New British PM, Theresa May Makes Magical Moves

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Theresa May is the second female prime minister of the United Kingdom.  She was born on 1st October, 1956in Sussex but was raised largely in Oxfordshire. The 59-year-old has been a member of the British Parliamentfor Maidenhead since 1997. She became home secretary in May 2010.

  May started her education at Wheatley Park Comprehensive School and she had a brief time at an independent school; St Hugh’s College, Oxford. After graduating with a degree in Geography, May went to work in the City, initially starting work at the Bank of England and later rising to become head of the European Affairs Unit of the Association for Payment Clearing Services.

  She is married to Philip May and her hobbies include cooking and mountain walks. She owns 100 recipe books and her favourite music are Abba’s Dancing Queen and Walk like a Man, from the musical Jersey Boys.

  In the early days at Westminster she became known for her exuberant choice of footwear — her kitten heels became famous in political circles, while she named a lifetime subscription to Vogue as the luxury item she would take to Desert Island.

  She made history by becoming the second longest serving home secretary in the past 100 years. Her middle class background has more in keeping with the last female occupant of Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher, than her immediate predecessor. She went to Oxford University to study and, like so many others of her generation, found that her personal and political lives soon became closely intertwined.

  In 1976, in her third year, she met her husband, Philip, who was president of the Oxford Union, a well-known breeding ground for future political leaders. The story has it that they were introduced at a Conservative Association disco by Benazir Bhutto who later became Pakistani Prime Minister. They married in 1980.

  But it was already clear that she saw her future in politics. She was elected as a local councillor in Merton, south London, and served her ward for a decade, rising to become deputy leader. However, she was soon setting her sights even higher.

  In 1992, she stood in the safe Labour seat of North West Durham, coming a distant second to Hilary Armstrong, who went on to become Labour’s chief whip in the Blair government. Her fellow candidates in that contest also included a very youthful Tim Farron, who is now Lib Dem leader.

  Two years later, she stood in Barking, East London, in a by-election where — with the Conservative government at the height of its unpopularity — she got fewer than 2,000 votes and saw her vote share dip more than 20%. But her luck was about to change.

  The Conservatives’ electoral fortunes may have hit a nadir in 1997, when Tony Blair came to power in a Labour landslide, but there was a silver lining for the party and for the aspiring politician when she won the seat of Maidenhead in Berkshire. It’s a seat she has held ever since.

  She has rarely opened up about her private life although she revealed in 2013 that she had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and would require insulin injections twice a day for the rest of her life — something she says she had come to terms with and which would not affect her career.

  Her social attitudes are slightly harder to pin down. She backed same-sex marriage. She expressed a personal view in 2012 that the legal limit on abortion should be lowered from 24 to 20 weeks. Along with most Conservative MPs she voted against an outright ban on .

Stands on Brexit:Theresa May has insisted “Brexit means Brexit” and there will be no second referendum on the issue. She says official talks on leaving, which will begin when the UK triggers the so-called Article 50, won’t begin until the end of 2016 at the earliest. She has insisted the status of EU nationals in the UK won’t change until a new “legal agreement” is reached but has yet to give a guarantee on their status. She says the best deal is needed to trade with the EU in goods and services but more control is needed to lower immigration.

Other policies: Theresa May has pledged a shake-up of boardroom ethics as part of which workers will be guaranteed representation on company boards while shareholders votes on executive pay deals will be made binding every year.

Other female world leaders currently in power are presented in the table below.

