Chief Uche Nwosu, a former Deputy Chief of Staff, Commissioner for Lands and Survey and presently the Chief of Staff, Government House, Imo State. He bared his mind on President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent medical trip and the state of governance in Imo State. Amby Uneze presents the excerpts:
President Muhammadu Buhari recently returned from London on a medical trip amidst insinuations by some Nigerians about his health and style of leadership, what is your take on his ability to handle the affairs of the nation?
Let me first of all thank God that the President is back to the country. One huge problem we have is that most Nigerians are happy when they hear that their leader is sick, which is not a good omen. If the president of United States of America is sick, the country starts praying for him. Let me say this that nobody is above sickness.
We are mortals. Headache is sickness, migraine is sickness, eye problem is a sickness, if you have running nose (catarrh) is a sickness, tooth ache is a sickness, running stomach is a sickness, so when the issue of sickness comes and instead of people saying our president went for a medical check-up and wish him well, they start to spread rumour about all sorts of things.
Do we pray for the country to be better or do we pray to run down the country? He is our president and this man, who had been working 24 hours in a week to make sure that this country gets better, we should pray for him. Nobody, even those in their 30s do fall sick and they consult their doctors. It is a normal thing. Presidents go for check-up and their countrymen and women pray for them to recover quickly, so our country, Nigeria should not be a different one.
The man is hale and hearty. He is capable of running this country, so there is no difficulty in saying that the president is not sick, when it is the other way round. Right now, he is back to the country and his coming back means that he is ready to move the country to a higher level. When you look at his moves you will observe that the man is very strong. You could see former President Olusegun Obasanjo those days and still he was able to go for eight years, so the president is very much fit to handle the affairs of the country right now.
The economy of the country is nose-diving, though it is a global trend, Nigeria seems worst hit. Do you see the situation improving?
The Nigerian economy is not nose-diving. Rather we are going through a restructuring process. Remember that these are backlog of mismanagement by the previous administration of the PDP. They mismanaged our resources. You can see what is being revealed now, money meant for arms ($2.8bn) you now used it for election.
People dipped hands inside the national coffers. In other words these are monies meant for infrastructure development of the country and to fight the Boko Haram and some people shared it for their own personal aggrandisement. For me, these are the people that put the country into this mess we are experiencing now.
With what EFCC is currently doing in the country in terms of the fight against corruption, are you satisfied with their style and effort so far?
What EFCC is doing now is the best we can have by strengthening and instilling fear in the public sector. Today, Nigerians are afraid to do shoddy dealings, especially in the public sector. Nigerians are like group of people that requires monitoring all the time, otherwise we derail. This, I think is our culture and we need to eschew this culture from our system.
A situation where you are given money to do a project and you divert that money is nothing but stealing and such person should go in for it. That was exactly the situation in the previous administration which President Buhari is changing now. We have been living with this culture all along that is why somebody like Dasuki would not have believed that anybody would come after him over the arms deal because they had believed that it was the norm. So, the EFCC led by Ibrahim Magu is doing great job for the nation. They need to sustain the tempo.
Now that the budget has been signed into law, what are Nigerians hoping to see in terms of economic liberalisation?
To me, this years’ budget is a budget of hope because this is the first time in so many years that capital projects are allocated a lion share and the social services also have huge allocation. The social welfare alone which would take about N500 billion is the first of its kind since we had a related welfare package in the Awolowo administration of the Western region during the first republic, when children used to go to school free, eat school meals thereby relieving the parents.
And trusting President Buhari, he is not a man who will assent to a budget and stories would come along the line. He will monitor the implementation of the budget. Nigerians will see in the next one year what is called good administration and evidence of democracy. I hope Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief in the nearest future.
The issue of school meals is not clear. What do you know about it?
What I understood from the school meal programme of the present administration is something that will go round whether you are PDP or APC state. It will reach you because it is a federal government social welfare package for Nigerians. When it comes to Nigeria, we don’t know PDP or APC. We are all Nigerians.