Buhari owes Igbos no apology Over Appointments: -Nnabuchi, Buhari’s associate
Chief Nkwo Nnabuchi, former House of Representatives member and ex-Commissioner for Works and, later, Environment in Anambra State under Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju is an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom he met in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) 12 years ago. In this Interview with ALPHONSUS EZE, Nnabuchi speaks about the President’s anti-graft campaign, alleged lopsided appointments against the South East, and delayed appointment of cabinets among other issues. Excerpts: As a political associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, what kind of person is he?To start with, I came in contact with President Buhari in 2003, about 12 years now. And since then he has shown that he has character and that at no point in time did he participate in corruption as the former head of state , with all that goes with the office. We came together when I was in PDP, left the Government of Anambra State in 2000. I was not satisfied with the direction of PDP then. As ealy as 2000, I saw the direction of PDP and I left the PDP government. I finally left the party in 2001. And I needed something that is different from PDP. That was what took me to ANPP and that is where I met Buhari. There has been strong criticism of President Buhari that his over 30 appointments were lopsided against South East in particular and the entire Southern Nigeria. What is your take on that?He who must go to equity must go with clean hands. If you didn’t participate in baking the bread, why do you want to eat the bread or the product of the baker? The people of the South East put all their eggs in one basket and they all collapsed, so, they should not hold anybody responsible for their woes. Buhari owes nothing as far as that is concerned. You are saying Buhari owes Igbos nothing?As far as that issue is concerned. But people are saying that he should reflect the Federal Character principle in the constitution?First of all, what is Federal Character? What do you mean by Federal Character? Federal Character means ministerial appointments. Has he gotten to that stage? Federal Character means Federal Executive Council, has he gotten to that stage? When we got to the stage of Federal Executive Council, you can now talk of federal character. It is at the stage of Federal Executive Council, that we can talk of federal Character. We‘ve not gotten to that stage. And I know when we get to that stage, Igbos will get their own share. But should it be winner take all. People thought he should pamper the zone with a view to establishing the party firmly in the zone.You are talking of what you don’t know. First, he made an Igbo man his running mate. Did Igbos support him? The second, running mate, an Igbo man. Did Igbos support him? What is making an in- road? When he made you a running mate, it is for you to embrace him. Did they embrace him? They didn’t embrace him. So, the issue of South East having a governor, yes. We have an APC governor in Imo state. How many votes did he give to Mr President? Is there any place in Igbo land where the president got 24, 25 percent. It is where you have 25 percent, you can say this is my home, 25 percent is my home. Which place in Igbo land? No place, then why do you say, he is doing something extra-ordinary? That he is forgetting you, when you didn’t work? Why do you want to benefit from those that worked? In other words the criticisms of Mr. President for not appointing Igbos are unwarranted?In the first place, those who are criticising Mr. President are naive. You must go to the table with something for you to bargain. When you don’t have something to bargain with, then what do you do? What is the way forward for the South East?First of all, it is for them to realise their naivety in politics. For them to realise that they are pushing themselves from the corridors of power in Nigeria, instead of integrating themselves. And as long as they don’t know how to appreciate …… you see, they have not convinced me on why they should stampede Buhari. You have to convince me first on why you should stampede Buhari. All these shuttling to Abuja, why did they not shuttle to Abuja, when the work was on? They are shuttling to Abuja when it is time to eat. They would have shuttled to him when the work was on for them to participate in working. Alright, for some of you who worked; Dr. Chris Ngige. Ogbonnaya Onu, is it that President Buhari did not appreciate your contribution for his becoming the president of Nigeria?How many of them? How many Igbo leaders were frank to Igbos, putting their head for Buhari? How many? Then convince me people who wanted to put their heads for Buhari? None. They were seating on the fence and the game crashed. There is nothing anybody can do about it. I am not saying that Igbos should be neglected, but you must know what you should do before you can ask let me have my right. If you sell your right, you can’t have it back. You all went to Jona and Jona has crumbled, so crumble with Jona, why crying? Let’s talk about Buhari’s anti- grant fight. From your knowledge of this President, do you think he can successfully execute this battle against corruption in Nigeria? Well, he did it in 1984, 85. Why won’t he do it now? So far, so good. You see, when a leader is not corrupt, then he can force his followers not to be corrupt. But when you are swimming in corruption, you cannot force anybody not to be corrupt. That was the problem of Jonathan. That was the problem of Obasanjo. They themselves were part of the system. And you cannot tell