…says the doctrine of necessity can be applied
…2014 confab report should be considered by parliament
…insists climate change also fuelling insecurity
…call for Buhari’s impeachment appropriate
Rep Kingsley Ogundu Chinda is a lawyer, lawmaker, leader of the House of Representatives Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Caucus leader, he represents Obio Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State, in this chat with Emman Ovuakporie spoke extensively on the state of insecurity in Nigeria with insights as to how it can be alleviated and the way forward.
With this avalanche of calls for restructuring and all that and the fact that there are clear indicators that regions are already creating state police indirectly and people are saying that the 2014 confab report should be revisited by the national assembly so that at the end of the day we can start talking about true federalism in the country; what is your take on this sir?
A: Firstly if you recall the PDP caucus had called on Nigerians earlier to urge the representative both in the Senate and the House of Reps to commence on impeachment of Mr President. That call was properly thought through because Mr President is on oath both via the constitution and the Quran to ensure that security of lives and properties in Nigeria is his primary assignment and he has failed in that primary assignment therefore he has failed in his oath of office he is the commander in chief of the armed forces and the essence, purpose, purport and plank of any government is security of lives and properties. You would also recall that during his campaign that was one of his planks of his manifesto and this he has failed woefully.
Now you find out that rather than admit failure in this aspect and look for a way out, the government has continued to lived in self denial,, telling us that it is getting better, in fact that it is better than what they met on ground and I have said that you can only tell a blind man that there is no oil in the soup but not that there is no pepper or salt; government is trying to tell a blind man that there is no pepper or salt in the soup by telling Nigerian that they are in control, in charge and that they have tackled the security problem when it is consuming the country.
Nigeria is almost at the point of a failed state and something needs to be done and done quickly. You would ask me what is the problem? The problems rest on the shoulders of the government first. There are manmade problems that has led to the insecurity in this country, there are also natural problems that have led to the issue of insecurity.
If I take us to the global problem we have, that of climate change, government is not even looking in that direction; part of the insecurity we have in this country can be linked to climate change. In fact I say over 50% reasons is hinged on injustice within, internal injustice within Nigeria.
This is a country made up of several tribes, several languages and several religion but you have a situation where all the military heads are from one sector of the country. You have a situation where if you list out appointments in public offices, regardless of the provision of the constitution, it is tilted to one section of the country; how do you expect others to react? There can be peace in such a situation.
So ab initio, the government is not even prepared to ensure that there is peace in the system. When a government becomes irresponsive to the yearning of the people, you must be prepared for restiveness and so the restiveness we have in the system I can place it squarely on the shoulders of the government.
The other issue is that of the economy; the economy is battered, Nigerians are hungry and so because people are hungry, they say a hungry man is an angry man, people are angry. Regardless of what you think, regardless of the praises and encomium they pour on us public office holders, Nigerians are very vexed and so to take care of that anger, we as a government, I am part of the government of today, we as a government must do something and do something quickly to ensure that we place food on the table of Nigerians.
When we say that we are for everybody and we are for nobody, we should begin to act it. We should make Nigerians feel that yes there is need for this country called Nigeria to continue to remain, we should be proud of being Nigerians, don’t tell us that we should be proud of being Nigerians, act it so that we will say it as Nigerians but we don’t have that in place. In this kind of situation what do you expect; there must be insecurity.
It is not by ordering the soldiers to shoot anybody you see with AK-47 at sight that will not solve the problem. We must begin to do justice to every Nigerian, we must begin to make Nigerians feel that they belong to this country, they are citizens of this country not for some people to be first class citizens and others would be second class and in fact even third class. We must all begin to see ourselves as one Nigeria and be ready to protect this country.
Rather than allow Nigerians to continue to die avoidable deaths, if we are tied to remain as a country, then let us go for a plebiscite for those who want to leave to leave peacefully. Other countries have succeeded in doing that and they are progressing and examples are there, they abound in the world over.
In fact I can tell you that if you go through history, it is Africa that you have the longest living countries that have refused to split and you continue to force the people to remain as one body and you continue to met out injustice on them, there will be implosion within the system.
And for leadership, we need leadership that will be truly selfless, that will be detribalized, that will not be religious bigots that will be out to provide services to this country and be prepared to get your rewards like the teachers in heaven and not accumulate the wealth on earth here.
Q: You mentioned something about climate change is it is ca using insecurity, can you further strees on this?
A: The issue of climate change, you can see that desert encroachment is real in the country today; it is not something that you read in the textbook. The rivers some of them are drying up and so for those who rear cattle you find out that from the northern axis, Lake Chad basin and all that, they no longer have enough green to rear their cattle and they are compelled to come southward looking for greener pasture and in course of that there is this conflict between herders and farmers.
