The National Chairman of the Young Democratic, Mr. Ezekiel Nya-Etok, in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA says the ruling All Progressives Congress cannot solve Nigeria problems as it was not designed for such. He also faults the Nigerian Constitution over most of the problems confronting the country. Excerpts:
Looking at the recent arrest of some Nigerian judges alleged to be corrupt, how would you assess the Nigerian judiciary and the move by the Department of State Services?
First, we must understand that what will secure our democracy and also create a secured environment for us to operate in this country is adherence to the rule of law. This must be a statute of general application that must be blind to class and institutions, thereby applying to all. It is within this context that whatever is done by anybody, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive must adhere to the rule of law without exception. This is what will give the masses the confidence and hope for justice. That said, my big answer is, its’ about time! Justice in the face of the generality of Nigerians has become a commodity that is only affordable to the classes, to the detriment of the masses. The judges have largely been corrupted and this trend must not be allowed to go on. Whatever the DSS can do to restore sanity must be encouraged to the extent where it must be faceless and non-vindictive. Again I say, it’s about time! I also look forward to such raids carried out on the Executive and the Legislature. Anything that will restore us to the path of sanity and adherence to the rule of law is more than welcomed by me and again, I insist it’s about time!
Twenty-one of the Chibok girls were released some days ago, and the Federal Government said they didn’t swap the girls with arrested Boko Haram members. But a CNN report confirmed that the girls were swapped. What is your take on this?
While it is good to comment, the weight of any comment must be based on informed knowledge. First, I thank God and rejoice with the families of the released girls while praying for those that are still in captivity. This is a case of finding oneself between the rock and the hard place. To swap the girls for Boko Haram members and/or pay ransom is to arm Boko Haram some more and to embolden them to take more people for more ransom on the one hand while on the other hand the life of a single Nigerian must be treated as being worthy of going to war over. It is within this context that I pray for wisdom for the President to know the right decision to take.
“APC was never designed to solve the problem of Nigeria. It was designed by its architects to take power with its inevitable concomitants. As 2019 approac hes, we are quick to analyse the likelihood of the emergence of a mega pa rty arising from the possible merger of aggrieved APC and PDP members”
The Nigerian economy is no doubt facing hard time because of recession. What swift decision would you advise the President to take?
I have said it time and time again, in this recession, strategic spending by government is key to getting out of it. The spending must be such as must affect the generality of Nigerians while avoiding capital flight. It is within this context that wisdom demands that government considers the wisdom in investing in large scale affordable housing construction. A case in point is an estate that I personally handled – the Shelter Afrique Estate in Uyo. This estate of about 400 houses was built with about 700 contractors, a different contractor handled each house while the Mechanicals and the Electricals were handled by nominated sub-contractors. At the end, over 10,000 indigenes were involved and over 90 per cent of the funds of the multi-billion naira estate went to the locals, who were the electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, block moulders, sand suppliers, layouts… the list is endless. Imagine this concept being applied to every state and possibly every senatorial district based on needs assessment. This principle does not apply to most of the other infrastructure provisions like roads where less than 20 per cent of the cost goes to the locals. We must not only spend, we must spend strategically and housing is top of this list.
Despite the hardship in the country, some law-makers , especially house of representatives members have been accused of fraud by the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. What is your view on this?
I have said it time and again that our electoral system does not encourage our lawmakers to be there to provide service. No man sells his house and mortgages his soul to serve others. The cost of elections makes it clearly a case of investment for which fraud is inevitable to recoup. Criticising the law makers while collecting their money during election is simply hypocritical. If we desire legislators, who will be there for the service, then we must be ready to redeem our electoral processes to throw up men of integrity driven by patriotic zeal and instincts. For now, we will only reap what we sow while praying for God’s mercies.
Looking at the APC as the ruling party, do you think they have the capability to solve Nigeria’s problems?
APC was never designed to solve the problem of Nigeria, it was designed by its architects to take power with its inevitable concomitants. As 2019 approaches, we are quick to analyse the likelihood of the emergence of a mega party arising from the possible merger of aggrieved APC and PDP members. While this analysis appears reasonable, how many people are asking what the end game will be? It is within this context that I pray that we all wake up and face reality. We must start today to set an agenda based on a new campaign “Nigeria First”. We must aggressively inform Nigerians of their rights and the dire consequences of inactivity. We must aggressively and passionately address the concept of patriotism and nationalism. We must take back our country based on informed knowledge and the imperatives of inactivity, docility and nonchalance. “Nigeria First” must be a national mantra and a mass movement.
There are speculations that some ministers will soon be weeded out from the cabinet, having failed to perform since they resumed office. What is your take on this?
Cabinet reshuffle is a standard administrative procedure; by today the capacity and capability of each minister must be well to known to Mr. President. The capable and competent could probably perform better in another ministry. I have my personal reservation on the performance of some key ministers. Specifically, I believe it was a strategic error to have merged the housing ministry with any other ministry. Within this context, therefore, I think the President has had enough time to have a proper assessment of the capacity and capability of his appointees while he has little time left to create needed impact before politics enters the next gear any time from 2017. I wish Mr. President God’s wisdom in the larger interest of the country.