Izuoma Ibe is the convener of Join The Restructuring Campaign (JTRC); he is an activist and an advocate for true federalism in Nigeria. He speaks on why the presidency of the 9th senate should be zoned to south East Nigeria.
The presidential and National Assembly elections are over, what’s your take on the build up to the election and the outcomes?
I will be very transparent with you, build up to the election evoked lots of issue based campaigns. If I should narrow down to the objectives of the main contenders – PDP and APC –alone, their standpoints on fights against corruption and restructuring gave the 2019 election a colour. I would have loved to dwell more on the outcome but for the matter been presented before the court, I will reserve it for another time.
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Yes, the presidential candidate of the PDP is challenging the outcome of the presidential election in court. Do you support his idea even as there are opposing calls for the sake of national peace?
If the reason why he shouldn’t contest the outcome of the election in court in for the sake of national peace, I will say he is right to contest it. Why, because, seeking redress legally should not constitute a clog in the wheels of national peace. The tribunals are setup for such cases, why restraining him? In my singular opinion, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar took the right step by seeking redress in court than resort the chaos.
You group, JTRC actively supported the former vice president as he promised to restructure the country, and how did the outcome of the election affect your campaign?
You see, the agitation for the restructuring of Nigeria is one undying struggle. It doesn’t matter which political party that is in power. Build up to the election, we heard different views about restructuring from both the political elites and the humbles. The constant factor is that the country is not working as it should work. If that is the unchanging variable, it then means that our agitation will see the light of the day because almost every Nigeria recognises the fact that a failing system deserves retooling. Therefore, the outcome of the election did not affect our struggle entirely but dented it in that we have a longer route to take in order to arrive at retooling the federal republic of Nigeria.
President Buhari has said that his government will continue to keep an open door for all in order to move the country forward. What’s your take on that?
That should not be a promise or a gift to Nigerians, it is a responsibility. You know in Nigeria politics, partisanship takes the front seat and reveals itself in the distribution of resources and appointments in political offices. That is an abuse of the federal character principle which talks about fairness. That I am a member of YPP should not make a PDP led government to reject me or my people. Or that region supported and voted XYZ party, therefore we should be marginalized. That is unpatriotic. Mr President is not president of APC or Northern Nigeria but the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Are there shortcomings in the last administration which you would suggest it doesn’t overlap into this current administration?
I am a Nigerian and have been following political trends in Nigeria for over 20 years. I have seen successive administrations in Nigeria, mostly from the inception of our current democratic dispensation which began in 1999. The presidency of Buhari has a lot of shortcomings when it comes to political appointments. Much as opening the errors of the past may hamper tomorrow’s adventures; let’s look up to a better administration as they may be sworn in on the 29th of May, 2019.
But are there critical areas you can point out in order to…?
Well, the APC should constitute a national government. They should ensure that Nigeria is well represented. I will take on the 8th Assembly as an instance. You will agree with me that the National Assembly was led by the North while the presidency was also led by the North. The west was in the picture as the Vice President is from the West. Looking at the incoming administration, we have the same posture where the president is from the North and the Vice president is from the West. Therefore, to work out a national government, the National assembly should be led by the South. I will opine for a South Eastern led National 9th Assembly.
You mentioned the South East to lead the Senate, but the South South is also agitating for…?
What yardstick is South South measuring their legibility with? The senate presidency calls for experience and influence. The South East has sound senator-elects on the platform of the APC. Between the South-South and South-East, the eastern part is a majority. Going by the results of the National Assembly poll so far released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has maintained its majority in the Senate with 60 senators. So, as the presidency of the senate should come from the party, support should be given to most credible not on the platter of charity but on the platter of merit.
But the two senator-elect from the South East are coming to the National Assembly for the first time.
Yes, I was particular when I tipped South East. I had Dr Orji Kalu in mind…
He is coming for the first time into…
No, no, no, Dr Kalu is not in that category. He is a ranking lawmaker. He was a federal lawmaker in 1992 before becoming governor in 1999 and now going to the senate. He is an all-round political leader. The senate presidency is one that accommodates all senatorial districts in Nigeria without sentiments. Kalu is detribalized, he sees Nigeria first before self. Even if you make him president of Nigeria today, he won’t resort to tribe but will focus on the larger picture which is Nigeria.
What areas should the incoming administration focus on as they get constituted soon?
Mr President on whose shoulders lies the administration should ensure that factors freshening divisive tendencies are addressed and that should begin with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly and ministerial appointments. I strongly believe in a working structure. If the structure is well constituted, Nigeria will work.