President Olusegun Obasanjo’s style of leadership left a communication gap between the executive and the National Assembly. He wrote a letter to the Senate that only served as a sort of information without asking for a specific action or presenting a bill as was constitutional on such matters.
Obasanjo did not, however, act unilaterally. He acted in accordance with the ruling of the world court.
The problem is that in a democratic government, there are duties and functions allocated to each arms. The executives had done its jobs by negotiating with the government of Cameroon, and the decisions made, can never be constitutional unless they go through due process. They can never be legalized unless they go through the National Assembly. You cannot cede any part of Nigeria, until you go through due process. That means that whatever negotiations made must be confirmed by the National Assembly.
I think Obasanjo had taken the initial step of notifying the National Assembly but that was not enough in itself because whatever decision that was made about ceding Bakassi to Cameroon had to be made into a law. In doing so, you have to work hand in hand with the National Assembly.
Some of the people who negotiated or represented us at the international court, I understood, said that there were secret details they did not want to let out to the public. My question is, why did they not let the National Assembly know about those secret details? The National Assembly would have been made to know these all along.
That is what obtains elsewhere, like in the United State which we are emulating. They have foreign intelligence committee which participants in this kind of thing. That is not what you saw between the Executive and National Assembly. There was lack of communication. Even though the president sent them a letter, that was not enough by itself. It should have taken the form of bill.
Nobody is saying that they had to retract what has been done. The errors had been made. That is not enough for us to go to war with Cameroon. The executive should initiate the bill to correct the error that has been made. Two errors cannot make a right. What will happen is that, with the new executive and National Assembly can correct what was done wrongly. It is not just enough to carry a banner of war. We are not going to war with Cameroon. Those decisions have been taken but the National Assembly has to be involved to construct the enabling laws so that accent could be put to decisions that had been taken. The presidency has to initiate it, not the legislature.
Assessment of Obasanjo’s anti corruption crusade given
I am not in a position to asses anybody’s performance in terms of fighting corruption. What I know is that corruption is endemic in every fiber of the nation, that is, if any fibre is remaining in this country. It has been there for long. It is part of our daily lives and if you want to argue what I am saying, go to the express road to Aba, and count the number of police check points. They are not checking any vehicle with improper registration particulars, not checking any vehicles for road worthiness, illicit arms or ammunition. What they are doing is taking N20 from each vehicle that passes. It is done in the open if you want to get your balance they will give you. If you want a change even if it is N500 they will give. Do you need Obasanjo to clean that up? Obasanjo is just an individual.
I must tell you that Obasanjo inherited a lot of headache when he came. His undoing was that his style of government was, ‘if you stand on my way I will bulldoze you.’ but to tell you the truth, this country was in a mess and is still in a mess. Corruption is endemic and affects ever segment of the society.
Just take a look on the way elections were conducted. You will prove the involvement of every segment of the society. It behooves all of us to fight corruption but we are shying away and want the president to fight corruption. His contribution to it is negligible. When the government increased price of fuel we protested, and it was reversed. Why can’t we protest against corruption? When we, the people begin to fight corruption; it would stop. Take the issue of giving the police N20, if these vehicles that pay N20 decide to say no, we will not give police any money, make noise about, it would stop;
How to fight corruption
If we start from the Port Harcourt-Aba Express road and say we shall not give N20 any longer and cause traffic jam, it will end. You don’t need Yar’Adua to do it for you. If you are talking of corruption in higher places, the local government here in Isiala Ngwa North and South receives allocations from the federal. All local governments do. If you go through Isiala Ngwa South and Isiala Ngwa North, I want you to show me, for the last eight years, a single project that has been executed. I want you to show me in Isiala Ngwa North, a functional borehole. I want you to show me a road that has been graded and tarred. I want you to show me a maternity or dispensary, a good functional elementary school.
If a pauper ascends to the local government chairman position, within six months he builds a filling station, builds mansions for himself, drives a luxury cars, and nobody asks question. If you ask me where to start probing I would say start from the local government.
