4:32 pm - Monday September 23, 7191

Explosive Interview: If President Buhari aides not willing to lead Nigeria out of the wood, they should Resign-Dr Raphael James, multiple award-wining publisher, curator, author, tourist legend …Nigeria had been a failed nation since 1970, we are facing Hyperinflation, in a state of ‘Achebeisim’; things falling apart, extinct unavoidable *Nigeria politics is all about money, plenty of money. The youth don’t have the cash, we just have to continue wait on the old breeds *Some Nigerians will steal electricity cables, break-in to destroy transformers and vandalise properties belonging to government, we are all guilty for the no-stable power supply *Former governor James Ibori’s recovered loot by British government should be returned to Delta state under a committee supervision *Tell Nigerians : ‘Let us remain united as one big nation, shame the world and all those who are sponsoring our brothers against us *BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief

 

Explosive Interview:

If President Buhari aides not willing to lead Nigeria ‘out of the woods’, let them ResignDr Raphael James, multiple award-wining publisher, curator, author, tourist legend

…Nigeria had been a failed nation since 1970, we are facing Hyperinflation, in a state of ‘Achebeisim’; things falling apart, extinct unavoidable

*Nigeria politics is all about money, plenty of money. The youth don’t have the cash, we just have to continue wait on the old breeds

*Some Nigerians will steal electricity cables, break-in to destroy transformers and vandalize properties belonging to government, we are all guilty for the no-stable power supply

*Former governor James Ibori’s recovered loot by British government should be returned to Delta state under a committee supervision

*Tell Nigerians : ‘Let us remain united as one big nation, shame the world and all those who are sponsoring our brothers against us

DR RAPHAEL JAMES is a scholar, an academic, a man-of-many letters. This Director-General at center for Research, Information Management and Media Development, CRIMMD, laid the challenges facing Nigeria bare a he discusses various problems, proffering solution and daring in this revealing encounter with our hardworking AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief/ GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU

Naija: How will you describe the State of the Nation in Nigeria?

I will say we are in state of what I will describe as ‘Achebeisim’ which simply means that, the center seems not to be holding, things are beginning to fall apart and it may lead to there was a country. Having said that let me also point out that there is nothing happening today that has not happened before now. Let me take you down memory lane, if you research deep you will discover that on January 4, 1966, properties worth 250,000 pounds belonging to the Mushin District Council were destroyed when party thugs set fire on the building. We still know and remember that the first coup and all the coups in Nigeria under the military were due to the ugly state of the nation.

In 1993, after the annulment of the June 12 election it was like hell was falling on Nigeria, during the first anniversary of June 12 in 1994, all the headlines in Nigeria had it that there will be no Nigeria soon. Reflect back to the days of Isaac Boro in the 60’s when he declared the republic of Niger Delta, again in 1998, the same Ijaw youths were prepared for war, demanding that the Oil companies and government should take care of them or hell will let loose.

When Shaira law was introduced in the North it created secession traits. Also at the death of Abiola, one would have concluded that was the end of Nigeria. I still remember back in 1997 when the then US ambassador to Nigeria Walter Carrington granted an interview on the matter. In all these we had remain united, we had disagreed to agree. So there is nothing new happening, the only new thing is that the social media now makes it easy for us to show the world what is happening, because everyone is now a reporter and this is why if you recall in 2019, the Minister of Information came up with the saying he was worried about Nigeria’s future. In 2003, just before the election then, politicians in the eastern part of Nigeria turned Igbo land to a war zone, killing and maiming each other and so man regulation of the social media, which is happening even now as we talk in this interview.

Naija: Sensing the higher rate of foodstuff prices in the country, do you see Nigeria as a failed state?

