Victor Okhai, a core professional producer, scriptwriter, director, and journalist ran for the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Providence People’s Congress (PPC).
In this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, he spoke on crucial national issues, including Operation Amotekun, Southwest security outfit launched last week, waning integrity of the judiciary, rising debt profile, and political party deregistration, among others. Excerpt:
The Supreme Court has been upholding and overturning governorship elections…?
(Cuts in) The rule of law has been thrown to the dogs; we no longer have confidence even in the judiciary, unfortunately. Judiciary should be the last hope of the common man, but the judiciary has been so bastardised and no longer command the confidence of the common man. There is a saying that mechanics (I mean those dirty mechanics you see on the road) do not allow people sometimes to know who is a mad man. Sadly enough, some judges, both the bench and bar, have sold out and this is worrisome. The system has been corrupted, even when good judges, and there are many good judges, give good ruling people don’t trust them anymore. This is what happens when some members of the judiciary compromise the integrity of the judiciary.
The Federal Government said the operation of the Southwest security outfit code-named Amotekun is illegal. What is your position on it?
Well, one thing is clear, and that is that the action of the Southwest governors is a reflection of the reality. What they have done is that they have spoken with their body language. What do I mean by that? Because they are party members they pay lip service to issues, critical issues, they claim that all is well, that the security in the country is okay, that the president is doing his best, but deep down in their closet they realised that the government has failed at the federal level. The president has sworn to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to protect the lives and property of Nigerians, but he has failed. So, what the Southwest has simply done is that they have spoken with their body language, they may pay lip service that all is well, the president is doing well, but by their action, by theAmotekun creation, they have simply stated that they have no confidence in the Federal Government anymore and they have decided to take their destiny into their hands, protect the lives and property of their people. It is a vote of no confidence in the Federal Government. Is it legal? Constitutionally, it is not as far as I am concerned because security outfit is in the exclusive list, but the truth is that, the government itself because they have allowed illegalities before now they have turned the blind eye to Hisbah, the one in the North, they have turned a blind eye to the Joint Task Force in the Northeast, among other illegalities. They used some of these illegalities to rise to power, it was okay for them when President Goodluck Jonathan was there for them to abuse him and say all sorts of things and lie in the media, today the tables have turned suddenly, it has become illegal. The Attorney-General was there when the Hisbah movement was being formed, even when they arrested a policeman recently, he turned a blind eye, the Joint Task Force in the Northeast, he turned a blind eye, now suddenly they have seen a more organized security movement and they are deciding that it’s illegal. What has simply happened is that no part of the federation has any confidence anymore in the Federal Government. Can two wrongs make a right? Absolutely no, what is the solution to the problem? Truth must be told, let all the governors’ rise and everybody rise up and tell Mr President that he has failed. He has failed to defend the citizens, he has failed to defend Nigerians, he needs to do more than just pay lip service and the use of propaganda. Don’t forget that people are tired of what is on the ground and no longer have confidence in him. This might sound harsh, but it is the truth he may not want to hear. Even the security chiefs are watching him; they are reading his body movement. If you go and arrest somebody from a certain part of the country, you will be having fears because you don’t know whether you will be offending him because of the double standard. There is confusion in the land, the security chiefs don’t even know what is right and wrong anymore because they don’t want to offend him because of his body language. The body language from Mr President has created confusion, so they don’t know what to do and that is why they cannot act even if they want to act. So, the long and short of it is that Amotekun is the body language of the Southwestern governors, they have simply spoken with their body language that the president has failed, although with lip service they will say he is doing well, but this is a reflection of what they say in their closet. Is it right? My answer is not necessarily so, but will the president be trusted to do the right thing? I don’t think even the APC government can force him to be able to do the right thing anymore hence Amotekun.
What is your take on the nation’s rising debt profile?
It is obvious that they have lost grip of the economy there is no doubt about it. They have resorted to borrowing when it is totally unnecessary. They have borrowed and borrowed because they lack ideas. There is nothing wrong with debt ordinarily, but when you are borrowing to take care of the current expenditure you are not using it to be productive, it is a sign of failure of the economic system. It is clear they have failed regardless of whatever is said. It’s now they are forming an economic team, but you can be sure that even the economic team will just be there to fulfill all righteousness. Do you think they will be allowed to function? I doubt if what they say, if their recommendation will be implemented or respected.
