Prince Chinedu Obi (Ohamadike) is the National Publicity Secretary of the National Rescue Movement (NRM). In this exclusive interview with ipledge2nigeria, the management consultant and former aspirant of the Ideato Federal Constituency of Imo state bares his mind on the current socio-economic issues in Nigeria, the latest herdsmen crisis as well as the need for Nigerians to imbibe patriotism as a virtue…
- What in your honest opinion is hindering the socio-economic development of Nigeria?
Fact one is that over the years Nigeria had had a serious and unending deficit in leadership capital at all levels of governance. We have had leaders who are not patriotic, who are not statesmen, and if you like carpenters deployed to do bricklayers’ job, and who lack the character, knowledge, vision and will necessary for nation-building. Individuals with little or no understanding of what leadership entails and requires! Leaders with sectional and parochial sentiments; self-seeking, myopic and bias, who lack the capacity to harness and maximize the nation’s abundant human and material resources for national development.
Fact two is that the current structure and constitution of Nigeria is not only defective but dysfunctional. The nation’s constitution is not an inclusive one that allows for efficiency and resourcefulness. It is a military bias constitution that pretends to practice federalism but operates within a strict unitary spirit. It is a constitution that arrogates power to the center and deliberately weakens the component parts, such that the sub nationals depend on the whims and caprices of the center for survival. It is a constitution that creates room for corruption and abuse. The two earlier stated facts coupled with several other associated issues have largely been responsible for hindering the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
- How best can the various security challenges in the country be surmounted?
For as long as Nigeria has many children of school age out of school, for as long as the government has refused to make education free and compulsory at both primary and secondary schools. For as long as our system cannot grant undergraduates and graduates access to long term loans to enable them to fund their education, for as long as those who struggled to graduate are roaming the streets without employment, for as long as the energetic elements of the Nigerian youth are not channelled to productive and economic ventures, criminal activities of all sorts and insecurity will be the other of the day. To reverse the narrative, government must make conscious effort towards providing for a productive society, where all energies are channelled into creative ventures. The government must also ensure justice for all citizens and sections of the country. The government must be fair to all manners of people and inclusive in all its processes; government must take proactive measures to ensure that the enabling environment is created across the board in such a way that citizens seamlessly access and maximize the enormous national potentials. Beyond enacting laws that moderate the behaviours and activities of Nigerians, proactive enforcement mechanism must be put in place to punish deviants. The enforcement must be total and punitive to serve as deterrence otherwise; humans in their natural state have the potentials to be deviants.
- Is the present government doing enough to get Nigeria out of the woods?
Every strategy is as good as its outcome. The same way the performance of any government is measured by how the common man on the street feels the impact of its programmes and activities, security-wise, infrastructure, health, education, science and technology, etc. Today, the many Nigerians in Zamfara, Taraba, Rivers, Plateau, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa and Yobe States go to bed with the fear of attack by herdsmen or cult groups, many Nigerians are kidnapped, maimed and killed daily, yet we have a government and several security agencies funded with tax payers money in place. Our ranking in the international corruption index has significantly increased. The APC government promised Nigerians, security, fight against corruption and economic development. And you can see that the facts speak for itself! The Corruption windows seem closed with the doors and gates wide open. The new and scaring trend of corruption cases are legion and taking a novel dimension. The President looks busier outside that the inside is having a free day. Innocent school children with all the promises of security of this government are once again kidnapped and currently in the hands of terrorists in an unknown destination. The saying in the local parlance “first fool no be fool, second fool na proper foolish” is reenacting. How can you explain that after the Chibok experience of Jonathan’s Administration, we can now have Dapchi of Buhari Administration? All over the world the primary essence and responsibility of government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens. Today, the exchange rate of our naira to the dollar is almost twice what it was in 2015 with its attendant implication on the economy and inflation. The pockets of militancy, agitations and call for restructuring of the nation across the country attest to the fact that the nation is more divided today than it has ever been. So, in my opinion, this government has performed below average and can do better.
- How would you assess the level of political participation of Nigerian citizens?
Over the years there has been an obvious case of political apathy on the part of Nigerians. Available data shows that in the last general election, most Nigerians of voting age did not register to vote. Of about 75 million, who registered to vote less than 65% collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). And of the number, less than 50% actually voted in the elections. Recall that the total vote cast in that election was within 30 million in a country of an estimate of over 180 million people. What it simply means is that the number of those who refused to participate in the process was substantial enough to affect its outcome. And by implication, can be said to have rigged the election significantly. The truth is that if this number casted considerably to the next contending party, the outcome would have been different.
Many have blamed this unfortunate apathy and loss of interest in the political process to the poor performance of politicians and many of those who have been voted to power in the past and in the present administration. They have been seen to have severally reneged on their promises to the electorates, as well as seen to be grossly and mostly self-serving, nepotistic and incompetent. They have been labelled as corrupt and unable to deliver the much expected dividends of democracy to the people. Though I seriously recognize these facts, I equally disagree that it is NOT a superior approach to abandon one’s farm for the simple reason that it is overgrown with weeds. As one who had hitherto participated in the national election, I can say without any fear of contradiction that most electorates and party delegates, in particular, have also not helped matters. Delegates’ considerations for candidates in the leadership recruitment process have majorly been on the basis of parochial sentiments and attention to stomach infrastructure as well as monetary inducements as against competence and integrity as a yardstick – a situation that relegates skilled, trustworthy driven and honourable candidates for the highest bidders. Incidentally, these ‘’hawks’’ struggle to return on their electoral investment by helping themselves and their cronies with the national resources. However, recent experience of Nigerians has increased their consciousness towards participating in the political process. There is growing awareness creation among Nigerians especially by civil society and faith based organizations targeted at mobilizing Nigerians towards participating in the political process. Today, there are about 68 registered political parties and more would be registered before the coming general elections. Many professionals and elites are getting involved.
The years of poor governance and its attendant hardship on the people are no doubt driving their interest towards getting involved. For me, it is gradually garnering momentum and generally encouraging. The future looks good, but Nigerians would need to take their own fate in their own hands. All hands must be on deck against poor governance. Nigerians should at all times unite against bad governance voting out any government that has failed to deliver on its promises.
- Are Nigerians as patriotic as they should be?
I don’t think so. I expect more patriotism from Nigerians. Obviously Nigerians are more patriotic to the ethnic and religious affiliations than they are to the nation. Nigeria as a country in itself has not done enough to its citizens to deserve appropriate patriotism. The concept of a state of origin which sometimes determines who gets what and the imbalance in the system has also not helped matters. This has been worsened by the nepotism and poor governance of the leadership delivery to the people. There is currently no reward for patriotism.
- If NO, how best should citizens show patriotism to their country?
I expect patriotic citizens to be loyal citizens, be law-abiding to national and sub-national codes of conduct, effectively participate in all civil obligations, hold the leadership accountable, and pay appropriate taxes. Generally, citizens should be productive and good citizens of Nigeria.