Country Leader In office since:

Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Nov. 22, 2005 –

Liberia

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Jan. 16, 2006 –

Argentina

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Dec. 10, 2007 –

Bangledesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Jan. 6, 2009 –

Lithuania

President Dalia Grybauskaite

Jul. 12, 2009 –

Trinidad and Tobago

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

May 26, 2010 –

Brazil

President Dilma Rousseff

Jan. 1, 2011 –

Kosovo

President Atifete Jahjaga

Apr. 7, 2011 –

Denmark

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Oct. 3, 2011 –

Jamaica

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller

Jan. 5, 2012 –

South Korea

President Park Geun-hye

Feb. 25, 2013 –

Slovenia

Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek

Mar. 20, 2013 –

Cyprus (North)

Prime Minister Sibel Siber

Jun. 13, 2013 –

Senegal

Prime Minister Aminata Touré

Sep. 3, 2013 –

Norway

Prime Minister Erna Solberg

Oct. 16, 2013 –

Latvia

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma

Jan. 22, 2014 –

Central African Republic

President Catherine Samba-Panza

Jan. 23, 2014 –

Chile

President Michelle Bachelet

Mar. 11, 2014 –

Malta

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

Apr. 7, 2014 –

Poland

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz

Apr. 7, 2014 –

Switzerland

President Simonetta Sommaruga

Jan. 1, 2015 –

Feb. 18, 2015 –

Croatia

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Feb. 18, 2015 –

 

 

We Must Restructure To Avoid Rupture — Biyi Durojaye

 Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye is 83 but scarcely looks it. He bubbles and prances about vigorously.

  A quintessential statesman in every regard, when Nigeria was a much more disciplined space, the economist and lawyer spent three decades working in the Central Bank. And it is to his credit that he left the system without as much as a dent on his good name.

  After leaving the bank, he took up politics and at a point contested for the office of president of Nigeria.

  A chieftain of the defunct National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, he served as a member of the Constitution Review Committee in the late 1980s, before being elected into the Senate at the onset of the current democratic dispensation in 1999.

  Currently, the elder statesman who continues to believe in the imperative of restructuring Nigeria for greater results and efficiency also wants everyone to give the current administration the benefit of the doubt as well as all of the required cooperation to help get the nation back on its feet.

He spoke last week to a New Diplomat team that included Contributing Editor, RICHARD ALADE and Chairman, OMA DJEBAH, on a number of issues.

 

 

 

 

You are an elder statesman. Looking at Nigeria from Independence, would you say the nation is fulfilling its purpose at the moment?

 Not quite. But things are not damaged beyond repair. The question is whether we have fulfilled or attained the dreams of our founding fathers. Not a hundred per cent, not even ninety; but there is room for improvement and we are still within the orbit of meeting the target. But then it has taken us so long due to our own faults. As Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “The fault is not in our stars, it is in us.”

What are the faults, at least the critical ones?

   The selfishness, greed and inordinate ambition of most of the movers and shakers of the leadership arena in the country. They are at fault because the implementation of the constitution has deviated from the intendment of the leaders, the founding fathers. The way out would be to look at the constitution again and also Nigerians should have a rebirth; not necessarily to be born-again in the Christian sense, but to embrace a rebirth, a fresh determination to curb our excesses. A look back over our shoulders would show that the paths we have taken so far have not landed anybody in any comfortable haven. All those who have been stealing the nation’s money, what have they done with it? What have they achieved? What successes have they recorded? What successes have their children after them been able to record? There is a curse on ill-gotten money that people are not aware of. So we should shun all such practices and know that these are areas we should now begin to get right.

 You once attempted to be President in those Social Democratic Party days in the 1990s? There were some things you were putting on the table then. Has anybody addressed those issues since then?

  Everybody has tried to in one form or the other. I don’t want to say that if I had been there I would have delivered the target, maybe I would have probably failed too, I don’t know. But I had good intention to succeed in putting the country in good shape.

Now there is a President in the saddle for over a year; what has he done right?

  I think he has done everything that a human being can do. But as I have said before, he is not a prophet or an angel; he is a human being like you and I, and he can only do his best. The general atmosphere is terribly tainted and when the general atmosphere is tainted everyone is ill. It is the environment that is not wholesome. The man has just said this is the way out; like Moses of the biblical times, this is the direction God wants us to go. But we must worship God and follow Him. Moses went up the hill to go and get laws to guide them properly and before he returned they forced his brother to carve out an image of a calf; that it is that image that led them out of slavery! We are not different from those ancient Hebrews and that is why when we were voting for Buhari, he had said he would take us to the Promised Land, he would fight corruption to a stand-still, he would correct the anomalous situations in the land and he would bring about a change for the better. And he is doing the best any human being can do.

