Posted by By VAL OKARA, Owerri on
A legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, has asked President Olusegun Obasanjo to apologise to Nigerians for being part of 2003 electoral fraud.
A legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, has asked President Olusegun Obasanjo to apologise to Nigerians for being part of 2003 electoral fraud. Chief Ahamba, who is the lead counsel to former presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003, General Mohammed Buhari, supports the immunity clause in the constitution, saying that its removal would create chaotic situation in the country.
According to him, the problem of the country is not immunity but weakness of the existing laws in the constitution. He spoke on other national issues.
Fight against corruption
Whether it will be sustained or not, will be a question of time because the problem is that there are those who benefit from the proceeds of corruption and they are many in this country and too many in this government. Consequently, whether they will allow the fight to succeed is what I don’t know and what is more, the basics of such a fight has not been addressed by the Presidency. Obasanjo should start with apology to this country for his own fault. He was part of electoral fraud of 2003. If he does not apologise for condoning electoral fraud in 2003 it becomes difficult to believe that he is serious. Many people, including his own people, don’t believe that he is serious.
Changing of parties by politicians
Those who defected from a party that was suppose to have won are those I called “Food is ready politicians.” They don’t want to build anything. They have no leadership quality. They lack imagination. And, a man who lacks imagination stands on the ground and he has no wings and he cannot fly. They have no mission, no vision.
All they are looking for is where the food had been cooked. They don’t want to be part of those who cooked the food and people should be wary because they are not of leadership quality. If we win tomorrow they will come back because they want already made meals. That is why I called them ‘food is ready politicians’. And those of them who left our party should go because the struggle between good and evil, struggle between darkness and light, progress and retrogression, the struggle between totalitarianism democracy and true democracy will be fierce soon. We don’t want people with chicken heart in our team.
One party system
I am assuring you that as long as some of us are living in this country, it is an impossibility. There are still people who believe in multi-party democracy in this country and multi-party democracy will eventual prevail because it is the best. In fact, even within the PDP, I know many of them will get out soon when they start fighting each other, when the heat becomes too much.
Apart from the ANPP, I feel that another big party may soon come up and those who will run away from the heat in PDP will join it. The question of one party system in this country should be forgotten.
First of all, they make one mistake. Justice Niky Tobi is a man I have respect for, every lawyer respects him. In the legal profession, he is of a high quality. When he was appointed to chair the conference, the first thing I expected members of the conference to do was to reject his chairmanship because it was a direct affront on the independence of the judiciary and that is fundamental to the success of whatever they are doing there. I was surprised that eminent juries and lawyers are there and they allowed Justice Tobi to be appointed to that position. He cannot talk for himself, he cannot reject such an appointment. It was for the members of the conference to have said that this particular appointment was one of the things they want to correct. The President has no power under the constitution to give job to serving members of the judiciary. He has no such power and such appointment could have be done by Chief Justice of Nigeria for judicial purposes. They (justice) were not appointed for any other purpose except judicial purposes.
Now, if it comes to a situation where a president of the country can pick three or four members of the Supreme Court and assigns them non legal bodies like the national confab, then it would come to a stage in future when the president would want to delay serious matter before the court. He can now create two or three bodies and pick two or three Supreme Court judges and put them there, and the court waits until they come back. I expected members of the judiciary to tell the President that he cannot appoint Supreme Court justices into any other body other than the one the constitution appointed them, which is to adjudicate. That was the first mistake they made, which means that they did not even understand the basic problem of this country, which is that the umpires of democracy have not been equipped by those who are expected to equip them or have not equipped themselves with the knowledge that on them lies the stability and success of this country.
Leadership style of Obasanjo
I have described Obasanjo’s leadership style before as a colossal failure. Period! How can you be living, and nobody is happy with you? The purpose of leadership is to take care of the welfare of those you are leading because they cannot help themselves. Leadership is a privilege that carries sacrifices and those sacrifices are not to be given in atmosphere of comfort of those you are leading.
