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Buhari’s Powers Are Excessive, Must Be Clipped — Ex-Anambra Commissioner

A former Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Chief Emma Nkwocha has decried what he considered as “excessive powers” enjoyed by the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Chief Emma Nkwocha, who stated this during an interview with our correspondent, said that the incumbent’s powers must be clipped if Nigeria will enjoy a balanced democracy.

Read excerpts of the interview as follows:

Q: Sir the election is barely two weeks away, what are your expectations from, the governments, the political parties, candidates and the people?

With all my heart I envisage free, fair and credible general elections this year just as the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has reassured the nation repeatedly. And I sincerely hope so. The electorates should be properly tutored on their voting pattern. Because a situation where voters are now being lured with cash doesn’t augur well for our democracy. Though it’s understandable when viewed from the angle that the voting population that determines who wins are the most impoverished, hence would hardly resist the temptation of those offering them cash in exchange of their votes. From my investigations, these account for the progressively increasing number of voided votes; while some go as far as collecting money from multiple candidates and parties. They then go ahead to vote for the highest bidder. The intentional voiding of the ballot when viewed from the traditional beliefs was meant to absolve the perpetrators from the consequences of their indiscretion and financial misdemeanor and repercussions.

I wish the rest part of the country would emulate Anambra during the last governorship poll in 2017; where two out of the three major parties and their candidates were sharing large sums of money and I stopped it in my ward. I wish INEC would be more at alert like they did in Osun and Ekiti States, that resulted in the apprehension of PDP and APC people red handed buying votes as if at the floor of a stock market. More so, the FG must endeavour to alleviate the harsh economic climate in the country. That’s why every four years these leaders come back to buy the people’s votes with pieces of wrappers, bags of rice and some cash. At the end they disappear till the next 4years. To me, this is unacceptable.

This is the same country where some governors claim they won’t be able to pay N30,000 minimum wage. To me those governors are not saying so because they cannot pay. They can afford it, but were just simply wicked. I will urge the electorates in such states to use the opportunity of this coming election to vote such leaders, especially the governors out. I know the people cannot muster enough unity and cohesion to do it. Because the governors would muster the power of incumbency, manipulate other relevant organs of government to have their way.

Q: Who do you blame, the constitution?

There is nothing wrong with our constitution, it’s the implementation. Where those who would checkmate the executive are corrupt, they won’t have any moral strength to speak. So, for us to stamp out corruption decisively, the constitution must be thinkered for some of the overbearing powers of the president to be clipped. Also, so that where either the president or a governor for example did not perform well in the first four years the voters would simply vote him out and he won’t be able to handle the action. All this INEC abracadabra about voters and parties are neither here nor there. You see a situation where former President Olusegun Obasanjo came on national television to tear his PDP membership card; a party led and provided him platform to preside over us for more than eight years. Just because he didn’t like the face of President Goodluck Jonathan. Does he think we all loved him when he was president. He abandoned Jonathan, jumped ship and brought President Buhari through APC, thereby commencing a blinding race into APC. Today Buhari has flogged them and he made a summersault alongside his co-travellers and they are returning back and dusting up the same hitherto rejected PDP. Things among educated and reasonable people doesn’t work that way please.

Alright look at what is happening about the case of the Chief Justice of Nigeria which, quoting the Senate President, was an impeachable offence by the President. The same Senate President, I recall with nostalgia told us last year that President Buhari has committed no fewer than 17 impeachable offences. So if I may ask, why haven’t they removed him out of office. Yes. They haven’t got the liver and moral strength because most of them have corruption cases hanging on their necks. They cannot muster the majority because of the powers, contacts and the overbearing political muscle of the president. This president has a lot of experience in dealing with such situation. Remember he’s a retired general, a onetime minister of Petroleum, which he is holding today again. He understands this country so well. The military generals wrote this nation’s constitution, for the civilian administration. And the idea behind this military constitution was to protect their loot.

They had planned it in such a way that the PDP will remain in government for many years. It was not hidden, a former chieftain of the party at a time said they would be in power for 60 years.