somebody, see when I give you a pen, you can go behind me and get two pens and get away with what you want to do. Do you understand what I am saying? When I give you a kobo, you can get behind me and get two or 20 kobo. Do you understand what I am trying to say? So, whatever, it is not your own cup of tea. So far, he has shown what he wants. But his critics said that he has not been following due process and that he is bringing his military mentality to clamp people into detention? Hold on, has he detained anybody? They made reference to the immediate National Security Adviser (NSA), Jonathan’s CSO and others?Has he detained anybody? NSA is a different ball game. It borders on the security of the state .All these corrupt leaders, has he detained any of them? The NSA borders on the security of the country and we cannot talk on that my friend. Can you talk on that? Why are you telling me about critics? Why people are saying that he cannot fight corruption is that he is surrounded by the corrupt people who funded his election including governors of APC who allegedly used their state’s money to fund his campaign and could not pay their civil servants?Don’t talk what you don’t know. Did Buhari tell you that governors sponsored his election? Did he tell you that? Why are you making that reference? You see, don’t mind what these governors are saying about this and about that. Did governors sponsor his election? You should say what Mr. President said and not what you said Mr. President did. Two, those people who are corrupt, how many have managed to get their way into Mr. President’s cabinet. If none has done so, why do you think he cannot fight corruption? Okay, do you understand what I am saying? Those who are saying we surrounded Buhari, how many of them are in his kitchen cabinet? How many of them have come close to him on that issue? Then, why are you complaining? Do you think that in spite of his military background and promises, he can successfully bring insurgency to an end in the North East?The issue I know of insurgents began in 2003, when the PDP wanted the then Governor of Borno State to checkmate the right to power of Muhammed Buhari because what happened was between Obasanjo and Sheriff in 2003. Obasanjo used Sheriff against Buhari in 2003 elections and subsequent elections. If 2003 to 2015 is about 20 years, what do you expect Buhari to do within two months? Ordinarily, three months should be in planning stage, six months is still planning stage. It is after one year, that you can say, you can asses Buhari, how far have we gone? It is too early to say, but then, so far so good. You have now seen that most of the things that happened during Jonathan, that the military participated in Boko Haram insurgency. Do you understand what I am trying to say? So, it is now that you have to move military from Boko Haram and what you are or who you are fighting against or what you are fighting for. That is the first step he has to take and that is the step he is taking now, to separate the military from Boko Haram and then know how to fight the warrior and to clean up the system. It is too early to say he is not winning. But so far, we are seeing signs. Would you say arms bought during Jonathan administration is part of separation of the military from insurgency?If you give the nation the impression that you are buying arms to fight the insurgents and the arms are not bought or when the arms were bought they ended up in the hands of insurgents. What do you want Buhari to do? You go back to the military. You go back to the military. The solution is the military. Buhari is said not to be strong in the economic management. By now, he should have economic team. What is your take?You must do first thing first. At the time he took over, the government had collapsed. And you cannot talk about economy when you don’t have something to stand on. You must have something to stand on. He has not in place his cabinet because of the same criteria. He is trying to shore up his government so that he can put up his cabinet. And when he has a cabinet in place, he can have economic team. You cannot have economic team without having a cabinet. Why is it taking Buhari four months to set up his cabinet?Well, as I told you, I must be grateful to him. He has done so well. The system collapsed by May 29. And you cannot put a cabinet in place based on nothing. There must be money to pay ministers. There must be money to sustain the cabinet. And he is looking for that money for his government to take-off. And that is what he is doing now; he is trying to gather some money into the treasury that will enable him put in place a cabinet. You know a cabinet is a bit expensive to run. And there must be money for ministers to take off. And if that money is not there, then it is difficult. Two, he has a very serious problem in picking his cabinet. The names of those people from the party, the names of those people from so many areas, when they were subjected to credibility test, more than 80 percent failed. So, you have to go through the process two or three times to have enough team to work. Two: the uncertainty in the National Assembly has not helped the issue. If we can talk about fraud at the highest level of the legislative body of the country, then there is cause to worry for those concerned. I think you understand what I am trying to say? So, anybody blaming him for not putting the cabinet in place before now, maybe the person does not understand the problems, the handicaps, the impediments. So, as far as I am concerned, I am 100 percent in support of his programme. Let’s give him some time to put things in order before he takes off.