You ran for the presidential election in 2019 and most of the candidates complained about INEC and its incompetence to handle future elections. Are you confident in INEC now?
You see, if INEC makes a mistake you can trust the judiciary, but right now the trust for the judiciary is questionable concerning electoral matters. I was at a place over the weekend where they were saying that the issue of being a vice chancellor now is a hot cake because anybody in that position knows that he will automatically be a returning officer. So, the issue of vice chancellorship has now become political. That is how much the executive has corrupted the system that you don’t know what to trust anymore.
What is your take on power rotation as concerns 2023? The North says power will remain with them, the Southeast says it must get power in 2023 and the Southwest is not relenting…
(Cuts in) If the Southeast wants it, let them play their politics well. I will give you an example: a smaller bank, Access Bank, swallowed Intercontinental; it was a matter of strategy. It is a game of number, but it’s more a game of strategy when you are talking about election at the presidential level. It’s not anybody’s birthright, even the North, Southerners have ruled before let nobody sit down and hope that it will come to them by right. It is not constitutional that it should be ceded to any part, play the game well, simple, it’s a matter of strategy. If you play your strategy well you will get it. I am not one of those who will say it is turn by turn, there is no such thing, and turn by turn is not in the constitution. All is dependent on how well you play your strategy. Goodluck Jonathan was not from the majority when he became the president, neither was Obasanjo from a majority ethnic group when he became the president, Southwest was not a majority tribe when he became the president. I am in the minority and I have vied for the office and will still be vying again. My priority, my parameter for measuring success in governance is on the welfare of the common man, not what happens to the Dangote’s of this world. If you look at this government can you say we have fared well on the issue of security? No, can you say we are right on the economy, my answer is no.
Don’t you think there is the need to deregister some political parties to create sanity in elections as critics say the number is much?
It has nothing to do with number. When we go electronic, the numbers will not matter. The reason for the proliferation of parties is because there is injustice in the main parties when you have people who have assumed the position of lords, godfathers, they have turned themselves to tin-gods in those parties and they will not give credible people a chance. Ifeanyi Ubah, for instance, never had a chance with the big parties, he joined a small one and the people voted for him. In those major parties, there are people who will determine who will be and who will not get… are they God? INEC should go and do its homework well; it is not the number of political parties that is the problem. People will vote for whom they want to vote for, but is the rigging that messes up everything. Most credible people will not have a chance in a big party that is the sad thing.
There is this apprehension among Nigerians that the civil society actions have faded away…?
(Cuts in) There is no civil society anymore. The civil society and some members of the media have sold their conscience; they have mortgaged their conscience for a morsel, they cannot be trusted anymore. There is no civil society in Nigeria anymore. Maybe, for other areas, but certainly not on the issues of government and governance. Many of them are now party members; many of them are just looking after what they can get for survival. They no longer have our interest at heart; forget them we no longer have a civil society in Nigeria as it used to be.
Recently there was this 50-year remembrance of the Biafra war…?
(Cuts in) Have we learnt any lessons of history? It’s not just about the Biafra war, but you ask yourself how the law came about. Law came about because men decided to codify these woes, otherwise, society was descending into a state of anomie, where savagery was taking place, people were taking laws into their hands. So, men decided to create law so that there will be order in the society. When there is a breakdown of law and order like the case in Libya, as the case in Somalia, etc; this is what you get, people resort to self-help. When you see people resorting to extra-judicial means, it’s lack of trust in the judiciary and the rule of law. When the rule of law breaks down people can no longer trust the law, this is what it results. What you are seeing here in the country is the first step to a state of anarchy where the rule of law is sold to the dogs when people can no longer trust the courts to get justice, they can no longer believe in the government to protect them then they resort to self-help that is what you are seeing. The governors are resorting to self-help that was what happened in the First Republic, people resorted to self-help, they no longer trust the government that is what is degenerating right now, that is what we are seeing and the government needs to watch this drift. Unless the president becomes the president of all Nigerians I fear that if care is not taken very soon we may not have a country called Nigeria unless he truly becomes the president of all Nigerians, not only those who voted for him or those who are his family members or those whom he likes. And he has said it times without number that he will favour those who voted for him and those who are his people. That is the problem, he is nepotistic, he has shown that he is not a father of all, he cannot be trusted to protect all Nigerians, only a select few.