Hon. Agbo Dennis Nnamdi represents Igbo-Eze North/Udenu federal constituency of Enugu state. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, he speaks on the crises rocking the PDP, agitation for restructuring and other national issues.
Are you worried with the crises in the PDP?
I wish things were better. Don’t forget that everything is politics. Politics is not a quiet thing, it is a very boisterous activity. It is a struggle for control of power. So whether we are struggling to control power in the state or ward, it is politics especially now that people are seeing that this government has nothing to offer them. Everybody knows that Nigeria will vote PDP in 2019. That means that those who want to get to power in the future are planning ahead. So you don’t expect the equation in PDP to be quiet. People are going to be contending and struggling because they know that once you have a hold on PDP, you might be having a hold on the future. Things will sort themselves out. The caretaker committee was allowed to source for our candidate in Edo state. The moment a leader does not have a follower again, he is not a leader and I think that is what is happening to Sheriff. Once upon a time, our leaders invited Sheriff to come and lead us for an interim time, which does not mean he should hold the PDP to ransom. If the National Convention committee of the party has said something, then we should respect it.
With incessant attacks on oil installations by the Niger Delta militant groups; Fulani/farmers clashes; and MASSOB/IPOB agitation, do you think Nigeria should be restructured?
Nigerians gathered at the national conference and brainstormed after which they came out with recommendations without voting. They took decisions, which if implemented will take care of our problems. Do not throw that decision away, implement what they have said. If you think you have sense or you are more intelligent than them, then throw that recommendations away. But if you want this country to grow and develop, they should implement the recommendations of the national conference. We cannot discountenance that report.
But is the Southeast being carried along by this administration?
Why should you asked me that kind of question? You know we are not being carried along. The new Inspector general of police is from Niger state, that means the southeast does not have any contribution in the management of our security in Nigeria. Nobody can say they can dispense with the Southeast because we have something to contribute to Nigeria. It is like saying you don’t need women, the biggest cause of insecurity is political exclusion. When people feel that their imput doesn’t count, it can bring discontentment. Even the names of ministers list, head of MDAs, we were not fully represented. The president said something I regard as wrong, he said the people of Southeast did not vote for him so he has to finish attending to the zones that voted for him before he will consider the Southeast. It is a most unfortunate statement coming from a president. Whether Southeast people voted for him or not, they have a right to choose what they want, that does not make them less Nigerian. The Constitution of Nigeria mandates whoever is elected to govern according to the laid down principles which includes federal character. We must spread resources and appointments according to federal character principle. In fact what the president is doing is an impeachable offence.
Giving another opportunity, do you think the Southeast voters will vote for the PDP?
That is a leading question because after the elections, we needed to be shown that what we did was wrong but that has not happened. If light had improved and life has improved, then we wouldn’t have regretted our action. If after one year in office, we have food at lesser prices, light, good hospitals and respect for human life. If things have become better, the Southeast voters would have been somewhere asking if they took the right decision. But with what is happening now, if you are from the Southeast, what will you be saying? Other people who voted the other way are regretting it now. I don’t think anybody in the Southeast is regretting voting for the PDP.
Nigeria economy is in recession, do you harbour any fears for our future?
I am worried by the state of the Nigerian economy for good reasons, the economy is not well managed. One example is, why is there a wide disparity on the exchange with the parallel market? That alone is institutional corruption because you now say some eligible transaction will be qualified to access foreign exchange through the official window, while other people will go and buy at N360 plus at the parallel market. That is institutionalised corruption because anybody who has the prerogative to allocate the foreign exchange will be neck deep in corruption. So we see corruption being fought with one hand and another hand is building corruption. This created economic distortion, they have further devalue the strength of our naira, it chase out autonomy sources from the purview of the CBN because every person that is in export started going through the back-door to source for his foreign exchange and you cannot capture this from the source. Now they have brought out a new policy that we have been hammering on, and you can see that the naira is getting strength by the day. Another thing is, why is it that it took so long for government to realise that the price of fuel should be shored up and when they eventually realise it, and move it form 86.00 to 145.00, they didn’t put any palliative in place
Are you contented with some of the changes that took places in the oil sector?
They should allow the market forces to determine the price of our PMS. The price of diesel is going haywire and governments is not doing anything about it. The response time of this administration is very slow, they said they want to encourage diversification, we wan the t government to walk their talk by reflecting it in the budget. They claimed that they are diversify to the agricultural sector, but the Ministry of Information and Culture got more than what the Ministry of Agriculture got this year. What do they do in Ministry of Information and Culture when Nigerians are hungry? The economic policies are so inarticulate and they have gone ahead to talk about economic team. Why is it that every journalists is still asking the question about the teams, who are the people managing the economy The economy cannot be managed by intuition. Even in solid mineral, you will still see a lot of inactivity. We have coal in Enugu state and by constitutional provision, it is in the hands of the federal government. So many people called shadow investors acquired the concession of our coals reserve, and so we cannot bring any person as a state and say, we want to partner with them. Why is the government in a hurry to free this mineral resources from the hands of the shadow investors who hold the license and yet don’t have money to explore it. Recently they said power has risen to two thousand megawatts but is that rising or falling? When he came into government, power generation was at over 4,000 megawatts, but they said it reduced because of vandalism and the rest, yet they have not taken any serious measure to ensure that the restiveness in the Niger Delta is curtailed, so that we don’t have it again
What is your perception of this government?
If I say anything now, they will say it is because of opposition but as a Nigerian, nobody is happy with what is happening. This has gone beyond opposition politics, it is now survival of the fittest. If the government is sincere and it’s grappling with these issues, all of us will be there to solve it, but nothing concrete is being done. We see the greatest threat to our national democracy in this day and age as the threat to separation of powers. They don’t want the National Assembly to operate as a separate arm of government, if you bring all the legislators, judiciary and executive together as one, we can solve the problem of Nigeria. But if you think that you can do it alone by decapitating the National Assembly, it will not work. The distraction that has been visited in the Senate is wrong, it should be left alone to face its mandate.
But the APC has been blaming the PDP for the state of the economy?
We have allowed them a whole 365 days to blame the past government. Now we are saying it’s time to move forward. We want Nigerians to judge and they are saying, leave PDP alone and let’s see what you brought to the table. If food is cheap, prices of fuel is better, you can forget or continue to blame the PDP. So, I think enough is enough. It is over a year now, APC government should start implementing its policies. PDP has not interfered in anything they are doing. The threat of insecurity is putting the Nigerian people on the line. Fighting corruption is not a government program, there is no government in Nigeria that has not tried to fight corruption. Jonathan admiration fought corruption institutionally. Jonathan said he wanted to observe the rule of law. You cannot fight corruption like a military man, we are in democracy. You cannot fight corruption by arresting and detaining people, freezing their accounts, we are not in the jungle. We must respect people’s right, they are just overheating the system, government should not create new problems. I look at the case against the Senate President and his deputy, there is nothing in the charge sheet that shows they have done something wrong.