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Tinubu Should Reverse Anti-People Policies Of His Govt –Adeniran

President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade Debo Adeniran, is also the Executive Director, Centre for Anti Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL). In this interview, he speaks on the state of the nation and other issues, SUCCESS NWOGU reports

How do you assess the performance of the administration of President Bola Tinubu so far?

We as activists are not happy with the President’s performance so far. During his campaign, we believed so much in him going by his antecedents as one of those who spearheaded the Pro-National Conference Organisations (PRONACO) and the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in those days.

We thought his reign would bring succor and relief to the people, especially as we missed that golden opportunity during the June 12 election, but the reverse is the case right now. We would like to call on President Tinubu to explore the possibility of reenacting all the lofty items listed under Hope 93 by Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who was not allowed to rule the country.

President Tinubu should reach out to more professionals even outside his cabinet, so that his policies and programmes can have a more beneficial effect on the populace. He should not limit his search to politicians alone; he should look into professions such as journalism, accountancy, law, education.

Many of the people who are agitating for the payment of their salaries today are qualified as presidents. They could have done the job even better if they were opportune or allowed. He should initiate a process by which a Sovereign National Conference will be put in place, so that we will have a constitution that will truly be ours. That is the time when Nigerians will have a true sense of belonging.

We have always been saying that a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) is the true beginning of nationhood. Without it, we would only continue to engage in self-delusion, thinking that we have a constitution that we have given to ourselves even when it is glaring that the constitution in operation was imposed on us by the military government without asking for our inputs. To this end, the activism in Tinubu should be activated, so that most of the anti-people policies that are already being implemented would be reversed.

We urge him to introduce subsidy to staple food items. We urge him to instead of increasing the cost of energy, he should subsidise it for the people, so that people will be able to engage in economic activities and make adequate profit that will solve their socio-economic needs. We hold the opinion that democracy should be redefined as that government that ensures that the needs of the majority of the people in the country are met.

How do you rate corruption in Nigeria?

It is very sad that corruption has become endemic. Causes of all socio-economic and political problems plaguing Nigeria today have been traced to endemic corruption by and among leadership of various socio-political institutions in Nigeria and their collaborators elsewhere in the private sector and other sectors of the economy including the so called masses.

Corruption as evidenced in all dishonest behaviours like stealing, oppression, favouritism, nepotism, lying, embezzlement, misappropriation, bribery, cheating and fraud, among others has made an average Nigerian poorer, while an average leader unjustifiably wealthier than the capacity of their legitimate earnings.

The government should intensify efforts to stem the tide of corruption in the country otherwise corruption will consume all of us. Recently, we heard that some civil servants who have relocated abroad are still drawing salaries from the government. Some of them may still exist in state governments.

This led to President Tinubu’s order that all civil servants drawing salaries from the government after relocating abroad without formally resigning should be made to refund the money. The President also directed that the supervisors and departmental heads of the culprits must also be punished for aiding and abetting the fraud under their watch.

This is a pointer to the fact that corruption in the country is gradually gravitating to another level. Of course, we have been always hearing of ghost workers which we were told the introduction of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPS) has weeded out of the system.

But we did not know that it had been injected back to the system. As we are complaining of losing our best brains to the recent trend of brain drain popularly referred to as ‘Japa Syndrome,’ the corrupt ones among the civil service are desperately wicked to allow people who are no longer working to be drawing salaries from the government.

The government should bring the perpetrators of this corrupt act to book. Their names should be made public, so as to nail and shame them thereby serving as deterrent to others.

As a temporary measure, governments at every level should undertake tangible programmes to defeat hunger in the land

The political crisis in Rivers State is still lingering; what do you make of the saga?

From the speech made by President Tinubu at the public presentation of two books written on the administration of his predecessor, former President Muhammadu Buhari, which held in Abuja recently, he claimed that Buhari has not intruded in his government since he left office and retired to his hometown, Daura, Katsina State and that the former president has not nominated anybody for appointment into his government.

This is a show of true statesmanship on the part of the former president, but we are amazed by the way and manner, the former governor of Rivers State and now the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja, Nyesom Wike, is dealing with his successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara. The power play that is being displayed can be likened to the godfatherism principle commonly practiced in Nigeria’s political arena.

We would not like to delve into the details of what has happened in the state in recent time, but considering the prevailing circumstances, we feel strongly that all lovers of democracy should be concerned about the situation in Rivers State.

