Unic Press UK: Martin Onovo, a former presidential candidate has weighed in on the invasion of the Nigerian Senate by hoodlums who snatched the Senate’s mace during a plenary session last week, precisely Wednesday.
— The Nigerian Senate (@NGRSenate) April 18, 2018
In an interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU of Independent Newspapers, Nigeria, Chief Martin Onovo, a public figure and eminent consulting engineer and energy expert, who is viewed by many as the Face of Nigeria for being consistent in speaking TRUTH to power, shared his thoughts on the invasion last week of the upper chamber of Nigerian bicameral legislative body, the Senate, describing the incident as “treasonable” and “an attempt to overthrow the sovereignty of the people who are represented by the legislature.” Onovo was the 2015 Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP).
What is your take on the recent invasion of the Senate by people said to be thugs, who carted away the Mace? What does this portend to the nation’s security and democracy?
It is treasonable. In a democracy, the people are sovereign and the legislature represents the people. The mace is the symbol of the authority of the Senate. Snatching the mace by a thug, who is not a member of the Senate, is an attempt to overthrow of the sovereignty of the people who are represented by the legislature. It is very clear, as concluded by many senators, that there is collusion. The questions include: Where was the entire security of the National Assembly? Who allowed the criminals to leave through the VIP gate next to Aso Rock? Where and who did the Police recover the Mace from? Have the Police charged the criminals? Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was arrested by the Police over the incident. Has he been charged? It is treasonable. It is a failed attempt to overthrow our pseudo-democracy.
The President recently stated in far away United Kingdom that a lot of Nigerian youths are idle and are always looking for freebies. How would you react to the President’s assertion?
The current President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is the laziest since 1960 and has failed on all fronts. About 10 million hard working Nigerians lost their jobs under this regime. He is blaming the victims of his incompetence instead of taking responsibility. I have many resumes of young Nigerians yearning to work, but this government has destroyed too many opportunities.
How do you see President Buhari’s recent declaration for his second term bid?
It is unpatriotic. Patriotism is love of country and the consequential loyalty to it. Obviously, President Buhari has put his personal and inappropriate ambition over the interest of the country. The Constitution of Nigeria provides in Section 14, that, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
The first term of President Buhari has catastrophically undermined the security and welfare of the people. The catastrophe of his first term includes: Perversion of public morality; the lowest value of the Naira ever; increasing misery index and suicide rate; rising total public debt to the present national debt crisis; increasing corruption with the perversion of the anti-corruption imperative; running the economy into a recession and thereafter into this economic stagflation and Nigeria now hosting two of the top four terrorist organisations in the whole world, the Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen.
Others are the worst Police Force in the whole world and the rising crime rate; almost 10 million jobs lost since he was sworn into office; total disregard of the Constitution, lawlessness and impunity.
We also need to confirm that President Buhari has the minimum educational qualification required by the Nigerian Constitution for a presidential candidate. You may recall that he swore an affidavit that his certificate is with the Army. Now that he is the Commander-in-Chief, he should present it for verification.
Also, recall that when he was sued to court in 2016 over his lack of educational qualification, rather than presenting his certificate, he tried to evade service of court papers and engaged a legion of lawyers, comprising 13 Senior Advocates of Nigeria and very many other lawyers, led by Chief Wole Olanipeku (SAN), to defend him.
With the coming convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) already enmeshed in controversies over tenure elongation, do you think the party will go into the 2019 general elections in one piece?
The ruling party is dominated by unpatriotic and unscrupulous gold diggers. They rigged the 2015 election. The party was built from three former parties, CPC, ANPP and ACN. After the elections, the ANPP was marginalised and the CPC dominated, while ACN tagged along as the underdog to secure the crumbs from under the table. Always, among crooks, sharing the loot is the root of trouble. The majority of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) will leave the party and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) too will leave. The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) will be left to fail.
Some political stakeholders believe that the nation cannot do without the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) considering their structure, spread and financial power and that no party can upstage them in the 2019 elections. What is your take on that?
This is false, very false. Before the 2015 general elections, majority of Nigerians believed that no party can defeat an incumbent in the rigging that is called elections in Nigeria. But, the current ruling party out-rigged the former ruling party.
