Prof. Nwabueze: President Who Cannot Be Influenced By Anybody, Mirrors A Dictator
Prof, recently you expressed concerns on President Mohammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fights and the fear that retired generals might be hijacking his government to form what you termed ‘invisible government’; how real is this invisible government?
The invisible government is different from Buhari’s government. Point of correction, I never used hijacking or tele-guiding, in my write –ups. These are strong words; I never used them and cannot use them. President Mohammadu Buhari is an independent-minded person. Even an independent minded president has to put up with certain constraints.No president is free from constraints irrespective of the amount of power. In my write-ups, I itemized these constraints. One of the constraints is the existence of this invisible government made up of Ibrahim Babaginda, (IBB) and Abdulsalami Abubakar; Olusegun Obasanjo has joined them. How far can Buhari stand up to the influence coming from these people is what we have to wait and see. It does not give a good image of the President to say that ‘nobody can influence me’, in reaction to my write-up. A president who cannot be influenced by any body paints a picture of a dictator. A good president should be amenable to positive influence.
When did this invisible government begin?
It has been in existence for years, if you read my write-ups, the origin dates far back, even before the time of IBB, consisting mainly of the Caliphates and the Caliphates, its agents and other reactionary elements in the North. IBB used it before he retired; IBB used their influence operating behind the scene.
As a leader from the South-East, South- South forum, a region where former President Goodluck Jonathan comes from, don’t you think your could be accused of being sponsored?
In my write –up, I made it clear that I am a leader of the Igbo Leaders of Thought. I am representing Igbo leaders of Thoughts. My position is the position of the Igbo Leaders of Thought. I am not a leader of the South East, South-South forum. I am not a member of the forum, I never attended their meetings and don’t know what their position is. I am not sponsored by any group!
At your age, what do you want to achieve by engaging in this activism?
My wish and desire is national transformation. I believe so fervently in the transformation of Nigeria. If you look at that write up, you will see that I raised the issue of a new beginning for Nigeria. That must be one of the objectives of the fight against corruption, the fight against corruption is of very limited value, if the end intended to be achieved is not eradication of corruption and the launching of Nigeria on a new beginning. Launching Nigeria on a new beginning involves ethical and social revolution. This country is so rotten and you need to cleanse it of the rottenness. This is what I meant by a new beginning; a new beginning in a clean slate. Corruption is one of the factors that caused this rottenness. You cannot eradicate corruption by probing just one administration and enforcing sanctions against those found to have stolen our commonwealth. You need total cleansing if you want to eradicate corruption and launch Nigeria on a new beginning. Take a look at Ghana under President Jerry Rawlings, Ghana is now a new country where every thing works, where corruption has been completely cut down. All these were achieved by the action of Jerry Rawlings in publicly executing some past leaders found to be guilty of corruption. I did not approve Jerry Rawlings’ method but it is a lesson for us and that lesson is that the eradication of corruption requires very drastic action.
There has been agitation that President Buhari has not been fair to the Igbos with his appointments, what is your view on that?
It is too early to say. The government is just two and half months since Buhari’s inauguration. It is too early for anybody to say whether he has been fair to the Igbos or not but, the pattern of appointments so far made raised questions excluding the recent appointment of the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Dr Kachikwu, an Igboman from Delta. The record shows that out of 17 appointments he has made, 14 are from the North, 14 out of 17 raise questions and none of the remaining three is from the South East. Two recent appointments were also made, The DG (Director General) of FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service), Fowler is a Yoruba man, and the DG in the Budget Office, a northerner. These are important appointments. We just have to wait.
Comment on the roles of retired generals in sustenance of democratic institutions?
The issue of the roles of retired generals in the country is an issue of grave importance, which appeared not have received from the press, the degree of attention that it deserves. It is an issue that gives me grave concern. We transited to democratic governance in 1999 and we elected a retired Army General and a former head of Federal Military government in the person of General Olusegun Obasanjo to kick-start the transition. Kick-start is important. Does it make sense? We should agitate that issue, we transited from military to civilian rule in 1999 and we are to elect a civilian president, it is a retired Army general transforming to “civilian”. The man, who has been in the army throughout his career and now retired and receiving privileges, pensions including military security guards.
Is he a civilian? How many civilians have military security operatives to guide them?
I personally see some inconsistences in regarding a retired army general as a civilian and electing him to kick-start the transition to civilian democratic rule. Our experience of the eight years rule of Obasanjo from 1999 through 2007 was evidence of these inconsistencies and contradictions. Obasanjo simply carried over his intolerant military habit and autocratic military attitude and behaviour to governance in civilian democratic dispensation that is what happened. It showed the error, the mistake in electing him to kick-start the transition. We practically subverted the transition. The result is what we have today after eight years of Obasanjo’s rule: it is not a true democracy. More worrisome is the fact that we seemed not to have learnt from that experience as evidenced by the election in 2015 of retired general Buhari as civilian president, the same contradiction going on. Buhari as civilian president is such that should worry. Do we ever learn from experience? Do we really have the
political maturity and sagacity required for a successful, working constitutional democracy?
These are issues which the press in the country does not seem to appreciate, but as I said, we will go on watching to see if President Buhari is truly a democrat as he declared himself to be in his post election statement.
There is something about this phenomenon, retired army general continuing to rule under a democratic dispensation; these are people who got translated to the office of head of state, not by the possession of qualities or credentials, superior to those of other Nigerians. They got elected to the office simply by virtue of their position in the military hierarchy, Nigerians had no say in their elevation and now after enjoying the benefits of the office, after acquiring status, prestige, influence and wealth, they now used these to want to be elected as civilian to the office of head of state.
Can’t you see there are some unfair advantages over others?
Can’t you see some kind of un-fairness, injustice and inequality in the situation? Can you say that there is a level playing field between them and other civilian aspirants to the office of head of state? Obasanjo and a civilian aspirant, it is an unfair contest, very; very unfair or with IBB, with enormous amount of wealth acquired while in office. How can you compete with them? Yet we close our eyes to this palpable contradictions, palpable irregularities of one who amasses billions in office as military President coming out to contest against a truly civilians aspirant for the office of head of state.