In my Enugwu-ukwu Ward One, I decide where the pendulum swings cos am at home with my people as much as they are with me. We cast our votes based on our conviction, not an issue of money. I follow the footsteps of my late father -Chief R.O. Nkwocha(Ide Enugwu-Ukwu). He was a political guru. So if u are contesting election in Anambra state and you fail to come for blessings here, you have failed.

Q: You blamed poverty and hunger for the glaring cases of money politics. What could be done to effect the necessary change?

The incumbent President Buhari has done so much in the area of fighting corruption in the history of this country. Today two former governors are in jail over corruption, one of them a reverend father. More are likely to join them. Moneys are being returned from local and international sources. The anti corruption war must start from somewhere. Many have repeatedly claimed that Buhari’s kitchen cabinet are corrupt, but none has been bold to substantiate that. I have also listened to him challenge every citizen to come up with any such evidence or bank account in his name anywhere. He is the first leader in this country to start whistle blowing and the successful ones have received their 10% reward. He also charged all to whistle blow on anyone working in the Aso Rock villa for him. He was also ready to send any member of his family to jail for corruption-including his wife or children. He has come heavy on private jet owners so they now pay deserving taxes to FAAN.

Power is sweet and needed to be guarded jealously. Jonathan fiddled with it and lives to regret bitterly. So any of those running around today thinking Buhari would leave the stage for them to return are joking. Buhari is not Jonathan.

Am a foundation member of PDP here in the state. I have never and would never change party. Though the party died when they forced former Gov Chinwoke Mbadinuju out of power. I was the Commissioner for Information and Culture in that administration and I know what transpired. If Dr Mbadinuju was given the ticket, he would have gone ahead to win his reelection. And Chief Obasanjo had the temerity to come here campaigning for Ngige. That’s an insult on our general psyche. Let me say it publicly for the first time, they were not just afraid that Mbadinuju would go ahead to install Emma Nkwocha as governor instead of Andy Uba at the end of his second term, but that I am going to checkmate all the influences and interference of all the local and external godfathers. I will clip all their wings permanently. That was the time PDP died in Anambra state and has never known any peace or growth. Consequently a party that didn’t have the capacity to win election in the state-APGA won. Forget all the prevailing noisy hype, apart from few individuals whose individual standing and disposition have been paving the ways, APGA has no reason to be in Anambra state government House today.

I don’t think anyone would be shocked to hear me say that Buhari is going to win this coming election very convincingly. Because apart from the enormous powers he has, he has used his anti-corruption drive to make the opposition bow for him. The governors of the South East led by Senator Ike Ekweremadu went to Buhari to seal a deal that the zone will support him to complete his second term. That we want the Presidency for eight years, just like other zones, not any Vice President post. Therefore if you know this country’s political calculation well enough, it means the West would vote Buhari massively, same as the North. And if the South East governors do exactly what they agreed with Buhari, then there is no way for Atiku to win. I want to quote the 94-year old Alh Balarabe Musa, he said and I quote, ‘Atiku Abubakar is a fascist, who benefited from all the past military regimes in Nigeria. If he goes for election in the North with Buhari, Buhari will floor him without mercy.’ For example, his Adamawa state is APC comprehensively from the councils to state levels. APC has 24 governors, which was as a result of the then President Jonathan’s phone call that conceded defeat to Buhari. It made it possible for a bandwagon effect, making the APC to clear most of the states. Now if the North vote their minds, Atiku then stands no chance.

Musa, a former governor of the old Kaduna state went on to point out that about 74 percent of voters in the North belong to the Talakawas; and Buhari is a Talakawa. That any time Buhari visits any state in the North, the citizens often behave as if under some form of spell or drug influence in terms of euphoria. They get too excited. They don’t reason like any of us down in the South. Since the talakawas form the largest population in the North, then there is no way Atiku Abubakar would win. I learnt one of Atiku’s companies pays N182b tax annually. So the type of wealth he has is mind boggling. So there is no how he will win. Besides, all the PDP hawks are still around, running his campaign. Even his running mate who did 8 years and brought someone and under three years he fall out with Obiano and jumped into PDP and in a twinkle of an eye he has emerged it’s presidential running mate. No. These things are not magic. It must follow established pattern of evolution. We have been in this party since 1999 and that was why the governors are against him. They are not happy the way he emerged. No consultation or meeting with anyone about it. He just emerged.