What is your view on the recent unveiling of looters’ list which followed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) apology to Nigerians for its past misdeeds?
The list is not an authentic looters list. It is a list of mostly political opponents targeted by the Buhari cabal. It is calculated to deceive the simple minded that the government is fighting corruption. We are not deceived.
An authentic looters’ list will have the names of many chieftains of the ruling party and also sponsors and supporters of the ruling party. The Buhari-led government lacks the moral authority to call anyone a looter. It must first explain the mismanagement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cases, including those already in court against supporters of the ruling party. It must also explain the phenomenal looting of our FOREX; the re-looting of recovered loot; the diversion of N50 billion away from the Treasury Single Account (TSA); the corrupt reduction of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) telecoms fines; the $26 billion Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) contracts scam, among others. This is the most corrupt government in this country since independence.
How do you see President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent approval of withdrawal of $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (Excro Account) to fight insurgency?
It is unconstitutional, dictatorial and lawless. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires that public funds must be appropriated before expenditure. President Buhari has no authority to spend outside the Appropriation Act. The action is an impeachable offence. The Constitution is worthless and meaningless to this dictatorial and lawless regime. This government may be operating like a military government but we must hold it accountable to the people in line with the Constitution.
At the height of herdsmen killings in the North Central communities, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff, told Nigerians to defend themselves against attacks, accusing the nation’s security and the Military of being compromised and partial. What is your view on this?
Gen. Danjuma is very right. He is a former Army Chief and a leading authority on the Nigerian Military establishment. He is clearly right. Nigeria’s laws recognise the right to self-defence. The right to life means a right to protect life by self-defence. The Armed Forces of Nigeria is now included in the long list of developmental priorities and public institutions destroyed by the current government. The economy is ruined. National unity is jeopardised. National security is undermined. Corruption prevails with impunity and the Armed Forces have become sectional. What a catastrophe!
Your party last year went into a coalition, the Coalition for New Nigeria (CNN), which is said to have hit 35 political parties. What would you say is the current state of the coalition?
It is work in progress. The coalition of 35 parties is affiliated to the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) led by His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, FNSE, Ph.D. The coalition is growing into a grand coalition to save Nigeria from the illegitimate, unpatriotic and destructive ruling party.
We understand that the coalition being championed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reached out to the Coalition for New Nigeria (CNN). Do you foresee the two coalitions uniting to prosecute the 2019 elections?
Yes! Please, be patient. A much larger coalition with many other parties and movements will soon emerge to defeat the illegitimate ruling party.
Would you be taking part in the 2019 Presidential election? If so, what are your programmes for the nation?
It is our patriotic duty to serve our country. It is a democracy. So, we will serve in whatever position we are elected to serve. Our priorities have not changed. The first priority is security of lives and properties. The second is to control corruption. The third is to grow the economy. The fourth is education and employment. The fifth is improving infrastructure. With, these, we will progressively abolish poverty in Nigeria.
On security, we shall re-establish our constitutional values with emphasis on integrity and dignity of labour. Then, we shall develop a robust ‘National Security Management System’ that will prevent, verify and dislodge all national security threats. We shall motivate, retrain and equip our security forces. We will re-establish security in Nigeria based on justice and good governance.
On anti-corruption, we shall apply our anti-corruption strategy, code-named ‘Four Es’. Which means, Education (public campaigns and advocacy against corruption); Example (leadership is by example); Empowerment (empower our people morally and with a living wage); Enforcement (apply law enforcement without discrimination to any significant deviation).
On the economy, we must provide super-adequate energy to drive the economy. We must also diversify the economy, particularly with improvements in agriculture and solid minerals.
You party now parades about six presidential aspirants. Do you think this development will not mar your party’s primary election?
Why will a wider choice of candidates mar our party’s primary election? That is an expansion of our democratic base and space. In 2015, we had three presidential aspirants. Only two contested the primaries, as one withdrew. I got over 71 percent of the votes cast. My opponent, a great man, conceded defeat there, at the convention, after a very free and fair primary election that was monitored by many the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials. With six or even more aspirants now, you can see that we have grown the party tremendously and our national support base has grown geometrically.