The media have kept conspiratory silence. None of you have done tangible investigative reporting on this issue. We are all praise singers.
In addition, immediately somebody is announced a chairman of a local government, you see all the traditional rulers, chiefs, dancers in that village, go round to celebrate. Celebrate what? I am challenging you to go round, and show me a functional bore hole, a road that has been constructed and maintained by a local government. After that, you can take it to different levels of government.
The judiciary has been the only flicker of hope that Nigeria has. When everything else has, succumbed to corruption, it is the judiciary that has in its little way, raised our hopes. I am not by any mean telling you that we are out of the woods with the judiciary, but God, in His infinite wisdom has used them to an extent in instilling fear and giving the common man hope. We are relying on them to continue on this path. It is still not Uhuru.
I think that with the decisions they have made so far, given the right environment, they will do better I think that is where the Yar’Adua will excel, to create an enabling environment for judiciary to do its job without fear or favour. I am talking about paying them well, giving them what is due them, and ensuring they do not have their hearts in hand before their allocation is given them. They ought to be the first to get money so that they would be truly independent. If that is done, the judiciary would act just like their emblem, blind folded justice with a knife to dish out justice.
The problem we have in this country is that when terrible things happen, we begin to ethicize it. We begin to say, he is an Igbo, let us not join others to condemn him.
Every body knows that the 2007 election was the worst election that was ever conducted in this country. Professor Maurice Iwu knows it. In any country of the world, there is nobody who would force Iwu to resign. Iwu would have resigned by himself.
In any other country of the world where people have shame, Iwu would have resigned. Look at what is happening in the tribunals. How election results announced by him are being tumbled? Believe me, a lot of people did not go to the tribunal because they do not have the money, not that they were not convinced that they had a case. They just swallowed hard and went to their houses.
If Sierra Lone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, can conduct elections that the whole world said was world standard, let’s leave the US, Britain and Russia and India that has a population above a billion people, why can’t Nigeria conduct an election that can be regard as being acceptable.
I want to challenge you to go out and find how much Nigeria spent. Is Iwu going to say his INEC was starved of funds? What INEC spent for that fraud called election is more than the annual budget of most African countries.
Review of electoral law
There are aspects of the electoral laws that need to be reviewed, but it should be recognized that no law is perfect. The flaws in the last elections were not cause by the inadequacies in the Electoral Act. The fraud that characterized the last election was caused by the acquired tendency in Nigerians to be fraudulent.
Whatever should be done to ensure a free and fair election in future must include the reorientation of Nigerians into accepting to behave peacefully and believe that their franchise only could provide the leaders.
If not, we should not deceive ourselves that there is going to be a free and fair election.
The hoodlums are still going to run wide. People are still going to snatch ballot boxes, go into their houses, where one person can thump print one million ballot papers, and come out and announce that, that is the result.
So, it is not the act, but the behavior of Nigerians. The reorientation should not be that of an agency, but of all of us.
We must reorientate ourselves, including all the political parties, so that somebody who is caught in any electoral fraud must be tried and punished as a deterrent.
I think President Musa Yar’Adua has done well so far. That is my personal opinion, I may be one of the few Nigerians who have positive impression of Yar’Adua both his personality and his style of administration.
He has subscribed to the rule of law, coming after somebody who did not recognize constitutionality, rule of law, transparency, and due process. He has, in some measures, shown people that he is serious about these. Nigerians have seen that there is a little difference from the way thing used to be.
When you look through the facts of some reversals, which he had made, especially some policies that were instituted before his ascendancy, a good leader is one who takes a barometric pulse or feelings of the people. It is these feelings, this warmth that makes him thick and generates policies that reflect the goodness of the people he leads. Taking it from there, when Yar’Adua came to power, and there were some outcries about some certain action, for instance, the increases in the price of petroleum, which he realized that Nigerians were vehemently against, he reversed it. He reversed the sale of certain government property. He has taken steps in some areas, obeying judicial orders that were neglected before. These are the things that are endearing him to the people. I can say that he has been setting up good policies but he still has a long way to go