Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo is political Affairs Analyst and social commentator. He is also Human Right and Environmental conservation Activist. He told Ogbonna Casmir in this interview Nigeria @53 welcomed National Conference with reservation that Jonathan cannot get it right because the party that brought him to power the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have never canvassed for support from the people with that an agenda.
The journey so far
We cannot look site about how Nigeria started. First of all Nigeria started as colonial enterprise territory where people who really where managing Nigeria were British Royal Company until 1952, 53, conference, the British government seeded Nigeria to a business enterprise known as Royal Niger Company they were people managing Nigeria. It was an expression of an economic interest in a territory called Nigeria so that was the begging to the country. The amalgamation was purely an enterprise project for the benefit of the men and women that known British Royal Company. That is the formation but when Nigeria got together in the conferences 1953, 57 to 59. The constituent communities in Nigeria were interested in bring in what I will call the spirit that will be the flame that will engender the coming together in the composition of the country called Nigeria. That flame is the interest that will keep the people to develop the fear national tide in them. That was the beginning of the federal structure of government in 1960 by 1963 Republican constitution. So federalism at that point meant that the coming together and regions pulling resources to the centre and we maintained our identity, self pride and that was the flame of the unity of Nigeria before the military intervention. That was what kept us going and it would also lead us to a point where we need to interrogate the architect that worked with Obasanjon that gave the presidential system of government which now put Nigeria in this quagmire.
Leaders in 1960s and that of now
That was the spirit I was talking about, the philosophy that brought us together as a country in the 60s was the dream which is engendered in justices, equity, fair play and opportunities to push happiness to economic prosperity. That dream was trying to be captured belatedly in decree no 24 of 1999 with which they are trying to bring us together under the 1999 constitution. So the preamble should have being the desire, what is in there for the people for us to come together, that is the burning desire or the flame that keep the unity that is lacking, something that we need to find a way to create that is what makes you to feel when you see flag of Nigeria you will love Nigeria, because what is in there for you it will make you to actualize your dream.
Q. National dialogue
Well it is a welcome development but not really for any advancement because you must realize that the party that brought him to power which is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have never canvassed for support for the people with that an agenda for national conference and is not something you can crack up because I know the president himself may be guided by the hoax in the in the national assembly who think that provisions in section 9 of the constitution which is the provisions for alteration of the constitution will be superior to the provisions in section 14 sub 2a of the constitution which reside with sovereignty to the people. Alteration of constitution can never amount to production or making of a constitution. The national assembly has no power whatsoever to give us a constitution they are arrogating to themselves powers they does not have, section 9 of the constitution give them power to alter provisions of the constitution, altering of constitution usually result when matter that has taken to the court of law and the court will have to fine-tune areas of the equilibrium or where is not working and amendment or alteration will take place. You do not alter a constitution of the people purely you want to accommodate certain interest but the people being in any arrangement of national dialogue must be clear and unequivocal what they are going to do is not going to be as an advisory body like the president is trying to but I feel Nigerians should keep up the heat on them so that it become an issue in the next election otherwise it is going to be awaiting game. I think OJB has tried it, Nigerians should be more experienced by now so let it be an issue in election in 2015, because I thought the main issue of the south-south agenda in the politics of this country was to give Nigeria a truly federal structure so that we can all now realize our potentials.
You mentioned game issue what do you mean?
They want to keep us thinking that they are going to do something whereas the president has come out to say that he think that the national assembly can do the job, that is while I am capturing this issue squarely clear in provision of section 9 because what the national assembly has been doing all this while can never being interrogated. Let us interrogate it, the provisions in section 9 of the constitution which give the national assembly powers to alter the constitution is not superior to section 14sub2a which resided the sovereign power on the people.
Our political leaders living to the spirit of our founding fathers
There was no spirit. In Nigeria’s today politics is mercantilism. That spirit is lacking, that is while I am mentioning the provisions of decree that brought this constitution to being. If you read the preamble of that decree you will find that in the constitution, Nigerians don’t have time you will find out where the wise men who were in a hurry, the military that where in a hurry retreating headed by General Abubaka feel that they have faction out how Nigeria can leave together. That is why we should interrogate OBJ to tell us why we left the parliamentary system of government with a federal structure and now went into presidential the unitary system which they camouflage that it is a federal system of government.
