Comrade Kindness Jonah is the program Coordinator of Civil Liberty Organization, (C.L.O) for the South East headquarters, Enugu.
In this exclusive interview, the fiery activist spoke passionately about the delayed release of ministerial list by President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the method adopted by the Senate in the screening. Also, he expressed his view on the performance of some South East Governors as some of them are yet to send names of prospective Commissioners for the various ministries in their states to their respective State Assembly for screening.
He speaks on how he thinks the country can be saved from her many challenges.
How will you react to the delayed submission of ministerial list to the house and the quality of screening by the senate?
First of all, when Buhari came into power, he promised a new beginning. Inshort that was his song. But no sooner had he assumed power than Nigerian started noticing problems worse than what he blamed Jonathan for. Jonathan never wasted that lengthy period in selecting his cabinet and no meaningful leader would fail to pick his cabinet before ever being sworn in.
As the President of America was being sworn in, he was swearing in his cabinet just minutes after that. That shows an articulate leader. But here is a man whose sing-song and mantra were change, but people never knew that the change was tilting towards the negative. Then a great manifestation came to the fore in the area of choice of candidates. People were putting themselves on him, trying to dissuade him, trying to confuse him so he claimed. In the first missionary journey, it was like that, now he is re-elected, the same thing is been repeated, so why?
This means there is a leadership lacuna, there is nepotism, there is lack of zeal and lack of understanding of what leadership is all about by this man.
You know an English man says, if you stumble twice over the same stone? That is a proverbial disgrace, therefore the waste of time cannot be substantiated, it cannot be pardoned again, it has happened twice.
The hazy nature of swearing in or rather, clearance of the ministerial list by the Senate is another eye sore to governance. It’s another disgrace to this country towards development, another thing that makes us feel that we are a loop from the leadership of this country.
Why do I say so? How can you now clear people whose antecedents are dented? How can you pardon somebody whose case is in the court? How can you now say that somebody that the so called EFCC is holding for fraudulent activities is now cleared, who cleared him…?
What yardstick was used, you know the more you look the less you see, the more you look the more you become so greatly exacerbate and the more the problem looks over you. The problem is that the so called hazy nature of the clearance is a slap in the face of governance in this country. That is the truth no matter how you look at it. So, from different fora, we can argue that the clearance was after all a politically motivated show to achieve a political agenda because the people he picked shows that the man is going nowhere and the nation is reduced to nothingness. Therefore that clearance is null and void in developmental parlance elsewhere in the world, but it’s only worthwhile in Nigeria where anything goes, it’s unfortunate.
How will you react to the delay in appointing Commissioners by some Governors in the South East?
Coming down to the South East in this issue is another problem. It’s a very smelly problem, because you cannot tell me those months after swearing in, you’ve not been able to call your commissioners but governance has been going on, what justification do you have. The same thing Buhari is doing at the center is what the state Governors are doing.
Most of the South Eastern Governors have not done it and its unfortunate for the zone and that is why there is this looming air of autocracy where the Governor knows it all, if he wants to grab any particular land the Governor will go and grab it.
If the Governors spend 10kobo he feels that he is doing the people a favor by spending anything, if he builds one kilometer road he feels on top of the world.
What justification does Governors of the South East have for prolonging the appointment of their commissioners? Absolutely nothing, except the same leadership lacuna they have created, they are now the Governor, Commissioners, they are all in all.
They are now cashing in on that kind of thing to amputate justice, rightness and to authenticate evil. That is what they are doing.
And that is why we in the civil society keep shouting, that we are having bad governance in the five South Eastern states.
We are having terribly governance. They see themselves as gods; they don’t see themselves as servants. They are champions in land grabbing. They have not done any outstanding thing in the South East so we can’t justify these Governors, they are failures. In fact, we are disappointed with these Governors. So, nobody in his right senses can quantify the quantum his States are losing by not appointing Commissioners up till now. It is a terrible minus.
What are the states losing by this delay in appointment of commissioners?
For instance, Commissioner of works goes round the state, marks areas to be constructed, roads to be rehabilitated or amended, etc. He will now articulate all these as a budget, push it to the Governor; hold a meeting with the Governor. Afterwards, the Governor will present it to the state House of Assembly and galvanize efforts to construct those roads. When there is no such Commissioner, the Governor becomes a Commissioner, does the work of a commissioner, which he cannot do, so whatever he likes, he does.
Another example is, In Education, it means that all the Rectors, Heads of schools, do whatever they like. Nobody checkmates them, it is a dangerous situation. Therefore, not having Commissioners means nobody is correcting anybody; everybody is doing what he likes.
What is your advice to the people on how they can rise to the occasion and own back the country considering the many challenges bedeviling the country?
This is a very touching question I’ve been expecting journalists to ask me. I’ve been expecting Journalists to be asking me this kind of question because this is where the problem lies. Power lies with the people, but often times we are oblivious of this fact.
Sometimes we do not know the power we have as a people. Often times, we are cut off from governance because we think we are not government. No government exists without the people. If therefore the people can arise and say enough is enough, not being goaded by governmental appointments, not being deceived by governmental cronies. If we can come up with a united force, all these irregularities happening in the circle of governance will automatically stop.
But, the opposite is the case because people don’t know the power they possess. Now, looking at this from the center, Nigeria is grossly divided because the man in power, Buhari precisely, is doing what he is doing because nobody is challenging him.
Take for instance, Ruga, Ruga is rather an acronym for Fulani occupation. You call it Ruga, the next hour you caption it ranching. The same people are bandits, the same people are kidnappers and everyone is sitting tight, folding their alms.
What Nigeria needs is people oriented restructuring because not even convergence of national confab conference will help, at least Obasanjo convened, Jonathan convened also. We now need implementation and it cannot come except the people rise and demand for perfect restructuring, which is the only way out of this dilemma.
Perfect restructuring in the sense that, there should be total elimination of anything religion from governance, equal number of state indicated for each region, each state to have its own state police and security architecture and the issue of resource control should be granted to states.
We need to diversify the economy and decongest dependence on the center, if the people can rise up and turn around in this country.
However, the spoiler here is that people are too lackadaisical and non committal.