A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Director General, Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu has described as ‘fake news’ the allegation by Martins Onovo, that the Federal Government and APC imported bandits to Nigeria to win elections. He also denied that the party had been sponsoring terrorism. He challenged Onovo to produce critical evidence supporting his claim or immediately apologise for his “reckless” statement.
He spoke with ROMANUS UGWU
What is your response to the claim by Martin Onovo, ex presidential candidate of NCP that the APC imported bandits for elections in 2015?
My brother, the Martin Onovo I know cannot make such wild allegations without valid evidence. Therefore, I sincerely doubt he made such reckless statements, as there was no such breach of the law by my great party, the APC.
Otherwise, if there was such breach of the law, how come a respected and former presidential candidate didn’t report such heinous crime to the law enforcement agencies? I challenge him to produce critical and concrete evidence or apologise.
One of the ingredients of democracy is the rule of law and underpinning the rule of law is facts as against fake news. It is not too good to fly fake news which concerns the pillars of democracy like election.
There are reports that the Federal government has resolved to moves against anyone that rises against Fulani herders…
Please let us not deepen a crisis, which from all intents and purposes, is being curbed due to collective condemnation. One is happy today that Mr President has issued a strong order to security agencies to arrest anyone carrying arms without authorisation.
My advice is that we all need to put the collective interest of our dear country Nigeria above pettiness and unnecessary hate. I always give an example of my native town Eke, which is highly polarised as a result of chieftaincy tussle. And one wonders if it is Eke Republic, will Eke not be still more divided than Nigeria?
A cursory study of most states in Nigeria shows similar fault lines, so are our geopolitical zones. Accordingly, let’s unite in spite of hitches here and there. We are all better in Nigeria; let’s salvage her together.
Is the clamour for President Buhari to resign or be impeached over the increasing spate of insecurity justified?
Let’s stop beating the drums of war and unite our dear country because we have no other country than Nigeria. President Buhari I know will not extend his tenure, so others should campaign and win.
The person replacing him will then mould Nigeria according to his dreams. But let us be for now. Let us learn from the Americans as model of democracy, whereas President Trump was trampling on the core tenets of democracy, they waited for election and use the harmer of the ballot to vote him out. We all will collectively decide our fate in 2023.
I am sure majority of Nigerians will be our witness that we inherited a system mangled since 1986 with the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), an economic policy that created wide inequality and an island of the rich and an ocean of the poor. SAP is the beginning of gross unemployment, crass hunger in the land and wide-spread insecurity.
What about the claim that President Buhari-led government is the most corrupt in the history going by the worst corruption rating in Nigeria’s history?
This is fake news once again. For me anti-graft war is work in progress and not a one day job. Hence I challenge anyone who does business with the Federal Government of Nigeria before and during President Buhari’s regime to truly deny the much more prudence in the management of public funds.
This is my challenge, let them come up and dispute glaring prudence in the management of our resources. Otherwise, how come President Buhari constructed more roads, more railways with little resources?
They will tell you borrowing. Was there a time we halted borrowing? Except when we doled out $12.4 billion for debt repayment, which some of us argued could have been used to revamp our infrastructure with diplomatese.
Will you subscribe to the appeal that every Nigerians should carry arms?
Let us note that there is economic crisis globally and whenever such sordid economic climate surfaces, there are bound to be internal insecurity. However, the state remains the state, which throughout history has a social contract with the people to wield coercive arms on their behalf.
Anybody calling for Nigerians to carry arms is calling for anarchy. Let’s perish such idea please. For as advanced as the United States is, as free as they are and as documented as they are, the harm done and friction generated over the years by gun-toting Americans is better imagined than recorded.
What about allegations of a Fulani army reportedly trying to take the land of the natives with the support of the Presidency?
I don’t know about Fulani army, I know only of one Nigeria Army (NA). Let me repeat myself, why did the vote for region fail in the Abacha Conference of 1995/6, why did it fail in the Obasanjo Conference of 2005? Why did region fail in the famous Jonathan Conference of 2014?
It failed because groups like us, the Wawa in South East geopolitical zone want additional state to measure up with other geopolitical zones instead of losing the much admired freedom we have.
Methinks, some of us who have no foresight should look back and thank Almighty God for his endowment for Nigeria and how best to salvage her.
What do you make of the clamour that Presidency must go to South East in 2023?
Going by equity, natural justice and good conscience, it is the turn of the South East, especially when we recollect that the zoning or rotation convention was meant to create a sense of belonging and national loyalty.
Every geopolitical zone in the south has presided over Nigeria since the birth of zoning convention in 1999 and it is premised to rotate Southern belt to Northern belt. The greatest obstacle to the rotation convention is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Why should you make such huge allegations against the PDP?
Please we are all in the media monitoring and carefully watching the activities and body language of every political actor, especially the actors of the two main political parties.
My observation and information picks tell me that PDP is working on the strategic premise to harvest the 10-12 million votes of President Buhari if they field a Northerner.
One observed a book launch in Enugu, where Senator Kwankwanso had a prominent representation and one has been observing how PDP national leader, His Excellency Governor Wike is romancing the North.
He even donated N500m to Governor Tambuwal. I am afraid that APC is more disposed to rotate power than PDP and if we fail to model the Falae/Obasanjo and Yar’Adua/ Buhari models of 1999 and 2007, the rotation may fail.
Do you believe that Nigeria needs restructuring?
Of course, yes! Nigeria needs restructuring and whether anyone likes it or not, it must happen no matter when. The Exclusive Legislative List must be devolved minimally to Concurrent Legislative List.
For instance, there’s no need for the Federal Government to drill boreholes. I’m happy that President Buhari has started restructuring with the amendment of Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Executive Order 10, by making the state judiciary and legislatures to be funded via first line charge.
I am an advocate of restructuring at both the federal and state levels-dual restructuring. Dual restructuring is the best for the country. If you devolve more powers to the states without independent state judiciary and state legislature, you end up with state emperors.