By Daniel Kanu
Dr Emmanuel Agbo is the national deputy secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The grassroots politician, who was known to be an outstanding legislator in the Benue State House of Assembly, spoke to Sunday Sun on sundry national issues, including the failure of the All Progressives Congress ((APC) leadership in power, the docility of Nigerian society, and Electoral Act.
Let’s know your random thoughts on very critical issues that bother you about Nigeria?
You see, there is this saying that when you get to the precipice you thread cautiously so that you don’t trip off. But very unfortunately, we have some reckless managers that don’t know where we are, at what point we are at the precipice, whether we are at the tipping point, whether we have already tipped and we are nose-diving, these people just don’t know it. My worries is that at this stage it is like you find yourself standing before; for those in the Southwest, the Olumo rock, for those of us in Abuja, the rock by the Kaduna junction, a heavy standing rock, you are talking to the rock, it has no ear, it has no eyes, it doesn’t hear you, it doesn’t see you nor does it respond. The greatest disaster of this country today is that we have a leadership that is deaf and dumb. So, when you are mentioning the catalogue of catastrophes ranging from economic downturn, ranging from … is it explosions, is it fire incident in Rivers State, is it Lagos EndSARS report that has been reprimanded and politics being played with it. There is a confirmation that deaths occurred, what the expectation of the average and ordinary Nigerian should be is: now let’s confirm the dead, what families, who and who were dead, what’s the degree of injuries this death has caused these homes you talked about. That is what happens in the advanced clime, but when you have a spokesperson of the government telling you that why they said there were no deaths was because nobody came to register it or that nobody came forward to say it, you are still justifying the stand of the government that there were no deaths when a judicial commission of enquiry set up by you has now confirmed that there were deaths. Instead of you to face that frontally, establish the number of the deaths, the families they belong based on whatever is supposed to be the report of the Judicial Commission, do a White Paper, publish the remedies you are going to give to those families with an apology, but you are now substantiating the evil that you have meted on our people and you want us to say what? You want us to accept your lie? It is madness for the government spokesperson (Lai Mohammed) to say it is fake news. My greatest anger comes from the fact that, we take the lead by being vocal, by stating the obvious fact that this is what this government is to our people, but do you have a society that can rise to the challenge? What kind of society do we have? A society that is passive. Just like that a serving Major-General was killed, went to the highest institution of our security abducted people, killed people and in two days it became stale news. Honestly, under the scenario and situation in which we find ourselves I think running away from it wouldn’t help us either, but first, you must take the lead for a willing society for you to make yourself that sacrificial lamb. A country where a serving member of the highest bench in the Judiciary, Justice Mary Odili’s house, her privacy and family were vandalized and they still have the courage to bring in yet another of their children to be sworn-in as a member of the bench, sacrifices that you cannot count because every other person would rather prefer going to Ghana and serve that country or even if it’s Liberia. What are we talking about? We are living just by the food that is on your table, by that very meal; if you walk to the table and there is no meal all well and good, it’s suffering and smiling. This is not a country anymore. Honestly, it’s for the purposes of docility of the nationals (Nigerians) themselves that I have refrained from public statements most times because when you raise crucial issues or give just a humble advice or when they listen to you on television, you are termed or labeled totally and holistically anti-government not because you want to be anti-government, but because government has made themselves anti-people. You stand for the people, the same people turn around and say come you are on your own. So, you begin to ask yourself, where do we start? Today, most filling stations in this country are no longer selling fuel not because they don’t have, but because there is this understanding between their leadership and the Federal Government that they will be withdrawing subsidies, only them know the date, so they are hoarding what they have for their new pump price which is going to be well over N360 per litre, I think N365 per litre, so they have decided not to sell what they have and the government is telling you and I lies that they are going to roll out N5,000 transport allowance for the poor indigent families. It’s ridiculous. Let me tell you, if fuel is sold for N300, even for N200, even as it is today does N5, 000 have value for anybody? What can N5,000 do, what can it purchase? This government has finished this country. They said they are going to give indigent families N5,000 on monthly basis from the subsidy you are withdrawing, can you imagine such madness? The oil dealers are just waiting for that official pronouncement and then the pump prices will change. Believe you me at that rate the shortest distance of not more than N3,000 or N4,000 will be N20,000 if not more and like I said this country that I know, they will do nothing, they will sit back and watch this people walk away, so what do you want us to say when the society themselves, the Nigerian people don’t want to help themselves. How many persons have been able to tell the Federal Government the evil they are doing to Nigerians? They said there was no subsidy to be withdrawn and that was what brought you to government and today you say you have subsidy, you continue to withdraw subsidy you have reached the level at which, now you have increased pump price more than 10 times than what it was when you came and you now want to take it up to only God knows price – N365per litre – no. A country where today even our locally produced rice is over N20,000 and foreign ones (Rice) is over N30,000 from less than N8,000, just six years ago that this government took over power. They can’t manage the economy; look at the exchange rate today? I just travelled to the UK and the banks were not available or even ready to give one BTA, a pound is exchanging for almost N800.
So, where do we start, looking at the gloomy picture you have painted?
This is not an issue of where you do not know where to start, start from the beginning, where is the beginning is the scenario in which we find ourselves because we are at the end and there is no presence of this government showing any sign of listenership.
Let’s be specific where do you place the country as it is today?
