Chief Martin Onovo, a petroleum industry expert and activist, is the 2015 presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and currently, the Head, Policy Positions, Movement for Fundamental Change (MFC). In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he speaks on the new ministers of President Bola Tinubu, even as he opines that the new administration has not shown any signs of a renewed hope for Nigerians. Excerpt:
How do you see President Bola Tinubu’s ministers?
We were not surprised. We were right when we predicted that he would appoint champions of corruption that will support his selfish, unpatriotic, unconstitutional and lawless ‘Emi lo kan’ philosophy. So, many of the appointees have been previously indicted formally like Alhaji Bola Tinubu himself. It is a band of recycled failures, mediocre politicians and champions of corruption. Alhaji Bola Tinubu is ostensibly haunted by the ghost of his illegitimacy in office. We are simply waiting for the judiciary to disqualify Alhaji Tinubu for forgery of Chicago State University certificate; multiple counts of perjury; citizenship of Guinea and the forfeiture of $460,000 proceeds of narcotics trafficking to the US government.
Could you give a critique of the way the Senate screened and cleared the nominees?
The screening was more political than patriotic. The Senate majority apparently decided unpatriotically to support Alhaji Tinubu to continue with his illegitimate hold on power. The initial list of 28 nominees was unlawful as it was incomplete and skewed. Some states had two nominees on it, while others had none. The subsequent lists were also unlawful as they were out of time and sustained the unconstitutional imbalance that was on the initial list. The list violated the 60-day law for ministerial nominations and also violated the constitutional ‘Federal Character’ principle of Section 14 (3). It is a celebration of impunity.
Do you see any sign of ‘Renewed Hope’ in Tinubu’s administration going by the composition of his cabinet?
Is there a Tinubu administration, or an interim place-holdership? We think that it is an interim place-holdership. The phrase ‘Renewed Hope’ is clearly misleading. There cannot be renewed hope from fraud and crime unless there is repentance first. The composition of the cabinet is consistent with the selfish, unpatriotic and lawless ‘Emi lo kan’ philosophy. Alhaji Tinubu destroyed Lagos State. He has destroyed the economy and democracy in Nigeria. He is set to destroy ECOWAS with a fratricidal war. But that has been checked for now.
Lagos cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, has tackled President Tinubu over some of his policies, which he said are anti-people, saying the president is unable to properly manage Change, and that Nigerians are losing faith in the APC. What is your reaction to this?
Some of the policies are definitely unpatriotic and unconstitutional. The reckless removal of fuel subsidy is tantamount to ‘National Economic Sabotage’. However, it may be partisan and misleading to claim that Nigerians are losing faith in the APC. Nigerians have no faith in the APC and completely rejected them in the 2023 presidential elections. Alhaji Tinubu must not impose himself on us. Democracy requires the rule-of-law and the integrity of the ballot. Alhaji Tinubu is not a democrat. He does not believe in the rule of law or the integrity of the ballot. He believes in ‘Emi lo kan’ doctrine and seized power undemocratically. It is very clear that he was not even qualified to participate in the elections and he lost the elections woefully. Consequently, he must definitely proceed undemocratically. The nomination of Alhaji Tinubu violated the rule-of-law. His declaration violated the integrity of the ballot. His ministerial nominations violated the sixty-day law and also violated the constitutional ‘Federal Character’ principle of Section 14 (3). It is a seriatim of constitutional violations with impunity. A celebration of lawlessness.
One of Tinubu’s critics said he lacks the diplomatic finesse of a President. To what extent would you agree to this view?
Alhaji Bola Tinubu cannot have diplomatic finesse and he is too old to learn it now. It may also be wishful to expect diplomatic finesse from him. From Alhaji Tinubu’s INEC form EC9, it is clear that he did not go to any primary school. It is also clear that he did not go to any secondary school. From the evidence in the public domain, the Chicago State University certificate he submitted to INEC is forged. Where could he have learnt any finesse? Also, considering that he forfeited $460,000 proceeds of narcotics trafficking in the US, then it may be foolhardy to expect diplomatic finesse from someone associated with narcotics trafficking, which is always violent.
How do you see the holiday allowances running into millions of Naira approved for each of the federal lawmakers who have not fully served for two months after their inauguration?
It is unlawful. The earlier we admit that lawlessness is pervasive in Nigeria, the earlier we can start to take corrective actions.
At last, the Federal Government and some state governments have announced what they consider as palliatives to Nigerians due to the removal of oil subsidy. What is your reaction to these announcements?
The Alhaji Tinubu proposed palliatives are insulting, incompetent and deceitful. They will damage the economy further by pushing inflation higher. They are very temporary as they are designed to deceive and push people into widespread extreme poverty.
Do you really see any viable opposition to the current administration either from the National Assembly, or the political parties or even the Civil Society?
The opposition is presently democratised and popular. The political parties, labour unions, civil society and the generality of the people are currently active in the opposition. There have been protests in Abuja, in Rivers State, in Oyo State, in Lagos State, in Kano State and many other states over sundry issues.
With the actions of South East governors, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the purported letter of Nnamdi Kanu, do you see the Sit-at-home ending soon in the region?
Yes. The sit-at-home is dying rapidly by popular demand. The state governments have condemned it, traditional rulers have condemned it, religious leaders have condemned it. IPOB has denounced it and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has rejected it. Sit-at-home is over in the Southeast.
What is your take on the Niger Republic coup d’état and the way ECOWAS under the chairmanship of President Tinubu is handling the issue?
The ousted government of Muhammed Bazoom was very ineffective and unpopular. The coup leaders have the support of the overwhelming majority of their people. So, if we apply the fundamental principle of democracy, the coup may be democratic. Yes. Democracy is the rule of the people. So, if the people want a coup, then the coup is democratic. Using Cicero’s supreme legal principle, ‘Salus populi suprema lex esto’, translated as, ‘The health of the people is the supreme law’, then the coup is justified because it is for the benefit of the people. Also, using the UN principle of the right of a people to self-determination, the coup is also justified. The sanctions imposed on the supporters of the military regime by the CBN are unnecessary and self-defeating to the extent that they alienate Nigeria and Nigerians from our neighbours, the people of the Niger Republic. The threat of military action is unnecessary. The authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS has no authority or mandate for military action. The Senate of Nigeria has already opposed military action. ECOWAS must respect the principle of non-interference which states that, ‘Sovereign states shall not intervene in each other’s internal affairs’. Our experience in ECOMOG indicates that Nigeria alone will contribute over seventy per cent of funds, equipment and soldiers to fight the war. Military action in Niger Republic is undemocratic and against Nigerian and international laws. We must use diplomacy. If we go to war, there would be several losses. There would be loss of lives of both soldiers and civilians. There would be destruction of infrastructure and properties. There would be colossal economic loss. There would be loss of regional influence. There would be increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons and there would be retaliation against Nigerians living in many countries in Africa. The right person to effectively mediate between all the parties in the Niger republic crisis is His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Obasanjo, GCFR, former President of Nigeria. He has the name, the experience, the education, the knowledge and the contacts to get ECOWAS, France, USA and the Niger Republic military to agree to peace. Unfortunately, the Alhaji Tinubu group may not wish to beg for his help because of their illegitimacy issue. The Tinubu team led by Alhaji Abdulsalam Abubakar was not honoured in Niger Republic.