He has been into politics for quite a number of years. Chief Kenny Martins served in different capacities under past PDP regimes. The former Minister of Police Affairs in this exclusive and thought-provoking interview with Sahara Weekly, shed more lights on the Nigerian politics, national topical issues and ways out on how to ensure proper election in 2019. He also advised the APC not to rely on propaganda for victory in the forthcoming polls. Read on:
Three years down the lane, the people’s verdict is that the APC government has been a disappointment, as someone who has become a force to reckon with in Nigerian politics, what is your take on it?
Well, the fact is that they have disappointed some people but some people are still ready to give them a second chance, the question is which side is in the majority, those ones who believe they have done well or those who believe they have fallen far short of their expectation. I always tell people I have a problem giving verdict because the election is just seven to 8 months to go and this is going to be given by about 200 million people, we have about 76million having PVC now but if we are to talk about the noise here, it shows there are lots of short comings. One, we start with how they handle their inter-governmental relationships, they goofed from day one, they made a fundamental mistake, the house is divided against itself and cannot stand. In the time of Chief OlusegunObasanjo, when the late ChubaOkadigbo and AbubakarAtiku issue was going to happen, we won the election, OBJ moved to Defence House, then swearing in was two weeks away, moving to the villa was like three weeks away, so three weeks before the inauguration, two weeks before moving to the Aso Rock Villa, we saw a dichotomy between the Vice President and the President. The president had Evans Enwerem as a favorist,he was in APP but was among those that were added to PDP to support OBJ. In fairness to VP Atiku, he was 100 percent loyal, they have gone far, deep but it was not PDP who wanted Chuba Okadigbo, it was the people because we related more and I remember then that one or two other people were in contention that time, so I went to Defence House and met the president to tell him what I saw and if we should allow this dichotomy to take place when he is sworn in.The house was convened and they started the struggle for who becomes what, it will definitely split the senate and extended to the lower house which was why we have a split National Assembly back then. Your government had an issue and the consequence of that is you may not have a peaceful or stable tenure. He asked for what he can do, so I suggested he met with Atiku and I got Atiku the following morning. By 7am, we were together and I said what I needed to say and I said to Atiku that he shouldn’t allow the dichotomy, Obasanjo was his boss, they should allow the House to decide. We left that breakfast 40minutes later and the rest is history. Chief Evans Enwerem became Senate President and there was banana pill until Chuba Okadigbo came in, another round of banana pill and there was never peace at the National Assembly.
It is sad APC also started on the same seat. I am not saying something I don’t understand, I am saying something I have lived to witness, I have been involved, I have been a player, this time around, it is most sad APC fell for the same thing because there is no doubt that CPC already have a president, a major factor in the APC equation. ACN already had a Vice President, then naturally, those who became the game changers brought the equation that allowed opposition in Nigeria since independence, it took actions of the PDP, those governors, and in the whole of the north, all governorship elections were won in PDP but at the presidential level, they were won by wider margins with the same governors in the states, so that means the governors in PDP massively voted for Buhari so it means in APC, the PDP is a major factor. Naturally, the next position available is the senate presidency, then someone now says he is the landlord of Lagos State that he is currently in a meeting at the National Conference Centre that they shouldn’t convene the National Assembly at the senate chambers. They came there and keep their men and since then, they have been at a battle field due to this, it’s the destability that affected PDP that is also affecting the APC, why is it that we don’t learn from history in this country, we do not learn from mistakes, what is harmful in allowing Bukola Saraki to be a stable Senate President, run it in collaboration with the President and have a corporation. But talking about whether they have done well, certainly, every government has a legacy they leave behind because governance is so extensive, deep and wide so you definitely must have a power. Their power as I believe is solely centralized on fighting corruption, we have made anti-corruption a battle cry, a war cry and they are nationalizing and internationalizing it. It’s now an African Union issue, our President is now the chairman of the Union Corruption Tax Force so in that one, we have to give it to them. They are saying they are jailing only PDP people, it doesn’t matter who you jail, just fight anybody found guilty of corruption, someone will fight others sooner than later, in anti-corruption, they have shown prowess.
Most people believe the slogan of the APC is about going against Jonathan, what is your take on this?
That is the least concern of the masses because when I am hungry I don’t want to hear what Jonathan did, I want to hear what you are doing for me. You are supposed to be a baker, where is the loaf? That is the question the APC should ask itself, Nigerians are tired of excuses and actually if we are not careful, they are going to fail to convince the people on a second term bid on the basis of excuses of their last term. Nobody has ever won an election based on the failure of the former government, itis not done anywhere and they are not going to be the first to do it, it is not achievable. When people ask of what you have done, they want concrete things and achievements you can boldly point at. Propaganda do not win an election anymore in Nigeria.
As someone who is a voice to reckon with, what is the solution to the situation on ground. If for instance you have the ears of the President?
