Chief Sunny ONUESOKE, Photo Credit: Ndokwa Reporters
Chief Sunny ONUESOKE, is a versatile politician, pragmatist and a staunch PDP stalwart whose political ideology is tailored towards promotion and advocacy of people oriented policies that engender the wellbeing of society. In this interview with the Publisher of ndokwa Reporters, Emmanuel Enebeli, and the Editor of The Mail Newspaper, Emeka Nwokocha, Chief Onuesoke spoke eloquently on the vexing issues bedevilling the Nigerian polity. Excerpts:
Sir, what is your comment on the state of the nation?
The All Progreasives Congress government led by President Muhammadu Buhari for 3 years plus is a collosal waste. His lack lustre administrative paradigm has scared away 70 per cent of prospective investors in the country. This sad commentary is due largely to insecurity in the country. The truth is nobody will invest in an insecure environment. If this country must get its act right and move on the progressive path to greatness, the president must restore the confidence of foreign investors by putting to stop the massive killings in Nigeria in recent times occasioned by the murderous Fulani herdsmen.
Nigerians from all shades of opinion hail President Buhari for giving credence to the annulled June 12, 1993 election and bestowed the highest honour of the land, to the purported winner, MKO Abiola. What is your take?
What has just played out is political gimmicks perfectly deployed by President Muhammad Buhari. Without prejudice, did you hear MKO Abiola name mentioned in President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day Celebration speech on May 29? I am worried that President Buhari has been the number one citizen for the past 3 years, but he has never referred to MKO Abiola in any of his broadcasts.
On May 29 this year, during the Democracy Day celebration, the President didn’t mention or refer to the annulled June 12 election or MKO Abiola. But barely 13 days after, he is recognizing June 12 as Democracy Day. Then the big question is, what informed this urgent decision? The obvious fact is that President Buhari was the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) when Abiola was killed, so what does he want to tell Nigerians! In all his campaigns to become the President of Nigeria, did he at any time refer to Abiola and June 12 to woo the peoples support?
What he had done is ostensibly to woo the Yorubas ahead of the 2019 election. If the President is truly sincere about his decision on the June 12, why didn’t he advice late President Yar’Adua, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan to immortalise MKO Abiola? Then why the sudden change of mind? The reason he did that is simple; he wants to play smart on the Yorubas to be able to get their bulk vote during the 2019 election. President Buhari’s sudden twist to give credence to June 12, was not informed by clear and genuine conscience, but to score a cheap political point to solidify his second term ambition. It is another brand of public relations stunt to cajole the Yorubas.
It is pertinent to say that Nigerians are not bordered about June 12. The fact is a lot of Nigerians had won elections in the past which were annulled by former military junta, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. On that note therefore, Abiola’s case was not in anyway different. I am a staunch supporter of June 12, but that shouldn’t be the national anthem for now, because a lot of peoples’ mandate had been truncated.
We may have forgotten that General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was incarcerated and died in prison. He died as a democracy advocate. What is the difference between the case of General Yar’Adua and Abiola? You will recall that it was the machinery of General Yar’Adua that gave Abiola the mandate at the Jos convention. General Yar’Adua was a great democrat of resounding pedigree. So what is so special about Abiola’s issue? Was Abiola more democratic than the late General Yar’Adua? Of course, he wasn’t. So these were the pros and cons people like Obasanjo and Jonathan critically looked at and threaded softly in order not set a wrong precedence. That was why they kept mute, not that they could not have been able to do what President Buhari had just done. On that premise, I look forward to seeing Buhari go further to declare the day Gen. Musa Yar’Adua died another democracy day. This is imperative because Yar’Adua suffered the same fate as Abiola.
PDP is seriously warming up to take over the office of the president come 2019. What credibility would PDP bring to governance if given the opportunity again to govern the country?
I always tell people that there is no distinction between PDP and APC. It will shock you to know that 75 per cent of the elected APC members in the government are former PDP members. The likes of Ameachi, Tambuwa, Dogara, Saraki etc., left PDP in 2014 for APC. This vividly explains the reason I said one cannot separate APC from PDP. Therefore, if PDP is saying they are coming to revamp the economy, it simply means they have the
legitimacy to do it. On that note, my advice to PDP leaders is that the name of the party may not get them the victory they hunger for. They have to employ a new strategy to edge out the APC in 2019. I mean they should strongly embark on attitude campaign and deviate from the status quo; it is not about PDP combing back to take over power; but it is about change of attitude, discipline and moral rectitude. If the PDP leaders ride on that campaign, they will surely get their acts rights. It is not about party anymore; it is about the leadership of PDP to come with a refined mind, a repented mind with the zeal of patriotism to reverse the country from the slum we are heading. Anything far from that, the word “PDP” will not revamp the economy.
You were loud in the media recently when you said APC would collapse before 2019. Are you still riding on that prediction or you are stepping it down?
No… I am not stepping it down. When I said APC would collapse, it is simply playing out in what is now known as the emerging new nPDP. Those former PDP members that constitute 75 percent of the current APC government are set to form the new PDP. These guys will leave APC for a new party. Though they may not ride on the name PDP, but they will work for PDP. If that happens then APC will collapse like a pack of cards, as the centre can no longer hold. The truth is that APC is gambling with their failure. In a nutshell, if you remove 75 percent of the elected members of APC, then you will have a collapsed APC. I still stand firmly on my calculation; it is not a prediction.
