Dr Chibuike Ananaba a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, is a public affairs analyst and political commentator. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, Ananaba accesses the state of the nation, issues of alleged marginalisation of the some parts of the country and the call for restructuring among others issues.
You have been an advocate of regionalism, what is your stand amidst the increasing agitation for restructuring?
It depends on what would be restructured and how; it is not clear yet what restructuring would be, it is still fluid, but the important thing is that Nigeria should still be one country and united, if you have been doing one thing since independence and is not working, you should change.
I have great respect for our founding fathers, they knew why they wanted regionalism, but it must be within one united country, I don’t believe in breaking up the country; we should remain one country.
If regionalism is not acceptable to majority of Nigerians, whatever system we may practice, the important thing is let us remain in one country.
If we have been practicing one thing since Independence and it is not working we can change. It is not easy to throw away the vision of the founding fathers.
But, what some people are agitating really is the practice of true federalism as enshrined in the constitution?
It has to be true federalism, if you practice true federalism in Nigeria, the states can source their resources.
It would still be under the regions, with the coming of electric cars, there would not be enough money to throw around.
Let the states exist but under the regions that we are going to have, it means consciously or unconsciously we are still acknowledging those regions.
But there have been oppositions from the North?
I don’t think there is any one that does not want restructuring, what I believe they are saying and the question is if it would be under one state? That is the view of some people and they are entitled to it.
But the President does not seem to be in support?
That is the view of the President; it does not mean he is saying no to restructuring. He only said: we have a duly elected Parliament, so direct your agitations there.
I don’t think he is saying no to restructuring, how we would get there every one knows we can’t do without the Parliament.
Even the Sultan of Sokoto like you have said has his view. So don’t bother yourself about what other people are saying. The issue is what the majority of the people are saying that is democracy.
But Nigerian’s don’t seem to be very comfortable with the way the National Assembly voted on this national issue, how do you look at that?
Talking of the National Assembly, I have great respect for the caliber of people there, and they have in recent times lived up to expectation, I am sure we cannot do without them on this issues of restructuring of the country.
Yes, you may have your fears, with the National Assembly, look at the recent constitutional amendment, they have said they would look into this issues that Nigerians are not happy about again.
Do you support local government autonomy?
The local governments are closer to the people, we should strengthen the local government. Presently, it is not doing anything that is why the rural areas remain largely undeveloped.
They should be doing things that are beneficial to the people, that is why we have problems there.
Do you believe in the anti graft war of the present government?
The anti graft war is on, the present administration is doing well.
You have to realise that we are no more were we were before, and for the fact that no one has been brought to book does not mean nothing is working, am sure they would bring people to book soon.
The courts are doing their best on some of these cases.
Would special courts help the process?
What the Attorney General did was to designate some courts to hear corruption cases. It is good for the system and it is done else were.
In Lagos we have several courts, so what we are saying is let us choose some of these courts to deal with corruption cases and as time goes on they would become specialist court in corruption cases.
How do you assess this administration’s general performance more than two years in office?
I have not assessed this administration yet: but I believe they are doing well in corruption fight, and am sure they would keep it up. Nigerians should be patient with him.
It took a while for things to go bad and secondly the President has been ill.
But there are talks of cabal hijacking his government?
Am not aware of any cabal, the President was sick and was not around. But I think the President is in charge now, but those saying that I don’t know what they are seeing.
What is your view of the Biafra agitation in your regions?
People have right to agitate, and around the world we have seen groups agitate. But what I don’t support is violence, but we need to be fair in allocating resources so that these complaints of marginalisation would stop.
Do you believe the Igbo are marginalised?
The Igbo’s have said that they are being marginalised, you are a Journalist check the appointments across the country, even the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said that the Igbo are marginalised, I don’t have the power to go against that position, because they have spoken for the Igbo and I am an Igbo.
Some Igbo leaders visited the President recently and he even said he has given them four key positions and that he would visit the South East soon. The President is a man of integrity I believe he would keep his world.
Was it justified to ban IPOB?
The issue is in court, but the government said they were terrorist group and banned IPOB, but the international community said the group is not a terrorist group, let us wait for the court to decide, I am sure the government would respect the judgement of the court.
How do you react to the unveiling of President Jacob Zuma’s statute in Imo by Governor Rochas Okorocha?
That is Okorocha’s style of leadership. The people of Imo State should use their vote and reply the party, which is APC in 2019, I can’t say if Okorocha has done well, I am not from Imo State and I don’t have a vote there.
Do you think the PDP can regain power at the centre in 2019?
The PDP just came back to life some months back. Their plan was to rule for decades, they have seen now that it is not possible.
Politicians would always be politicians, we are not practicing politics of ideology, a lot of them in APC would decamp to the PDP if they don’t get ticket, so in the coming months a lot would happen.
But there are talks of second term for Buhari, what is your view?
That is the decision of the President and his party to make, he may run and win and he may run and loss. He still has one year in power: a lot can still happen one year from now.
But I think a lot would happen in the next six months and the President would have to decide if his health would allow him offer the country the kind of service it wants.
How do you react when people say the judiciary is corrupt?
I disagree; of all the three arms of government the judiciary is the most stable and reliable. They have been delivery there, may be some bad eggs here and there but you can’t use that to judge the system.
The judges whose houses were raided were few compared to the number we have in the country, when they take light in your house, they take in their houses too and they still write in long hands.
How do you assess the present NASS members?
We would not need a bi-cameral legislature when my proposal on regionalism is implemented. Let the regions determine what they want. We need a unicameral legislature that would be part-time, let the regions exist and give you what they want.
Regionalism is what we need, especially when electric cars are coming, there may not be money to throw around.
That is the view of the President; it does not mean he is saying no to restructuring. He only said: we have a duly elected Parliament, so direct your agitations there. I don’t think he is saying no to restructuring, how we would get there every one knows we can’t do without the Parliament.