‘Restructuring, a central issue in 2019 presidential campaign’

UNDEDSS Secretary General, Mr. Tony Uranta

Executive Secretary, Nigeria National Summit Group (NNSG), Mr. Tony Uranta, has in an interview, said restructuring would be a strong determining factor to decide the winner of the president of Nigeria 2019. SEYE OLUMIDE reports.

What value has the Buhari’s administration added to Nigeria in the last two and a half years?
THE present administration is in love with the President Donald Trump’s administration in America. I see both administrations working as twin brothers. They are pushing out lies as their basic policy with the expectation that their words would bring about change and not their actions.

It is clear to the blind and obvious to the deaf that Nigeria is in a mess. Our socio-economic situation has not been this worse since the end of the civil war in 1970. I say this with all recognition that most people are going to react from two perspectives.

Some will say I reacted because erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by President Buhari in the 2015 election, is my friend while others may say corruption is fighting back.

I can also boast that if the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu could have the guts to arrest me for any corrupt charges; I will become rich in the sense that I will sue the commission. As I am I did not or have not benefited in any form from the proceeds of corruption. Not even from President Jonathan or anybody that served in his government.

While I may sympathise that Jonathan lost the 2015 election, I also thank God because if he had won, we wouldn’t have heard the last of it. Everybody would have been saying, had Buhari got into power, Nigeria would have improved. But today we are all witnessing the ‘Eldorado nonsense’ that Nigeria had descended into under his watch.

The truth is President Buhari may be a principled person, even though I am not sure how nationalistic he is despite his upright personality but he is surrounded by a bunch of very corrupt, inept and confused lieutenants both in his cabinet and his kitchen cabinet; let alone those that have influence on him outside the government.

Do you take into cognizance some of his achievements, like the creation of ease of doing business, some level of reduction in the Boko Haram insurgents, the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which has helped in blocking leakages and cut wastages?

Each of the three things you mentioned was started by the previous administration. Let us look at them one after the other. The ease of doing business has been brought about by their improving upon already laid down systems by the administrations of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Yar’adua and Jonathan.

Who would have been able to fight Boko Haram when nobody wanted to sell arms to us? The reason why there is an increase in curbing Boko Haram surge under Buhari was because the Jonathan government managed to bring in, through unorthodox ways, ammunitions and arms for the military to increase the fight.

If you recall that Jonathan was threatened that if he over attack Boko Haram, it would be seen as an attack on the North during the campaign year in 2014 and 2015. But he still managed to clear Boko Haram insurgents from all the local governments just before the 2015 election. I will give him a fantastic pass mark for that.

If the people that told Jonathan to thread easily, combined with the then opposition, including President Buhari and the then president of America, Sen. Barack Obama, who made sure that none of its Allied Nations supplied Nigeria with weaponry and yet he managed to bring in weapon through unorthodox means, of course he did his best.

We understand that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), is undergoing trial for allegedly spearheading subverting the resources meant to buy the arms and ammunition to fight insurgents, however this administration has not bought new equipment and yet has prosecuted that fight more effectively because it has no opposition threatening it not to prosecute the war and secondly, Jonathan’s administration had provided necessary weapons.

To say the least, I won’t consider the suppression of Boko Haram insurgents, as claimed by the Buhari government, an achievement or something extraordinary.

Jonathan was advised to bring in Gen. Muhammadu Gusau (rtd) to head the homeland security because as a seasoned Northerner, he would better prosecute action against Boko Haram without necessarily being accused as an outsider. That was the accusation against Ihijerika and Minimah when they were Chiefs of Army Staff. But when Jonathan finally brought in Dasuki and America and its allies refused to sell arms to us, the erstwhile NSA decided to bring in arms through different means, which is what the Nigerian Air Force, Navy and especially the Army are still using to prosecute the war up till June this year.

So, nobody can say he (Dasuki) did not bring us weapon. If Buhari had prosecuted the war less effectively I would have been surprised.

On the TSA, you must recall that this was also invented by the last administration and it has been carrying it out gradually. That was the best way to handle it anyway but then this administration came in and said democracy has hampered it from arresting people who are corrupt, forgetting that democracy is what got him into power and made him immune from certain prosecution.

Buhari wants to stop corruption and one of the ways he deployed is the TSA but in Economics, we were told it is not possible to pull all the money out of circulation at once. That is why we have Treasury bill and others to create a gradual reduction of the money in circulation. Now that we put all the money in TSA, Economists warned it would crash our economy yet the government remains obstinate until it led to recession, which I call depression because by definition, when you have three quarters of recession, you have a depression.

Do you see Nigeria getting restructured under Buhari?
I am one of those who birth the restructuring idea. Remember, up till the time of PRONACO, there was an insistence that we must have a Sovereign National Conference. A few others and I decided that for us to keep insisting on SNC, means we would not move forward, so, we started floating the idea and pushing for it through the Nigerian National Summit Group (NNSG), which I am the Executive Secretary. We argued that what we need is a national conference. Don’t give it an adjective. When we get there let us talk about what we have to do.

It was clear when Jonathan submitted the report of the last National Conference to the National Assembly and handed it over to President Buhari that the nation had spoken and we now wanted it to be addressed by both the legislative and executive arms of government, which they have refused to do till today.

The fundamental decision of that conference boils down to one word: restructuring. Unfortunately, I hear a lot of people being intentionally mischievous about what restructuring really means. And also, I have found out that we have allowed the debate on restructuring fall into the politics of Nigeria.

Restructuring honestly means changing the economic face of Nigeria so that every Nigerian can have a better life.
There is the perception of political domination by the northern region, which is the reason the Fulani herdsmen have been so embolden in their activities; how do you see the recent partnership between the South and the Middle Belt region, will it work out?

I think every union that is not feudalistic; not parochially centered on dominating other ethnic nationalities in the national picture is a welcome development. If the Arewa Youths had not threatened the Igbo residing in the North with a quit notice, the Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) would not have been created and Southern unity would not have come into existence. In fact, the North shot itself in the foot and also in the mouth, as they would soon find out.

I can tell you now and I would stand to be corrected by anybody that the Federal Government invited the Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) to attend a meeting with Arewa Consultative Forum, which the vice president would chair and we told the government that we are not attending any meeting that does not recognise the Middle Belt zone.

The Middle belt has declared very clearly North as one entity. No! The days of attempting to fool Nigerians that the North is one indissoluble block are over.

It is good that the Southern and middle belt leaders are now coming together, resolving difference and strengthening commonalities and this is going to create a new dynamics within the next three months at the most.

Even the party called APC is not going to depend on any one man’s word to make any region vote en masse for any candidate. Each candidate will have to come to the people of each zone and convince them that he is their leader and should be given a chance in 2005.

As it is not likely that Nigeria gets restructured by this administration as being demanded, what would you say will be the position of the South in 2019, concerning whoever will be coming in as the president?

Mark my word, restructuring is going to be the central issue around which Nigeria’s next president will be determined whether for or against. Restructuring is going to be the determinant factor to bring about the next president of Nigeria.

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