Chief Sunny Onuesoke is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a former governorship aspirant in Delta State. He speaks to EBENEZER ADUROKIYA on insecurity and other problems bedeviling the country.
What’s your take on the unceasing insecurity across the country vis-a-vis the abduction of school boys at Kankara in Katsina?
Security of lives and properties of the people is the topmost priority of any responsible government. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in our beloved country. With worsening security situation, nosediving economic indices and corruption in high places of government, one can only say that Nigeria, under the watchful eye of President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC [All Progressives Congress] government, is in a state of coma and if nothing is done by patriotic Nigerians, we may end up saying goodbye to the entity called Nigeria in no distant time. That school children were abducted at the backyard of the president’s abode only goes to show that the security situation in the country is in a total mess.
President Buhari has refused, so to say, to honour the invitation by the House of Representatives in the wake of the brutal killing of over 43 farmers in Borno State. Today, the security situation has worsened. The National Assembly appears toothless if not helpless. What do you make of the situation?
Unfortunately, there is nothing this National Assembly can do about the refusal of the president to honour their invitation, so to say, because they have made themselves too cheap for the presidency. In a saner clime, the National Assembly would have commenced impeachment proceedings against such incompetent, callous and insensitive president. Forty-three farmers were killed; the least the families of the bereaved would have expected from the presidency is an assurance of justice and hope for a better tomorrow. But unfortunately, it is as if we no longer have a government, hence the security situation continues to deteriorate and no one is being held accountable to serve as a deterrent.
How difficult is it for the National Assembly to impeach the president? And do you think he should be impeached?
Impeaching an incompetent, corrupt and insensitive president should not be a difficult thing to achieve, but unfortunately we have a compromised and divided National Assembly that may have lost focus on the reason why they are there in the first place. That is why it seems difficult for them to do. Without any iota of doubt, the National Assembly should, as a matter of national urgency, commence immediate impeachment proceedings against President Buhari in order to salvage the country, as any further delay may lead to unbearable pains and miseries for our people.
Poverty and hunger is increasing in the land, as just last Tuesday, eight people were killed while struggling to get a share of Christmas palliative in Port Harcourt. How do we bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the country?
There is despair and desolation in the land, hunger and starvation is ravaging Nigerians and the government of the day seems to be helpless about the situation. The system here in the country has continued to fail the Nigerian people; otherwise, we won’t be having such an unfortunate incident [of people dying because they were struggling to get food to eat during Christmas]. Let’s take a look at the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. These are countries we once had a very big edge over but, today, the reverse is the case, as they have not only left us behind but are now also competing with the world powers, such as US, Germany and China. That is to tell you that something is wrong with the system here. And for us as a country to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, it means a total re-evaluation and restructuring of the system to build a strong, virile and egalitarian society with equal opportunities for all to thrive.
Against the ravaging hunger and squalor coupled with the current economic meltdown, any hope for Nigerians in the nearest future?
If things continue this way, as I said earlier, in no distant time, there may not be a Nigeria to call our own. If nothing is done urgently to salvage the situation we are currently in, Nigeria may just be headed for doom. A time like this is a wake-up call for all patriotic Nigerians to come together and rally round ourselves to rescue this nation from selfish, wicked and unpatriotic individuals whose only interest is to themselves and their cronies.
Should the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) back out of the current struggle to revive the university education in Nigeria? If yes, why? If no, why?
For the sake of the suffering students, I think it is time for the leadership of ASUU to have a rethink on their industrial action and consider calling off the almost one year strike. Students are the ones taking the brunt of the actions of both the Federal Government and ASUU, so for that, I think both parties must agree to come to a compromise going forward. The Federal Government must show serious commitment to genuinely implement whatever agreement they reached with the leadership of ASUU while ASUU must, as a matter of national interest, find common ground with the Federal Government in resolving and implementing whatever agreement reached.
Jungle justice by killing and setting ablaze suspected criminals is gaining ground across the country, especially in Delta State. How do we address this problem?
I am not in the school of thought of those in support of jungle justice. However justice must be seen to have been served as a deterrent to any form of criminal activity. The prevalence of jungle justice in the state is borne out of the many cases of miscarriage of justice, thereby giving credence to criminal elements to continue to unleash unbearable injury and harm on the people. However it may be, jungle justice should not be encouraged to persist, rather we must learn to allow the law to take its course and not take laws into our own hands.
Ahead of the local government election in March 2021, the PDP has been accused of imposing candidates across the local government areas. Should this be so, given the fact that you people accuse APC of the same allegation?
There is no doubt that PDP is the only formidable political party in Delta State, so when you see or hear people raising such issues like imposition of candidates for election, just know they are trying to make noise for relevance so they can be recognised. While our party, PDP, is busy mobilising party faithful, campaigning and reaching out to the grassroots across the 25 LGAs in the state, other parties are busy wailing and lamenting over trivial matters.
What is the way out of the current debacle in the country as things appear not to be working well in all facets? What do you think should be done?
The solution is simple; restructuring is the way to go, as our current political and economic structure has not only failed us, it also can no longer sustain the entity called Nigeria. For instance, a major cause of the rising cases of insecurity in the country is information gap due to the absence of state police.
The PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, appears to be in the eye of the storm as some groups and individuals are said to be plotting to oust him. What’s your take on this?
PDP is one big united family and our national chairman is doing extremely well to further strengthen the bond of unity across board thereby positioning our great party for total victory come 2023.
Do you agree that power should shift to the South-East in 2023?
In 2023, the next leaders should be voted based on character, attitude, and values with a development template that will benefit the lots of Nigerians irrespective of their tribes or regions.
What’s your take on the two weeks ultimatum given to mobile network subscribers to link their SIM with NIN?
I don’t have a problem with it, provided it is meant to improve security. However, it should be done individually via online or SMS. Besides, if operators will allow e-submission of NIN subscribers, we won’t have to congregate and worsen the COVID-19 situation. Subscribers can simply email in their NIN with their passport photos, operators will only have to check if the passports sent in match the one they already have in their database.
What’s your advice for South-South governors against the dwindling fortunes of the oil sector and the decision of Zamfara State to control its gold mining process?
Good question. If Dangote, an individual, can build a refinery, I wonder why the South-South governors, with the huge oil derivation cannot put their resources together and build, at least, a refinery. If this is done, there is an assurance that they have their own oil refinery that will be supplying oil products to the people. Other South-South governors should emulate the move of Akwa Ibom State governor, Emmanuel Udom, who is planning to build an oil refinery, a liquefied natural gas plant (LNG), a thermal power plant, one petrochemicals plant before 2023 when his second term administration would elapse.
The Federal Government’s plan to import petroleum products from Niger Republic, which is closer to the North, should be a signal for them to think of how to build their own refinery. It is like the North is already thinking ahead of the South-South governors in terms of oil production with the plan to build oil refinery in Katsina State and the recent discovery of crude oil in large quantity in Benue trough. This is a warning signal. Before now, the North has been anxious to discover oil in the area so as to become economically important and probably break the jinx of the South-South crude oil monopoly. The way things are going, they are gradually achieving their objective, while the South-South is dormant.
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