OUR LEADERS ARE INTELLECTUALLY LAZY
Just as the incumbent president has declared his intention to run as well as other political gladiators, other positions are vigorously witnessing different forms and methods of declaration.
Coming from an intellectual background, one of such persons who have indicated interest to represent his people, Okigwe North, Imo State, at the House of Representatives in Abuja is Mr. Chidi Enwerem.
A lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU) and a political analyst, Chidi is an incurable optimist. He posited in this interview that Nigeria would once again regain its pride of place in the comity of nations.
The indigene of Ehime Mbano spoke about his vision for his constituency, his political pedigree and his take on zoning. He also spoke on Ohakim's performance.
Running for the House of Representatives has nothing to do with an indictment on political office holders. I think there is a whole lot of erroneous impression about running for any legislative office because the legislators are not executors of government projects. Rather, those at Abuja, as far as we are concerned, are the people who have the responsibility of trying to bring to focus, to national limelight, whatever peculiar issues they have. The National Assembly gets involved in the budgeting process. If I'm a member of the House of Representatives, I am going to look at the budget content and see how my people get favoured. I happen to come from where we have a whole lot of ecological problems. I also come from where we have untapped resources, down there in the east, especially in Imo State, where land is a very essential commodity and that is why we don't go into mechanized agriculture. But I come from a constituency that can afford at least to feed the state. We have a whole lot of untouched arable lands. The resources in the country are scarce and the problems many. He who shouts louder gets more recognition and I'm aware we have not been very lucky with that kind of representation at the national level.
Then there again the main core of being a federal legislator is to make laws that affect the lives of the people and not to execute projects. I'm particularly very passionate about certain aspects of the law. For example, I'm particularly concerned about the quality of our electoral process. I'm concerned about the fact that while other parts of the country are shouting that their girls are not going to school, where we come from our major problem is that the boys don't go to school. We need to declare a kind of national emergency on boy child education from the entire South East. That is a very dangerous trend because if this trend continues, in the next twenty years, we are going to be looking for men who would become permanent secretaries. We are going to be begging men because they won't be there. And again, I'm also very concerned about education. For example, at the tertiary level, Imo State produces 12 percent of applicants into the university system and of about 900,000 candidates, the university system we have here can only accommodate less than 120,000. That means that, over 87 percent of people from my State who want to go to the university are denied the opportunity.
Thank God that we now have opportunities to have private universities and all that. Those who have the resources to set up private universities don't see it as an investment. Nobody wants to invest in that. I'm so passionate about that because there is no short cut to it. Success has to do with educating the mind and as it were, tertiary education in the area of Science and Technology and Information Technology especially today, we buy jeeps from India. The secret of what India did was that that she set up institutes of technology, about five of them while other parts of education were not given attention. Today, India leads the world in IT. India leads the world in so many things and it is not magic. So we need to make some healthy, positive, concrete laws that will look at our nation in the next twenty to thirty years. What we have now is a brand of politicians who look at the nation from the point of view of the next election date. We need to plan. We may not be the beneficiaries but our children, and our children's children should have a better Nigeria than we've met it.
Are you saying that the incumbent honourable is not doing enough?
That would be very callous because you don't give what you don't have. Maybe from his orientation and background, he may think he is doing his best. There is no particular yardstick to measure whether he has done well or not but from my own perspective, I think we can do better. That is where we are coming from. In the legislature, it's a collective thing but for you to push a bill, it is something you have to be passionate about and you need to be grounded intellectually. You are dealing with the law. If you are shallow, you cannot make a law. You need to be deep. Your intellectual background must come to play and that is what is lacking at the National Assembly level. We have brand of politicians with little or no intellectual depth, so that's why issues like where would the president present the budget would be a national discourse or the seniority of the Senate to the House of Representatives. Issues like that shouldn't even come up because these things are as straight as black and white. For example, the National Assembly just passed the amendment to the constitution and there is this issue of: Is it law until the president assents or something like that. If you are intellectually grounded, you should know that these issues are not what should cause discord. It is just that we don't have issues to talk about. That is why a senator marrying a 13 year old becomes a national issue. When we face serious business, some of these issues would not come up.