After the civil war that ended in 1970 and with the introduction of Naira and Kobo, prices only go up in Nigeria and have never fallen down. We defile the theory of the force of gravity in Nigeria, prices only go up. So Nigeria had been a failed nation since 1970. In 1966, agriculture accounted for 60% of our export, after the war by 1971, it dropped to 22% and it has never gone higher since then. You know the civil war took away a large generation of farmers from the East, the same thing going on today, with the killings in the North, mostly the rural farmers are the ones being killed. Food crises have been with us since for long and we are only promoting farming on the pages of papers and not on land.

Naija: Do you think Nigerian economy as at today is stretched towards inflation?

From the day of the SAP, the Structural Adjustment Program, inflation has been a part of us, presently with a high population of over 200 million and less job and less investment in the agricultural sector, with high dependency on imported goods, we cannot escape inflation, in fact hyperinflation. We import practically everything that we eat, recently there is China garri in the Lagos market, which to me is madness. There are things that we are supposed to be the major exporters in the world, not to be an importer of them. We have cocoa, cashew, groundnut and hundreds of other items and yet we refuse to focus on them and take full advantage to maximize its export potentials.

Naija: Lots of insecurity has been reported in the country, will you say President Muhammadu Buhari is incompetent to save the country?

President Muhamadu Buhari is one man, he has Senior Special advisers, he has advisers, he has assistants, this is a civilian government, as such there is the Senate and House of Representatives, and they should all share the blame. Yes, the President is at the top but if his political, economic and security team feels he is not doing good enough they should advise him or resign. He is one man and he is not omnipotent. Let me also recount the fact that the dead of any one man either in Sokoto, Rivers or Ekiti will not add extra food on my table or any of our tables, as such the insecurity situation in the country in the last years have been alarming and people in authority should take action before actions take them.

There are rising kidnapping and destabilizing plots by Boko Haram in North eastern Nigeria. Some people alleged President Buhari has ‘sold-out’ the nation to the deadly Boko Haram terrorists. Or why do you think Nigerian military has not been able to flush out Boko Haram?

There is kidnapping and killings all over Nigeria and not in North Eastern Nigeria alone. Yes, Nigerians are pointing accusing fingers to Mr President but we all know that this has always been our style, when President Babangida was in office, he once said, that if a pregnant woman gets a miscarriage that Nigerians will blame him for it. The truth is that we are our problem and not those in authority that we blame. If I get it right in my home and you get it right in your home, then we can all get it right when we are given positions of responsibilities, when we come with the mess in our individual families to take offices of responsibilities, we bring along the rot in our head and it manifests in our offices.

Naija: Amidst the tension daily generated by the insecurity in Nigeria, there are reports that ritualists have stormed Rivers state allegedly kidnapping innocent youths, using the people for ritual purposes in the name of political aspiration…what do you think about that?

That is bad, very horribly bad, I will never support evil, I mean how can fellow human be killing each other as if they are now chickens, with no feelings at all. They forget to remember the fact that even if they make the whole cash in the world, they cannot live forever, someday soon, it might even be the next day, they too may die.

Naija: Why has it been difficult from Nigeria’s independence till now to have Nigerian youths in the position of leadership, instead of the same recycled old leaders?

Now let us look at it this way, we have the Federal Ministry of Youth Development a ministerial organ of the Federal Government directly responsible for policy formation and review for Youth development. We have the National Youth Development Council, (NYDC). We have the National Youth Advisory Committee, we have the National Youth Council of Nigeria, (NYCN). We have the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). We have the Citizen and Leadership Training Centre Nigeria. Also, we have the Students Union and many others.

What we don’t have is the political muscles to flex powers with the old breed politicians and that was why when in 1992 Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, placed a political ban for five years on anyone who has ever held a senior government position from seeking elected office. It was a right step in the right direction but trust the old breed, they pressured him and boom they returned to governance. That ban then affected tens of thousands of officials including all politicians of past regimes as well as himself from campaigning for office. That would have probably encouraged the youth to launch in. In Nigeria, politics is about money, plenty of money and since the youth don’t have the cash, we just have to continue wait on the old breeds.

