- Water-tight security in Kano •7 churches, 8 shops razed - Police
- Terror suspect nabbed with N3m •As army uncovers bomb factory
- 2012, deadliest year for journalists - UN
- Court adjourns on missing N12.4bn oil windfall
- Why we cleared Molete under-bridge - Oyo govt
- Court jails courier over $286,400 cash
- Court rejects fridge repairer’s plea to keep Ibori’s bribe money
- Oyo to involve artisans in N.5bn schools rehabilitation contracts
- All set for LG poll today in Benue
- Mrs Braithwaite buried amid encomiums
- Forget presidency, Jonathan’s aide tells ex-military rulers
- FG sends delegation to Onaiyekan’s consecration, Suntai
‘Corruption Is The Heart Of Nigeria’s Problems’
Abel Oshevire, a former member of the Delta State House of Assembly, in this interview with ALPHONSUS AGBORH, speaks on some issues affecting the polity. Excerpts:
There have been a few prophecies of doom concerning Nigeria. Could the various challenges confronting the nation be confirmation of such prophecies?
No true man of God prophesies negatively about a nation or individual without proffering a solution. Therefore, any prophecy that does not proffer a solution cannot be from God. To me, God’s report about Nigeria is one of greatness, prosperity. The country is destined to be great and within the next few years, it will stand out in the comity of nations. God is raising men to take this country to the Promised Land and I challenge critics to watch out. We will come out strongly from the present security challenges posed by Boko Haram. Nigeria will soon be announced to the world in a big way.
How would you react to calls for the resignation of President Goodluck Jonathan amid the myriad of challenges facing the nation?
No individual or group has the right to ask the president to resign or step down. He has the mandate of all Nigerians to occupy his seat for four years. Moreover, God gave him the power. He may not be the most qualified person to be president, but God favoured him and nobody can bring him down. By the grace of God, he will complete his tenure in good health and he will lead Nigeria to the next level. President Jonathan is part of God’s plan for this country and nobody can change that or do anything about it. I advise Boko Haram and their sponsors to sheathe their sword as violence does no one any good. Whatever their grievances are, it is better to jaw-jaw than to ‘war-war’, for at the end of the day, it is not the person that fires the first shot that wins the battle. We should all strive to build this country rather than destroy it. Our country holds the promise of becoming the envy of others in the world.
The Jonathan’s government is a victim of a grand conspiracy. Evil forces, both within and without, have connived to frustrate the government and render it impotent. The enemies of the administration have succeeded in distracting it from delivering the dividends of democracy to the people. It is like the case of the fisherman who went out to fish and a wicked man took his boat to the same water to disturb it so that the man could not catch any fish. But Nigerians must rise up and confront the evil forces head-on. The failure of any democratic government is the failure of the people. And because Nigerians have freely and willingly given President Jonathan their mandate, they have the responsibility to support him to succeed.
There is a general feeling that the president is weak in dealing with some of the challenges facing his administration such as bringing to book corrupt citizens, alleged sponsors of Boko Haram insurgency or those sabotaging the economy. Do you share this feeling?
Corruption is at the root of the problems in the country. It has invariably brought about poverty and general underdevelopment in the land. Greed and wickedness rule our hearts because we don’t have the fear of God. Imagine the stories we have been hearing about how billions of pounds and dollars stolen and stashed in foreign accounts by government officials since the 60’s have been lost to the foreign countries because there was no one to claim those monies after the death of the depositors. Not even their wives or children could have access to those monies. In return, the lost monies have been used to develop those countries, in which they were hidden. What an irony of fate! This is typical of the story of a child of a poor man who stole his father’s money and gave it to a man who is richer and better off than his father.
I recall that during the Second Republic in the early 80’s when the then government of President Shehu Shagari was seeking $2.8 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the then British Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, said that there were Nigerians who could provide the money for the country. That shows how a privileged few have milked the country dry to the detriment of the majority.
The problem of Nigeria is corruption. The average Nigerian is corrupt, and we need to shed this toga. Given the enormous resources that God has blessed us with, it is a shame that we are in a situation where nothing works, where there are no good roads, water or electricity.
Therefore, the president must give fight against corruption more bite because all the woes of the country can be traced to it. If the money budgeted every year by the federal, state and local governments could be spent for the right purpose, there will be development within a few years. The president must tackle this monster called corruption in order to put the country on the path of development. Right now, many Nigerians have become despondent, but I believe that the president has the capacity to turn things around.
What is your position on the proposed amendment of the 1999 Constitution?
I vote for autonomy for state Houses of Assembly so that they can be more relevant in their oversight functions. I vote for state police, considering the fact that crime has become localised. A state police force will be in a better position to smoke out criminals operating within their jurisdiction. Although state police can be subject to abuse by the executive, the advantages obviously outweigh the disadvantages.
On a five-year single term for executives, I rather suggest six years. Five years will be too short a time to make any meaningful impact. Anyone who desires to record achievements will need an adequate six years to plan and execute projects, particularly in the area of road construction, which is seasonal.
For some time now, kidnapping has become worrisome in Delta State. You were once a victim. What do you think is the way to discourage this kind of crime?
It is sad kidnapping has continued to thrive in the state. I appeal to community leaders to be patriotic by reporting the activities of criminals to the police or their representatives in the National Assembly. We should be our brother’s keeper. I urge the state House of Assembly to make a law that will checkmate this crime. Such law should prescribe sanctions for kidnappers so that the people can go about their businesses without hindrance.