sustain itself with false propaganda. We know that as at today under President Muhammadu Buhari, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) rated Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world. Under President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria was the fourth. So, who is trying to say that insecurity is not worse? We also know that this insecurity is not beyond what the government can contain, but the incompetence, cluelessness and ineptitude of the government that have led to this level of insecurity in the country.
The calls for President Buhari to resign is not new. Two years ago, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) called for the resignation of President Buhari. There are only two options for President Buhari, either he resigns or for we the people of Nigeria to impeach him because his incompetence, cluelessness and ineptitude are unprecedented.
On the economy, it is the same thing. Nigeria today has the highest level of unemployment for the last several decades; the Naira is at its lowest value since independence; we today have the highest inflation since independence. Nigeria is today the global capital of extreme poverty. We cannot allow a govern Restructuring is the only option left now for Nigeria. Any other thing that you do outside restructuring will collapse and lead to anarchy. We cannot wait for 2023 because there can be no 2023 with President Buhari in office. The only option left to save Nigeria from collapse according to prominent Nigerians like Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, which I agree with is that we must restructure this country. Any other thing we try is merely cosmetic and could lead to the collapse of the country ment to be in place if it continues to destroy the economy of the country, continues to destroy the security, continues to destroy public morality and promotes corruption. That makes us self-destructive people if we allow this government to continue. So, the call for President Buhari to resign is in order and he must resign or we will impeach him.
If you look at corruption, under President Jonathan, the Transparency International (TI) corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Nigeria at number 136 but under President Buhari, we became 148 and now in the 2019 report we have gone to number 146; does that not show that corruption is worse under this government? How much more evidence do you need? The Auditor General of the Federation said it all that federal ministries and agencies do not submit themselves to audit.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has said that anything the president does is deemed to be good for the country. So, how will impeachment work?
Power does not belong to the Senate president; power belongs to the people of Nigeria. The highest office in Nigeria is the office of the citizen, the constitution is very clear that sovereignty belongs to the people.
Sovereignty belongs to the people, but they still express such sovereignty through their elected representatives?
Yes, the people express their sovereignty through the representatives, but the representative are not supposed to misrepresent us. But it is the weakness and complacency of the people that allow the representative to represent them. If we are clear as people as to what our opinions are, our representative cannot do otherwise. But when Nigerians don’t know where they stand, the representative has a right to make up his mind for them. The first thing we have to do is to agree that the government is incompetent, clueless and inept. If we don’t have an opinion, politicians will continue to form an opinion for them. What we have in Nigeria today is not a government. Prof. Banji Akintoye, Chairman of the Yoruba Council of Elders said President Buhari has destroyed Nigeria, and I ask where were we when he was destroying it? He didn’t destroy it overnight. But he was destroying Nigeria and we were here laughing; that is complacency.
The South West states have established a regional security outfit code-named Operation Amotekun. Will such ensure security?
Insecurity is at its highest point today and that is why everybody needs to form a regional security outfit. The Anambra State government had previously formed Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS). Today, the South East is also talking about establishing its own security outfit. Security is the first imperative of government, so if president Buhari is leading a government that cannot provide security, then he needs to resign immediately. He has failed on the economy, he failed on anti-corruption, he failed to unite the country, now he has failed on security too and that is why he needs to leave power. President Trump made an innocent phone call and he is being threatened with impeachment but here in Nigeria we have somebody who has failed to unite the country; he has ruined the economy and put us into an unbearable debt trap and is still planning to take new loans when we have not repaid the old ones.
What is your view on the Supreme Court verdict that removed Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State?
The Supreme Court judgement is a travesty and must be reviewed because if it is allowed to stand, it would have destroyed the judiciary. The way to review it is simply, the Supreme Court has to set up another panel of seven judges who were not part of the first using seniority as the basis for selection. If they agree with the first panel, we will accept it. We know what happened with the composition of the first panel. The new panel should be selected strictly on the seniority of judges that did not participate in the first panel, that way, we will know nobody influenced it. There are things in that judgement that on the face seem perverse. To start with, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party is rejected in the South East. The APC did not win any House of Assembly seat in that Imo State election. According to the results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC came a distant fourth. Again, the so-called 380 polling stations that were omitted were tended to by a policeman, not by an INEC agent. These results were rejected by the Governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, so the implication is that the Supreme Court is discrediting the judiciary. Normally, the Supreme Court does not contradict consistent judgement. The tribunal rejected results from those polling units, the Court of Appeal also rejected it, then the Supreme Court accepted it when it was even tendered by a policeman, not even an APC polling agent.
Members of the Imo State House of Assembly suddenly all defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC following the Supreme Court judgement that declared Senator Hope Uzodimma as the governor. Why are the political parties without clear-cut ideology?
It is not true; the submission of a manifesto and ideology to INEC is one of the conditions for registration as a political party. We should even stop discussing manifestoes because the law says that the manifesto of every political party should be in line with the Nigerian constitution. So, the law has even established the manifesto of every political party; all they need to do is copy chapter two of the 1999 constitution. It is easy for politicians to cross carpet because we have so many political parties with the same ideology. In Nigeria, the constitution is a social-democratic constitution. I am a social democrat, the APC and the PDP are also social-democratic political parties; forget their perversity. If you read their manifesto, you will see they are both social democratic, so anybody can belong there. It is the individuals in the political parties that are perverts. It is just like belonging to a Church that says thou shall not steal, but people are stealing. It is the people that are perverts, not the Church.
What is the way forward for Nigeria?
Restructuring is the only option left now for Nigeria. Any other thing that you do outside restructuring will collapse and lead to anarchy. We cannot wait for 2023 because there can be no 2023 with President Buhari in office. The only option left to save Nigeria from collapse according to prominent Nigerians like Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, which I agree with is that we must restructure this country. Any other thing we try is merely cosmetic and could lead to the collapse of the country.
Do you see another armed conflict coming?
No, we won’t have a frontal war, we don’t have those sharp divisions any more; that is why I said restructure or anarchy. The Failing States Index (FSI) has classified Nigeria as one of the failing states in the world. We can no longer maintain law and order in the country. Insecurity is very high and that is why everybody needs to form regional security. We don’t have to wait for Nigeria to fail before we act, we should stop it from falling.