You see that Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia state governors are PDP, and might be corrupt so would want to be close to Mr President if that would enable them not to face the anti corruption music. From that point of view, where would the victory of Atiku/Obi come from? People think there would be rigging but no. We would see adequate security and Buhari will win straight, no rigging.

Q: From your analysis, do you see Buhari supporting a South Easterner succeed him in 2023?

Yes. It’s simple. During his meeting with the SE governors and Senator Ekweremadu as the highest office holder from the zone, they resolved to give him all the support so that at the end of his tenure he would allow the zone produce his successor, with a Northern Vice President. It was learnt that the President assured them that the easiest way for South East presidency is for them to support him. Anyone might think that four years is too far. No. My major concern is whether they would make a good and peaceful selection. That was if the confusion that has become Ohaneze would not mess things up more, because it would not be surprising to see each of the five SE states having about 30 candidates each. There is need for discreet selection which would not engender any rancour and would please other geopolitical zones too. The Igbos have the problem of leadership, focus and selfishness. They suffer from the survival of the fittest tendency. Till date the governors have not agreed on the sixth state to be created. They had a brawl and fight ensued at Concorde Hotel, Owerri years ago over the issue and it was left hanging.

The Igbo Union of the early days was strong, honoured and well respected. Whatever decision it takes then at its Kano offices goes down to all the villages and it becomes binding. Today Ohaneze has literally become a political party that goes to Abuja for money, contracts and jobs. Ohaneze at a point named a former governor as having been chosen for the presidency, simply because some money changed hands. It was so scandalous because he was the least of persons to be so named from the midst of all the well-read, articulate and learned sons of Igboland who would have distinguished themselves if elected. The rest of Nigerians started laughing at us as unserious people.

Q: Are you satisfied with the preparations for the election -from the INEC and the FG?

Yes because their budget demands were approved. You can recall that the recent withdrawal by Oby Ezekwesili, one of the presidential candidates was rejected as coming too late when all the preparations had been concluded. That it supposed to be 45 days to the election. Am sure that by the time he withdrew the printing of the ballot papers had been completed.

Q: From all indication the coming election is likely to be a straight fight between APC and PDP. So, where do you place APGA, ADC, and SDP?

Those others, to me are not serious. Though some have very brilliant presidential candidates. This nation is a funny enclave. What do we need 72 presidential candidates for. We actually don’t need more than three political parties. Why are we fooling ourselves. You will see that at the end of the day we will have huge number of voided votes. We can then back it up with independent candidates which allows you a direct visit and message to the people. It would enable a believable performer defeat a sitting governor. All these rush for presidential candidate are for primordial interests. While some needed money, some need appointment or simply to be know. Today most of them have no manifesto. Am sure Buhari is taking note to learn areas he need correction.

Q: What do you advise the voters to consider as they cast their ballot?

As I said earlier, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know. Buhari looks good to winning the poll. I don’t need a soothsayer to tell me. The choice of Obi/Atiku has helped Buhari. The issue of godfather has never worked. You can see where it has taken Tinubu to. He is now a playing God. Because the present Vice President was the Attorney General during his 8years as governor of Lagos state. Ambode was the Accountant General while Fashola was the Chief of Staff, etc.

Q: From the benefit of all you have said about Buhari, are you not concerned about his open lopsided pattern of appointments, etc?

That’s what am saying. The powers of Mr President is enormous. So it need to be reduced, including the immunity clause. I remember the late Yar’Adua moved for its removal. But these governors, especially the corrupt ones ensured its retained. Understandably the governors decide who would go to the state and National Assemblies. They run their states for 8 years and translate to the National Assembly as a Senator. It’s not proper. It’s another form of corruption, though not in terms of cash.

Q: The sudden removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria has generated a lot of crises and chain reactions.

It’s in the interest of anti corruption fight. He campaigned with it, came into office and embarked on the fight. What has never happened before are what we are witnessing today. Naturally the corrupt ones won’t be happy because a new sheriff is in town. After all if properly screened you will find out that majority of those in government are involved in one corrupt deal or another. They form majority of those making noise about Onnoghen.

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