Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem is the National legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). A former Commissioner in Akwa ibom state executive council spanning nine years in different ministries, Enoidem in this interview with Chidi Tony speaks on the state of the nation, the new peace maintenance movement and the administration of Udom Emmanuel among other trending issues.
You are the Director General of the newly formed peace maintenance movement, what is the reason behind its formation at this time?
It is a vehicle for transition of Government.
Who are those behind the new group?
The peace maintenance movement as the name implies is a strategic vehicle formed to work with the governor to midwife the succession plan of the Governor. It is fashioned to work with the state governor to guarantee safe landing in terms of succession for the Government of Akwa Ibom State. It is birthed at the right time and the sole aim is to join the Governor to midwife the processes that will result in his completion Agenda and succession plan. It’s a small family within the PDP larger family in Akwa Ibom state. It’s populated by PDP members who are committed to support the Governor to achieve his succession plan. That is the intention, the vision, the mission, the purpose of the vehicle.
You are a top-ranking member of PDP as the National legal adviser; a lot of people are worried if there will be free and fair primaries?
I am sure you known that at the last count, we have about eight aspirants, they have their own vehicles; platforms and groups that are canvassing support for them. You don’t expect the Governor who is actually going to be succeeded, who is in charge and the leader of the party not to have his own plans in terms of succession. As far as I am concerned, any government or leadership without any proper succession plan is already a failed government. If you are in leadership position, wont you be interested in who takes over your legacy and how your milestones are preserved? Nobody will want to be that careless. This is not a process that is intended to compromise the internal democracy of PDP. Rather it is intended to work with the Government to ensure that whatever he wants in a successor is achieved. It does not stop other people from contesting.
As the Natural legal adviser of PDP, don’t you think some people may not be comfortable with your current position as the Director general of peace maintance movement.
First and foremost, I am working for myself, I go for my conviction, whatever I believe is good is what I go for, not to please anybody. I operate on the basis of my conviction. I am the National legal Adviser of PDP and I want PDP to perpetuate itself in Akwa Ibom state, that is my fist focus. Therefore, if I am in a vehicle within the PDP family, I think am within context. If anybody doesn’t feel right about it, it is the person’s business, because I believe that I have the right, the basis and constitutional right to associate with anybody I like. I am a member of PDP and also free to form or join Associations under PDP. And also, to belong to as many groups as I want, nobody can stop me from that it is my basic right and decision to take. I am not here to receive applause from anybody, I do things that satisfies my yearnings, vision, drive and purpose.
Is there any plan to spread the peace maintenance movement to the National level?
It is a different ball game entirely but it is not impossible. Nigeria is on a cross road security wise, safety is no longer guaranteed and it is like there is no government at the centre. That is the reality on ground no matter any contrary opinion. If the experiment becomes successful in Akwa Ibom State, I am sure we can push it to the national level to ensure that the safety of Nigeria is also guaranteed at that level. For Akwa Ibom we are very mindful of the security, the safety and the protection of lives and properties in the state. We believe that the government of Udom Emmanuel has succeeded to a large extent in protection of lives and property in the state. Nobody not even Satan can deny him of that legacy, then we need to preserve, protect and perpetuate the legacy, that is where we are and what we are doing.
Is the group set up to fight and neutralize any other other group that will want to work against Udom Emmanuel’s interest?
No, it’s not a military group but a political group, the group is not militarized, we are only selling ideas in a civil way and matured manner, we are marketing the legacies of the present government, we are not ready to engage anybody in any physical struggle.
What is your take on the Jegede vs Akeredolu governorship judgement by the supreme court?
I want to thank the justices of the supreme court especially those who delivered the minority judgment that represents the law, the law is very clear, you cannot be a governor of a state and you are also a national party chairman by section 221 and 223 of the constitution, political parties are supposed to elect its leadership in a democratic manner and it is also backed up by electoral Act which in section 85 and 87 enjoined political parties to elect leaders from the ward level to the local government level, state and national level in a democratic manner; even when anybody at that level defects to another party the electoral act in section 85 (3) said the position must be filled by election. If you have a political party that is leading Nigeria without a democratically elected structure, from the ward to the National level, then the meaning is that they are no running a party based government, to make it worse is to have a sitting Governor, who has been prohibited by the constitution to take over any other executive position outside the position of Governor he occupies. The action is against the constitution and complete illegality, that is what APC is doing and it is a bad example for Government that is in power.
In Zamfara State, we have the Governor defect to APC while his deputy remains in PDP, what is the party doing about it?
We have gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of Matawale’s defection in addition to all the members of the house of Assembly and National Assembly. This is because the Zamfara experience presents a different ball game entirely in the sense that in the building to 2019 elections, the APC was ruled out for inadequate primaries resulting to not having candidates in the election, that is the history. The supreme court judgement said the party with the highest votes and meet the required spread for election should be sworn into office, that is how Matawale who had the ticket of the PDP and with the next highest votes and spread in Zamafara state was declared winner to be the Governor of the state. Therefore, we are convinced that the APC should not between 2019-2023 occupy any executive or legislative position in Zamafara state, otherwise it runs contrary to the tent an tenor of the judgment of the supreme court. So, we are in court to enforce the judgement of the supreme court which said that APC has no candidate between 2019-2023 in Zamfara state.
