Views excerpted in an interview on '' State Of The Nation'' granted by DailyGlobeWatch to Henry A. Goncalves, the CEO, Butterfly Aviation & Logistics, Columbia Maryland, USA. In this piece, Henry Goncalves says '' The pace of governance has been slower than what we have come to expect in Nigeria as far as the appointment of Ministers is considered. However, perhaps the delay is deliberate to enable President Buhari get a better understanding of issues at the various ministries. Enduring change takes time and this government is just about 6 months into a 48month tenure. There is still time for the government to deliver on its promises''.
(1) Sir, you are aware that a new administration has been enthroned in Nigeria which over is over 5 months old led by the All Progressives Congress. Part of the campaign promises was to bring about a complete change that would impact on the lives of Nigerians. Under the existing circumstances do you see the new administration under President Buhari treading that path?
Answer: The pace of governance has been slower than what we have come to expect in Nigeria as far as the appointment of Ministers is considered. However, perhaps the delay is deliberate to enable President Buhari get a better understanding of issues at the various ministries. Enduring change takes time and this government is just about 6 months into a 48month tenure. There is still time for the government to deliver on its promises.
(2) In the run-up to the general elections in Nigeria, the then opposition party the All Progressives Congress did expressly say that the ongoing jihadist insurgency would become a thing of the past and blamed it on former President Jonathan's incompetence to deal decisively with the obviously sad situation in a military fashion. This above all informed the people of the embattled region to dump the former ruling party for the All Progressives Congress. But 5 months after the new government has been sworn in the situation on the ground is that of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire as the bombings and killings have continued with undiminished intensity. To what do we attribute this? A case of the pot calling the kettle black?
Answer: I would not necessary categorise the government's efforts on Boko Haram as has been phrased in the questions. That said, everyone wants an end to Boko Haram and the ongoing violence has to be a source of frustration for every well meaning Nigerian. The coordinated multi-national efforts have dislodged Boko Haram from towns held and the Nigerian forces have entered the Sambisa forest for the first time. However, use of IDEs and bomb attacks on soft targets have increased and the military will have to adapt to the new set of challenges. I very doubt if the December deadline for eradicating Boko Haram is feasible.
(3) Only last week it made news headlines that the International Monetary Fund is mounting pressure on Nigeria to further devalue the Naira, the Nigerian monetary unit or domestic currency. Is this healthy for our economy? What impact would this have on the already pauperized Nigerians?
Answer: I do not always take the views of these global institutions as absolute as their views are usually globally and may not necessarily factor local priorities in their considerations. Global views tampered with specific local monetary and fiscal measures tend to reflect a more balanced assessment. Decision on the value of the Naira is best made by the CBN being the body responsible for monetary policy. The CBN has determined that no devaluation is necessary for the time being and we must respect that. The current restriction on some non essential items from official foreign exchange seem to holding out as the exchange seem to have stabilised. Is this healthy for our economy? Well is using a depleting foreign reserve (due to low oil receipts) to fund rice import (a product we produce locally) good for the economy? Pauperised Nigerians could never afford imported Basmati rice, so absence of Basmati rice in the market is unlikely to be noticed by the average Nigerian. The loss would only be felt by those with acquired taste and rent seekers who can still import it with their own foreign exchange.
Henry A. Goncalves
(4) Sir, card readers a technology to detect electoral fraud was introduced by the former administration and the election was adjudged free and fair by international observers, but recently the election petition tribunals have been unleashing fury on candidates elected under the platform of the former ruling party, the Peoples' Democratic Party nullifying their elections and sometimes ordering a re-run. Could this be an attempt to replace them with candidates of the present ruling party, the All Progressive Congress? Does this not amount to a sudden drift to one-party rule?
Answer: It has no been a one as reversal as the question seem to suggest. APC has also suffered reversal to PDP. For example, Kogi State Electoral petition nullified the election of Senator Abdulrahman Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared Attai Aidoko of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected Senator.Similarly, the Tribunal in Nassarawa State annulled the election of APC's Saraki Dahiru-Maiyama and declared PDP's Joseph Kigbu as the duly elected Representative in the Lafia/obi Federal constituency.I think we should let the judiciary do it's job without people making unsubstantiated speculations.
(5) Are there any economic policies on the ground to better the lots of Nigerians? Are you satisfied with the present state of affairs in Nigeria under the APC-controlled Federal Government?
