//Opinion: Ismail Omipidan, Abuja //
“With all the investments we have, we will not be fair to the next generation, if we sell the assets.” Ekweremadu, Wednesday, September 21, 2016.
When Senator Ike Ekweremadu emerged as the Deputy President of the Senate in June 2015, I told everyone who cared to listen, that in him, was a patriot. And I also went further to submit that the PMB’s Presidency would benefit more, from his wealth of experience, as he would not play politics with the fate of Nigeria.
The first vindication came when he was out of the shores of the country, where he defended the administration’s war against insurgency. A thing some would not have done, were they in his position.
The second vindication was when the PDP Senators staged a walk- out over the confirmation of Ameachi, as minister. He stayed behind, as he did not join them, because he knows he is the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate and not that of the PDP.
Again, while speaking on PMB’s administration, sometimes in April this year, he said it was in the best interest of Nigerians and Nigeria for the APC government to succeed, adding that the PDP would not hinge its return to power on the failure of the APC government, but on superior arguments that it could do it better, if given another chance.
Ironically, in the same April, 27th day of the month to be precise, when he did the public presentation of his latest book, “Who Will Love My Country, ” he displayed his patriotism to the country, at a time he had no idea that a day like this will come, when some business men, masquerading as leaders would come together to attempt to offer Nigeria for sale, to further deepen their pockets.
And by last Wednesday, he indicated where he belonged to Nigerians, concerning that selfish quest.
Hear him: ” I have heard about the issue of selling of our assets. I need to caution that other countries are not doing the same. UAE does not even allow you to the oil wells talk less of selling them. And of course a country like Saudi Arabia, their budget each year is run by investments from their oil revenue, while other countries are still investing in the sector. With all the investments we have, we will not be fair to the next generation, if we sell the assets. So, if we must sell, we have to sell
the non-performing assets so that people can turn them around and create employment. We need to amend section 162 especially from 3,4,5,6 where each money
in the federation account is enjoined to be shared among the other levels of government. No country does anything like that. I recall that when the federal government in the last administration or so wanted to save money for a day like this, the States refused and they were right because the constitution says all monies have to be shared. So we need to amend the present constitutional provisions as quickly as possible to make provision for government to save for the rainy day such as this.”
The truth is that Nigeria doesn’t seem to be working. Make no mistake; the non-workability did not start today. I know there are some who hold the extreme view that “there was a country” called Nigeria. But while not trying to dismiss the sentiments of those who hold such a belief, there are still majority of us who believe that there is a country, called Nigeria. The problem, however, is that even those of us in this category do not appear to love our country as much as we love our tribe, state, ethnicity and religion. In other words, the sharp matchet has no handle, while the one that has a good handle is blunt. This was why Ekweremadu asked in April, who is it that will love his country, Nigeria.
Interestingly, most of the views espoused in the book were long held views of the Deputy President of the Senate. He repeated same last Wednesday on the floor of the Senate, while making his own contribution on the state of the country’s economy.
For instance, everyone knows where he stands on Fiscal federalism, just as his views on decentralized policing system, which some want to refer to as State Police, is unmistaken.
According to him, each time, there is a drop in oil price, the country’s leaders and the rest of us panic, largely because oil, is the country’s cash cow. But should this tradition continue?
Ekweremadu believes strongly that the current 36 States system we run, is not viable. Instead, he suggested that we return to a regional arrangement with six geopolitical zones as federating units.He said further that the act of “robbing Peter to pay Paul, which I term feeding bottle federalism, is at the heart of poor governance, underdevelopment, indolence, and ineptitude in the Nigerian federation. It is the reason some State governors can afford to sleep for an entire month, knowing they will pick up some free money from Abuja at the end of it… It is also the reason financial trepidation grips the land each time there is a hiccup in the flow of free money, usually occasioned in the crash in oil price. At such times, the whole nation tosses about, gasping for breath and survival like fish removed from water and flung on a hot, sandy beach.”
If the present business men, masquerading as leaders of Nigeria, succeeds in selling our national assets, know that Ekweremadu, is not part of the decision. May God save Nigeria from the hands of these Hawks.