Chyna Iwuanyanwu is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He accused the federal government of dealing in absolute secrecy and putting the nation in a ‘Spiritual cross road’. He also spoke on other national issues.
Two parties, APC and PDP are trading blame of how the nation got into recession. How do you react to this?
What I know about governance is that there is continuity in government, where one person stops, the other begins. Before you decide to contest and take over power you must have a blue print, they did not have a blue print until one and a half years ago, even to appoint ministers took them six months, it has never happened.
In Ghana, the president appoints ministers within seven days, they promised us that they were going to get technocrats and they ended up with well known people. So nothing changed, when in fact we were expecting change. We have seen that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not prepared, in fact they did not expect the victory which the former President, Goodluck Jonathan gave to them on a platter of gold.
To now blame the same Jonathan is not right because when Obasanjo took over the mantle of leadership in 1999, the country was at its lowest level he did not worry himself blaming Abacha, of course he was dead, Abdusalam who took over after, was never blamed, rather he assembled a team and set up a system that rolled Nigeria out of it all. The only thing these people have held on is corruption.
But corruption did not actually start with Jonathan, it started with the military government of which Buhari was one of them. So basically, what caught up with them was that the oil price came down, if the oil price was still as it was during Jonathan, there wouldn’t have been recession and they would have not seen anybody to blame.
Secondly, the Niger Delta boys started striking and the quantity that was available for sale also dropped. It’s a combination of these factors that rattled them, confused them plus their unpreparedness for governance and that is what brought us to where we are today.
Are you going to blame Jonathan for the oil price that dropped or are you going to blame him for the Niger Delta agitation? He was able to manage it, you brought out soldiers to go and kill them. If not for the Vice president, Osinbajo who changed the parameters by going there to dialogue with them, If we had allowed Buhari, that place would have been a war zone and there would be no oil at all. If you meet a problem, solve it, move us away from it. If you tell us first year Jonathan caused it, second year Jonathan caused it, going to third year again Jonathan caused it. I mean it shows that you have no plans to get us out of it.
All I am saying is that we have tolerated the blame for a long time, from the second year, no amount of blame would be acceptable anymore, let them get down to the business of delivering democracy, the change they promised us, they owe us because we did not ask for it, they promised us change, we voted for change and we have the right to demand change. Look at the roads, there is confusion all over the country, the senate is not agreeing with the presidency, inside the senate there is problem, the APC is as if it does not exist, the president operates as if he is not a product of a party and all kinds of things.
What do you think is the way out of insecurity and joblessness in the country?
When I contested for the national chairman of PDP in 2008, in a speech I delivered to the South-East leaders, I warned that the greatest problem facing this country is the army of poorly educated and uneducated youths roaming about the street hopeless, jobless and I said that those people can easily be converted into time bomb. Boko Haram members are youths not old men, the old men may actually be behind them but the people that throw the bomb are youths.
IPOB members are youths, Niger Delta boys too, it is not Edwin Clark that is shooting gun and breaking pipes. It is the young people who are unhappy and discontented that destroyed the oil pipes in the Niger Delta region. They are not happy about the way they are being treated, they don’t see any hope either, and they take their destiny into their own hands and that is the reason for the insecurity in the country. Injustice brings insecurity, unemployment brings frustration and anger and an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, but I have not seen any policy initiative to address this problem of unemployment.
The government has not been able to address the main issues and incidentally, all of these are contained in their manifestos and up till today nothing has been done. Even the army in recent times named 14 areas of insecurity in Nigeria, it is too much, sometimes I think that thesesoldiers are overwhelmed. Insecurity is the major problem, but unemployment is a major factor that created insecurity.
Another element of insecurity which the government is responsible for is the herdsmen militancy, up till now nobody has been prosecuted or gone to jail with all the destruction they have done around the country. You say you are promoting agriculture and then you unleashed cattle herdsmen to go and destroy people’s farm and when they complain they are shot dead, their towns and villages are destroyed. We need to sit down seriously as a country, they were not prepared, they are just doing ad hoc things that have no solution to the problems, and they have not solved the problems of this country. There was some stability when PDP was in power, but now there is insecurity. They have to design programmes to give hope to the hopeless that is the only way we can have peace.
