Charles Obinnaya Chukwunaru, a political scientist, is the candidate of the Young Progressives Party for Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State in the forthcoming general election. In this interview with UDOKA AGWU in Umuahia, he spoke on several national issues, including how he would give his constituents quality representation, the defects in the NigerianConstitution and why Nigeria should return to the 1963 Constitution. Excerpts:
What should Bende electorate know about Charles ObinnaChukwunaru?
I am Charles Chukwunaru, a lecturer at Nelson Mandela University, Department of Political and Governmental Studies; I worked with the late Senator UcheChukwumerije as his Technical Assistant/Political Adviser. I am the YPP candidate for Bende Federal House of Representative in the 2019 general election. I am a young man that can be trusted to effectively represent Bende Federal Constituency, considering my rich academic background, honesty, integrity and God-fearing disposition to life issues; as well as my vast legislative experience in the National Assembly, having worked with the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije as his technical assistant/political adviser.I am a man on a mission to fulfill the very wish of the people of Bende LGA and the quest to win the Federal House of Representative seat by me is a done deal.
What will be your major priority at the Green Chamber, if elected?
The constitution is one of the very key areas. I am going to vigorously cavass for the return of the Nigerian constitution, because the one we are using now is a product of 1979, 1989, and 1999 constitution. The 1979 constitution was Obasanjo’s administration that got their friends to come and write it from all over Nigeria. It was not subjected to any referendum and yet they say we the people of Nigeria. That is a fraud, if any constitution is going to be written, it has to be agreed on by all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and it has to be subjected to referendum and if it is passed by the majority, it becomes a constitution. It was not done in 1979. In 1989, IBB tried it, got 1989 constitution. Abacha came, suspended it. He tried his own, he died in the process. Abdulsalami completed it, elections were held without the politicians knowing the constitution they were going to operate with. In fact the constitution was handed over to Obasanjo to go and work with. I think he saw that constitution the time he was sworn in and they say, it is our constitution. These are all these military working documents, what we called the 1999 constitution, is not the constitution, it is Nigeria federal working document, that is the name because it is not a constitution by we the people of Nigeria; because there was no referendum to either accept or reject it. Now, this federal working document has so bastardised Nigeria federalism, there is no state police, there is no resource control, there is only 13 percent resource control, the states don’t even know what they give them, it should be the other way round. The state will collect their resources and give to the centre and not the centre collecting the state resources and giving to the people that have it; that is fraud. It never happens in anywhere in the world. God has endowed a lot of people with their resources, wherever you live, God knows your topography, your terrain, your geographical challenges, environmental challenges and he compensates you with resources and I tell you if we go back to our constitution, the Northern region will even be the richest because the oil everybody is clamouring for is a declining commodity, a very volatile asset that is exposed to the vagaries of international forces of demand and supply. The price can crash to ten dollars tomorrow and we won’t be able to pay the police and if it comes to a situation where soldiers and the police are not paid, that is the end of the country. The richest state in America is not Texas that produces about 11.9 million barrels of crude oil in a day. The richest state I guess is California. California has no drop of crude oil but it is agriculture, entertainment and technology. They have Nollywood, the technology and then farming. They produce a lot of wheat. The Northern Nigeria can produce food that will feed the whole West Africa, especially their grains. There is no country in West Africa that can match the Northern Nigeria in the production of grains. You find out that this present constitution has not favoured the North. The North was doing better before. Let me tell you under the present constitution, the North has not fared better. The North fared better under the 1963 constitution, because they were producing. Now, the North is the poorest region in Nigeria. This constitution has not favoured anybody. This constitution has made sure that all the states depend on crude oil, how can we depend on crude oil, how much is on it? The money we made from crude oil in a year is not up to the profit, goggle makes in a year.
What are the major problems of Nigeria presently?
