Barrister Matthew Edaghese is a legal practitioner, human right activist and a social commentator. In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN in Benin, he spoke on a number pressing issues describing the Nigerian president as an absentee leader. Excerpts..
Nigeria in the past 6 years has been under serious threat as a result of insurgency, banditry, kidnappings. Why has the present government found it difficult proferring solutions to these ravaging problems?
The answer to your question is blowing in the wind. There is no body in Nigeria today who doesn’t know that this government that is not governing Nigeria. What they are doing is actually misgoverning. Misgovernance is not governance; Buhari’s leadership has provided zero direction. If there is any leadership it’s on the negative side, and it’s leading Nigeria to its doom. As we speak, we cannot point at the President as somebody who can solve our national problems. We are like a nation without leadership. The entire system is in disarray because Buhari is an absentee president. He is hardly even seen by the people. A president that does not go round the country to interact with the people cannot be said to be a president in charge. He is a president at large, he spends much of his time in London than in Nigeria, and when in Nigeria, he is holed up in Aso Rock.
So where do Nigerians go from here?
Where we go from here is where we are going. The nation is moving at a terrific speed towards the direction of doom. We approaching the edge of the cliff, going over is the obvious reality and how we can stop that drift will only be a miracle because Nigeria as we speak is gone. If we practice democracy the real way it should, is it the responsibility of law makers to pass a vote of no confidence in the president if he is found doing the opposite? In actual sense when you talk of government, we talking about the three organs of government. The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. In Nigeria the collective known as government is non existent. The Executive ought to be checked by the Legislature and the Judiciary. So were this check and balance become non existence , where there is collusion and silence, so what you do not condemn you have endorsed. So it is taken that the entire government system has collapsed and by government system I mean the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. So Buhari is guilty and the other organs are equally guilty because they failed in what the law of the land enjoins them to do, to stand on the side of the constitution of the people that.
Why has it become so difficult for a country like Nigeria to over come the insecurity that has enveloped us, making Nigeria a laughing stock before the International community?
It is not capacity that is hindering them from delivering on their mandate to defend Nigerians and our territorial integrity, what is obvious as their challenge is the lack of will, when the will is not there, capacity is of no consequence. They have not decided to do what they ought to do in battle against insurgency and killer Herdsman. Often times we hear of Fulani Herdsman being supplied arms by state actors. So If you are colluding can you also confront? The answer is no. You can’t collude and confront at the same time, you are either with them or against them. Every empirical evidence available points to the direction of collusion. And General T.Y Danjuma has raised the alarm before now that there is collusion between Nigerian state and those who are killing Nigeria. So if that is the scenario that has been painted by no other person than a former Chief of Army Staff in this country who knows and understand the Nigerian architecture, he is not a common man, if he can make such a categorical statement, then we should wake up to the fact that we are not defended as a people. In fact those who would have defended us are part of the problem, they are working with the enemies.
Those who sold Buhari to us are at the forefront of 2023 General elections hoping to grab power. Do you think Nigerians will close their eyes and vote another APC candidate?
Wisdom and greed cannot cohabit, so when you are greedy, your wisdom will be swallowed. So I think the greed of most Nigerians is the reason they refuse to apply their wisdom when need arises especially when casting their ballots. They want to go after what they stand to gain than what they need to secure their future and posterity.
When former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was leaving office, he said Nigeria will remember him. Now are Nigerians remembering him. Between Jonathan and Buhari who is an angel?
I don’t want to concede to the fact that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was an angel, Nigeria has never been lucky to have an angel as the number one person since Independence. We have had below average leadership. Nigeria had never been a great nation if we must accept the fact. There is no time Nigeria was a great nation, that we were selling oil at a time at a high price and we had nothing to show doesn’t show that. The best we have had was the regional arrangement where Late Dr. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was able to make his mark. There is no such leader again since Independence. The rest were regional manipulators. In the North they manipulated them through religious indoctrination which has led them to where they are today, where it has become the poverty epiccenter in the universe. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world and North is the headquarters in Nigeria. Whatever negativity Nigeria is going through now is rooted in the North. Insurgency came from there, poverty is domiciled there, in the case out of school children, North is the global headquarters. If we had visionary leadership at the beginning, North will not be facing what they are facing now. So realistically, Jonathan was not an angel. He would be remembered for what he said maybe, but that he was the best thing to happen Nigeria I disagree.
Your advice to Nigerian electorate come 2023?
2023 is a tall order, a nation that is moving towards doom at the speed of light should not be dreaming of 2023. It is those who are alive that will cast the ballot, and it is a country that is at peace that will organize election. Are we going to organize election in hell, Nigeria has become a very huge hell. Election 2023 is a mirage unless Nigeria is fixed and fixed urgently. If Nigeria continues the way it’s going, Nigerians will be a refugee in neighbouring countries before 2023. So election will not be on the table instead we would be talking of survival.