The imposition of candidates destroyed PDP, but Fayose today has again endorsed his deputy as governorship candidate. Has PDP not learnt any lesson?
I am a victim of the impunity. I contested for the national publicity secretary which I know that I won, but they took it away from me and if there is anybody who cursed PDP I am one of them. And all those people who were instrumental to what happened to me because they had another agenda to become senators or governors they all lost including Jonathan.
For allowing that kind of thing to be done, rape of justice to be done at the last convention, is unfortunate. We have learnt a lesson but politics is a game of contention of interests, there will always be interests, but those interests should be subject to what I called common wealth interest. There is nothing wrong with the PDP stakeholders saying the deputy governor in Ekiti state is their candidate, but that is just a mere statement, there has to be a convention to produce him.
So why are people worrying themselves? So far what they have done, for me is masturbation. So why are people responding to masturbation? The people have said we want this, but this is not how the constitution says that a candidate should emerge, it is subject to a convention, it is subject to a process that is enshrined in the constitution of the party. What they did now is like a social gathering until we have a convention and get a candidate, he cannot be said to be a candidate. Anybody is free to contest, so it should not cause a problem.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was recently cancelled because of Sallah break, is there something the president is not telling Nigerians?
There is a lot. Nigerians are being deceived. Here is a government that promised us change and they are dealing in absolute secrecy even the health of our president is secret, everything is secret. Now how do you imagine a whole Charles Okputa and his team says he should step down, if somebody says resume or resign, is it an insult? I don’t see anything that should provoke them to go and hire some miscreants and almajiris to arm Okputa and his team.
In a Democratic system, they should have their say, the man should have his say, but they went to the extent of physically attacking him in Wuse market, manhandling him and breaking his cars and we have found out through intelligence that the attackers were sponsored.
Basically, as far as I’m concerned, Nigeria is in a state of confusion or what I call spiritual cross road, nothing is working. The man hurriedly came back, if his return was planned, his aides who are in Nigeria could have gone to his office and found out the rat that invaded his office and they could have disinfected and prepare the office for his return. Nothing brought the president back, and it is either Charles Okputa or they had some other intelligence that they are hiding from us. The way he came back was unplanned. Now he came back the first Wednesday, it was an opportunity for him to meet his ministers, he did not, and he said he would work from bedroom. For three months, rats droves our President away from his office.
I am into building and decoration; there is no damage that rats can cause that the problem cannot be solved in one week. If Julius Berger enters that place they can turn it round in one week to get our president’s office ready. These people are deceiving us and for you to tell the whole world that rat invaded the office and it would take three months, is not fair. How does a British man look at you? How does an American man look at you? They would just be amused they cannot understand what is going on.
What is your take on restructuring?
There is a discussion about secession, restructuring or no restructuring. The fact that Nigeria is divided between north and south is clear. It is the north who has been beneficiaries of the injustice, imbalance, the iniquity, in the system, they are the ones that want to maintain the statusquo. But I tell them that nobody has moved forward, even then, in spite of the fact that they have been controlling the resources of the country centralised in Abuja, the headquarter of poverty in Nigeria is still the north, which shows that the system is also not still working for them.
We want a situation where every components of this country begin to look inwards, generate revenue and use that revenue to develop themselves not somebody to go and get oil from Bayelsa, you bring it here for everybody. So people get lazy they are not doing anything. It is either we restructure or this country would perish. My prayer is that Buhari should not be the last president of Nigeria. South -South has spoken, the South-East has spoken, the South- West has spoken, the Middle Belt has spoken, even part of North -East like Atiku have said we should restructure. But a group of people mostly from the North-West are resisting change, no you came to government and the mantra has changed, restructuring means change for those who said they don’t know what it means.