  Look at it; the judiciary in its effort to do things according to the rules is now on the spot with some saying that the delays in the judicial process are getting too much. I am a lawyer myself and I don’t think as a professional body we are doing our best. It is good to defend our professional conduct. For example, as our practice systems stipulate, once your client has shown you that he is innocent, you are expected to believe he is innocent and begin to defend him. But when we have a general view of all these things, when we are confronted with allegations of stealing of billions and billions of naira, there is a limit to how much we can back the traditional system of ‘defending to the last.’ If only as an emergency measure to help clear the Augean Stables, we should relax some of these protocols and some of these rules of making assurance double sure and so forth. Some things are open, they are obvious, and I don’t think up to 10 people have been jailed. Some have returned stolen funds, but that is not sufficient. They should recover as much as they can possibly get and send those found guilty to jail. And the process of finding them guilty should not take an eternity to complete. These are things I think we should do now and something really has to be done to be able to achieve these. The whole nation is running out of patience and in the meantime people are suffering terribly.

Let us look at the suffering of Nigerians, has government not been too slow in its economic rejuvenation efforts? For example, is there anything in the book that says you should not appropriate the monies recovered ?

  Have you gotten a report that money has not been appropriated as at when necessary? No, but look at the level of budget padding; what if Buhari had — immediately signed that budget in order to do things speedily? Do you know how many billions would have gone into the abyss? So, in a perfect job, it takes time to do things. But what I’m saying is that the process that makes that time almost indefinite should be cut down and that is why there is an appeal to the legal profession to re-examine their operational modalities very critically.

Now that some funds have been recovered from the looters, why can’t the president send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to appropriate these funds?

  I don’t think lack of funds is our headache right now. For example, look at the area of road construction, look at buildings; it is not as if there are no funds to do these things, but they take time. The drawings, the approvals, the laying of the infrastructure, these things take time. Look at the situation with electricity; it is an engineering situation to put up wires where they were not and to correct those that are weak. Look at the acts of sabotage going on? Some people are fiddling with the jugular vein of the country in the Niger Delta area, bombing today, bombing tomorrow. Money that should be used for infrastructural efforts are being wasted because we want to follow the law. In some other clime, what is happening in the Delta area would be called treason.

Should they be dealt with according to the laws of treason?

  The government has been trying to make peace with the militants, and they are even dictating terms! Somebody should be able to tell them “what you are doing is wrong”. We are in sympathy with them, we feel they have a reason to be angry. Even the previous government which was headed by someone from that area did a lot to assuage the pangs and pains they suffered, but what happened to those efforts, what happened to the huge amount of money allocated? There is a Yoruba proverb that if you are looking for a dog in the compound of the wolf, you should look at the cheeks of the wolf to find it. It is in the cheeks of the wolf that you would find your missing dog! The money appropriated for the people of the Niger Delta, what happened to that money?

There have been calls that former President Goodluck Jonathan should be investigated and possibly put on trial. Would you support this?

  If he is implicated, yes as nobody should be above the law. So far, however, it looks strange but it does not appear so. It may be that we are not vigilant enough, but I’m sure we need concrete things to pin him down. If they bring evidence that he knowingly and deliberately approved all those deals, knowing that it was not for the welfare of the people, of course he should be tried. But so far, I’ve not heard of any tangible, cogent implication. I’m not aware of any concrete fact yet, it’s just people around him. Would all of that be going on with the man sleeping or drinking all the time and he didn’t know what was going on? But then what is at issue is criminal culpability.

But the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, has said the President authorised him; gave him approval and that he is prepared to give evidence of this openly in court?

  Approval for what? Is it approval to loot? Approval to pocket the money or approval to buy? Approval to utilise the money for the benefits of the people? If the latter was what he did, then that evidence won’t implicate the former President. If Dasuki came and said he wants to spend this money to buy ammunition to fight Boko Haram, it would cost so much and Jonathan approved; but the man goes on and doesn’t buy the ammunition or buys something else, it would be difficult to convict Jonathan for that. But if Dasuki can prove that Jonathan knew, he was told or he got to know that the money was to be utilised for something other than the purpose put on paper, then that would be conspiracy, and the former President should then go in for it.

