Yemi Adeshina, a lawyer, activist and public affairs analyst is not happy about the lacuna in the 1999 constitution that has put Nigeria in the current woes. In this interview with
Adeshina lampooned the All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by President Muhammadu Buhari for failing the people. He also speaks on other national issues.
Was the protest calling for President Muhammadu Buhari to either resume or resign justified considering that he had handed over power to his vice before travelling?
When you are talking about the justification of the protest may be you are looking at it from the moral point. In the 1999 constitution there is provision that the President can stay away as long as he wish: provided there has been a resolution by the senate, and he handed over power to the Vice President, he can stay for as long as 90 and 120 days he has not breached any law.
But when you look at it from the moral point would you then say the President should have resigned if he loves this country so much?
With the state of things and the Nigerian factor, you may ask can the Acting President perform, even when he is surrounded by all the appointees of the President, when he look at his left he sees the Chief of Staff who is appointed by the President, and on his right he see the director of the DSS, an appointee of the President and who is even his uncle, can he perform maximally, especially when he want to take decisions that affect their interest? They would say that is not the way the President does it.
Look at the killing in Ozubulu, the presidential media aide said the President commensurate with the people of Anambra, on what basis? Buhari seizes to be the President the moment he handed over power to his vice and he should not be heard in anything that has to do with governance in this country. If you have the interest of Nigeria at heart why don’t you resign honourably, imagine, where is that done? There is a lacuna in the constitution as to the number of days he can be absent, it is sad: we have now become a laughing stock in the international community. This is happening in Nigeria of the 21 century, it is appalling.
Were you surprised that the protesters were manhandled?
I am disappointed that responsible and lawful Nigerian citizens who were embarking on a peaceful protest were attacked. Instead of them to tell us the true health condition of Buhari, their response was simply to organise a counter attack. Of course we know the people were bought, where were they all these while? Obviously we have not learnt from the Umaru Ya’adua episode, may God repose his soul.
How do you rate the performance of this regime so far?
I believe if there is any President of Nigeria that suppose to perform in office it is Buhari. Buhari should have had his programmes on ground because he has been aspiring to be the President Since 2003, it is not as if he was handpicked like Obasanjo or accidentally picked like Jonathan. But what we are seeing is disappointing.
But Buhari would go outside the country and say my people are corrupt, corruption is everywhere, recently a governor in the United State was prosecuted for corruption, when you go out and make this type of allegations against your people in the international community, would it not discourage investors from coming to invest here? The government has been a failure: Nigerians are living in penury, they cannot eat a meal a day, were is the change mantra? Where is APC manifesto, the APC government is pure propaganda.
I am an employer of labour, I feel sorry for the people. Why are there ritualists everywhere, is it not because there is no money in the economy.
The NASS has embarked on amendment of the constitution, how do you view the process?
The so call constitution is rotten. Is that a constitution? Constitution has been defined severally in many forum: a constitution is a set of rules and precedent which set of people have agreed that is the way they should be governed.
The Nigerian constitution was handed over to us by Abdusalam. Nobody saw the constitution until after May 27, 1999. Why would there been a constitution and the people don’t have input? There is no referendum?
Look at Britain, when David Cameron lost the brexit he resigned from office because he knew he has lost the confidence of the people. If it was in Nigeria they would have swept it under the ca
What is your view of the Federal Character Commission?
Federal Character Commission is the basis for corruption in Nigeria. It is on the basis of that, brilliant people are put aside. There is no basis for Federal character, it should be removed from the constitution it should be waved aside. How come the South East have 15 senators, the North Central which does not contribute anything to the central have 19 senators, North East 21 were is fairness in all that?
Tell me where they are using federal character in the world? Britain is not using federal character and they have one of the best economies in the world.
Why would there not be a referendum when democracy is the government of the people for the people and by the people? Because the referendum would go against the members of the National Assembly, there is no doubt that they are the greatest problem of this country. All the senators would vote against issues that does not affect them possitively.
Federal character should be removed from the constitution, there is nothing like that, infact it is the basis for corruption.
Are you in support of restructuring?
There should be devolution of power in the country, there are many issues that should not be under the control of the Federal Government, rather the country would be better run if they are under the control of states.
What do we need all these ministries for? We don’t need more than five ministries. All this is waste of money. And may be two senators from each state, the House of Representative should be scrapped, if need be one representative from each state is enough, and they meet twice a week.
We need to change our mentality. The political process is too monetised, the process is difficult, there is too much money being thrown around. One of my brothers who want to contest for the House of Representatives is looking for N100 million to be able to compete, we need to change our mentality.
There is increased agitation for secession from many ethnic groups and threats are being issued, does it bother you?
That is a result of failure of government. I don’t blame Osinbajo, I am sure if there was a President all these while they would have been arrested by now.
Look at the IPOB leader, what he is doing is a breach of his bail condition, why has he not been arrested? One of the problems of this country is that we make laws but we don’t implement them.
With respect to the government under the act that set up DSS do they have power to arrest? How many of these judges have been charged to court? One would expect that if there is any allegation against any judge the National Judicial Commission should be petitioned with the allegations, they would then investigate the allegations. You can see that one or two of them have won in court against the EFCC, it shows that there was no proper investigation.
Has the anti graft war failed?
I don’t think the anti corruption war has failed because there have been revelations about a lot of people who siphoned the country’s resources. I think the problem is with the anti graft agencies, what is the caliber and experience of the lawyers that handles their cases? That is what I think is part of the reason they keep losing these cases.
What about investigation?
I was not surprised Bukola Saraki was acquitted, from the beginning when the prosecuting team did not seem to get itself together, it was obvious when the witness was being cross examined.
Do you see the PDP taking over power from APC in 2019?
No, we need a new alternative, the PDP has failed us in the past. Even though APC has taken us 20 years back, Nigerians would not want the PDP back again. I pray there would be alternative. As for now the APC has failed Nigerians, they seem to lack the ideals to move the country forward, I pray another party come on board, certainly the APC would lose in 2019.