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[Leadership]: Buhari Should Organise National Economic Summit – Peters

Rev. Olusegun Peters is the national chairman of Democratic People’s Congress (DPC). In this interview with PAUL UWADIMA, he assessed the performance of the one year administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other national issues.

This is making one year since an opposition party defeated a ruling party to produce a president for the country. How would you assess the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the last one year?

First of all we thank God, because what transpired between APC and PDP leading to the opposition winning, is a good development. I just returned from a serious political programme and everyone was admiring how we handled our democratic process in Nigeria. It was a very good effort and it has added to the development of our democracy. In the area of opposition taking over government, a lot is expected of the new government and they have not been able to achieve much as far as Nigerians are concern. All what they have been doing is just beating around the bush. They have not been able to deliver anything tangible to the people. The economy has gone worse than it used to be in their hands. I don’t know the kind of policies they are having. It is now time for them to see what they can do to come together and summon a serious economic summit where they can discuss the way out of Nigeria’s economic problems.

Presently, the economy we have is deteriorating and it is nothing to write home about. But the government’s argument is that they met an empty treasury and that the former administration has looted the state’s funds. Don’t you think they have a valid point?

That is not an excuse for any government that takes over power. Are they telling me that they were not prepared for it? As a government you should know how to source for your money; bring the resources together and help the nation and move your government forward. It is none of the peoples concern on how you get the money to run the country. You should not be telling people that you don’t have money. Are they the ones to provide money for your government? So the government should be able to meet its responsibilities to the people and deliver dividends of democracy to the people. PDP also passed through the same process, and they did not tell people that they don’t have money. They should also go out and see how they can generate funds and help the people. What happen to all the loots they have been recovering? What happen to all the money they have been collecting? What happen to their trip to China to get loans? Where are all these money they have been talking about? My question is, are they sincere to the country? Just yesterday they increased the price of fuel without consulting anybody, without telling anybody what and what transpired. All of a sudden they increased the price of fuel, is that how to run a government? Is that how to run a democratic government?

All these things should be properly discussed. What they are trying to do, gathering people from their party to talk to labour is not what Nigerians are expecting. Let there be open dialogue to discuss everything so that Nigeria can move ahead. Nigeria does not belong to a particular people, Nigeria belong to all of us. Nigeria is for the whole nation, every man on the street in Nigeria is interested in his government. He is interested in what happen to his democracy; he is interested in what happen to the government and also what affects him as an individual. Everybody is interested in what is happening to the country. So there should be open dialogue, so that people can contribute to the development of the country. That is why we are calling for economic conference or summit, so that people can be able to contribute their own ideas. Nigerians are brilliant. Nigerians know what to do. They are great minds, so the president should not restrict national decision making within the government circles alone. They should be open to us.

Are you saying the government’s economic team had not been effective?

It is not enough. They should be more open. They should be transparent. Let’s know what is going on. People in government should not be telling us that Nigeria is broke. Nobody is ready to listen to that. How do you tell a big nation like ours that the country is broke? What happen to the crude oil you have been selling? Even if the price is going down, does it mean we are not making any gains from it? They should tell us what is going on so that people can contribute their ideas and government can pick some ideas from the people. That is the essence of democracy.

A lot of people has  given the government kudos in the area of anti-corruption war, what is your take on this?

It is not only APC that has fought anti-corruption war. It is not a new thing. The war has been waged by several governments. The anti-corruption war can only work if we amend the relevant sections of our constitution. Presently, the constitution we have encourages corruption. The law favours some people at the detriment of the majority of the people. For instance a judge is to deliver judgement and the judge has nobody that he is accountable to, then what do you expect? He delivers judgement to make his money, and whatever happens he writes his report to the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and that is the end of the matter. For instance the EFCC would take people into custody and the court would grant them bail and the EFCC would not release them. There is no rule of law. They are talking about corruption, is that not corruption? What do you call that? How do you address that? We have to put proper control that is why Tunde Bakare said that our constitution needs to be born again. Our constitution need to be properly reviewed.

There is this argument that anti-corruption war is selective, involving only PDP members, but the senate president, an APC member is also facing corruption charges, what is your position on this?

There is no war against corruption. Look at the case of the senate president, it is purely internal party matter. Even at that, is the case going anywhere? Soon you will hear nothing about it. The case of the senate president is gradually dying because they have nothing tangible against the man. They have no serious ground to hold him. If they have something tangible against him, I tell you the man will resign. The man has also checked it they have nothing against him. All the evidence against him are not strong enough to rattle him. It was all the fault of the framers of our constitution who created escape route from the law.

The government has obviously performed well in the area of security. Boko Haram is not as lethal as it used to be, do you agree with that?

In the area of security I believe they have done well. I can see that the president used his military experience to handle the matter, which is very good. I believe that under this kind of situation he came at the right time. He has used his experience to improve our security and I so much appreciate him for that. I believe he is going to do more in terms of security.


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