But political issues are tricky. Look at the situation in South Sudan with the Vice President and President fighting and that has led to a civil war, can former President Jonathan be successfully prosecuted?

  Why not? If it is a criminal matter, time doesn’t run against the state but if it is a civil matter, if there is delay, and after a number of years he is not prosecuted, he may be excluded from prosecution. But for a criminal matter, once the proof is available, even after 20 years, he would still be prosecuted.

The founding fathers of Nigeria insisted on having the right structure and there were benefits from that. In the Western region for example, Awolowo brought in television before Spain and Portugal who had themselves colonised large parts of the world but now we are lagging behind in the comity of nations…

  That is contrary to the intendment of the founding fathers, and that is why I say I believe in restructuring. It is through the constitution that the federation can be restructured and this is what we have been saying right from our NADECO days. That we should sit down and restructure. An attempt was made belatedly in the closing phase of Jonathan’s regime and reports brought forward. I knew that a thorough job might not have been done then given the time constraint, but even at that, they achieved something. They put some things on paper that should not be thrown away. This government is very busy on so many things but a committee of brilliant people should go and study that document and advise the President on how much of these things can be implemented. Besides, a tremendous amount of public funds has been put into that national conference and it cannot just be thrown away anyhow.

  It is necessary to restructure Nigeria in the sense that we did better when we ran on a three-region basis. We did better then. The population then was 35 million, so we cannot talk about three regions now when we are about 170 million.

  So six regions would be ideal for us as some have proposed and they are right as we also have six geopolitical zones. We should make them places of solid governance so that healthy rivalry, the type you have of the West leading not just Africa but the world in innovative development and giant steps to modernity back then, would once more be commonplace. The Cocoa House in the West, the groundnut pyramids in the North and the booming oil palm industry in the East; there was healthy rivalry. Immediately Awolowo succeeded with free education in the West, Nnamdi Azikiwe tried it in the East. So, healthy rivalry prevailed and helped everyone even as the resources of the nation basically resided in the areas where they were produced; but now it is the other way round.

   Today, the Federal Government has so much budgeted for it to spend on agriculture, what land is available to it to practise agriculture with the billions of naira at its disposal? There are things that should be federal; that was what was spelt out in the original constitution and we should return to it. I refer to that 1960 Constitution, what our founding fathers agreed upon.

  After a series of constitutional conferences, they agreed that the regions should be autonomous over a large number of issues, that residual issues should be with them. And only essential ingredients of nationhood, what would distinguish us as a great nation like our defence, the army, the currency and foreign affairs should be federal.

  Other issues like public health, agriculture, education 9you may have federal institutions and so on and so forth to maintain standards but every region should be able to cater for most of these things. Then there would be healthy rivalry and it would be well with us. That was what our founding fathers designed and that is what we should do now.

  Only it was also parliamentary at that time. And if the majority feels we should go back to the parliamentary model, then let us try it once again. If it is the presidential system — which is very expensive — provided we get the main revenue receipts being retained in the producing regions and only an agreed percentage being delegated to the centre for the common good, fine.

  Look at the police, you say governors are the chief security officers of their states and they have no control over the police. How do you maintain security without being in control of the police? These are some of those abnormal situations which in all candidness we should look at.

You were a senator; today, there is a senate and an extended National Assembly that should ordinarily drive the constitutional review process. What is you assessment of its functioning in this regard today?

