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Engr. Martin Onovo, Head, Policy Positions, Movement for Fundamental Change, Ambassador of Integrity, and 2015 presidential candidate on the platform of National Conscience Party (NCP) is worried the way President Mohammadu Buhari and his Party, All Progressives Congress (APC) are running the affairs of the country.
In an interview with select journalists, including Maxwell Effiong, Onovo revealed that Nigeria was on the brink and that there is serious danger ahead, arguing that something should be done to stop the Buhari drift.
Chief Onovo, spoke on critical national issues including the appointment of new Service Chiefs, marginalisation of the Southeast, 2021 budget, corruption and security challenge among others.
Transparency International (T.I) recently rated Nigeria 149th on its Corruption Perception Index but the federal government seem to be kicking against the report…?
(Cuts in) But during the time of President Jonathan, when they were the opposition, they applauded and celebrated it. The truth is that the Gen. Buhari regime has deliberately promoted and supported corruption in Nigeria as we highlighted since 2016 while trying to deceive Nigerians with anti-corruption noise. The strategy for promoting corruption is to make empty anti-corruption noise, persecute perceived political opponents with anti-corruption allegations, appoint the most corrupt persons who support the ruling party to high government positions; shield its supporters and officials from investigation; etc. Evidently, this is not just the most corrupt regime ever in the history of Nigeria; it is also the worst regime since independence. Both international and domestic organisations agree that this is the most corrupt regime ever in Nigeria. The Transparency International rating of 149th on the Corruption Perception Index is the worst rating Nigeria has ever had. The rating is correct and consistent with the conclusions of other international and local organisations. The Buhari regime has spent over N41T appropriated since it took over power in 2015 without any significant achievement. No new power stations, no new refineries, just false propaganda and false promises. We must remember the N186B spurious school feeding programme; the re-looting from the N550B loot recovered by EFCC; the N50B NNPC funds diverted away from the TSA; the N38B NEMA contracts scam; the N18B BCDA contracts scam; the N500M telecoms fine fraud; the $25B NNPC contracts scam; the N400B COVID vaccine scam; etc. Even the Auditor General’s audit report for 2019 shows the corruption with impunity that is now a norm in Nigeria. Both the evidence and the ratings confirm that the President Buhari regime will go down as, perhaps, the most corrupt regime ever in Nigeria. President Buhari is steadily and stubbornly leading the country to explosion.
Now that we have new Service Chiefs are you optimistic that the nation’s security problem will be over?
We support this change of Service Chiefs as the former Chiefs were due for retirement a long time ago. The Service Chiefs are agents of the Commander-in-Chief. The constitutional responsibility of the government is primarily the security and the welfare of the people. The Commander-in-Chief, President Buhari is the Chief Responsibility Officer of the country. He appointed the Service Chiefs and oversees the performance of the entire security establishment. No Service chief can act outside the directions of Gen. Buhari. The former Service Chiefs clearly failed because of Buhari’s insensitivity. Even as the whole country was complaining about their failures, President Buhari was celebrating their failures. That confirms that the former Service Chiefs were acting in line with the directions of Mr. President. The new Service Chiefs must also act in line with the directions of Buhari. Therefore, the President must be blamed for the high level of insecurity in Nigeria. Service Chiefs are simply professionals executing the directions of Gen. Buhari. The only option open for any Service Chief is to resign if he is unwilling to follow the directions of the Commander-in-Chief. From the foregoing, it may be clear that the failure of the Commander-in-Chief will predictably lead to the failure of the Service Chiefs. Consequently, we do not expect any major improvement in the performance of the Service Chiefs as their performance is largely dictated by the directions of President Buhari. Nigeria needs an ethical and committed Commander-in-Chief. As long as President Buhari remains Commander-in-Chief, the security problems will continue or get worse. Remember the insightful conclusion of former President Obasanjo that, “Fulanisation, Islamisation Agenda is Going On In Nigeria”. Also remember the assertion of His Excellency Jonah Jang that, “What is happening is not a secret; people are being brought from Mali, Chad and all over to come and occupy native land”. That is the root of the insecurity in Nigeria and it is complicated, sadly, by the connivance of the armed forces of Nigeria with the armed bandits as revealed by Gen. Danjuma when he declared that,“The armed forces are not neutral. They are conniving with the armed bandits that are killing people”. Consistent with Gen. Danjuma’s declaration, many terrorist Fulani herdsmen have been arrested with weapons from the Nigeria military. I think it is time for Nigerians to vote out this APC government, we need to make a statement, remove President Buhari from office immediately if we wish to improve the security situation.
