An interview with an award winning author, economist and political scientist Olisa Uzoewulu who spoke on a wide range of issues ranging from the state of the economy to 2023 elections. Excerpts…..
Presently there is a clamor for power shift to the Southeast, what is your position on this?
2023 for Southeast is not debatable. Power should shift to the Southeast whatever the party may be it does not matter since we are talking about a nation, but we don’t have a nation that is why people are not patriotic. Also the individual to occupy the office should be left to the southeast to decide. We don’t have a nation as such we are not patriotic and we tend to ethnicise issues. If we had a nation we would be patriotic.
Leadership has already gone to other zones of the country and so in fairness power should rotate to the Southeast. Give us one person there should freedom to contest.
Are you in support of de-registering of some political parties?
Political parties should pay tax and members of such parties should be made to pay monthly dues. If this measure is adopted the country would make much money. This measure would also instill discipline in the political parties.
A political party is not an organization of unemployed people. The position of auditor and financial secretary in political parties does not have any function because most political parties do not have bank accounts. I don’t think even APC has an account. Some political parties do not even have a register.
We do not have political parties in Nigeria because the parties do not have character and as such cannot give leadership.
For so many years Nigeria has been a mono product economy solely dependent on crude oil. In recent times the fall in price of crude oil has resulted in dwindling revenue, how can we address this problem?
There is really no problem. What is actually wrong is that we don’t have the right people in the right places and these people do not have the will power. For so many years we were selling crude oil to the United States and buying refined products from them. What we are supposed to do is to set up refineries and this would create jobs for our people.
It is a source of concern that a small percentage of the population is consuming a larger percentage of our budget. We really don’t have a problem; the challenge is lack of will power. 2% of the population is taking 70 % of our resources. What should be done is that the salaries of the President and other politicians should be slashed and the money should be added to the capital budget.
Presently we don’t have private sector and also we don’t have savings. If we don’t make sacrifices then we would have insecurity in the country. When a person doesn’t have money and no food he has only 2 choices. One is that he dies and the other is that he goes to steal. The solution to such a problem is not in arresting such a person and putting him behind bars but to do the social network. Presently there is no middle class in the country as such there is the need to bridge this gap. This is the root cause of insecurity. Poverty is not acceptable; it is proper leadership that the people would emulate. There is the need for leaders in the country to operate an open door policy. Most often leaders are not accessible. There is the need for intellectuals to have access to the political class. Presently the government is not using intellectuals. This trend should be reversed.
Is the present administration getting things right in the fight against corruption?
Inefficiency breeds corruption. It is pertinent to know that every nation has a level of corruption. The Rule of Law fights against it. Corruption kills, so it is either you legitimize it or you minimize it.
In Nigeria every civil servant or politician is a contractor or a private sector person as such presently we don’t have a private sector.
What I would want to suggest is that we do a jubilee. There is nobody in Nigeria that does not have an element of corruption. We should ask the corrupt people to bring 50% of what they have stolen and then we can start all over again and give the state a new face. Presently those who have stolen money are afraid to invest and that is why you see empty houses all over Abuja.
Corruption is not only about stealing money even in places of employment there is connivance to employ unqualified persons. Every nation is on transit, sometime we disallow the nation to breed and this does not allow the best to manifest.
If you recall some person ran into All Progressives Congress seeking refuge which proved abortive.
If you are not crazy as a leader corruption would kill you. It is worthy of note that whether you are President or Senator or minister you must have benefitted one way or the other from corruption, directly or indirectly. The corrupt people packaged the politicians and as such it would be a little bit crazy to turn against them.
For us to deal effectively with corruption we must start from the nursery schools to give our children the proper orientation.
I still want to suggest that we should have a jubilee.
If you have strong institutions, it would sanitize the political parties. As such we should tax them because anybody who pays tax is a responsible person. In other parts of the world political parties pay tax and as such the parties can be audited.
When we started the Peoples Democratic Party I suggested that the party should have investments but this idea was discarded in preference of individuals bringing in their money. Political parties should have investments so that they can leave a legacy. We must sanitize the political parties so that we can deal with corruption.
Recently some ethnic groups have come up to form security out fits like amotekun. Is this a welcome development?
I don’t like town unions but social union. We should invite people from the various zones of the country and bring issues to the table, by doing this, whatever decision you take is unique. If you don’t have trust you cannot build a nation. This is the basic process of leadership and it affects security and it introduces bias. We should have a security network that embraces everybody it should not be ethnicised. If you want to be a leader of Nigeria then you should do what would build the nation.
2023 is only 3 years away if some of the issues bothering the nation is not tackled what is your expectation?
We don’t learn from history. 2023 will be a repeat of 1960, where we didn’t get it right it comes back in a different way, i.e. a crazy dominance of one tribe over others.
We should discard the issue of state of origin and people should feel free to live wherever they choose. State of origin divides us more. After 1960 we should have learnt a lesson and create a new nation but we are still playing the same game.