  The constitution is supposed to come before the Senate. It is like the egg and the chicken. If you ask the National Assembly to go and do a constitution, they won’t do any other thing. The task of putting up a constitution is not small, it’s not a tea party. I participated in the 1988/89 constitutional drafting efforts under then Military President, Ibrahim Babangida. We met in Abuja from August 1998 to May 1989 to draft a constitution. That was the 1989 Constitution that unfortunately never saw the light of day. That of 1999 copied a lot from it but it was not exactly what we put in our draft that was in it. It was a military contraption and yet they say, “We the people”. It was the soldiers who drafted that and that is what we have been using. It is not right and we should have a second look at it. I don’t know exactly the achievements of the 2014 constitutional conference but it should be looked at. You don’t just throw it away, look at it and see how much of it we can salvage. Then let’s have another body, it may not be as large as the other one, to examine and see what we should do. In fact, we should even go further to adopt and reinstate the 1960 Constitution but the essential amendment should be that it can no longer be three regions anymore. Six would be more like it. Then a few other things should be put right, it would be so much better for us.

  There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of  sound and sensible people would like Nigeria to be one because there are people who are saying Nigeria is too big, let us break it into pieces. I don’t subscribe to that. An experiment that has lasted 101 years, I think it’s capable of lasting for more centuries. We have managed this federation of Nigeria up till now and in my view, the territorial area Nigeria should remain. We should continue with it as a country, but we should amend and restructure. Today there are younger people who feel like everyone should go his own way. In the South East for example, I’ve learnt that people still want Biafra and we should not be thinking of such things at this point; but to prevent people from thinking of such things, the way to go is to do what is proper.

Are you confident that under this administration, the right things would be done?

  I have no doubt in my mind because we must seize the opportunity of a man like Buhari being in charge. We must seize the opportunity to do as much as we can do. We don’t know who comes next. How many people would have his personal discipline? There was a newspaper I was looking at this morning — I haven’t read the whole details — someone said they offered him a N2.1 billion bribe and he refused it. How many Nigerians have the guts and self-discipline to refuse to be tempted? You don’t call a man honest until you expose him to temptation and he has refused to be tempted. I shouldn’t be beating my chest too hard; but I can tell you this, I have similar good luck and discipline. Twenty-eight (28) years in the Central Bank with clean records. Check it, not many people have that type of discipline. So, that is why I strongly support Buhari because I know he has that quality of mind to be able to withstand temptation.

What about his team? Are you satisfied he has the best possible team?

  Definitely, we are Nigerians. There is a scripture that says “If God should mark iniquity, nobody would stand”. You see, there once was one Alfred Nwapa. He was the first Minister of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria and was a very flamboyant man. When he got to England and they interviewed him, he said that “I Chukwu, am the first Nigerian man to step on the land of Great Britain,” then in another instance he said, “You cannot be in a tilting boat without being tilted!” That is the answer to your question. Alfred Nwapa made those two statements around 1950. It was before independence, we had started practising parliamentary system. He was minister, he went for a conference, he was the first Nigerian minister, a man of ministerial status to go to England, very flamboyant man. Like Shakespeare said, when the general atmosphere is tilted, everybody is ill. So I cannot expect everybody in Buhari’s cabinet to be like Buhari. His types are never many in any country in the world and with that spartan discipline, they are not many; you can’t get them in large numbers. That is why we must make the best of the time, cooperate with the man, follow his leadership so that we can put Nigeria right during his term.

So what would you say about the current leadership crisis of the National Assembly?

  Journalists have always asked me ever since 2003 or 2004 to confirm that the subsequent senates were not as dedicated, disciplined as our own set. It is you who should examine things, you can compare. I should not be saying we are holier than they are. But definitely, if I was in the Senate today, I know what to do. I would have honourably stepped down. Stepping down as Senate President doesn’t mean stepping down as a senator; you still remain a senator until the whole inquiry is concluded and all the checks are done. Look at what happened in Britain, just three weeks ago. Cameron didn’t say “You must vote to remain in Europe, if you don’t vote to remain in Europe I would leave your job for you.” He didn’t say that but on his own he voluntarily resigned. None of us was born into these positions, we have our roles, sooner than later, we all come and go.

