Engr. Martin Onovo was former presidential candidate, National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2015 elections and head, Policy Positions, Movement for Fundamental Change.
The activist in this encounter with Sunday Sun says Nigerians will not trust members of the new political movement, National Consultative Front (Ncfront) given their antecedents.
He also touched on other very sensitive national issues, including the N50 billion suit slammed on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Col. Umar letter, security challenges, and COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Excerpt:
Recently, some respected Nigerians came up with a new political movement, do you think it’s the best way to go now looking at the political antecedents of such creations in the past?
You cannot restrict the constitutional political freedom of the people. The people have a right to their political freedom to associate and to form whatever political movement or political parties they like, with like-minded people as this is completely within their political right and it does not offend any moral or legal principles. Now within the opportunities, legal and political available to people, it is within their freedom to choose what they want. But for us, that so-called political movement is dominated by the same forces that intervened in 2015 and brought this country to its sorry position, it is the very same forces that dominate this movement so they cannot be trusted. It is very clear. The same people who were responsible for the outcome of the 2015 general election are the same people who have gathered again, they have very poor judgment, they have failed in the past, they will fail again. So, if you start naming people it will become personal, but it is very clear that everybody, Nigerians know these individuals. There may be few of them to exempt, but the majority of them you cannot trust looking at their antecedents. I know that the Nigerian people will denounce them because they misled the Nigerian people in 2015 and here they are again. These people are the people that brought the most conservative and sectional government and the most incompetent ever in the history of this country and we are seeing the results now. Everybody is complaining and crying. Global capital of extreme poverty, third most terrorized country in the world. Do you want me to name more? I don’t need to because Nigerians are already feeling the heat, regretting the mistake, injustice that they allowed to stand.
But do you think that if the people that Nigerians can trust come up to form a political movement Nigerians will follow?
Yes, Nigerians will definitely follow, there is no question about that. Don’t forget that the so-called destructive forces that have brought Nigeria to its knees are questionable in the sense that in the 2015 elections, for example, about 14 million people were unlawfully disenfranchised and those 14 million were principally in the Southeast and South-South, so these are facts. It’s not whether Nigerians follow trustworthy people of integrity; it’s about elections having integrity. It is that the elections don’t have integrity and INEC declares the loser and the winner and then you are asked to go to court and in court technicalities prevail. So, that is the reality. Let me give you another election in 2019. In 2019 INEC claimed clearly, falsely that it accredited over 900, 000 voters in Borno. Now everybody knows this is a lie because the Vice President said then that Borno was inaccessible due to insurgent activities, so is it Boko Haram that they accredited? How is it that Borno accredited more people than Enugu and Abia states combined? So, this is just the charade that INEC keeps publishing and legitimizing illegitimate government.
Hope you are aware of the N50 billion suit slammed on President Buhari by Southern leaders. Do you think it will achieve anything?
Most definitely yes! The suit may get a favourable judgment as the issue is clearly constitutional. The suit is a significant step in our efforts to restore the rule of law. So much has already been achieved with the filing of the suit as it will compel the government to file a defense. The facts are clear to all, including the international media that have called Gen. Buhari “sectional” repeatedly. Let the Gen. Buhari regime file its defense and it will most likely self-indict or ridicule itself shamelessly as usual.
What does the open letter by Col. Umar (rtd.) and that of Edwin Clark mean to you?
We thank God that in this era of selfishness and deceit, there are still great patriots like Col. Abubakar Umar (rtd). I have not read the letter from Chief Clark. Col. Umar wrote: “Nigeria has become dangerously polarized and risk sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments… Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services. Mr. President, I regret that there are no kind or gentle words to tell you that your skewed appointments into the offices of the Federal Government, favouring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation”. This is clear, categorical, ethical, and accurate.
For you, what does the 21 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria mean? Are you satisfied?
