Alhaji Galitma Liman was the Presidential Candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in 2007. Our Correspondent recently spoke with him at Lagos where he bared his mind on crucial matters affecting Nigeria such as the recent resignations, the threat by APC and so much more. Excerpt;
The President recently launched the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP). What impact do you think this will have on Nigeria as a Nation in relation to the vision 2020 agenda?
You have heard this O’Neil talking about the new MINT nations-Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. His argument was that the ingredients of industrialization exists within the Nigerian nation. It requires the political will. So His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan has deemed it fit to declare the need for industrialization at the moment. It is a very positive development and we support it.
Looking at the recent resignations by four Minister from the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, including the controversial former Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, do you think the resignations has anything to do with Opposition’s threat to shut down the government if some changes they perceived as pertinent were not made?
The way democracy works, the Presidency is guided by the core processes of the people that he leads and when there are accusations like we have had of what happened with the former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, he didn’t just come out from the blues and made the changes. You remember that the National Assembly set up a committee to investigate the over inflation of the security vehicles purported to be around #25 Million. It was well investigated and ample time given to her to respond in her own case.
So, Ministerial changes are normal and if you look at even the profile of Ministerial tenureship in Goodluck’s Administration, it is fairly longer than the other administrations that keep changing Ministers almost on a yearly basis. Hoping that this listening ear can give some kind of positive change to the nation especially at this time when politicians are going into the electioneering process.
Are you saying that the changes effected by the present administration both at the Ministerial level, the Police Force and at the Defence Chiefs Level has nothing to do…(cuts in)
He had already said it, for instance, government don’t work that way, government has procedures. There are procedures to be followed especially in the current dispensation, you have the executive arm supported by very strong bureaucracy in the civil service, the Directors, the Ministers, the Permanent Secretaries down the line and you also have the state security apparatus being the Commander-in-Chief. So all these other issues have to be subjected to thorough litmus test. You saw it in the… am talking about Stella Oduah’s case for instance. There were changes in the Police Force for instance, it is not unconnected with the statement made by the President that there was this kind of synergy he expected to come from his Service Chiefs, that is his former Service Chiefs, which was lacking and therefore was affecting his government’s programme of dealing with the cantankerous cases of the Boko Haram. Not because there was a lot of pressure from the opposition. Perhaps also, there might be a little bit of that because the whole idea of forming APC was so that you have an amalgam of getting the fairness of democracy when you have a relatively stronger voice to counter what is going on.
Let us look at all these defections and counter defections by the politicians going on currently, can you authoritatively say that the inter party movement of politicians is in the interest of Nigerians as well as that of their constituents as they claimed?
There is no sign yet as I can see it that will tell you the mind of an individual from the reflection on his face. When election period draws closer, it is normal for this kind of excitement in the political space. Naturally, before you talk about orking for the people, you look for a platform that will give you the opportunity to say that you want to work for the people and the constitutional provision is there for you to freely associate.
Now if find out that some political parties are not giving you the opportunity and you feel very strongly that the other alternative can give you a better one, so be it, so that is why you have the legion of cross carpeting from one party to the other particularly at a time that electioneering campaign is approaching. It is not an issue of … but in a developed economies, you see politicians being guided by ideology based on an institutional framework that has been developed over the years.
So when a Republican for instance in the USA, you are sure that e is talking about trickling theory, that is talking about allowing the rich people that are endowed by nature to be enterprising to generate wealth, then trickle it down to the less capable so to say. So that is the philosophy and people that have that philosophy joined the party.
Away from defection now, would you say that this democracy has impacted more on Nigerians going by little or no difference it has one as a result of number of years it has been practiced in this republic?
You know you are interviewing me here in Lagos for instance. What does it tell you in a developing country like Nigeria? Security is the primary responsibility of government and some of the things that people don’t quantify- freedom of speech, freedom of movement. If you look at, in spite of the developmental difficulties that we are facing, lack of light, electricity and all other necessities of life, on the balance, you find out that in spite of all these security challenges, you still find some semblance of stability, people doing their businesses here and there but it is expected that a lot would want see in terms of development index, food on the table, regular power supply for industrialization which can only come when you have committed set of people who love the nation.
Most of the programmes like the power supply that is being done by Jonathan’s transformation agenda is still being sabotaged. The gas supply is being sabotaged, so how do you expect the President to perform miracle?
People hate their country to the extent that they can kill themselves, villagers in Konduga, they are just living their normal lives, you see a group of people calling themselves Boko Haram going to kill them. So how can a country move on like that?
Oil and gas programme that provide wealth to the country, you see their workers being kidnapped, international oil companies workers being kidnapped yet we lacked technology. You can imagine what will happen when these multinational oil companies leave the shores of this nation as they are doing now.
So I think that first of all, we need to be in love with this nation for this democracy to work. We need to also begin to respect the rule of law for the dividends of democracy to work because it is not the case of the leadership alone, the followership must also be patriotic for it to work.
What do you think the leadership can do in order to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians who are expecting so much from them?
Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can contribute to the Nigerian nation. You must look beyond your immediate. Look at the agitations going on, should he contest, should he not contest. What is the constitutional provisions? You have the rule of law, not ordinarily what you would have decided amongst yourselves but what is the law saying.Everybody looks at Nigeria as a country you can come and let everything go, we can’t continue like that.
A country that does not respect her leadership, the way we rant about, bringing down our leadership, you know makes them to hate us and you know they have the instrument of power, they may say, what encouragement am I getting from my followership that don’t love me. It is a two way traffic.
What is the way forward?
The reality is that you must engage the political space positively. In a society, you must have at least one or two people that understand beyond their immediate environment to see the larger picture. That is the kind of lasting effecting the New Nigeria Peoples Party brings. You heard the National Chairman say that politics is to see constructive engagements. If the President is doing well, he is doing well, if he is not doing well, there is a constructive way to positively engage him to tell him and this we have done especially during the Obasanjo’s time. We wrote e-mails to him suggesting better ways and I can assure you, better ways are being advocated even at the risk of …Without being immodest, the Yar’Adua’s Amnesty, we made a lot of input and there was the need for that, there was the need for them to see the yearnings and aspirations of the Niger-Delta people. We could go back to the tapes on the Channels Television on our positions. Our positions have been very clear on that. So today, we have not been keeping quite, a lot of contributions are being made but quietly, we don’t have to go about advertising them.
Finally, having contested for the office of the President of this country in 2007 general elections, do you have intention of re-contesting for that seat again now that the 2015 general election is drawing nearer?
It is not me that will decide. In a democracy, it is the people that decides who leads them and not the individual. So I leave it to my party to decide.