  To expand on the situation — and I’ve said it before — so many things are lopsided with the current Senate as it is. Would the PDP be happy if we in the then AD, ACN and APP stepped up, at the time they were in control of the National Assembly to take the Number Two position in the Senate? Would they have tolerated it? It is odd that a PDP man should be Number Two in the Senate as Deputy Senate President. The deputy should have even resigned voluntarily because you cannot put this country in that kind of bind. We didn’t have an agreement to have a national government, we didn’t have a coalition to have a coalition government and so how can an opposition man be Number Two in the Senate? It is wrong. These are things that if you have large hearts, you should correct.

  And these are younger people. I’m 83 and they are still in their 50’s. They can still be President in future. Let them do the honourable thing now and once they are absolved, they have a good defence, they have cleared themselves. If there are no hidden skeletons in their cupboards or if the prosecution fails to nail them, they would still be around. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day and that is my advice to them.

In effect, you are saying both the Senate President and Deputy Senate President should step down. But there is also another argument that the Executive is encroaching on the independence of the legislature like the Attorney General filing prosecution cases against the leadership and his being summoned and not appearing before the Senate?

  If the Executive does what is wrong, that is why the Fourth Estate of the Realm, you, the good people of the press, should point it out and responsible people should also wade in. It is a pity that our Board of Trustees is not functioning in our parties. The elder statesmen should be able to advise the government to follow the rules of separation of powers. And precisely on the Attorney General, I don’t want to go into judgement because I haven’t gotten all the facts but I think the lawmakers of the nation have to be respected and they too should earn that respect.

You were one of the leaders of NADECO, now looking at the democratic space that we all fought for, do you think we have really attained the products of that clamour? Are they ingrained with those fine visions of NADECO and do you foresee NADECO being revived?

   I don’t pray that we revive NADECO again because if everything goes smoothly, there would be no necessity apart from those of us who are the real veterans, who fought it and suffered for it. Eighteen and a half months of one meal a day in a choked up room and so on; no one wants to go through that again. If things are properly done, there would be no need for fighting. Just like Edmund Burke once said: “What good people suffer for not taking part in politics is to endure the rule of charlatans and ignoramuses.” When good people say “politics is dirty, count me out” then thugs would get in there and you have to obey the law of your country. So these are the reasons why we went out in the first instance, declaring, “military, you have to go,” at grave risk. Some of us fell in the process, some of us suffered like I said, incarceration without trial and some lucky ones escaped into exile and were fighting from exile. It is from the culmination of all of those efforts that we have this democracy today. A good many of those running the show now were not the fighters. But such is life, it is not all those who fought for the independence of America who became legislators or ministers and presidents. It can only be a few. I don’t pray we have to revive NADECO into the militant form as it then was. It was when things were very bad that we had to do it. Let those in power not allow things to so degenerate, to be so bad as to take us there. If you read my book, published to mark my 80th birthday, Guided by His Hands, I notice I have been guided by God Almighty. There I made reference to one of the reasons why our set of legislators who came immediately after military rule had to be so disciplined. We were constantly looking behind us, insisting that we should behave so that the military would not have any justification to come back. But after two or three sessions of democracy, the system has come to stay and people are no longer circumspect in that regard. That urge, that burden is no longer behind them. But we should not be so careless to say that the military can’t come again; we shouldn’t tempt the devil so we must behave.

What is your advice to the young generation of politicians and office holders?

  That they must first remove the beams in their own eyes before pointing out the moles in the eyes of others, apology to Our Lord Jesus Christ. That you haven’t removed the beams, the planks, the heavy things in your own eyes and you are pointing to the moles, the tiny things in the eyes of others! These younger people are finding fault in the older people but what about themselves, this generation of young people?

  Knowing where I come from, I see our boys have gone into the drug habit, into cults, and into a lot of misbehaviour and indiscipline. Then, all this stealing that is been exposed, is it old people alone that have done the stealing? I’m not defending any one generation above the other: “That the parents had eaten sour grapes and the teeth of the children are also on edge.” The young people haven’t got good leadership to look at, and even worse, look at those in the civil service, the public service of the country; we’ve been hearing the awful exposures on pension funds stealing and what has been happening, with males and now females leaving with lots of money! Generally, women are known to be more honest, more disciplined in handling other people’s affairs than men but there are bits of exception in this country. You know what some women ministers have done. So these are things that make it problematic to pass the buck to the older generation. They should rather determine to check themselves first, discipline themselves so that they can have a moral justification in correcting these elderly people of our generation.  But I don’t think they have such moral justification.

