Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, has lamented that neither the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Goodluck Jonathan nor that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari will be able to fulfill the promises they are making. This is because none of these promises are related to the budget.
“Already, I can’t see how both parties can meet their promises,” said Agbakoba, in an interview with Saturday Vanguard. “I really don’t see it. They are making promises that are not related to the budget. Again, many things will happen. I see oil price dropping further to about $10. So, you are going to have a president who is going to have a faint budget. So, I will like to know how the contenders will take us out of oil into other areas. Unfortunately, I have not heard that from any one of them. These are the fundamental issues the parties should have been addressing.
“We need to have a president who will make a new business case for Nigeria. The oil business has expired; we need to see a new model. Let it not be based on one President controlling the entire oil bloc but many presidents tapping resources in their regions. I am from Anambra state, the governor of the state is not in control of the port, but the Minister of Transport, yet it is lying fallow. This is because the man who controls it is about 800 miles away. The Onitsha-Enugu road has always been under construction because the contract comes from a man who is not plying on the road,” the ex-NBA president said, making a case for the decentralization of power.
Agbakoba also called for a debate between the two front runners in the presidential race, saying “if we listen to the debate by both parties; it will help us to make a choice. I am not going to vote for either of them if I don’t hear what they are going to do….”
“I am looking for an orthopedic political president who will crack the structure and heal it; who will be able to tell me what he will do with power, the economy and other sectors.
He also played down any change in the way the country is managed if the opposition wins the forthcoming presidential election. “What these two parties will do is the same old game from what I can see so far; unless they understand the fractured nature of Nigeria. But if they understand it, they are not saying it right now. My conclusion is that it is going to be yet another bad election.
But we have about a month to go, if I have a chance to ask both presidential candidates in a presidential debate, my first question will be ‘what is your concept of a reformed Nigeria’? The answer they give will make me cast my vote for A or B. A person who misses the contextual issue will miss the solution and will miss my vote.”
However, Agbakoba lauded the APC for bringing up the kind of competition we have now. But said, “Beyond that, there is nothing.”
“What would have happened is that both parties would make their manifestos sharp and clear. If the APC feels that the PDP has no programme; they would have made their message sharp and clear. But I am not satisfied by both parties because I don’t know what they are going to do. But I do know that the APC has given us a choice. You could have a national team playing football but they are not winning anything. That is what is happening to APC. The next step that APC needs to go to make our country very exciting is to design a programme that will force the PDP to respond. Right now, people are voting emotion, ethnicity and religion,” he said.
The human rights activist also commented on the postponed election. He said if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be honest, it would tell Nigerians that it was not ready to conduct the elections at the earlier scheduled dates. This, he said was evident in the achievements of the commission since then.
“If you look at the number of PVCs distributed as at that day, INEC would have disenfranchised so many people. Then what about the ballot papers and boxes? What about the training and capacity building of personnel? The electoral body was not ready. In my view, the PDP mismanaged the matter. I cannot tell whether the military was used. If I were President Jonathan, I would have boxed INEC into a corner. INEC has cleverly used the Military alibi to escape liabilities. Like my wife said, if they were ready, why are they still distributing materials. INEC was absolutely not ready. nobody can claim not to know that INEC was not ready. Jega should not be dishonest by claiming he was ready.”
Agbakoba, however, warned against further postponement of the elections. He said it could lead to a civil war.