Naija: Till date, billions of dollars have been wasted to bring electricity to Nigeria, yet, we have no stable power supply. Will you say corruption is responsible for ‘black-out’ in the country? If so, which Nigerian leaders are to be blamed?

All of them from 1960 to date, and all Nigerians too, me and you who are willing to buy generators because we have the cash and wants to show off. You and I will buy fuel no matter the increase in the cost to fuel our generators. You and I will look for short cuts to enjoy electricity and not want to pay the right bill. You and I will leave the lights on even when we are not making use of them, we are all guilty. Nigerians will cut away and steal electricity cables, break in and destroy transformers and vandalize properties belonging to government, we are all guilty for the no stable power supply.

Naija: In United States, United Kingdom and other developed nations, Nigerians are behind their economic and scientific growth, why is Nigeria so far behind in development?

We hate each other and never happy at our progress. We are selfish, greedy and very tribalistic in nature as far as we do not change we may remain like this for ever. The day we see each other as Nigerians and not as an Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa or Delta man, that is the day we will rule the world and since the world knows this secret, they will continue to instigate us against each other so that we don’t see the truth and we don’t progress.

Naija: Former Delta state governor, James Ibori earlier convicted for fraud by the U.K. government has been fighting to recover his seized funds, whereas bulk of the confiscated funds are to be returned to the Buhari administration. Do you think Ibori should be handed over his seized loot or Nigerian government should collect the funds? What’s the reason behind your decision?

I still remember Mr Ibori was arrested sometime in December, 2007, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Kwara State Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, with 170 charges, plus additional charge of bribing the then EFCC chairman with a cash gift of $15 million. Two years later, a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, discharged and acquitted him of all charges.

The EFCC filed a notice of appeal against that judgement, and began a new round of investigations. In April 2010, his case file was reopened and he fled Nigeria, and EFCC invited Interpol and he was arrested in Dubai with extradition to UK.

By February 2012, he pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy of defraud and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment two months later and to forfeit some of his properties. He was released from prison in December 2016 after a court order, having served 4 years of the 13 years.

To me, the federal government has recovered so much loots that are mostly uncountable, for this not to go the same way, it is better it is handed over to the state, since it was a state fund he looted and even used the state as collateral for loan. There should be a committee to watch over its disbursement on a capital project for the youth of the state.

Naija: Many young ladies in the country are alleged to be going into prostitution to feed their families. What risks do you think these girls are exposed to?

Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, it has been there from day one. Having said that I am not in support of the profession by the youth, in these days of high insecurity, ritualist may take advantage of these young ladies, as well as Sexually transmitted diseases, plus the damaging of the womanhood. But prostitution is striving because we are in nation that no one asks you how did you make it in life, rather they will ask you if you were able to make it at all. I remember very well that in January 2000 when 75 prostitutes were deported from Italy back to Nigeria, as if that was not enough, by March another 85 of them were deported same from Italy, Saudi Arabia deported 17 sex hawkers back to us, that same month another 77 Nigeria ladies were deported again from Italy, you start to wonder is it that it is only Nigeria women that are good in this profession?

Most of them are within the ages of 13- 25. This is not good for our image and family lifestyle in the future. In fact things almost got of hand to the point that the then wife of the Vice President Mrs Atiku had to set up a foundation to educate and rehabilitate some of the young ladies. Back to the risks, obviously, most Nigerian men and their family will never approve of getting married to a lady that is known to have been a prostitute. Over use of drugs and hormonal contraceptives could have some damaging effect of the ladies, as well as risk of violence during paid sex.

Naija: Finally, what’s your message to Nigerians in the midst of the many challenges they face daily?

My message is that of love and unity and prosperity shall follow us, let us remain united as one big nation and shame the world and all those who are sponsoring our brothers against us. The federal government should focus on lifting the educational standard of our children; let us prepare them for quality leadership against tomorrow. Let us look into the possibility of amending our constitutions to reflect a restructure system that will carry everyone along and not leave anyone behind marginalised.

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