What the Niger Delta Avengers are doing at the moment, you have said is treason…

  I haven’t said that because I haven’t gotten the full details.  But that massive sabotage of pipelines, oil wells, gas supply sources and so on which should be for the benefits of the whole nation is most disturbing. Basically, we are some of those who made advocacy for them. I don’t like quoting names and so on but I know some people, some of them were with us, the Niger Delta people. They supported our stance on the fact that the military should go and things should be better. We are in sympathy with them, but what they are now doing is extreme and somebody should tell them that “enough is enough!” You can’t destroy the whole nation in an attempt to put it right! Let’s try to jaw-jaw which is better than war-war. We should sit down and talk. And for those who are in position of authority today, they should not just think that “We have it all; they don’t matter”. They matter. But destroying the nation, holding the jugular veins of this nation in their hands and fumbling with it is not the right way to go.

There is something else. When Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, there were issues, dissensions within South Africa from the Zulus, the Afrikaners, e.t.c and he went out to initiate peace-building efforts…

  Hasn’t Buhari been doing that? Some people are now saying the man is go-slow and that Obasanjo would not have tolerated this situation for this long. On Odi for example, I remember that in the Senate I wrote a report which I presented in the house and we condemned the government at that time that they were killing a fly with a sledgehammer. And this man, Buhari, said the first time he came in the 80’s, people said he was a dictator, he was too harsh; but now he wants to follow the law and now they are saying he is too slow. What is he to do to please Nigerians? This is the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in. It takes all of us to have the courage to say this thing is wrong, let’s put it right. I wrote that report to condemn Obasanjo’s government for killing a fly with a sledgehammer, that the killing was too much. I didn’t have a good sense of smell but those of us in the team, from miles away had been picking up the smells of decomposing bodies in the swamps across Odi; bodies that were not yet retrieved, it was a massacre.

  Now people should learn from history; those militant young men do not know some of these things. Most of them were not born when the civil war was on 40 years ago to see what people suffered in the civil war. We can’t afford to have another one. As General Danjuma said, no country has ever suffered two civil wars. We can’t afford another civil war and they should not tempt us into  that path because the beauty, the greatness of Nigeria lies in its size; the quality of its manpower and its size. I studied economics before I studied law; and it affirms that the economics of scale favours us. Look at our vegetation, look at our population and the quality of our manpower. There is no university in the world you don’t find Nigerians, boys and girls and they are there taking leading positions, not just the back room. Boys and girls grabbing 1st class honours. We have brilliant people, we have size, and we shouldn’t break this country to pieces. What makes China great today is their population. Look at Europe; this phase of having a formally united Europe came after several centuries of wars. The Roman War, The Caeserian War, the Napoleonic War, Adolf Hitler’s War, the list is endless. Now with the treaty of Rome in 1970, they decided to come together to form one big union; that makes economic sense. Look at America, over 250 million people in population, a large number. It counts, it helps to have a steady market for production and consumption. So Nigeria should not disintegrate, we should remain one and then be the centre, the hub of ECOWAS and the AU. That is what Nature seems to have decided, that seems to be our destiny and we have all that it takes — mineral resources, human resources, size, good vegetation. One Indian economist visited us in the Central Bank during my days in the Research Department of the CBN. He was amazed. He wondered why Nigeria is like this; that in India God posted nothing except human beings but in Nigeria, God posted everything: “What stands between us and greatness?” he queried. That sadly, is a question we’ve not yet answered. He also said that our will, determination, self-mastery — those things that I believe Buhari is pointing to now — if we can curb our excesses, our tendency towards corruption, our selfishness and we work hard, using our God-given talents, we should be a world power in a short time and our people would be happy.

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Hamilton Nwosa

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