Answer: With ministers yet to be in post and a year's budget yet to be prepared, it would seem that the full economic direction of the Buhari government is year to be fully articulated. Yes, there has been comments on the need to diversify the economy through agriculture and reducing unemployment, we are yet to have visibility on how and when this will be achieved. The government is only 6 months in the office and yes, I am satisfied with current status and I believe there will be movement within the next quarter when the Ministers are in posts.
(6) About two weeks ago the Nigerian Senate cleared the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Madueke of the controversial unremitted $20 billion into the Federation Account. This was noised about that dragged the name of former President Jonathan and the former minister in the mud. But today she has been cleared of this charge that this money was actually was not missing. This was one weapon employed by the APC to kick President Jonathan out of power. Does this heinous lie amount to injustice? What about the former CBN Governor who was at the forefront of this scandal.Does he need to be proceeded against for lying to Nigerians?
Answer: Which Senate is supposed to have cleared Ms Diezani Madueke? The 7th or the 8th the current one? if 8th, was the supposed clearance done at committee, which committee or in plenary and what date? What would be the basis for clearing her? Her own NNPC's sponsored PWC report which she commissioned confirmed that $1.4 billion was missing based on the few documents that were provided to the auditors. Besides, Mrs Madueke has been charged to court in London for money laundering offences and currently on bail. She has been cleared of nothing. She still has charges pending against her. There is no lie against Mrs Madueke and this question is factually incorrect.
(7) Recently there has been renewed separatist feelings and aspirations by Nigerians of Igbo extraction. In your own opinion sir, what could be responsible for this? Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra has been detained in Nigeria and charged with high treason, will his continued detention not further endanger the fragile unity of Nigeria? In a nutshell, does any region under the international law have the right to redefine their status in the federation of Nigeria? Could Nnamdi Kanu be convicted of being an accessory after the fact for a treasonable felony?
Answer: You would have to ask the agitators about their motivations to reload sentiments around Biafra. I am not even sure that such agitation has universal or even majority approval of of Ndigbo brothers and sisters. Some Afenifere members and even some Yorubas have been known to make noise about Oduduwa Republic. As a Yoruba man, I know that these people do not represent me or majority of Yorubas. The fact that some dogs have rabies do not indicate that all dogs are mad. As for Mr Kanu, I understand he has agitated for secession of Biafra and has referred to Nigeria as a Zoo and called for the destruction of the country. I am not familiar with the specific laws he might have broken and Nigeria unlike US does not have the 1st or the 5th amendments. Under US laws, we could justify his rantings on his radio as covered under 1st amendment. If Mr Kanu who is also a British citizen and a resident of UK has waged a similar campaign against UK, he would probably have been arrested for treason because there are no 1st amendments and in UK free speech comes with responsibilities and obligations. A good example are UK citizens going to Syria to fight IS. On return or if discovered before going are arrested, tried and convictedunder terrorism laws. It is important to make a distinction between criminality and lawful advocacy. On the right to redefine status, again let us use United Kingdom where Mr Kanu is a resident. There was a referendum earlier this year for Scotland to become an independent country. Scottish National Party, a party was formed by the nationalists. They won regional election with a referendum on independence as a key manifesto. For the referendum, those for and against campaigned and made their cases to the Scottish people. On election day, people voted to remain in the UK. This is the universal norm and convention for people to redefine their status in any jurisdiction. In 2017, UK will have another referendum on EU membership. This was an election pledge of the current conservative government, who by the way, will lead a campaign to remain in the EU. Mr Kanu being a resident in the UK is well aware of this process yet ignores it . You will have to ask him why. There are two other points that are worth considering when this discussing current agitation for Biafra. 1. Ojukwu's Biafra was made up of modern day South-South and South East regions. The current agitation seems driven by some Ndigbos like Mr Kanu and MASSOB members. Does this mean that the new Biafra include only the 5 states of South East (Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu)? If it is a reincarnation of Ojukwu's to include South-South (Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa), should the Ijaws, Urobhos, Itsekiri, Efiks, Ibibios and others have a say in this? 2. There are Senators and House of Representative members from South East in the Legislative Houses in Abuja.How come none of them including the Deputy Senate leader have not introduced a bill or motion on Biafra, self-determination of the South East or even fiscal federating units in the nation? Why is that?
Henry A. Goncalves is also a consultant in Engineering, Risk Analysis & Debt Management practising in the USA.
The views expressed in this interview are entirely the interviewee's and do not represent the editorial policy of DailyGlobeWatch