This is not a democracy. It is incorrect to assert that the Nigerian pseudo-democracy is a democracy. The two pillars of democracy are the rule of law and the integrity of the ballot. Both are absent in the fraud that you just called a democracy. We cannot be satisfied with fraud. What we sow is what we reap. The frauds that are called elections in Nigeria have produced very disastrous results on all indices, including security, corruption, and the economy. Insecurity in Nigeria is currently unprecedented. The Northeast has been terribly terrorized by Boko Haram Islamists for over 10 years now. The Northwest is terribly terrorized by bandits while the North-central, Southwest, and Southeast are seriously terrorized by Fulani herdsmen. Kidnapping, robbery, rape, and assassinations have reached unprecedented levels under this regime. Nigeria has become the third most terrorized country in the whole world during this Gen. Buhari regime. I address him as “General” because that is the character of his government, military in nature, as he does not go by the law unless the one that will favour him. Corruption has also reached unprecedented levels because the regime has corrupted the anti-corruption war and deliberately promoted corruption in so many ways. We know that this regime has spent over N31 trillion in the last five years and there is no significant achievement. False propaganda is not an achievement. The unprecedented level of corruption in Nigeria has reflected in Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perception Index’ rating of Nigeria. The Nigerian economy has been completely ruined. This regime has driven the country into a debt crisis. Unemployment is at the highest level ever. Inflation is at the highest levels ever. The Naira has hit its lowest value ever under this Buhari regime. We are now the global capital of extreme poverty. Are you not feeling this poverty? Tell me?
Do you have a preference for any political zone for the 2023 presidency?
On all considerations, the Southeast must be favoured for the 2023 presidency. Using democracy, participatory democracy requires a representation of all component units. So, the Southeast must be represented in the presidency since both the Southwest and the South-south have been represented. Using the law, the spirit of the constitutional Federal Character principle requires that the Southeast must be favoured for the 2023 presidency. Also, the Constitution requires freedom from discrimination. It will be deliberately discriminatory and divisive if the Southeast is not favoured for the 2023 presidency. Fortunately, all ethical analysts and politicians agree on this. Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, His Excellency Alhaji Balarabe Musa and so many others have also insisted on this.
How would you rate the response of the government on its effort at combating COVID-19 pandemic?
We all know that the Nigerian government is very mediocre and incompetent in its proactive actions. What was required was a comprehensive ‘Pandemic Management System’ with preventive, surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols, but the inept government panicked and took irrational actions without planning. Two months after the Nigerian index case, Gen. Buhari announced that the government was developing strategies to contain the virus. Any responsible government should have developed the strategies immediately the WHO declared COVID-19 an international public health concern. The irrational measures taken by the government ruined the livelihoods of so many Nigerians, bankrupt so many businesses, impaired the health of citizens, and killed many Nigerians.
So, what is your opinion about the COVID-19 lockdown?
The lawless lockdown violates the Constitutional freedom of movement and has caused a thousand times more damage to livelihoods, education, businesses, health, well being, and lives. All these unlawful restrictions must be lifted immediately to improve the health, social and economic conditions of our people.
In one of your recent interviews, you lampooned the Federal Government on its failure on security challenge…?
(Cuts in) Are you satisfied with security so far in the country? Of course, no sane Nigerian is happy because you can be the next victim. This Buhari regime has a crisis of credibility. President Buhari told the National Assembly that his government had completed the Ogwashi–Ukwu dam. Go there and see if the regime ever cleared the site. The regime claimed it had defeated Boko Haram when it negotiated with Boko Haram, paid a huge ransom, released captured Boko Haram commanders, and thereby empowered Boko Haram. Then, Boko Haram resurged and attacked more military bases, killed more Nigerian soldiers, and displaced more citizens. This was after their decimation by the previous (Dr. Jonathan) administration. How can the Buhari regime claim to be on top of the security situation when it has got worse in the last five years that the regime has been in power? Presently, Nigeria is ranked the third (3rd) most terrorized country in the world. How is the regime on top of the security situation and it is clearly getting worse. False propaganda is not an achievement as I have always said.