Emmanuel Umohinyang, social commentator and political analyst, is the convener, Re-elect Buhari Movement (RBM). In this interview, speaks on contemporary national issues. He says that the South East has benefited more from the current administration than it did in the 16 years of governance under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), expressing the optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari will get a second term despite massive opposition to his bid. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the allegation by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that APC is harboring corrupt elements?
Naturally, CAN is the umbrella body for all Christians and they are there not only to protect the interest of Christians, but also to provide leadership when the affairs of the country is being threatened. CAN is a noble organisation, but I am afraid, one may not be able to say the same judging by its activities in the recent past. The way the organisation is being run and managed, the characters that have taken over the organisation have left some of us, Christians, with much doubt. It’s not a bad thing if a noble organisation like CAN raises concern on any issue that affects the common man on the street, but my worry is: where was this CAN during the days of the locusts; where was the CAN during the last administration? Where was this CAN when billions of dollars was looted from the country? Where was CAN when humongous amount of money was shared by the elite, money meant for the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram in the North-East? If not for the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, we would not have known how humongous amounts of money developed wings and flew out of our coffers. Where was this CAN?
CAN was not making any reference to the government. It looks to me that CAN will always come out to speak only when it is convenient for them to, not when it is necessary. I was taken aback when CAN made that wild allegation that the political party of the President was a safe haven for the corrupt politicians. I don’t think CAN, with recent developments, still enjoy good support of the people they represent. A lot of Christians, including myself, have completely lost faith in CAN as an organisation because as clergy men, they are duty bound to say the truth to any government no matter who is there. I think Christians should watch and not be misled. We should know when people are representing our interest and when people are representing their personal interest.
Don’t you think the damning allegation may affect the President’s electoral fortunes in 2019?
I have said before that our democracy is growing and the country is dynamic and I have equally said we are not running a democracy where people are called to the village square to share kola nut, and begin to apportion who takes what. The country is governed by rules and the people are discerning, especially during election periods. You will recall that around this time in 2014, it was reported that about N9billion was released by that administration to some clergy men under CAN umbrella, and that the money was shared somewhere in Lagos. I remember a renowned clergy warning those who collected the money to return same. I stand to be corrected. CAN never came out with any position on that issue; so the people know where to cast their votes, whether Christians, Muslims or Traditional worshippers. If CAN were mute under the last administration where corruption had developed legs and worn clothes, walking around the country, how come they are now talking under a president that has showed zero tolerance for corruption?
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has dismissed major economic policies of the current administration as unworkable; what are your thoughts?
I have listened to Atiku Abubakar recently. I have also heard him propose what I will call voodoo economics. He said he is going to take the risk of allowing inflation in our economy to woo foreign investors. As funny as Atiku’s economic magic may look, I think Atiku is trying to take Nigeria back to Zimbabwe of the recent past, where a loaf of bread was sold for Ten Thousand Zimbabwean Dollars. Atiku should know that such an economy seriously affects the poor. From what he is proposing, it shows Atiku is only concerned about the elite. Atiku is trying to take us back to where the miracle of survival was only in the hands of a few. Buhari’s government has come in to break the walls between the rich and the poor, but what Atiku is proposing is to take Nigeria back to the era where we ate the crumbs from the master’s table, and the people will not allow that in 2019. I also heard him say he is going to allow the Niger–Delta take control of their resources. Atiku cannot deceive Nigerians with his ridiculous promises because it was under the watchful eyes of Atiku that the people of the South-South took the issue up to the level of the Supreme Court to fight for 13 percent derivation. He also talked about disobedience to court orders. Under the administration he was VP, the allocation of Lagos State was withheld for months even after the Supreme Court judgment ordering them to pay the money to Lagos State under former Governor Bola Tinubu. So, Atiku is not qualified morally to talk about disobedience to court orders because he was an active player in a government that relied more on the rule of the thumb. I think he is only showing desperation as a man desperate to come into power not for the benefit of the people but for themselves.
Don’t you see his recent endorsement in the South-East as a plus for his aspiration?
If endorsement wins election, former President Goodluck Jonathan would have won re-election in 2015 because during that era, we saw how humongous amount of money was used to acquire endorsements. Endorsement does not win votes; it’s the people, with their PVCs who will determine the President of Nigeria in 2019. What happened in the South-East, the Enugu declaration, is not unexpected. We are going to see more of it in the coming days, especially with the kick-off of the campaigns. That endorsement will count for nothing because under this administration, the government has done so much for the people of the South-east. The people will not allow themselves to be used again by the so-called leaders. Development wise, this government has done more for the people of the South-East compared to the sixteen years of the PDP.
, South East