Abumchukuwu Okoye, a lawyer, in this interview described as mere threat the letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo warming him not to re-contest in 2019.
He said the letter is belated saying Buhari has performed above average within three years especially in the anti-graft war.
Recently, leaders of South-East APC endorsed Buhari for a second-term, are you confident that Nigerians will vote for Buhari again considering the level of hardship in the land?
President Muhammadu Buhari has shown capacity and capability to lead the country. Buhari is enjoying international accolade in the fight against economic and financial crime, this is why for the first time in the 54-years history of African Union (AU) anti-corruption will be made a theme of the gathering of regional leaders.
In July 4, 2017 during the 29th session of AU, the leaders unanimously endorsed President Buhari to champion the fight against corruption on the continent. What Buhari needs is our support and not criticism. Before now, there were many untouchables who did all kinds of things and got away with them, but today it is no more business as usual. In the area of security he has also tried to the extent that Boko Haram is now history. Nigeria is not a country where fight against corruption can be won overnight. In fact, in 2018 the rate of crime will increase especially violence crime because it is election year but I’m confident that Buhari is equal to the task. So, come 2019, there must handshake across the Niger.
South-East decision to vote for Buhari is premised on the Igbo 2023 presidency project, is it realisable?
It is time for political action by Igbo and what that means is political action. We must arm ourselves with our Personal Voter Card (PVC). We must recognize that we are talking about president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not president of Igbo land. The handshake must not only be across the Niger, it must be across the mountain and rocks because we must genuinely unite. How do we forge ahead? How do we get inside and not being outside? We must realise that it is not a matter of standing out and barking but a matter of being an insider so that we can come together and share power. But if Igbo decide to be outside because of sentiment and hope to grab the presidency, I’m sorry the presidency is not for sale. Igbo can get the presidency by negotiation and dialogue with other regions.
But you were against Buhari presidency, why did you suddenly become pro-Buhari?
I was not only against Buhari but past Presidents and Heads of State who directly or indirectly participated in coup. Yes, I was against Buhari because he was the one that carried out coup in 1983 that truncated a democratically elected government. To me, whoever participated in a coup is not my friend because constitutional democracy requires everybody’s effort. But I’m happy now because Buhari has repented at least, that made him to understand that the nation’s problem is economic crime and official fraud.
What would you say about the letter by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo warning Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019?
The letter was belated because it would have made sense if the letter had come earlier. Obasanjo wanted to use the letter to seek relevance and not for the best interest of the country.
So, you are in support of the reply by former governor of Abia State that Obasanjo short-changed the south-east in terms of infrastructural development during his eight years reign?
Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu captured the response of and mood of Ndigbo to Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari. Buhari is a friend of Igbo and not Obasanjo. I agree with Kalu that Obasanjo lacks moral right to criticise Buhari because Buhari is trying to clear the 16years economic mess which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) plunged the nation into, which Obasanjo was part of.
Igbo have benefited from the present government as infrastructural development is going on in the south-east with commencement of work on the second Niger Bridge. A project Obasanjo and PDP could not do for 16 years they were in power. There are three express roads Obasanjo refused to build when he was President which Buhari is doing now, this include Port Harcourt, Okigwe,Umuahia, Enugu expressway. Enugu, Awka, Onitsha expressway. Another road Obasanjo refused to build that Buhari is doing is the Onitsha, Owerri and Aba expressway. Like Kalu asked, between Obasanjo and Buhari who should Igbo call their friend in real terms? Buhari is a friend of Ndigbo.
From the look of things, do you think the APC government has kept its campaign promises to Nigerians?
No doubt people are getting employed or engaged in farming. There are a lot of qualified Nigerians looking for opportunities and they are getting it. Unfortunately, many Nigerians are unemployable. Therefore, what Nigeria needs now is technological and scientific advancement. We also need leisure and that is why a dancer may earn more money than a graduate of any other course. That is why you can pay somebody that makes you laugh more than your mechanic because he made you happy. So, I still maintain that President Buhari is capable and he has shown capacity. A complex problem requires complex solution. However, what went wrong must be corrected and that is economic fraud, injustice and unwarranted denial, that is the reason people are complaining. I’m yet to see anyone who can fight financial crime like Buhari and until I see a person with such capacity to fight corruption, Buhari may continue beyond 2019. There is no more white-collar job and Nigerians are getting involved in farming to earn a living. We were used to easy money but now we are in the stage of hard earned money and most people don’t want to earn a living through hard work. (The Sun)