I must be very frank with you. The country hitherto was a patient; unfortunately, the doctor is standing by the dead patient because the patient is now dead. He cannot go to tell the family which is now the Nigerian society that your patient is dead because they had all looked with hope that whatever was the scenario the patient will be better because this was the patient that came with just as simple as ordinary headache to the hospital and the doctor overtime mismanaged it to the level at which it became hopeless. The sickness was so basic that every other person could treat; he presided over it until here the patient is dead. He cannot go back to tell the family that they should come because the patient is dead. He is just standing there and waiting, waiting for what now is the question because believe you me Buhari as the president is only waiting the constitutional tenure to finish to go who divulges the sad news now to Nigerians that yes, at a point two years, three years into his second term Nigeria was dead and forgotten is not for him to mention. We (Nigerians) are waiting, he (Buhari) is there with the patient, the dead country, he is there just bidding time for him to move.
But government has continued to be optimistic in their efforts as regards security challenges, economy etc…?
(Cuts in) Of course, they will always say as usual that they are on top of the situation, but what do we have in reality? The fact is this, because we don’t have a violent opposition so they try to drop their illogical position to the society knowing full well that the same society does not have a way to get it back at them. The unfortunate thing is that most prints and television houses, even the On-line bloggers have been “bought or controlled” by them, they have deep influence over them in one way or the other. They have nearly over 85 per cent control of all means of reaching out to the people. Initially, we thought it was just ordinary propaganda, but what we are getting now from the government, the deceit and all that is alarmingly shocking. Nigerians that are barely eating you now tell them that the economy is good. How do you classify a good economy when there is hunger in the land? I am not over exaggerating, there are families; this is not an overstatement, there are families that since possibly January this year, they haven’t had white rice on their table and this was basically, at a time, the commonest thing to Nigerians in this country. What is the price of bread now? Nobody goes near them on the shelf again to buy, what of even garri? This is happening to the extent that you have a presidential candidate that he thinks beans packaged with his photograph are what he wants to use to capture Nigerian votes. Beans, believe you me as a student the day they cook beans half of our population will not near the dining hall, but now beans has become a delicacy that needs the signature of a presidential candidate as to the kind of food he wants to give to Nigerians. You are talking about insecurity, which major Nigerian roads are safe? Abuja to Kaduna, Benin-Lagos Expressway, Enugu route going to the North, where is safe? Abduction has gotten to the level that it is now right into all the suburbs and into the heartland of Abuja, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Thieves broke into the Villa, you people (the oress) killed that news. So, what are we talking about? If you wake up, your children, your wife, your husband, whatever relations that you have, if they are in town, but if not around you, only God knows it is when they knock at the door that they have come home that you will say Halleluiah. Is that a country? It has even become worst in our villages. In those days if the town becomes hot we run to the village for safety, but today abduction and kidnapping are even worst in our rural communities, it has never been this bad. When you say anything they say why are you branding people, that you are trying to be divisive, but 90 per cent of those who are caught in this thing are from the same stock and because you belong to that stock there is no decision taken radically for us to see that military attack on the soul of this crime is done, None. Who listens to Shehu Garba again? Nigerians don’t listen to him again, what of Femi Adesina? Who listens to what he says about the government? Adesina own is even the worst, he will finish and go and meet his brothers in Yoruba land and he will see the treatment they will give to him. Garba Shehu can hide under the fact that he will tell them (the North) that he was protecting their interest, but who is Adesina protecting now?
But the Buhari government can be praised for giving Nigerians the Electoral Act which will guarantee that their votes count…?
(Cuts in) Which Electoral Act? Electoral Act Nigerians gave to themselves or have you forgotten that every effort to frustrate it was met with the greatest and stiffest opposition spearheaded by the leadership of the PDP, the major opposition party. We mobilised civil society groups on the danger ahead if the Act was scuttled and you know that they only just bent backward because they sensed that even the public have been sufficiently mobilised and are ready to protest against it, so they had no choice again. They did not allow the Electoral Act because they like or love it, but because they feared the reaction that will follow if they do not. Look let me tell you, they are working round the clock to frustrate the Electoral Act. What has happened in Anambra, if it repeats itself in Ekiti election, believe you me, they will find a way round in ensuring that it does not see the light of the day. I learnt the APC candidate (Andy Ubah) in the Anambra governorship election has gone to the court to challenge the election. This is because already we have a Supreme Court governor of Imo State who took fourth and is presiding over a state today. They may now want a Federal High Court governor of Anambra, who knows? Let the Anambra people open their eyes well. You want to be governor with 40,000 votes? And I don’t know where those 40,000 votes came from to give APC such vote in the election. I am still challenging those his 40,000 votes. We must tell ourselves the truth that my brothers Ndigbo in Anambra can give the APC 40,000 votes, it’s a lie. You can’t get 40,000 votes in Anambra on the ticket of APC. If we continue our elections this way, now that you just transmit straight, now that all those centres of manipulation have been removed, the incident forms used to rig election withdrawn, bet me, in the national election of 2023 APC may not come fourth. Nigerians should be watchful, let them not forget that they said election results can be transmitted from the polling unit where practicable, look at the operational word ‘’practicable” and this is intended to send unnecessary result that will favour them from, just two Northern states and they tell you that network was not available for the transmission of electoral result at the time the election was going on. Nigerians must be very careful and extra-vigilant.