Comrade Ogbaloi S.E. Kelly is the Chairman of Labour party who also doubles as the boss of Edo State Chapter of Inter- Party Advisory Committee (IPAC). In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN he spoke on a number of pressing national issues ranging from insecurity, insurgency, bad leadership style etc. Excerpts…
The level of insecurity, crime criminality and blood shedding in Nigeria is becoming a major concern not only to Nigerians, but to international community. Who do we hold responsible and what is the way out of this mess?
Very clearly the constitution provides that when you have a government in place, that government is to take care of the security of the people and their properties. So to locate where the blame should go is very clear. We established a government in this country solemnly for that reason so that they will be able to ensure security and protection of properties. But today that has failed, and if you ask me who to hold responsible, I will simply tell you that the government of the day led by President Muhammadu Buhari should be held responsible. This is even more so when his election was premised on the fact that he was bringing change, for instance that Boko Haram insurgents will be wiped out completely. But if Boko Haram is still a huge scourge on the country today, then it means he had failed abysmally.
Why is Legislative arm of government folding their hands and watching things go this bad, is it not their responsibility to caution the president when things are going wrong?
Well, what happens in the political system looking at from the perspective of corruption and outright rigging, the current National Assembly will not be able to do anything because to me all they have in the National Assembly is one party. What happens in Nigeria is that by the fact of the inordinate desire to grab power, you find out that it’s almost like a one party system. And such one party system which is currently obtainable in the National Assembly cannot afford to do anything to check the Executive. As you can see today, the Executive arm of government is not properly regulated and that in itself is supposed to be a fundamental function of National Assembly. The reason is that almost everyone you have in the National Assembly is a member of the APC. And so each time you talk of the APC, and talk of the government, they see it as their government and so would not be able to checkmate the Executive that they belong to. To me they are weak they are clearly incapacitated.
Why it is becoming impossible for our security agencies to defeat Insurgency; is there a case of compromise somewhere?
Well it is very glaring that there is an element of compromise among the various organs of our security agencies. Because if they are not defeating Boko Haram it then means something you and I don’t know is going on. But don’t forget that most heads of these security agencies are appointed by political office holders. Ordinarily they would be subservient. So you should not expect the Chief of Army Staff to do otherwise because he came to that position with the help of one politician or the other. He or she must obey the powers that made him what he is. In this case there is a retreat towards his political behaviour than his professional attitude. When you say they are expected to protect us yes, but are they currently protecting us? And since they are not protecting us what had happened? If the logistics needed for them to protect us are not given to them, have they said so? I think they are seriously compromised across tribal lines, across religious lines. You see is quite damming that the military in Nigeria cannot defeat Boko Haram. So it means there is a game plan that is not yet open to the entre people of Nigeria.
In all of this, can APC’s change slogan be described as negative or positive in Nigeria?
I really do not want to be partisan to the extent of discussing political party affairs, but as it is one is unable to run away from the obvious. If APC presents a candidate again for presidency or any arm of governance in this country and the people of Nigeria vote for him, we have leant nothing from the government of APC as it were At the beginning you heard APC saying we need to change, we need to change, quite a number of us were easily convinced, cajoled and carried away with political semantics. The change that was made by APC at that time was not a change that would change anything in the lives of Nigerians, it was not a change in the infrastructural development of Nigeria, it was not an economic change, it was not a change that will take you to where you should be, it was not a change to enhance your life by way of being able to provide for your family; it was a change singularly meant to remove Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from power. That was the change they meant. It was not a change to do anything else. Of course you can see that thre’s no change. The economy is going under, Nigeria is heading towards extinction, insecurity everywhere, bandits and kidnappers abducting people everywhere. Market women no longer safe, farmers can no longer g to their farms, Boko Haram insurgents have taken over the streets of Nigeria and school children being kidnapped every time. People can no longer move freely without fear of being molested. So is that a change? Of course if it is a change, I will tell you that is a change in a more negative way. That is the change they meant for us, a change from good to bad, so I will not be an advise anybody to vote APC into power again in 2023 general elections.
As Labour Party executive why are other opposition parties not very vociferous in condemning happenings in Nigeria; is opposition dead?
Look if you go to the pages of the newspapers, and television you will see that the current National Chairman of Labour Party is talking on daily basis criticizing the APC led Buhari’s government and telling Nigerians that the government of today is no government. I may not be able to talk of other political parties, but Labour Party is playing the role of an opposition party the way it should be. Our National Chairman Barrister Julius Abure is in the news everyday drumming it to the ears of Nigerians that Buhari’s government is the worst government ever in the history of this country. He is making it clear to everybody who cares to listen that we don’t have government for now. This is a government of tears, bitterness, bloodshed, inflation, poverty hunger among others. And I want to say that Labour Party is providing the required opposition as it is today.
Does Nigeria really need foreign help to be able to fight insurgency?
Yes, if you say foreign assistance now people are likely to agree because it means that we do not have the capacity to defeat Boko Haram. So anybody can take that because we are weak in that regard; we need more military strength externally and that is why the call for foreign assistance is coming. So for me, whatever can defeat Boko Haram and combat insecurity to standstill in the country is welcomed.
Buhari has been accused of running a sectional government, do you agree with this assertion?
Apparently yes, that is what had led us to where we are today. We are saying that we are seriously bedeviled by ethnicity; religion has bastardised our reasoning on how governance should happen. Everybody is thinking I am from the north, am from the south; I’m a Fulani and all of that. But they have forgotten that insurgents are all over Nigeria so it can happen here or there. It shows that governance has failed, that President Buhari has failed, that APC had failed. Nothing is working in the country, they should address the issues more fearlessly rather than trading blame. A government that continues to trade blame is not a government. If there are issues, solve them.
Do you see any hope in the 2023 General election?
Well the antecedent of APC government since 2015 is available for Nigerians to see. The major thing about our electorate is that they are easily bought over when naira notes are thrown in their faces. Buhari ought not to have come to power in the first place if you follow his antecedents from the beginning when he was a minister and a military Head of State. Just check his government and tell us what they bring to the people. Top politicians who have killed this country and are still killing the country are the ones that brought him because they know power will come to them. And we follow suit because of what we want to acquire for ourselves. For me, the antecedent of these politicians is right in our nose, so if Nigerians vote them again we will all suffer it again. But one thing is clear Buhari APC’s government has failed colossally, and millions of Nigerians are biting their fingers for voting him. It is a very pitiable and precarious situation that we have found ourselves.