• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Igbo presidency in 2015 requires a lot of work -Sen Anyanwu


What are the econom­ic benefits of peace keeping missions?

Very few countries in the world spend their money keeping peace without having other motives or gains that go along with it. America never goes anywhere without its business friends, even when there is war. Who pro­vides the tools of the war when they overcome a city? Who connects the electricity and all that? When they went to Libya, you know what they did; they used their money to fight for Libya and at the end of the day, they used Libya’s oil to get back their money. Nobody jokes with that.

In Liberia, we spent a lot of re­sources and all arms of our armed forces were involved in the liberation of Liberia and we came out with very little. Today, it is China that is tapping into the huge resources in that place. Even the few traders that we have there are not being treated well because Nigeria hasn’t shown much interest in that aspect of engagement.

So, we feel that as Nigerian army goes, our businessmen should go along with them to look at opportunities that will help us. In Liberia for instance, their agricultural sector is something of inter­est; they have land, they have very rich land , nobody is farming there, virtually 90 percent of what they eat, they import.

When we went there, we should have gone with our businessmen. We have human resources in abundance, and so, we said if you were to have an understanding with this government, let us get into agricultural sector, let us begin to do some work there, that will be one way of engaging our people, that will be one way of getting something out of it.

Now, Nigerian forces left a whole lot of children out there. That is one more reason why we must engage seriously in Liberia because we have people, a lot of children born of Nigerian fathers there and we should go into developing schools for Liberian children, helping them, not just helping to maintain peace but also help them shape a better future, a future that will connect them properly with Nigeria. And so, I don’t think it’s enough to take our armed forces to go and fight but there are other important and enduring things that we can gain and those things have the ten­dency to unite the two countries better than actually fighting.

As Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, is there any intention to visit Mali, to assess the plight of Nigerian troops on peace keeping there?

That is Defence and Army engage­ment. So the committee chairman will decide if he wants us to go to Mali. I will be agreeable to that, we shouldn’t send people out without caring to go and know how they are doing. We should go there and see how they are doing if we really intend to raise their morale.

Oil theft, pipeline vandalism are on the increase, what’s the solution?

The issue of oil bunkering and oil theft and pipeline vandalism is not a new development. As a correspondent for eight years, I did a special docu­mentary on oil bunkering, I recalled that there was a team when I went to Port Harcourt, near the refinery, they took me to a small body of water, I don’t know what the body of water was and they showed me where a canoe was actually drilling holes through the pipe­lines and they said, ‘See them, they are drilling holes so they can extract crude oil or refined crude’ and that was way back in the early 80s before I became a commissioner. These things have been there, they have been going on incre­mentally but in the typical Nigerian way, problems are not addressed when they are small, they are allowed to grow and grow until they get out of hand and become a national issue, so it has grown from the practice of a few men in canoe to what is now a major industry.

In the Niger Delta, you see young men setting up their own refineries, they have gone to China to manufacture small portable refineries and they are at work all the time. I remember I had a cameraman from that area and there was a day he asked me if I know the new business now, that he wanted me to learn; that he wanted me to go and refine and I said refine what? And that was maybe about five years ago. Now, it has grown incrementally that it has become a major national threat.

And I can tell you that a combination of oil theft, bunkering, illegal bunkering, because there is legal bunkering and pipeline vandalism, the three of them come together to affect our economy drastically, and they affect our budget and lead to the inability to actually implement the budget fully because you have to have the money in order to implement the budget. This is my own saying. Nobody is saying that but I know that given the degree of this illegality, there is no way that it will not affect us negatively and it is.

That is why the president was so concerned that the first thing he said to the Chief of Navy Staff was this: “Go and deal with oil bunkerers, pipeline vandalism and oil theft.” The oil theft is when all the refining and bunkering come together, they take them on a medium level vessel to the high sea, to foreigners who come with big tankers out there and receive the fuel illegally.

So this whole thing is being aided and abated by foreign oil men, and so when they mock us and talk about the money and corruption, we have to know and we have to tell them that you are part of this illegality but the mo­ment we are able to control the source at home, it will dry out the oil that goes into those illegal tankers in the high sea. So this is where the Navy comes in. The navy comes in because it is the dominant force at sea, in the maritime sector. It can chase the bunkerers at sea, it can also chase the large vessel out there at sea but you see, for you to chase people, you cannot do it on your wings or on your legs, you have to have the right vessel to give them check, we have to completely dominate, we have to have control of every inch of our ter­ritorial water, our territorial waters are massive, I understand that taking it as far as the EEB, they are up to one-third of the Nigerian land mass.

Imagine having to cover one-third of Nigerian land mass at sea, in the water; that means that you have to be ubiquitous, you have to be everywhere, you have to be vessel that is everywhere and they don’t have that. So what I said is that we have to equip, re-equip, re-engineer our Navy.

Do you support capital punish­ment for oil theft?

Nigeria is not an island; we operate in a world that is increasingly coming close; the world has become a global village, anything that happens here, the whole world is in the picture, the whole world will fight. Capital punish­ment is being discouraged globally and therefore, we have to find other ways in dealing with this problem.

I hope that such offences should be part of the PIB but I have not seen offences like that and have not come across it. But even if it is not, there should be a law specifying penalties or capital punishment for offences like that. But I think that the Navy is dealing with them, the Navy is on it. All we have to do is to equip them, give them the right quipment, we give them the air­craft, we give them the armed aircrafts. You know that there are different kinds of tools that you can use to monitor the pipelines and the factories at stake. We wouldn’t need to go as far as instituting capital punishment for oil offences.

Do you think an Igbo president is feasible in 2015?

All things are possible when you do the right thing at the right time. But you see, the question is whether the right things are being done and whether the time is right. So power is not given, it is taken; it is not given at concession and so you have to prepare yourself and say the right thing. You have to meet, discuss and form coalition, you have to love each other, you have to have them buying into your ideas, others have to buy into your mission.

Today, we have President Goodluck Jonathan, not just because people sat down and said it is an entitlement but because others bought into that vi­sion and mission. So if that is going to happen, then, others have to be made to buy into that mission, and that is a lot of work; you have to work on your neighbours, because this is a nation of great diversity, different tribes with different orientation, different beliefs, different religions, and so we must have a cross section of Nigerians buying into that mission and that is possible. But whether the time is now is what I can’t tell.

Is APGA part of the merger to float All Progressive Congress (APC)?

APGA has already taken a decision that anybody who wants to go to APC can go and join as an individual and those who joined in the past joined on their own and not as a party, because also, there was no consultation that they should have done before they joined, and that is undemocratic.

We have to imbibe the spirit of de­mocracy, there must be consultation, and there must be consensus building. We cannot run an authoritarian system under the guise of democracy, it will not happen and that is what has been the problem with many democracies in Africa. Many of us are in democracy, we mourn democracy but we have not imbibed the spirit of democracy.

The tenets are disregarded, so if you want a new political party and you want the party to go along with you, you have to convene a meeting of stakeholders and say this is what I am thinking. Some will agree, some will disagree and then everybody will have his say. The majority can now do what they want, either stay or go but this did not happen and therefore, many of us assumed that nothing had happened. If in the future, I want to join APC or CPL or ANPP or APGA or whatever, I will join as an individual.