Q. Drum of Wars around the country.
What we have is the regain of injustice all over every, and breach of the supreme law. Because the provisions of the constitution also did not make any room for a state religion and if we need to dialogue, you don’t force a man to love his country, you endear the country through spirit of the framing of coming together of a people and there have to be a dream for every Nigerian in the constitution. Where is the dream? The dream of equality for individual, equal opportunity for every individual, farness, justice and freedom, that is what we may have to look at because if you cannot give me that freedom you must begin to ask yourself why did the people the quikers left for England to go to America, they were looking for freedom, the freedom was the burning desire that is while they have to move to America and when they got to America they said this is our land of dream of equal opportunities for all men are created equal that they will put their faith in God, that is the American spirit. Where is Nigerian spirit, Nigerian spirit is in decree 24. So we need to give Nigerian a dream, equality before the law, because this is the problem that we stop pushing excellence and nepotism and corruption, deprivation of peoples right is part of the corruption, deny me what is due to me because you feel you can arrogate those resources to yourself this part of the corruption.
Q. Vision 20 2020
All those things are ideas of consultants that are running Nigeria because the political party that is at herm of affairs have no policy on anything, that is why Jonathan stands up and tell me my vision, he is talking about his agenda. It cannot be Jonathan’s agenda because Jonathan does not sponsor himself to office, it alto be the agenda of PDP, the party that brought him to power. It cannot Jonathan’s reform agenda, if I see all these sycophancies ministers.
Q. Are you saying PDP has no agenda?
Where is the agenda?
Q. They said their agenda is to unity Nigeria
You don’t unity Nigeria on empty promises. There have to be a spirit, and the spirit is what unity a people. That is the flame that the people were look up to. Is lacking and that is while we have provisions in the constitution in chapter 2 and 4 of the constitution that we will help everybody retain his dignity and self pride and honour. Is lacking when there’s so much injustice, when you cannot actualize your dream, when there is no goal by the leadership.
Corruption in Nigeria has become a culture. Corruption itself is a way of life but the deprivation, the denial of the opportunities is criminal. In Nigeria our tradition is that sometimes you can give gift to people but when you use that to induce injustice, deny a man his right, corruption is not only when you pass money, when you deny me an opportunity to fulfil my dream is corruption.
There is what they called the structure of the government, the civil service is imbedded in the rules and regulations in the constitutions and the financial guideline both federal and state have their unique and no politician, governor or president would ask the treasurer to give him money. It is through appropriation, when appropriation is made the governor or president sign it becomes law and vote are kept under heads in the treasury. If you now put money where it is not meant for, it is criminal. It is the same civil servant that will prepare the bill were there is money you can use and suppress this road or project money. So it is this civil servant that is the agent of corruption in Nigeria. That is why they own all this properties in Abuja. Let us take every simple surveyor when they will start paying property tax in Abuja, those tax were in our laws but nobody enforces it and you will find out how can they build the mansions solely and you didn’t take financing in the bank. it is so easy but we haven’t design philosophy to fight corruption.
Q. Do our leaders endear people to themselves?
Our leaders do but the problem we have is the political machine generally in this country is so structured in federal system that the bottom of the pyramid have so much power that is while they so much distrust. I cannot tell you if you are running election no state executive of a party will nominate anybody to stand for governorship election, it is the federal executive. That is the problem, what have the national executive has to do of who becomes a governor in and a state that is corruption and the problem because there is a mentality of unitary system. The people don’t know what happen it is when the national troughs who becomes a candidate that the people will now know and that is why there is so much apathy. I wish we will inculcate a law except you get seventy percent voter turnout the election will not be validated.
Q. Way out to make the dream of our founding fathers come through.
We have to restructure Nigeria. Because we need people who understand how to play by farness, because the people who fought the civil war are still in-charge they don’t want let go that is while they are threatening us. In some provisions of the constitutions that Nigeria unity is not negotiable, is not this and that, you don’t threaten citizens. There so much threat in the constitution.
Mr. Ogbonna Cashmir, your inability to conjugate verbs and use proper language in documenting an interview has made the person interviewed for this report to look really bad.
You don’t know when to use where, were, being, been, they, their properly, making your interview report to appear meaningless.
The problem here is being able to differentiate your gobbled up writing style and articulating what Mr. Ifeanyi was saying.
In the future, Mr. Ifeanyi should pay close attention to the writing skills of whomsoever he is granting interview.