If not properly handled, it will definitely have catastrophic consequences for our democracy as it may snowball into other states. So, we would like to implore President Tinubu to call Wike to order.

He (Wike) has spent eight good years as the governor of Rivers State; he also has the whole of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to govern and provide responsible leadership to, hence he should desist from interfering with the affairs of Rivers State being governed by a democratically elected governor.

A governor cannot share executive powers in a state with an appointee of the President. Such flagrant abuse of power endangers our democracy and is tantamount to planting time bombs on the foundation of the Nigerian federation, and therefore, must not be condoned.

How do you feel about the resurgence of killings in some states of the country?

The situation is rampant in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Katsina and Borno, where violence plagues the states often regarded as Nigeria’s food belt. In Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and other states, bandits and terrorists hold sway, collecting levies or tributes from farmers before they can plant or harvest their crops.

So, insecurity has contributed greatly to the high cost of food in the country. It is also clear that transporting food items from the place where they are produced to places where they are needed have become very difficult. On the way, their vehicles are hijacked, some of the conveyors are killed at times.

The government should make it a priority to secure lives and property of the entire citizens of the country and not only the farmers as this will contribute immensely to the greater output and more investment opportunities in the economy of the country.

As a temporary measure, governments at every level should undertake tangible programmes to defeat hunger in the land and introduction of various social safety measures at a time like this would be a welcome development.

How do you react to the recent importation of arms and ammunition into the country?

It is a sad and worrisome development. Recall that a few days ago, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, announced the interception of a 40 foot container laden with arms and ammunition imported into the country from Turkey.

Also speaking in Onne, Rivers State, the Adeniyi, said the 40-footer container with numbers, MAEU165396, contained pump action rifles and ammunition worth N4.17 billion.

He stated that, based on the number of risk factors associated with the importation, it became a subject of interest for the Customs Service and that led to thorough examination of the container, which revealed that the container contained 844 units of rifles and 112,500 pieces of live ammunition.

The arms and ammunition were said to have been skillfully concealed within items such as doors, furniture, plumbing fittings and leather bags. Can you imagine that!We would like to commend the Nigeria Customs Service for this remarkable feat, and we urge them to continue to be more diligent and vigilant as they carry out their duties.

We have also heard that the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons has said the large cache of arms and ammunition intercepted by the Nigerian Customs Service would be destroyed after documentation has been completed. This organisation also confirmed that the customs had handed over the weapons to the centre.

We are of the opinion that the arms and ammunition should not be destroyed but should be given to vigilante groups and or civilian Joint Task Force (JTFs) around the country after they have been properly trained on how to use the arms.

There is a lingering conflict involving the Federal Government, the Senior Staff Union of Universities (SSANU), and the Non Teaching Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU). What is the way out of this crisis?

It is a sad development that should be urgently addressed.

Recall that recently, the two non-teaching staff unions mulled an indefinite strike at the expiration of a two week strike notice, over withheld four months salaries, and the unpaid 13 months salaries to Abia State University workers.

SSANU president at a briefing in Abuja said beyond the withheld and unpaid salaries, most institutions still owe between three and six months of the N35,000 wage award as it accused the Federal government of being slow and dodgy with regards to announcing a new national minimum wage.

We understand that other issues the unions concerned about are the limited number of educated individuals in the reconstituted boards of federal tertiary institutions and the proliferation of state universities, amidst poor funding of existing ones.

The government should to do everything within the ambit of the law to avert the strike considering the negative effects of the strike on the academic activities on our campuses. Their concerns should be looked into in order to avoid another industrial unrest in our tertiary educational institutions.

Bad roads in many parts of the country are another source of concern; what is your take on that?

Of course, the state of roads in most parts of the country is appalling. The roads have become death traps, this also leads to farm losses and constitute encumbrance to the movement of food and raw materials in the country.

The state governments should stop making excuses for this; they should prioritize the development of roads to ease movement of people and goods. In Ogun State, for example, most of the roads that dotted the state are in a very bad and deplorable state.

One can hardly point at one good road, especially in the communities that share close proximity to Lagos State. The advent of the raining season has compounded the travails of residents of the state as they have to battle with the rigours of traversing these bad roads with dire consequences on their health and the attendant cost of repairs on their motor vehicles while commuters are forced to pay more by commercial bus operators.

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