Former chairman of the Ikeja, Lagos branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Monday Ubani believes that Nigeria needs a brand new constitution for the nation to move forward. Ubani, who reviewed the six years of President Muhammadu Buhari also called for true federalism in the country. He speaks with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI in an interview.
How will you assess President Muhammadu Buhari in six years?
Some of the issues affecting his government and the country are obvious. We are all citizens of this country and we are all victims and we know what is happening in Nigeria the area of security. The ongoing constitutional amendment by the National Assembly is not what we actually need, what we need is a new constitution that will take us to where we ought to be. Let’s get that right first. The structure of the country is wrong. The way the country is structured will not make things work. We are running an over-centralised system in a federal system. We have over-centralised all manners of governance. People are saying that we should allow power to be devolved to the federating units so that we can manage ourselves better. The All Progressives Congress (APC) that made promise that they would devolve power when they get into office did not do so and we can see the reaction everywhere. There is insecurity, there is anger, there is frustration and the President is not helping matters with the language he is using. We need to restructure this country. I don’t think this government has performed according to the promises they made.
But some people are talking of secession, what do you say to this?
If you don’t restructure, then allow people to go. The issue of secession becomes an option. We cannot be suffocating in a relationship that is not working, a lot of people are suffocating. If a marriage is not working, why can’t you allow people to go and let there be separation.
Does it mean that we cannot work with what we have, is it the constitution that is the problem?
There are so many soups that go with pounded yam. Let us get a constitution that will be on federal system of government first. Let us get that right first, then we can now talk about the people that would operate the constitution. Presently, we are running a faulty system.
What should be the role of the National Assembly in all of these?
Most of the policies of members of the National Assembly are not okay. We are not putting the best 11 forward. Most of the people in the National Assembly do not have understanding of why they are there and where we supposed to be as a nation. The idea of the philosophy of a state and why we put them forward to represent us is not clear to them. What they are there for is just to grab money. It is not about money, money; we have a case that we took to court to challenge the National Assembly to know if they can fix their salaries or not. There are issues that we have with the National Assembly that should be sorted out.
There is the issue of corruption that cuts across all facets, so does this has to do with the Presidency or the government alone?
What of the man in charge of the EFCC before, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, he had a corruption issue and he was indicted, what has happened to his report? If you are fighting corruption, let us ensure that we are impartial and it involves everybody that is seen to be corrupt. They removed the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), over corruption allegations, what has happened to the investigation? We are we being prefential, which is why people are saying that there is no corruption fight in Nigeria.
What should be the role of the masses in all of these?
They should rise up and insist that the government should do the right thing. The government must be made to have a conscience and run the government that will favour everybody, not the government that they want. They should not run the government according to their whims and caprices, they must run the government according to the whims and caprices of the majority. So they have failed in the fight against insecurity and against corruption. The economy is in doldrum. People are becoming more frustrated everyday. There are no employment opportunities, the basic infrastructure they say they are providing, I am yet to see if one can travel f r o m Lagos t o Abuja without passing through dangerous and terrible roads. Where is the infrastructure?
But the problem is that every successive government is seen as not working It is because of the type of constitution we have been using.
We need to have a new constitution that is about proper federal system of government. Let us devolve power to the states. Why would you run a country that a road would be in a state and you will be waiting for the Federal Government to come and construct the road? Why can’t you construct the road? Why must you call a road Grade A and say it is a federal road and abandon it? All the roads in a state must be done by the state government that is why we need to increase our surveillance on the way they spend money. We must increase the allocation to the states and monitor them. We must make sure that the money is used for the interest of the people.
Would you support regional government?
I don’t believe we should go back to regional governments; we have states, we should rather devolve power to the states.
Do you support resource control?
I believe that the states should control their resources and pay some money to the Federal Government.
What advice do you have for President Muhammadu Buhari?
H e d o e s n o t need my advice because he doesn’t listen to advice.
What is your advice to Nigerians generally?
They must get up and recover their nation from the political elites. The political elites have mismanaged Nigeria and we cannot continue to look at them. We need to be more strategic and recover Nigeria and bring her back to the path of growth. We need the kind of leadership that will take us to where we should be. We need to be strategic and get the kind of leadership that we want. We should remove money from the system. If we know somebody that can do it right even if he doesn’t give us money let us vote for him. That is the way civilised people vote. They don’t vote for somebody because he gives them a bag of rice or gives them N5,000. They vote for somebody who can go there and perform. This issue of if you give me money I vote for you will not work. People have to recover themselves, vote for the right people and we will begin to grow. We see burning of police stations, offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the South East, what does this portend? They don’t need to do that, they don’t need to destroy any infrastructure. There should be no level of frustration that should make you destroy property or lives. That is foolishness, that is stupidity, you don’t do that. Don’t destroy properties, rather than doing that, let us insist on the right thing. Let us insist on being included. This country belongs to all of us, if you are destroying things, you are indulging in criminality and no nation has achieved anything through that. You don’t achieve anything by destorying properties. You want the Eastern region to be better and you are destroying things there. I will plead with those who are doing that to stop. Let us be more strategic in our approach to get what we desire rather than indulging in destruction. That method is not good, it is not good for the region and the people that are doing it. They can be killed in the process and you are giving the enemy an opportunity to invade the South East and make it uninhabitable. We should rather work for the development of the Eastern region, we should not do anything that would destroy the region, it is not advisable.