Concluding Part Of The Tide Roundtable Encounter With Barr. Onueze C. J. Okocha (SAN). It is often said that within the term of a serving governor, there usually no vacancy for any one aspiring to unseat him. What is your take on this?
There is always Vacancy. Because in any democratic system, elections are the way to renew the process. You follow George Bush senior was already in office for one term before people in the Republican Party came too to contest with him. He ended up within the primary but Bill Clinton and Algor from the Democratic Party also contested and the people throughout had had enough Republican and wanted the Democratic and Clinton and Algor got elected.
So that is how you renew government because the policies of one government may not end up being as suitable as you thought it would be and it also checks excesses of those who have been elected.
The people who voted me here, if I disappoint them, if I don’t perform to their expectation in four years, three years, if it is local government, they will vote for another person. So politician who says there is no vacancies is deceiving himself. There is always a vacancy and because of the system, they come they hijack the machinery of election.
Obasanjo when he came on board in 1999, people were saying yes, is a bridge between the old and the young. The military and the civilian the father of the Nation, because, he has served creditably and voluntarily vacated office, as a military Head of State.
We thought we are having another replication of Mandela, the father of the nation especially when the country was at the verge of breakup. No sooner had he got into office, he started to put institutions that will secure him not only a second but a third and a life term, and that is how we ended up.
Today, we have a president who everybody says was hand picked by the party. Whether it is true or false nobody knows. But all of you are living witnesses of two years of Yar’Adua’s Administration. You wonder is this what Obasanjo wanted for this country. So we have difficulty with our electoral system and I doubt that any serious credible Nigerians would like to come foreword and have his head cut off in this our jungle politics.
How do you access the performance of Yar’Adua and Amaechi administration?
Oh! Separately you know I like to take people on their word. He started by telling us about Seven Point Agenda which is still the present talk of the day. Not one of the Seven Point Agenda has been introduced. Not one. And I shall urge anybody who has a contrary argument to make it. Power, he said, he would deliver an emergency. Law and order and the rule of law. Niger Delta problems, it was only last year they established a Niger Delta Ministry, if that is the answer to the Niger Delta problem, which if not so I think that we still have to ask ourselves question. Are we really benefiting from the presidency?
Look at the state of infrastructure. It was on Owerri road that I was attacked by armed robbers. So, I’m sorry to say with all due respect to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not one point of the Seven Point Agenda has been actualized, for more than two years.
Rivers State: I would want to say, contrary to what is happening at the Federal level, we are seeing the governor in action here. Establishing infrastructure for the greater glory of Rivers State. Everywhere you see a project going on. Buildings for school, building for primary schools, building for secondary schools. Health centre, I have seen one at Churchill. I went to Baptist High School have seen some at that Churchill.
Everybody as I passed, I see the new structures, they have established for the Dental Hospital, I have gone to Emenike Street, and what used to be Niger Hospital has been replaced by massive building of course.
I haven’t seen that they have started operation, but heard the one in Churchill Street is operating. I have seen the new school building coming up. I have seen massive reconstruction work going on for roads.
You saw the flyover at my own village there I heard it was awarded by Omehia’s administration but work is going on. Eleme junction Flyover, those were not even awarded by Amaechi.
Yes some have suffered including me on the policies of restoring the glory of the city. I have tried to swallow my pain. So we must go through some hard time to realize what the governor has in mind.
But you know I also shared the sentiment of some people why shouldn’t it be a phase progression. I have this feeling, that it is anxiety to reclaim lost times, and you know, the nature of Nigeria political system. The other day, we heard that they have taken about eighty something of our oil wells and allocated them to Akwa-Ibom State and these are matters that have been resolved in court. The Supreme Court. What would be the boundaries between littoral states and the Federal government? What is really boundaries between the states themselves.
Why should suddenly oil wells that were in Rivers State be in Akwa-Ibom. Why suddenly in taking it beyond our shores. Cross River State that was an oil producing state is no longer an oil producing state.
These are matters of law matters of facts. It should not be in disputes what the boundary of any state is, from the other you have the National Boundaries Commission and if there is a line drawn, they shall know where oil wells are located. So because of all these problems of not following what tomorrow will be, I would honestly advise a phase programme for this development. I would also try to say he should have a proper project monitoring team.
If the governor himself has to drive to inspect a project, he would have little time for governance. So I would say, they should think about constituting a high powered technical experts to act as a project team for Rivers State.
Now that he has established a Due Process commission, so Due Process will look at the process, the value of contract awarded.
Because the ministries that are in charge of some projects, I don’t think, have the personnel to monitor these projects and Projects monitoring is a very serious aspects you don’t award contract to somebody and leave it like that. Somebody must be there to make sure that the proper materials are used and in sufficient quantity.
So I give him kudos and compliment him on his bold step.
Professionals in corruption?
I quite disagree with you. I challenge you to name any professionals like lawyers or doctors who have been involved in corruption. We Nigerian Bar Association has really decided to support the War Against Corruption.
Long ago, Nigerian Bar Association as a body decided that they will support the War Against Corruption, because of the bad effect that corruption has had on our national image.
So, I don’t know any particular lawyer or lawyers that you have said had been involved in corruption. Let me say this, the fact that lawyers defend people who are accused of corruption should not be seen to mean that lawyers are supporting corruption. A lawyer’s job is to defend even the most heinous crime. An offender charged with murder is entitled to legal representation because the law is that a man is presumed innocence until he has been proved guilty.
So the fact that you say ‘A’ corruptly enriched himself, enriched his brother or sister by how much billions just an allegation, but then that is a lawyer acting in consonance defending his client.
Even if the client is eventually found guilty of corruption, it does not mean that the lawyer supported his client to commit the corrupt offence.
I also don’t know if any doctor, because you mentioned two professions. Medical profession and the legal profession that has committed corruption and has condoned corruption.