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Attah Says that Akpabio has Suffered Uncommon Defeat, Rejection 

Attah Says that Akpabio has Suffered Uncommon Defeat, Rejection 

Akpabio Uncommon Defeat – Obong Victor Attah, former Akwa Ibom State governor in this interview with select journalists in Lagos, speaks on the outcome of the 2019 general elections, restructuring and other issues. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI brings the excerpts:

What should be the agenda of the administration in the second term?

First and foremost, Buhari must put a stop to all and every agitation to split up this country and there is only one way to achieve this. He must see to it that we re-enact and reinstate the terms and conditions of the agreement that caused all the various peoples of this country, at independence, to agree to come together and form one country – federalism. Anything short of this is to court a disaster of unimaginable magnitude.

The popular word today that describes this is restructuring. My prediction is that unless this is done, by the end of his tenure in the next four years, there may not be a country called Nigeria as we know it today.

The second item on my agenda for the Buhari government is power. We must work relentlessly to see that in the shortest possible time every hamlet, every corner of this country enjoys twen- ty four hours constant supply of electric power. In today’s world, it is not a luxury but an absolute necessity.

Third on my agenda is the fight against corruption. The fact still remains that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. This time the fight must be total and unsparing.

Next, President Buhari must put a stop to all the killings, whether by herds- men, or Libyan mercenaries, marauders, cattle rustlers or whoever. Already human life has been degraded enough and if the killings contin- ue and farmers stop going to their farms, all the gains made so far towards food se- curity by this administration will come to naught and we will again be faced with a major disastrous phenome- non.

The final item on my agen- da is the release of Leah Sharibu and the total anni- hilation of Boko Haram.

How can the above agenda be realised?

Given where we are now, there is a need for us to de- fine the way forward. For me the way forward lies in a new beginning with a com- plete change of ethos and orientation. To achieve this I suggest the immediate for- mation of two national move- ments.

The just concluded elec- tions have done a lot to re- turn power to the people and they have demonstrated that Nigerians want power to be held by people with integri- ty to which we should also add capability. Nigerians are completely fed up with people who seek power and positions just for the tyran- ny of controlling the trea- sury for themselves, their masters their investors and contractors rather than for the development of the real stakeholders – the people. I have no doubt that there abounds within our popula- tion of nearly two hundred million people, a sufficient number of quality people to whom the leadership of this nation can be trusted.

So, the first movement, which I have suggested must be nationwide and not un- der the aegis of any politi- cal party, must be to search out the Moghalus of this na- tion. There must be quite a few of them. We must search for them, find them, groom them, assess them so that in less than the four years of this tenure, there will be no doubt in anybody’s mind as to who the people would want to be their next presi- dent. I should caution that this exercise, imperative as it is, would amount to an indulgence in extreme fu- tility unless we also firmly re-establishthecountry.The next movement which must

also be nationwide and not sponsored by any political party must therefore be the movement to restructure this country in a painless, equita- bly manner.

If Buhari fails to restructure, where do you see Nigeria?

Why do you call it pessi- mistic, because I don’t see a Nigeria without restructur- ing? I repeat, there can be no Nigeria without restruc- turing. What is going to hap- pen is that the agitation for breaking up is going to get more violent, more virulent and the country will scatter. Certainly, Buhari would not allow that to happen. Even if his disposition today may not be one that says I am com- ing to restructure, when he knows that that’s what has to be done, so that there is a Ni- geria for him to govern and handover to the next Presi- dent, he will see the need to restructure.

Must restructuring happen in the next four years?

It doesn’t have to be in the next four years. But, it must begin now by laying

the groundwork and he must show clear and sincere evi- dent that we are moving to- wards restructuring. This is because the processes or the way to do restructuring equi- tably would entail a lot of ne- gotiation to agree on how to do it. Do you know how long it took us to agree to form a federation at independence; some said we were ready, oth- ers said we were not ready. Restructuring is not going to be different. It is not going to be overnight, but we must agree that restructuring is what we must do, so that there can be a Nigeria.

Have you the elders ever thought of taking a letter to President Buhari, explaining your position?

Yes, an effort was made. I was interim chairman of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PAN- DEF) and we sent a 16-point agenda to President Buhari. Our focus was essentially the Niger Delta, but on nation- al level restructuring. The larger focus of Ohanaeze, the Igbos, is restructuring; Afenifere also restructur- ing. So, we had this southern

leaders forum, which was joined by the Middle Belt and at the end of the day by some personalities from the North, such as Ango Abdullahi and Junaid Mohammed. I don’t know if they represented groups such as the Arewa Consultative Forum or not.

So, we wanted this coun- try restructured, but sadly we committed a blunder; the same mistake that the mili- tary bloc made. We identified ourselves with a candidate. So, we were seen like a po- litical party. For me, that was where we derailed. If had just said, Atiku if you win you must restructure, Buhari if you win you must restructure and so on. In other words, focusing only on restructuring, we would have been in a better po- sition today. That is why I said there must be a new na- tional movement dedicated to restructuring and not by any particular candidate. When the idea of a Christian governor came up in Lagos, the proponents of that idea did not ally themselves with any particular party or can- didate. But at the end of the day, the two major parties chose Christian candidates.

How can this idea of a move- ment or third force be realised?

The first step is to accept the concept; once we accept the concept a way out would be found… Don’t forget the basic principle is to make sure that Nigeria remains together as a country. It is my conviction that unless we restructure, there would be no Nigeria.

During the campaign you did not speak on the politics of Akwa Ibo. What informed that decision?

Maybe you weren’t pay- ing attention. In October of last year, I addressed a press conference where I said I be- lieved Nsima Ekere of the APC has 80 per cent chances of winning the 2019 gover- norship election. But with Akpabio jumping out of the PDP to go and join Nsima Ekere’s camp, I think he is going to destroy the chanc- es of that young man win- ning the election. I was very graphic and I don’t want to repeat some of the things I said. Akpabio was an uncom- mon governor who has suf- fered an uncommon defeat and rejection by the common people of Akwa Ibom State. The unfortunate thing how- ever was that the rejection affected Nsima Ekere and the APC.

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