The problem of Nigeria is fundamental defect, because we don’t have a constitution. Our constitution is still under technical suspension and that is why you can have rogues aspire and get to power because of the rogue constitution we have. This rogue constitution produces rogue politicians because the constitution is not for the people, so the people cannot identify with the constitution, so they are political, they are apolitical. They don’t care. The Constitution that centralises the police in a federal system, have you ever seen it before? How can somebody in Abuja send somebody from Sokoto State to come and police Bende, he does not even understand their language and culture, he does not even understand the terrain, there should be a very strong affinity with their language. Now tell me, how can you secure the people that you don’t even understand their language? So, it is a rogue constitution that produces rogue politicians who were elected by the rogue electoral system to achieve a rogue government at the local government, the state and the Federal. We have rogue local government system, rogue state government and rogue federal government, all produced by a rogue constitution, because our real constitution is on technical suspension.
The people of Abia State cannot extract anything that is beneath the land which their God has given to them and has been passed down to them by their ancestors. It belongs to the Federal Government, what is the meaning of that? That is an affront to natural justice. They say they will pay you compensation and give you whatever they like and then they can take trillions of dollars and pollute your environment and when you talk, they will kill you.
So, somebody like me will vigorously campaign for the return of the Nigerian constitution, which has been on technical suspension by the late Major General J.T.U Aguiyi Ironsi from 1960 till date. They should bring it back. If we want to change it, let us all agree on how to amend it. This present constitution was crafted and adopted by the federal military government and that is why I call it a Federal working document.
What are the peculiarities of 1963 Constitution?
Under the 1963 Constitution, all the regions had their own constitution, had their own foreign representatives, had their own police, they did their own thing their own way. I recall that my daddy resigned from his federal appointment to take up a regional appointment because they had more money. The regions were paying more money, but now, the state governments cannot pay salaries. It is only the Federal Government that is paying salaries as and when due with the exception of Lagos, Rivers, Bayelsa and probably Enugu State. You can imagine where an engineer that was employed by Post and Telecommunications left his job to work for a regional government. Can it happen now? Then, it was the people’s constitution. So, I will vigorously fight for the restoration of the Nigerian constitution which has been on technical suspension by the military. What they are giving us now is nothing and that is why nothing is working, that is why the people are hungry in the midst of plenty. People are dying of hunger. You know why people are dying? When they are hungry, they cannot eat, the immune system will be poor. They get sick and there is no hospital The hospitals that exist, there are no drugs, even in the Aso Rock clinic as recently raised by the wife of Mr. President, there were no syringes even common paracetamol, not to talk of the one in Bende or Umuahia. Even when they access the hospital and they were asked to buy drugs, how can somebody who is hungry buy drugs? If somebody buys the drugs for him, he has to eat before taking the drugs. If somebody gives him money to buy drugs, he has to buy something to eat first before buying the drugs.
So, people are dying from hunger-related diseases. When I look around the community, I see poverty, I see hunger, I see diseases, I see death and there is no way it is going to change with the present status quo. That is why I have to work vigorously with like-minded people to make sure that we eliminate the existing and established status quo which is very hostile to the people
What is your take in relation to government policies, welfare of the people and purposeful leadership?
Government money belongs to the people, government should use it for the welfare of the people. Any decision you take as a government that does not favour or benefit majority of the people is not a public policy, it is a private policy.
You see, we have people who do not understand the basic principles of public policy analysis in government. We have people who are economic illiterate, otherwise they would have known that no developed country sells its crude oil unless for diplomatic or bilateral reasons like Russia does with its own. Apart from Russia that is using it for politics, no developed country sells its oil. All the oil exporting countries are all developing countries.
There are about 109 products that you can get from crude oil but our own, we export it and bring in like four products. What happened to the other 105? Do you know the kind of jobs they get? Do you know the kind of income they make? Do you know how many petrochemical industries that are scattered over countries that don’t have crude oil and they are creating employments, increasing purchasing power, bringing revenue to their people; and those petrochemical industries are nowhere to be found in the countries that produced these raw materials.Are these people sick? These are economic illiterates. Check all the oil exporting countries, they are all in crisis. I told you that one state in America, California produces about 11.9 million barrels of crude oil in a day, yet America imports oil, Nigeria is struggling to produce two million litres per day.