For instance, I think Igbo people are also part of the people the President is suppose to be leading. But he has been vicious against the interest of Igbo people. Look, we don’t have the land mass, we are not big commercial farmers, we are not industrialists, we are traders. Merchandise is the hallmark of our business. He bans the importation of chickens, and poultry business. He bans the importation of vehicles. It is also anti-Igbo decision and now he has banned everything. In other words, most of our young men will be thrown out of business. Now, let’s face it, he might say he is doing it for the country, but I know the target is clear. It is all aimed at stopping the Igbo. I am a nationalists. I don’t believe in ethnic chauvinism. Let us identify that if he does same thing against the northerners, I will say what I am saying now.
His policies are directly anti-Igbo. Now, he said he wants business to thrive in Nigeria. He had gone into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and introduced what he called re-capitalization and want every bank to be equal. We should have big or small banks. What the CBN should have done is to harp a policy that any bank with certain amount of share capital should not be allowed in certain businesses. If any bank flouts the directive it should be sanctioned. You don’t destroy employment initiative because you want every bank to be big, it is a serious mistake.
There are banks that have only one branch but they operate on that level, you cannot destroy initiative by saying that you are building an economy. Democracy demands that people are allowed to develop their own initiative and carry them out under the scheme of monitoring by the appropriate authorities. The CBN must not shy away from its responsibilities in order to cover up its inadequancies.
We are not practicing true federalism. I said it as far back in 1982. We cannot practise true federalism with only one constitution, it is not possible. We cannot practise true federalism with centralized local government system. Local government is a matter for local affairs. It is my view that the issue of local government should get off from our constitution. Let states run their local governments the way they want. The way we are doing it before was okay then, in the North, we had native authorities, the East had county councils and West operated its own system.
If a state wants one million local governments they should go ahead, but that will be taken care of by their own budget, in their own way. For the federal to decide what happens in a village is not federalism. The centralized local government should be scrapped and returned to what we practised before. Every state must have its own constitution subject to the national constitution.
In this country, we have tin, boxide and nobody talks about them. In the East we should pay more attention to our palm oil while the groundnut pyramid should be revived. Let me assured you that when America develops a new technology that will have vehicles that will not use petroleum we suddenly become a poor country and we must anticipate this. If we can now make phone calls from our bedrooms and then the limit of science cannot be determined, we must prepare for time when petroleum will have no value and I know the Western countries are working so hard towards it and once it happened we become a poor nation. If with all the revenue we have now we are poor, imagine what will happen when we have no revenue. We must go back, let every state develop itself, in its own environment, let us have things that will give access to outside world. And please, let Igbo business not be destroyed by a particular administration.
Immunity on political office holders
I am in support of leaving immunity clause in the constitution. The problem is not the immunity itself. The problem is the weakness of the assemblies (lawmakers). Even if you remove immunity and the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly failed to do what they are expected to do, you can’t do much about it. If you remove immunity, the calamity will be worse because imagine what could have happened to Anambra State governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, if there was not immunity. If there is no immunity, you will find a President for one party locking up and jailing governors from other parties and that will cause riot. Let us protect them as we have protected them. Let the lawmakers do their job, when a governor has been seen to have carted away government money the way he should not do it, it is a gross misconduct. It is an impeachable offence but for the legislature concerned to impeach that governor or President and make him available for prosecution. And considered checks and balances, it is just the will to implement. I don’t think that the appropriate measure is to remove the immunity.
For instance, the Nigeria Airways did not fly, and it was changed to Virgin Air, that will not make it fly. If the attitude is not changed. It is getting alive to our responsibilities. We shall be able to implement checks and balances in the constitution. We have one of the best constitution in the world. Don’t see immunity as the problem the nation has, or the Electoral Act. The problem is Nigerians’ ability to implement what the law has already said.
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