Interview: Buhari’s government has poor reward system for those who worked for him – Dispora group
Comrade James Erebuoye is the president of a group of Nigerians in diaspora based in Vienna, Austria. In this interview, he speaks on the President Muhammadu Buhari led APC administration in Nigeria to wit: its popularity outside the shores of the country, the Niger Delta region, reward system, economy and other major segments of the polity. Excepts:
Can you briefly tell us who you are?
My name is Comrade James Erebuoye, President Concerned Nigerian Network in Diaspora.
Tell more about your organisation?
Our organisation is registered as a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, with a mandate to bridge the gap between the state and the citizens. We are going between the leaders and the led but we don’t engage in politicking for or against any government rather, we work with democratic governments all over the world to strengthen democratic institutions for greater benefits to people across the world.
We assess governments’ policies with the aim of ensuring that the maximum advantages accrue to the citizens without let or hindrance. My organisation drives on the crest of peace, unity, honesty, transparency and equity.
As a Nigerian in diaspora leading such a group, of what benefit are you to your fellow country men and women?
Like I told you, our primary goal is to ensure that people harvest and maximise the benefits inherent in democratic governance, Nigerians inclusive. We are in Nigeria right now engaging officials of the current administration to see that the people who enthrone this government are not left in the limbo. Our aim is to ensure that the popularity of this administration doesn’t wane down especially amongst those who swotted it out with the past ruling government to bring about change.
How do you assess this administration in terms of popularity; home and away?
It’s very obvious that this government by all standard cannot be compared with any past governments in terms of popularity based on its sense of direction and sincerity of purpose. The acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari government all over Europe, America and Asia can’t be measured with any past administrations because there was none like it. For instance, the war against corruption being piloted by the President Buhari has shut down Nigeria from the top 5 position on the world corruption index to 44th position. Very laudable efforts you have there. Stories like XYZ percentage of corruption takes place in Nigeria’s presidency is no heard off whereas under the immediate past administration, such narratives were a common place.
You talked about reward system of this administration, what about it?
Yes, I have reservations for the poor reward system of this administration. This government need to do more for those forces who galvanised support for the APC and President Buhari before and after the elections of 2015. I know of one and the only group to the best of my knowledge – National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators- NCNDEA led by Eshanekpe Israel, a.k.a. Akpodoro who was everywhere during the electioneering campaign in 2014 even till date in the Delta region.
Tell us more about this group
Till date, that group has not been rewarded for the magnitude of work they did. It’s a very large group of ex-militants and youths in the region funded by only one young man for the purpose of enthroning a government. It follows that having achieved its aim, leaders of such group should be engaged in manner that will make them do more for the administration. Leaving them idle is not the best this government can offer.
Their leader, Akpodoro, has done so much to stabilise security in the region much more than the appointees of this government from the region have done. It therefore becomes plausible for the president to engage them particularly towards 2019 general elections. This government may not survive another four years of opposition in control of the resource base of the Nigerian state. The administration should ensure the opposition is dislodged from power through a credible election in 2019 and a group like the NCNDE-A comes handy in this respect.
How do you assess security in the country?
Buhari’s government has done much in stemming the tide of insecurity in the country. From the Boko Haram insurgency through militancy in the Niger Delta and pockets of agitations and opposition – induced strife all over the place and the tact with which the insurrections of the wicked were handled, one is left with no option than to give kudos to President Buhari and his team. He, however, should do more in the Delta by putting his loyalists in place to match the canon folders of the opposition elements.
How do you see his fight against corruption?
Like I stated earlier, President Buhari has done more than all the past governments in bringing sanity into the polity in his unrelenting war on corruption. For the first time in history, the big are crying, wailing and lamenting because no more free money.
Stealing by public office holders has reduced drastically and fear instilled in the mind of looters and would-be looters of national treasury in a clear departure from impunity and recklessness that marred the past administrations.
Do you see all of these positives attracting foreign investment?
Sure! Direct foreign investment is directly proportional to the sanity brought to bear in our national economy. The moment an investor is sure of his security, the security of his investment, the investment environment and stability in the polity, he sure will invest. In the past, graft and stealing was the bane of investment in Nigeria but today, all of that are fast eroding away. So, the achievements of this government will sure bring huge investments into the country and that will automatically remove idle youths from the street.
How do you assess development in the Niger Delta region?
Corruption is the bane of the Niger Delta region. Those trusted with the development of the region are looting the region dry. The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and Amnesty Programme are led by characters who see those positions as sources of riches for them and their proxies.
NDDC is allocated billions of naira every year that ends up in private pockets rather than channeling it on development projects. If the billions allocated by the federal government are used for its primary purpose, the Niger Delta region would have been a New York by now but for looting. Here is a poser: what business has the Directors of NDDC in Europe and America that junket the globe at regular intervals if not to acquire property?
The FG should look into this and take appropriate action. I suggest strongly that the FG should return the NDDC to the control of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF. Putting the agency under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, is to help them run the region aground the more. There’s massive corruption ongoing in that agency.
In the same vein, the president should tinker with his cabinet. Most cabinet members have outlived their usefulness because, apart from lacking in integrity befitting the war on corruption, some of them are criminals who shouldn’t have anything to do with any serious government. They are not on the same page with the President and suffice the call for overhauling the cabinet.