It is very simple, the president needs to come to terms with the people, it is starting to look like the Goodluck Jonathan’s period again where the president is isolated from national realities, the president should for one publish his number and promise to pick calls, Obasanjo used to do that, I remembered an incident when the Villa was supposedly on lock down, Major Al-Mustapha then called the President from the prison, so in essence, Mr. President needs to hear what the people are saying, he should stop listening to those close to him because they are not being sincere to him. We hear the people, we listen to them, it is not in consonance or in tandem with the reality as being preached by the All Progressives Congress today. On electricity, it is not enough to say there is power, I buy more diesel and still pay bigger bills, how doI address that? I travel the roads and they are as bad as when Jonathan left the three years ago, but they say they have done so much. Everything is skyrocketing, how does the bank and finance policy support buildings and mortgages which was easy those days, Nigerians cannot buy brand new vehicles anymore, why have we come to that level? What of the locomotive laws that was in place, how effective are they? When it comes to fuel, in the last four to five years, we spent billions of naira importing refined products. I need to ask one very important personality who says in this government, fuel will be twenty naira per litre, what happened? If there will not be subsidy, how come we are now talking of multi billion naira subsidy again, these are issues to be addressed. The agriculture policy, are foods growing and we have non-disrupting central farming district in the nation? Is it now replicating or reverberating in scarcity of food in economic hubs like Lagos? As a worker, am I able to pay my children’s school fees? These are issues that need to be addressed, I am not critical of the government but I wonder why we keep talking about the same thing. It is starting to look like maybe the good man should come and recognize us, that is the only thing I can think of because this government has failed. If there was any government that should be dancing ‘Skelewu’, it is this government because it is the only government that had massive votes after the late Chief MKO Abiola, are those voters still happy? So as to the solutions, the budget has come, no matter how well or badly manipulated by the national assembly, please, release the capital projects as soon as possible, let works commence, donot proffer economic theories that does not allow funds to go out. People are starving, nothing is happening. I know construction is on in all areas but you just have to look at the industries, what do you want to do for them about power? It is not enough to say the youths are lazy, where will they work? Many of the industries in Lagos are shut down and the churches are buying over those places and are also used as event centres. So I don’t know what to think about anymore as far as this government is concerned.
We have found ourselves at a cross road and some people believed come 2019, we should go back to the era of the so-called ‘corruption’ because things were still better then. What is your take on that?
The voters and their PVC will determine the next election and when they faulted Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for talking, he said something wrong. I accused him once of working for this government. He is just an echo-god of the nation, he is just reflecting and sending back the voice of the silent beings. He is just speaking for them but if as an echo-god, those ones are not saying anything then it means he is just a loud speaker, so this is why the government needs to be mindful of whatever Obasanjo says, they should listen because that is the voice of the people. There are killings everywhere, it is no more religious anymore. Because of its persistence, they have turned it to inter-religion, inter-tribal stuff and there is confusion all over, so the government needs to wake up, the pronouncement of the officials isn’t calming the people so security is a major issue.
Using you as a point of contact to other elder statesmen in Nigeria, what are you doing as a person to placate Nigerians and what are you doing to resolve these issues?
When a man is hungry, he will definitely be angry. The only way out is a man who has what it takes to listen and rationalize with the people because the problem has become a historical thing from one government to another government. Now, where some of us can get involved is by getting to those in power and what I have said here, I say more to them in terms of advice. I believe there are some deficiencies running the government with him and their responsiveness to the yearnings of the people isn’t connected to their needs. This government keeps getting own goals everytime, climb on the player in the box 18, they finish themselves, they are not helping matters. They make the government seems like an anti-people government, you need those who can say they have short comings, forget about Jonathan, talk about your plans rather than the past governments.
Let us talk about security especially in terms of the Police, Nigerians have lost faith in them especially the current government, taking Saraki, Police and Federal SARS, Nigerians do not trust them even in the judiciary, what is your take on this?
For the Nigerian Police, a country gets the kind of police it deserves. Nigeria is like an extension of the wider society because the values of the society are there, I donot see how the police can be different. You cannot give a national orientation; that is one of the things we voted for, a man who is renowned at making a re-orientation the focus of his policy drive but we have not found too much of that now unlike when he was around, the country shook then. I believe there is so much to be done for the Nigerian police and other security agencies. One of the reasons the security agencies generally apart from police, even the military flopped is because there is always contradictory positions at the top.
The governor is saying something, the commissioner of police is saying something else, there will be a clash, can’t both agree on how to solve their problems. Only the late General Sani Abacha, and some few others had very tight security, it was tolerable under Jonathan. We believe the security will be better but it will depend on the government also working with the people. Where in every state of the federation, the chief security officer, the governor isnot working in tandem with the Commissioner of Police, there will be problems. The police should go back and call a separate meeting with their governors and see how they can bring true security to all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, Abuja.
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