The Southeast has no representation. Do you see marginalization?
The marginalization is clear. Even the blind can see it. The marginalization is in line with the islamisation and fulanisation agenda despite the fact that the government has continued to deny it, it is glaring to all. Islamists are deliberately appointed to all identified positions to continue with the islamisation and fulanisation agenda. The Southeast is almost completely Christian so, South-easterners as Christians are not suitable agents for the islamisation and Fulanisation agenda. This is the lawless norm throughout the Federal Government. Qualified Christians and southerners are being disregarded for appointments and promotions in the entire Federal Civil Service. This amounts to a violation of the Nigerian Constitution with impunity. The Nigerian Constitution provides for ‘Federal Character’ but President Buhari very clearly, given his actions is above the Constitution and acts with impunity. Buhari’s actions will lead to the breaking of Nigeria and the signs are everywhere.
Some critics say Nigeria is on the brinks…..?
(Cuts in) There is no argument about that statement. The country is gradually going. Nigeria is evidently on the brinks. Right now, only a miracle can save Nigeria from complete collapse if President Buhari is not removed immediately from office. The corruption of public morality by the this regime combined with the unemployment inflation and poverty is complicated by the insecurity. Presently, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world and also the third most terrorized country in the world. As I said earlier, this is the very worst regime ever in the history of Nigeria. Every ethical analyst agrees with this without exception. Prof.BanjiAkintoye, President of Yoruba World Congress, noted that ‘Buhari has destroyed our country’. The ‘Fragile States Index 2020’ ranks Nigeria as the 14th most fragile country in the world. We also know that a member of the House of Representatives from Present Buhari’s ruling party publicly called Nigeria a failed State. Nigeria is clearly a failing state.
How can Nigerians rescue their country from this leadership failure you are talking about?
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. The Constitution has several provisions to prevent and to correct leadership failure. These include existing statutes; acts of parliament; legislative control and oversight; judicial interventions to prevent leadership failure. If these preventive provisions fail, then impeachment and removal from office or elections can be used to correct a failed leadership in Nigeria. These require vigilance and perseverance to implement. We must remain vigilant to identify deviations from the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy in the Constitution of Nigeria. Such identified deviations must be highlighted for correction immediately. If corrective actions are not taken properly by the political leadership, then, appropriate legislative or judicial actions must be taken to correct the identified deviations. If the corrective legislative and judicial actions are not complied with, then, the political leadership must be removed from office. All these have already been provided in the Constitution. All we need to do is to apply them patriotically and diligently.
What is your take on the 2021 budget?
The increase of the budget expenditure by N505B by the Nigerian Senate directly increases the budget deficit and our rising national debt. The budget proposal of N13.08T presented by President Buhari and the version of N13.588T are consistent with the desperation of the ruling party to destroy the country. The prodigal budget proposal and the profligate Senate version are the evidence of the desperation of the ruling party to destroy Nigeria. The budget process has become a tool for official corruption. According to His Lordship Bishop Matthew Kukah, “In Nigeria, governance is a criminal enterprise, not a call to service”.
Already the Buhari regime has pushed the country to national economic depression with its profligacy and corruption. Currently, we have the highest inflation level ever, we hit the lowest value of the Naira ever, we have the highest national debt level ever, we have the highest unemployment level ever and we have the highest poverty level ever. This unprecedented situation has led to the highest level of insecurity ever.
The Senate budget version has provided N3.324T for debt servicing and has a deficit of over N5.7T this is tantamount to a dreadful destruction of the future of our succeeding generations and enslavement of Nigerians. While countries like Norway, Saudi Arabia and Angola are accumulating trillions in sovereign wealth for their future generations, President Buhari and his Senate are accumulating trillion in debt for our future generations. It is now clear why Prof. Adesanmi wrote, “The rulers of Nigeria are animals. They are the worst humanoids in the world”. According to the US Department of State Report on Nigeria, ‘Massive corruption by government officials and security agencies is on the rise with most perpetrators being shielded from trial, thus giving room for reckless practices with impunity.”To date, Gen. Buhari has spent over N41T of public funds as Head of State since 2015 without any significant achievement; and as I pointed earlier: no new power generation stations, no new refineries, no major infrastructure. Gen. Buhari must be held to account for these colossal national resources that have been dissipated.