And so government, being a serious government must study these things and look for a solution and begin to prepare a solution to these problems. Now aside that, the issue of climate change is also affecting our crop yield and so farmers no longer produce as much as they used to produce, even in my own community. The green vegetable we see are no longer there, the cassava yield is no longer the same way it used to be.
So these are the things that government must take into cognizance and begin to plan towards these issues. How do we ameliorate these problems? But government appear to be talking more and doing less and allow the people to manage the crisis and their problems without any serious cushioning effect from government.
And then you see a government going to market to distribute N10,000 to women and you call that palliative; that is a non-serious government, that is a government that is devoid of any form of idea.
We have talked about job creation, if you don’t keep your youth population busy, either in school or working or learning one trade or the other, be sure that that energy, that youthful energy must be invested in crime and so government must make conscious effort to create jobs. I keep saying not to trumpet it but to act it.
These are things we reeled out during our campaigns which mean we know that these problems exist, why are we not acting them now that you have been elected?
So as long as we continue to deceive ourselves thinking that we are deceiving Nigerians this issue of insecurity will continue to persist.
Government just recently talked about creating water work jobs, one thousand job creation in 774 local governments, what kind of initiative is that. We just go outside this place and copy blindly, yes it exist outside this place but those things if you go down to other countries where it has succeeded it is backed up by statute, it is not a short term thing, these people are employed, trained to be used for government work.
You see heavy constructions going on, these persons will be put there and by the time they do those works for 5-10years they become experts in that field. If you are employed as a mason for 5years you would have trained and perfected as a mason. If you are in the farm for 5years you would have perfected as a farmer and so there is also an exit plan within that period; as you exit you commence your own and you find out that these people become gainfully employed.
But in Nigeria we are giving N20,000 or N10,000 every month for 3months and you send them back to the streets, they will be worse than they were before you even started giving them that stipend.
And so that is why the PDP caucus opposed that water works job, it is very deceitful, it will not help the economy of this country, it will put us in a worse situation than we were before the commencement.
And if you also look at the cost, I don’t want to talk about the issue of corruption which is one big problem and challenge that we have; corruption in Nigeria is palpable, worse than it has ever been today and yet people will have the boldness to come out to say that we are fighting corruption.
Q: People mentioned the 2014 confab report; then looking forward, creation of state police. Already we have vigilantes that are more or less policemen in the southwest and now in the southeast, in the north central and before you know it south south will join them. Do you think these signals, will at the end of the day take us to the promised land, that is getting Nigeria restructured at the end of the day?
A: Well, if you say restructuring is the Promised Land because that cannot be the Promised Land to me but it could be a root, one of the roots to the Promised Land.
Yes, Nigeria we are talking about restructuring still because of the issue of injustice within the system. Today we can have a leader that will come out and be a Nigerian leader and I will tell you that people of all tribes or religion will not want to go, they would want to remain as one country.
But we are agitating because we feel that our interest is not represented at the centre and that is why you see this call for restructuring. Restructuring of course it could mean different things to different people. A lot of people are talking of independence at the state level.
Because of insecurity, almost every region is attempting to secure her space and what is the federal government doing about it? The federal government is still managing the problem with kid gloves.
It is either we agree to restructure in terms of true federalism or we will be compelled to split and it will be to your tent oh Israel and when it happens it would be difficult for anybody to hold it back. They say a hungry man is an angry man; Nigerians are hungry, Nigerians are angry. Don’t be deceived by the things they tell us in public office.
Q: So what is the way forward ?
A: The solution I have suggested is allow Nigerians to determine for themselves whether they want to continue to remain as one country or not, or go for plebiscite.
I know the argument is that it is not envisaged by the Nigerian constitution but let me tell Nigerians here and now, laws are made for man not man for laws.
You recall the issue of President Jonathan; the national assembly hinged her decision on the doctrine of necessity even when it was not expressly provided for in the constitution.
The time has come again when doctrine of necessity should be applied to savage and to save Nigeria.
Now on the conference report, I will say that the national assembly should stop playing the ostrich. If we see what is good for this country and we have the powers to do it, let us look inwards.
If the constitutional provisions are not there, the legal provisions are not there, we are lawmakers; it is for us to look at these laws. I still believe that we have sufficient window to look at that conference report and pick the things that will help move this country forward and then use them to amend our laws or bring them into our system.
That conference report I have gone through some, part of it, wonderful. Most of the problems were sincerely and earnestly discussed and resolutions reached.
It is time for the national assembly to pick up that conference report and get the executive arm to sit on a round table and commence implementation of those recommendations that will help us out of our problem.
We cannot continue to spend money running round the same issues, investigating the same issues, setting up committees to consider the same issue when already the country has prepared it.
For how long are we going to keep this on the shelve and allow dust to cover it only to come back again to it. The time is now to consider that conference report as a parliament and begin to take decisions and resolutions based on the recommendations of that report to help this country