Barrister Kenneth Udeze is the National Chairman of Action Alliance (AA) as well as the Legal Adviser Of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). He spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on the 2019 budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari among other issues. Excerpt:
Although there are several presidential candidates in the 2019 elections, the focus is on Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). How would you explain this?
Nigerians are going through tough times. The tendency for the electorates to run behind those that will grease their palm is not ruled out. The fact is that the two candidates have party structures throughout the country more than other candidates. The two front runners have deep purse which helps them to facilitate things more than others. You can now understand why.
Would you say the government is winning the war against insurgency with the recent killings by the Boko Haram, including the killing of soldiers by the terrorists?
The challenge we have with this government is that they seem not to have value for human life. How do explain the inaction of government over the complaints of the military personnel posted at the flashpoints that they are ill equipped and many of their colleagues are killed brutally by the sect, without the required intervention of government.
To think that so much has been appropriated by government in terms of funds, and up till now, the complain is still the same. The question is, where are all the huge funds designated to this project? What have they done, or are truly ready to do, to save the lives of our soldiers out there, and to protect the lives of Nigerians?
This government has not won any war. See what is going on in the North West now. They should be real and face the battle with sincerity, to save our soldiers. The head of anyone claiming victory over the sect need to be examined. Enough of all this so-called critical meetings by security officials which have yielded no encouraging results, please listen to the soldiers and provide them with special weapons to combat the insurgents.
The Military recently declared that it would carry out ‘Operation Python Dance’ in every party of the country at the same time. How do you see this decision?
This will raise concerns of a needless militarised Nigeria. It raises more questions than it provides answers as Nigeria is struggling with insecurities. Why not go and ‘dance’ at the areas where we have security issues?
Egwu Eke, the Igbo phrase (translated into Python Dance), was first launched in the South East in 2016 to combat criminal activities. In 2017, they came back with it again as Egwu Eke 11. For all its intent and purposes, it is a controversial programme.
The IPOB and NUJ Abia State were attacked unjustly by soldiers, thereby reducing the scheme to a mere political project to cow opponents, especially Egwu Eke 111. They want to do it all through the country at a time we are preparing for elections, from January 1 to February 28. You can easily draw your conclusion.
President Muhammadu Buhari for the fourth time refused to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill? Do you think the National Assembly as presently constituted can override the President’s veto?
This is a big national disservice, not just for the present political opponents to the President, but for the entire nation. Several commentators on this matter has done justice to it. It is a sad commentary.
Events leading to the refusal of Mr. President in signing the Amended Bill showed that it was a premeditated act from the Presidency not to go ahead with that project, for pecuniary reasons. They may have perfected plans to utilise incidence form again, to enable them rig the election.
As for the National Assembly veto, I doubt if it will be possible, considering the polarised nature of political activities in that arm of government.
Southern and Middle Belt leaders recently warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against election rigging. What is your take on this?
The warning presupposes system failure. The reason we are hearing this is because there is no confidence in the electoral body by not just this leaders, but majority of Nigerians. Recent elections conducted by INEC in Osun and Ekiti states exposed INEC terribly. Election in a democracy is a panacea for peace and progress when conducted credibly. Nigerians expect INEC to ensure that through their actions, Nigeria will not be at war. The warning is good to ensure that they know that all eyes are on them.
How do you see the alleged plan by President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of the IGP Idris Abubakar by another six months?
The man has polarised the Police Force, and as a compromised officer, he is the only one that Buhari can trust to help him rig the election. Mr President does things as he so wishes, whether it is legal or for political reasons. I don’t have much to say in this matter. We are all watching.
There was a lot of drama during President Muhammadu’s presentation of the 2019 budget, during which he was booed and jeered at by lawmakers. What is your view on this?
It highlights the continued rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) by Nigerians, as well as to further expose the corruption and fleecing of innocent Nigerians by the Buhari Presidency to fund its ill-fated 2019 re-election bid.
It was an expression of vote of no confidence, direct booing, jeering, and rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari by members of the two Chambers of the National Assembly, at the 2019 budget presentation.
Nigerians are fed up with his incompetent, divisive and corrupt administration, which has brought so much hunger, starvation, escalated violence, and bloodletting to our country.
The lawmakers represent all the Federal Constituencies and Senatorial zones across our country. That action shows that Mr. President no longer enjoys the support of Nigerians across the country; that he no longer has any political foothold, and only awaits a crushing defeat in the 2019 general elections.
What else do Nigerians want from a President who has openly confessed his lack of capacity to find solutions to the myriads of problems his administration brought, and on that note, promised Nigerians more sufferings and hardship in the coming year?
This is more so as his scripted presentation at the budget session was full of false performance indices, claims of non-existent projects, half-truths, bogus fiscal projections, beguilements, and new list of fake promises, which Nigerians have since seen through.
As usual, Mr. President dwelt on fictitious figures, unrealistic projections, and could not give a credible account of the performance of the 2018 budget, which like other annual budgets, since he came into office, has remained unimplemented, due to sheer incompetence and humongous corruption in his Presidency. No wonder he was booed by the lawmakers.
In the budget, it is ridiculous that Mr. President can defend N60 million litres of fuel as daily consumption by vehicles in Nigeria, whereas before he was elected into office, he publicly declared that the use of 30 million litres of fuel per day was a fraud. Is it not also ludicrous that between 2015 and now, the figure of daily consumption of fuel has doubled in the same economy that has witnessed a secession twice under his watch?
How do you see the 2019 budget as presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari?
If the Senate President called it a hopeless budget, then it is a hopeless budget. Full of fictitious and unsubstantiated figures.