Period of cheap money over in Nigeria –Eyiboh

Period of cheap money over in Nigeria –Eyiboh

Former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, Eseme Eyiboh has attributed the crises in the various
sectors of the nation’s political economy to an entrenched culture of impunity and faulty leadership recruitment process.
In this interview, the former member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who is now of the All Progressives Congress (APC) speaks on a wide range of issues.
From all indications, all is not well with Nigeria. How do you feel about it?
The situation Nigeria is in today is the true situation of the country. There are no pretences about it. This is the true picture and character of Nigeria in terms of politics, economics and social. If you want to look at it politically, we have always had this level of impunity and injustices that had been perpetrated in this country over time. This is the outcome. The outcome of impunity is the recruitment of wrong people into right places. So, the institutions are therefore weak.
Because the institutions are very weak, the driving force of good governance has been weakened. The result of weak institutions is what we are experiencing today. There are lack of enforcement, implementation of the rules, budget and other fundamentals of governance. Then, politically too, political parties as it were, had neglected, ignored and failed to develop the fundamental processes of democracy; they have not developed the democratic processes that would be able to throw up men and women who are nationally conscious.
Other countries of the world would go to war and do anything to protect the integrity and preserve their nation. But in Nigeria, what has been enthroned now are religious cleavages and ethnic championship. So when you have a plethora of those things as they pertain to national development, you would experience what is happening in the country today. There would be agitation, insecurity, injustices and all sorts of things.
You have well analysed the situation and also given insights to the root cause of the problem but what is the way forward?
The problem has nothing to do with President Buhari, Jonathan, Babangida, Obasanjo or any of them. No. If Nigerians want to have a nation that is respectable, a nation that is on the development wheel and a nation that wants to benefit from whatever inputs we throw in, we must first and foremost be ready for attitudinal change. The attitudinal change of individuals would now throw up a behavioral pattern that would positively impact on national integrity. And from national integrity, you now begin to see the sub-national and national governments being driven by this history of ethical integrity. So, there would be obedience to and enforcement of the rule of law.
If the political parties want to recruit leaders or potential leaders for national institutions, it must be based on the principle of integrity, capacity, competitiveness, innovation and of course, giving every man his own due. But when that is subdued, neglected and ignored, it is going to be what you are seeing today.
There is a growing population of people calling for restructuring the country, what is your view on this vexed issue?
Many people are talking about restructuring but the question is, restructuring what? I asked a friend of mine that is highly educated, a lawyer the other day of his own meaning of restructuring. Some people say that restructuring means that the South-East must have six states and that you must restructure Nigeria for the South-East to have her own six states. But that aspect of restructuring would have to pass through a referendum. And it would be just for the South- East to also have six states because they have the least number of states in terms of zones. Some people understand it that way but some people; their understanding is for example, in the Land Use act. I am an APC man and my governor is PDP for an instance. I can now invest in cassava or sugar cane to be able to get raw materials for ethanol and when my governor realizes that I have made so much money and I have built my factory in the state, once we are close to the election in 2019, if  I come out to say I want to be governor of Akwa Ibom to contest against him, he can use the powers conferred on him by the Land Use Act to revoke the Certificate of Occupancy for public use and that project would be stalled and the investment would go down the drain.
To some people, they might want to look at it that way. They have to decentralize power and appropriate it to the different tiers of government. Can that be done when governors are now using local governments as buffet tables? No local government in Nigeria because of joint account has received anything more than N10 million from all the money they are supposed to get. If you work into my local government, you would be competing with grass and you would be lucky if you are not bitten by any of those reptiles. That is because the chairman cannot even cut the grass as the money is not even there. When they share it, they give you money for salaries and give you a little for fuel and all of that.
So, restructuring is the issue of decentralizing. It is not a target at any tribe. So, it is generic; it is a perception thing. But whichever way you want to look at it, some of us are of the opinion that there should be devolution of power. And that devolution is also seen from the standpoint that some people are looking to have states, some are looking for local governments not because such states or local governments are viable but just because they want to carve out a dynasty where they would become godfathers. I would like my village to become a local government council so that I would have the power to choose who becomes the chairman or who should not be a chairman.
If you ask me to choose a state, I can choose and determine in my lifetime when my last child would become a governor. It is going on not because of viability. So, we have to now make a clear difference between politics and governance. A lot of people still do not understand that the institution of government has a function under democratic principles and this of course has its own limitations. But governance is a vehicle; it is a process like development which must be done in such a way that the outcome would be the derivatives that would impact on the people.
One of the major campaign promises of this government is to ensure the security of lives and property of the people but it seems the APC administration is failing on that. There are currently security threats everywhere in the country. Are you not scared by the ugly development?
Let me tell you, even in America, there is the challenge of security. In the United Kingdom, you hear about pockets of bombs, guns and knife crimes all over the place. And that is even where the security operatives are very sophisticated and everybody is cooperating and all of that. But in Nigeria, our challenge is complicated by the fact that when there is no national consciousness, there cannot be security consciousness. You would live in a neighbourhood and you would hear gunshots like the recent killing in St. Philips church in Ozubulu, Anambra State and nobody comes out. Are you saying that people would just come and fire all those shots and kill all those people as if people are not living in that neighbourhood? Somebody would go and find out whether the husband is still there in the house and once the husband is safe, she has no reason to scream for anybody. Somebody in the neighbourhood would hear gunshots or hear the neighbour shouting and as the husband and children are at home, he would say close the windows and put off the light. Nobody would call the security and the security operatives anyway are also seeing themselves from the standpoint that they have been rejected by the society because of poor perception.
So, we need to do a general overhaul; we need to do reputation management of a country that we belong to. We need to do reputation management of ourselves as a behavioral pattern and if we do not do that, we cannot go anywhere. As I am talking to you now, they call it Small Island of Developing states, they are many in the Indian Ocean like Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, about six of them. The United Nations is now piloting what is now called Blue economy. If you go to Rwanda, despite the genocide that took place there, go and see what is going on. They had to even amend the constitution for the guy to go for a third term. Go and see Mauritius. This is Mauritius here, this is Seychelles and you have Madagascar in the middle. If you go there, you would swear that it is not that place. Countries of the world like India are struggling with China on how to equip that place. If India gives one submarine boat, China is going to give three. So, they are competing in development. Are we doing the same thing here? The answer is no. The summary of what I am trying to say is that we need some level of behavioral change. We need to recruit people who are competent. I cannot seek to become a governor of a state as I speak now because I would not have the temperament to manage the pressures of all these men who are supposed to retire by now and they are still roaming about.
Do you have any fears about the future of the country?
Nigeria is a great country. Nigeria is an ongoing project. It is a lesson in study. I do not have any fear about this country. Look, the recession Nigeria is going through now is different from the recession going on in every other part of the world. Do you know why? This is because the Nigerian recession is the overthrow of cheap money, god-fatherism which of course is an imbecility of a godless society. And it is an enthronement of competitiveness and competencies. Before now, people never earned money in Nigeria. They were just taking cheap money all over the place. When this phase is over, you would now see that people would now be competing on the basis of competencies, meritocracy and innovativeness. It is no more going to be a situation where you open a bank account and before you know it, N100 million is there and you do not even know what it is for and the next thing is that you go and buy a car and change your accommodation. And you would be traveling from one part of the world to the other and all of that. So, people are going to earn money now; they are going to work for it. So, let us get set to work for it; let us get set to earn money.

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