I'm not a messiah. I don't give the magic wand but like Apostle Paul would say, if they could allow him some level of immodesty, he can reel out his portfolio. He was a lawyer, a Roman citizen. I am from a politically enlightened family in the first instance and my father is still very active in politics at his own level. I'm a Political Science graduate.
Now why should I be trusted? Yes, I agree with you that most politicians will sweet tongue their ways into parliament and go there and fill their pockets. I am coming from the intellectual constituency where money doesn't mean much to us. If money means a lot to us, most of us, with all the bright ideas we have would not be in the university system. They don't pay you well, it doesn't give you credibility and the rest of them but we are here. So, I come from that constituency and I'm a proud member of that constituency even at a junior level.
When an architect is in charge of a building or when he gives the building to professionals, even from the foundation level, you know the guy is going somewhere though you have not seen the finished building what you see on ground tells you the character of the house that is coming up. When a quack is building even when he has roofed, there is this expectation that something is wrong somewhere. With my intellectual background in Political Science and International Relations, my teaching background, my analytical background, my family background, the integrity even my spiritual background, these things shall come into play. I may not be the best legislator but I'm definitely going to be among the best.
I was one of those who said praise God when the rotational presidency failed to make the constitutional list. With due respect, the arrangement of Dr. Alex Ekwueme who was the protagonist of rotational presidency during the constitutional conference may be a little bit selfish. It is not nationalistic. When you say zoning, you are undermining the potentials of Nigerians to spring surprises. Some day when it is the turn of the South east for example, if it is these charlatans we have now, and then there is this brilliant nationalistic young man from the north, we say for zoning arrangement, let us get this charlatan from the South east. No nation progresses with that. A nation must be able to get its best no matter the area. That's my take on that.
Now, let us particularize it to Goodluck Jonathan. He is 53 years old. In fact he is seven years below the retirement age. He has a Ph.D. Politically or job experience wise, he's been a director for federal establishment. He has served as a lecturer. He became a deputy governor. These are political experiences. From deputy governor, he became acting governor, then vice president. From vice president he became acting president and acting president to president. This is one credential no Nigerian alive or dead has. Now you are saying for the interest of zoning, retire a 53 year-old man with these experiences.
What would he do when he goes home? Are we now saying that this few men who assemble in Kaduna, Port-Harcourt and elsewhere are the aggregates of Nigerians? Don't also forget that if you cannot trust the messenger, you cannot trust the message. It is the general view that about 85 percent of our governors did not win elections. So are they aggregating national interest? The constitution is very clear: Goodluck Jonathan qualifies as a Nigerian to run. We are just reacting to the Nigerian state myth that an incumbent cannot lose an election. Let us have a credible electoral process and let Goodluck Jonathan run, let IBB run, let Buhari run, let Chris Okotie run, whoever Nigerians say we are gong to be comfortable with. Why are some people still pontificating as if they love Nigeria more than the rest of us? I don't buy that idea. Zoning is a lazy man's way of getting something from the system. The late Moshood Abiola broke a jinx. He ran on Muslim- Muslim ticket and won because the man has touched the lives of Nigerians ab initio before even running for president.
Can Jega's deliver?
He has the experience. I'm sure from my perspective, I have an implicit trust in him. But the problem I have is the bureaucrats in INEC who have the innate capability to rubbish whatever effort he would make. As I said, INEC chairmen don't rig elections and if you look at the guidelines given to state electoral officers, the commissioners, you would see how powerful they are. And thank God for Donald Duke who has given us a theatrical expression of how these things are done. There are some people who ought to be weeded out of the system and as far as I'm concerned, any state electoral commissioner who participated in 2007 elections should bow out.