GOVERNORS FORUM, A DISTRACTION â€“ MBU
Mathew Mbu needs no introduction. A former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the second republic, and an elderstatesman, he has criticised the growing influence of the governors forum on the presidency, describing it as a nusiance and an unconstitutional group.
Speaking with journalists at his Lagos residence, Mbu maintained that every unconstitutional gathering should be condemend and advised President Goodluck Jonathan to be wary of what he described as the group's diversionary tactics.
His words: 'The president should not rely on unconstitutional bodies to influence him. He has a body of experts and eminent Nigerians to advise him, and the composition of that body comprises men of integrity.
He should listen to them and not to lobby groups. The forum of governors is a lobby group. They are abandoning their primary role delivering services to their people at the state level.'
He spoke on this and other issues.
The influence of the Governors' Forum on the President
These are the issues that we would expect the press to loudly condemn. There is nothing like Governors' Forum in our constitution. That forum is unconstitutional and anything that is unconstitutional is an aberration.
Why do we allow certain characters that made themselves the octopus, overruling the presidency under what they claim to be a platform that is not known in our constitution? It should be condemned and exposed. The so-called Governors' Forum has no basis in the constitution. The governors have their functions to perform, and we have a written constitution.
Are they a nusiance?
Absolutely. It is just a diversionary tactics with a nuisance value that is obstructing the Presidency. But the president should not rely on unconstitutional bodies to influence him. He has a body of experts and eminent Nigerians to advise him, and the composition of that body comprises men of integrity. He should listen to them and not to lobby groups. The forum of governors is a lobby group. They are abandoning their primary role of delivering services to their people at the state level.
The problem with Nigerians is that they like to create crisis for themselves, and when they are not creating crisis, they imagine that they must be there for us, and if they are not there, we can't perform. You forget that the president is a product of a system, and he belongs to a political party and that political party has a way it operates. Some of the chieftains in that party are now concerned with the reforms within the party to bring it to a stage they expect it to be.
Therefore, the president alone cannot reform or ignore the decision of his party. And that party has a board of trustees which comprises the same people that we imagine are yesterday's men. The former president is the chairman of the board of trustees; therefore his role cannot be ignored. There is no use to begin to cast aspersions on anyone until we see the outcome of everyone's input. We should stop making a mountain out of a mole hill. When we see a problem, let us offer our solution. Nigerians are too inclined to wholesale condemnation.
Jonathan and the 2011 presidency debate
What does the constitution say about it? If he is qualified to run and he wishes to contest, then let him go ahead. I am not God that knows what 2011 holds for anybody. Let us not cross our bridges before we get to them, let us wait for that time and see whether he himself has done enough to justify his running for the office. But personally, I would say he should concentrate on what is confronting him now and allow the other one to wait until we get there.
The emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan
Should I not be happy that my region has produced the president? We have always pleaded to be given a fair chance and an understanding so that one of our sons from the South-South will be given a chance to serve at the highest echelon of political power. We now have that in the person of His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and we are elated about it. I wish him success, and God's guidance in his many onerous responsibilities as the head of state.
I had always enlisted the understanding of our fellow Nigerians that one of our own with the requisite qualification be given a chance to serve as a president. As the chairman of the South-South Assembly, I could not have foreseen that it will come so soon.
In Nigeria today, we have many things to be done and corrected to give us the right image. In the international arena, we have lost our place of honour. But somehow, the Lord has given us an opportunity and we should use it to correct the mistakes of the past such as the anti-corruption crusade which I believe should be pursued. We should have an electoral system properly reformed that will ensure that Nigeria as a country can elect representatives under a system that is democratic and acceptable.
This way we can prove that Nigerians can conduct a credible election that will meet standard expectations. Thirdly, the question of security of lives is very important, no matter your profession. Security should be of utmost importance. The menace of kidnapping should be stopped and the law enforcement agents should be armed in such a way that they will be able to combat this scourge.
Also, something has to be done to bring about normalcy and end all forms of hostility in the Niger Delta region. Having surrendered their arms, there should be a successful ceasefire and an understanding and I am so happy that the President has proposed a glass factory in Bayelsa. It is cheering news because it is a positive sign of things to come, but you cannot get these things done under a condition of hostility.
Jonathan has the political will
I do not know what is peculiar in it. Whatever Jonathan does now will be perceived as a South-South agenda. The region has been neglected for years, yet it is the goose that lays the golden eggs. These reforms I talked about are not just to benefit the South-South alone. Issues like electricity, electoral forms, anti-corruption and others, are they just to benefit the South-South? No! They are meant for all Nigerians because Jonathan is not a Niger Delta President but the Nigerian President. He is not there because he is an indigene of the South-South, and by virtue of his office, he cannot afford to be sectional. The oath he took as Commander-in-Chief is to obey the constitution of Nigeria.
I will put it this way. Anybody who believes in driving a crusade to fight corruption and hopes to contribute in a manner to bring the scourge to an end must truly apply the rule of law. We must accept the rule of law. There are two points that must be noted here, the first is that no citizen should be punished except by a distinct breach of the law as established by the ordinary court. Secondly, use of excessive powers by those in authority will not be accepted in consonance with the rule of law.
Therefore, if certain people who are under investigation, and the investigating authority feels that they have no case against them, they could use the power vested in them to do the right thing rather than punish the innocent person. They should take them to court which will be the proper forum to address them, not outside the court. To do the right thing, we must be observant of the rule of law.
INEC and the electoral system
If the authority which appointed him decided that he should proceed on leave preparatory to his retiring from that office, what is wrong with that? They appointed him, he did not appoint himself, and he was not appointed for life. What Nigerians expect is that the Justice Mohammed Uwais committee recommendations should be implemented in a manner that will meet the satisfaction of Nigerians.
We hope the newly appointed chairman will discharge his duty without fear or favour. It's not a task of Mr. President alone, because he cannot carry out the task of governing Nigeria alone. He governs Nigeria with a cabinet, a legislature and the judiciary. If he does everything alone, then he is a dictator. But Jonathan is not that kind of person. He knows that the other arms of government have their own functions to carry out, and we the electorate must speak out without getting muzzled.
The seven-point agenda
I have said it and I will repeat it that Nigerians have so many gifts and virtues, but we lack patience. Let him do those things that he can possibly do within the time frame of his office. The great Napoleon Bonaparte said: 'the possibility, we can tackle, the impossibility can wait. Whether he can achieve them or not, let it be obvious to Nigerians that he is trying his best. The issues that Nigerians expect their president to tackle is corruption, law and order, power, Niger Delta and others, but whether he will accomplish them before he gets out of office, we do not know.