AVM Frank Ajobena (retd) is a former Military Administrator of Abia State. He is a national chieftain of the APC and a leader of the party in Delta State. He hails from Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State. In this exclusive interview with The New Diplomat, Ajobena spoke on why he called on Senator Omo-Agege to indicate interest for the 2023 governorship of the State. He called for death penalty as the panacea for corruption just as he traced the causes of insecurity in the country to poor and non-functional education in our school curriculum, amongst other salient issues.
The World Bank has just predicted that at the close of 2021 Nigeria will become the 5th country with the highest inflation rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the moment, there is food inflation due to scarcity across the country. How do we overcome this?
The food scarcity which we are already facing is a symptom of insecurity. Security is a very wide term but the type of security we are referring to now is the physical security which is the safety of lives and property. The absence of safety of lives and property is the reason why people can no longer go to farm. That is also the reason we cannot have enough food and therefore there is food inflation. It is governed by the law of demand and supply. When there is no enough food in the market, the prices of foodstuff that are available in the market will go up. So, if we can address the problem of insecurity, we will be able to bring down inflation to a large extent. So, I think that the World Bank prediction on high inflation in Nigeria is a function of the insecurity in the country.
Many people blame the problem of insecurity in the country on unemployment. Can we totally blame the scourge of unemployment on the government’s inability to provide jobs?
I would trace the scourge of unemployment to a faulty system of education, not necessarily government’s inability to provide jobs. Our educational system is not functional. It does not prepare people to be productive to themselves. So, if we emphasize productive education, people will create employment for themselves. Again, if we have enhanced infrastructure, talking about electricity, roads and transportation, people will live anywhere and do their own business. I’ll be very glad to live here in this my village. This is where the blame goes to the government.
When this administration came into power in 2015, it emphasized three key areas they want to excel in – fighting corruption, provide security and of course, fixing the economy. Six years after, there is still insecurity across the country and the economy is almost on its knees. How would you assess the success or otherwise of the administration in its war against corruption?
We’ve been fighting corruption with kids gloves. You see corruption around us every day and you claim we are fighting corruption? If we really want to fight corruption we must be prepared to show some examples. First of all, you have to review the law on punishment against corruption and set up an institution to manage it. By now we should have special courts managing cases of corruption. That is one of the first things we should have done because we don’t want to kill innocent people – pass the law that if you are convicted of corruption, you go for life imprisonment or you are executed. Are they not shooting people in China? So, make it a law, if you are caught, you will be shot. You will be charged to court, tried and if found guilty, you will be tied to the stake and you will be shot.
…Would that not be too harsh?
Is China not doing it? Why do you say it will be too harsh. China is doing it. If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. Of course, it is already killing us. A drastic problem demands a drastic solution. Let them enact a law against corruption, set up special courts to try suspects speedily. If you are tried and found guilty, you will be executed. Everybody will be careful if they know the punishment that will follow corruption. You may escape for some time but the day you are caught just know that it is all over for you.
Each time corruption is mentioned, there is the tendency for people to point fingers at the federal government. But are the governors and local government chairmen trying in this direction?
They are not trying at all. They are not trying.
Take a look at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, an agency that is supposed to drive development in the Niger Delta. For some time now it has become comatose and has failed to deliver on its mandate to develop the Niger Delta region. What is your take on the present state of the Commission?
Corruption will not allow NDDC to run well. The problem everywhere is corruption. Eighty percent of Nigeria’s problem is corruption.
The federal government has placed a ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria. While many Nigerians are condemning the action of the government as amounting to violation of fundamental right of individuals to freedom of speech, others are of the view that Twitter and, indeed, other social media platforms create more problems to the country. What’s your own perspective on this?
The social media as a whole, not just twitter, is one technology that has helped the world but it has also created problems all over the world. One fundamental requirements of democracy is freedom of speech. But when you talk of freedom of speech, there is also limit to that freedom. So, on that note, I would support some enactments that will control diarhoea speeches in the social media.
As a chieftain of the APC, how prepared is your party to take over the governance of Delta State in 2023?
Given the performance of the PDP so far, the party has no business running anything in Delta State any more. APC can be the alternative to PDP. But like I’ve always said, the internal squabble in APC is just the problem. Once we are able to resolve the internal squabble, APC will defeat the PDP anyday.
In a public function in Ughelli recently, you were reported to have requested the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who is from Delta Central, to come out and indicate interest to contest the 2023 governorship election in the State. Were you satisfied with his response to your request?
I requested that he should throw in his hat on the table and chest out to contest governorship. What did he say, he challenged the people to go and reach out to the grassroots so that they can sensitize and mobilize them to support the cause if they believe in it.
What did you see in him that prompted you to make that request for him to come out to contest for the governorship of the State?
Look at what he has done so far in the Senate. I looked at the man’s antecedent. As far as I’m concerned he has done very well. We have had Senators in the past. What have we to show for it? Today, we have FUPRE where he is contributing so much for its development, we have the upcoming Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, we have so many infrastructural projects, water projects, electricity, schools renovation, empowerments, massive appointments/employments, etc, across the state. Again, when you watch him in the Senate contributing to discussions, he is always very articulate. We had Senators there whom we did not hear their voices for a whole four years. Let’s be fair to people. Ovie Omo-Agege has represented us well in that Senate. So, when you consider that antecedent and you project it further to governance, I think we should give him a chance to govern Delta State come 2023. That is what I think.