What is your perception of the Nigerian politician vis-à-vis good governance?
As you may know, I have always stood against the politics of “I am loyal”. I have been against the politics of material empowerment; I am against the politics of revering ill-gotten wealths of political leaders. I am seriously against what is now in vogue among our politicians whereby they will buy “okada”, sewing machine, buses etc. for the youths in the name of empowerment. Let state it unequivocally, I don’t play politics with people’s brain; I play politics of intellectualism; I play politics of building up the capacity of my constituency; my politics is about institutions, infrastructure and human capacity building. Regrettably, the average Nigerian politician believes in mere material empowerment. That is a negation of the theory of democracy. If I may ask, where political office holders not elected to drive infrastructural and economic development of the people? Why would politicians give okada, buses to graduates. Where did he get the money with which he is empowering the people? How much is his salary as a membership of DTHA? How much is his salary as a member member of NASS? They end up dipping their hands into the public treasury and come to say they are empowering the people. The so called material empowerment is a misplacement of priority. What the people actually need to transform their today and tomorrow is institutions. They need research centres, processing industries, fishery industries, etc. The people need institutions to convert our flared gas to domestic use. It is an aberration for politicians to give transformers to my community because there are institutions that carry out that function. It is obviously wrong for governors to distribute transformers to communities because it is not their duties. They do that to cajole the people. There are institutions saddled with the responsibility of providing transformers to the communities. It is the duty of the Federal ministry of power and energy to provide transformers. The governors must not distribute transformers to communities. We need to create awareness campaign that is not the duty of the governor to provide transformers. It is not done anywhere in the world. What is the role of BEDC?
There are a lot of anomalies in our socio-political system. Are you not surprised that communities in Nigeria buy transformers and even pay the electricity companies to install them. Thereafter, the same electricity companies would go ahead to collect bills. The annoying thing here is that this anomaly goes on and on and nothing has been done by the people in government to put a stop to this illegal practice and extortion. Constitutionally, it is the responsibility of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to provide transformers to distribute electricity to their customers but not otherwise. Worst still, when there is a fault in the transformer, BEDC would not fix it. The people would still raise money to repair the transformer. This is an aberration.
The simple truth is that the people at the corridors of power should be able to tell our leaders the truth if we must move our country forward. The way it is now, the leaders are being fed with sycophantic advice and it is not good for our democracy.
The anti-corruption policy of President Buhari has been sustained over the years. What is your assessment of the progress so far?
Let me respond to your question by looking at the smart way Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has employed to reduce the cost of executing contracts in the Delta state. Interestingly, he has drastically reduced the cost of executing contracts to an unprecedented level. I will vouch for governor Okowa for doing great in that regard, but I will not vouch for others in the government.
Despite the money spinning oil and gas resources in Delta state, coupled with opportunities in the agric sector, majority of Deltans still live in abject poverty. How do you explain this paradox?
This is the reason my own political ideology is a departure from the existing status quo. I play politics of advocacy. I am not for the elites, I am not for the bourgeoise. The point is that the government cannot do it alone. There are a whole lot of prDospective investors who could put their resources in the sectors that can turn the economy of the state around. But you don’t see that happening. The type of investment seen around our cities is hotels, filling stations, shopping malls etc. Then you wonder what multiplying effect such investments would bring to the economy and the state. I am looking forward to a forum where the governor will invite young Deltans who have N10 million and above in their kitty to a dinner and brainstorm over the opportunities and possibilities of turning the ailing economy around through productive investments in the critical economic sectors which have not been fully tapped. To be candid, we don’t need foreign investors to develop our economy in Delta state as a whole. We have a lot of deposit of minerals in Delta, oil and gas and other minerals that can boost economic activities in our state at full scale. Are we not pained that Lagos,Ogun and other states use our gas to power their industries. The question is, why can’t we use our gas to run industries in Delta state? Is it not the same gas Premiun steel is using in smelting their billets? Now we ask ourselves, why can’t Deltans replicate same in our cities and communities? To change these narratives we have to create industries to drive the economy of the state. In this case, the government will provide the enabling environment for business to thrive which Okowa has succeeded in creating. It may shock you to know that we have young men in Delta state who has over 15 PETROL filling stations. Then you may want to know the economic benefit of the concept of filling stations to the society.
Why are you an ardent supporter of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar?
I am attracted to Atiku Abubakar simply because of his industrial acumen. He is a real capital investor, a risk taker. I liken him to Donald Trump. He has a clear view of what he wants to achieve in government. He is a die hard capitalist investor. Atiku speaks business, he speaks employment, he speaks about social institutions which is his main focus and dream.
Advice for the youths
My slogan for the youths in Delta state is: “Get your PVC”. Going by INEC record, 65 percent of the registered voters are youths. I will tell you that the average Nigerian youth is seeking for power not leadership. There are a lot of factions in the body politics of the youths. But if the youths would realize their roles and stand firm to tell the politician, “I am giving you my vote to represent us at the House of Representatives. Therefore, we need institutions, not okada, not buses, not sewing machines. You will sign a treaty with us as a mark of assurance.”