Nigerians are under siege by criminals, bandits, herdsmen and other terrorists, what is your party doing to ensure that Nigeria will be rescued in 2023 from current leaders? as the major opposition party.
We talk everyday about the situation in Nigeria. The nation is at cross road not only with current state of insecurity but our national harmony is also threatened. Our national unity and cohesion have been threatened by the way and manner the APC government is running the country, there is a total collapse of the system in all sectors. When APC took over in 2015, all national development sectors such as economic, political, employment sector and even security sector were all pointing upward. They were all positives; Nigeria then was the fastest growing economy in Africa and number 3 in the world after China and India, today Nigeria is no way to be found in the table of development. In unemployment, we are 3+ which is the highest in the world. Nigeria have been adjudged as the world’s headquarters of poverty. In security Nigeria is one of the unsafe nations in the world, it is predicated by world bodies that Nigeria is a failed state.
Talking about the economy, the naira is bastardized exchanging today at N527 to a dollar, same with pounds and Euros, so Nigeria is no way in the positive economic indices of development. We are negative in all the parameters and indices of development. All the efforts made before 2015 are now all pointing downward negative. When the APC took over in 2015 from PDP, insecurity was limited to the North East but today no state is safe, criminals and bandits operate freely everywhere, they kill at will, Fulani killer herdsmen has been adjudged as 4th most deadly terrorist organization in the world but Buhari’s government does not want to declare them terrorist organization but the international organizations have declared them as one of the deadliest terrorist group anywhere in the world by the way they are killing innocent Nigerians.
Nigerians should in unison raise alarm because if we continue like this the country called Nigeria may cease to exist soon.
Some Nigerians are surprised that Governors from your party still defect to APC notwithstanding the state of the nation.
If you listen to the reasons of the people defecting to APC, it doesn’t make any meaning, they are going for their self preservation, the man in Zamfara is interested in perpetuating himself in office not the interest of Zamfara people but selfish interest. In Cross River State, Ayade said he wants to go and support Buhari to achieve more but the question is what has Buhari achieved for six that he has gone to team up with him to achieve more? What we have witnessed under Buhari is nothing but insecurity, unemployment, poverty, lack, deprivation, hopelessness, and these are Buhari’s achievements.
Nepotism has been elevated in appointment and recruitment, that is his only achievements, so he wants to go and team up with him and kill more Nigerians. If you go to Ebonyi state, the Governor said the president promised the South East people Presidency but I want to tell him that if there is one man that will not superintend handing over power to the Igbos, he is Buhari. He cannot see an Igbo man take over power from him. In 1983, an Igbo man has opportunity to emerge the Secretary General of AU but Buhari rather supported someone from Niger and today you think he has changed. The defected Governors are people who cannot defend their history and records after office, that is why they are going. They are defecting for fear of ICPC and EFCC. They have no other reason.
What is your take on subsidy on petrol which gulps billions of naira daily?
Before Buhari became president, he gave an interview where he said that anybody talking about subsidy is fraudulent. At that time Nigeria was paying about N1billion a day on subsidy, today we are paying about N7billion a day on subsidy. In 2015, when they took over, Nigerians were consuming about 30-35 million liters of petrol a day today Nigerians are said to be consuming between 100-110 million liters of petrol per day. The question is in the midst of two recessions under Buhari’s watch, are you saying that we have more cars, or are you saying that as factories are closing down under his leadership that we have consumed more diesel so where is the fuel going. The jump in the so-called fuel consumption from 35 million liters to 110 million liters also correspond with increase in the amount paid on subsidy daily. On whose account is that money paid, is it on behalf of Nigerians or another cabal the beneficiaries of that excess money on subsidy. These are the questions Nigerians are shying away from asking or afraid to ask. This is the most corrupt government I have seen since I was born but people don’t want to talk out of fear. People are traumatized, poverty has eaten up their courage, but we cannot keep quit we cannot be gagged, we will continue to talk.
Nigeria debt profile is equally rising owing to incessant borrowing from foreign nations, is it a good omen for Nigeria?
We are also living in borrowed times; I am not against borrowing but what are we borrowing for? Today we are borrowing to consume, they are borrowing to make themselves comfortable. They inherited N11 Trillion from PDP in 2015, today it is close to N44 Trillion and they are borrowing more. Where are they spending the borrowed funds and how will the money be paid back. They are running a reckless system and this is the most reckless Government I have ever seen, I am not sure this government has any economist in their midst. I doubt if they have any financial expert around them. I am not sure if this government is well advised or coordinated. This is one government that is tossed around by every wind of international policy. We are in a state of confusion with the most clueless Government ever in the history of Nigeria.
What is your take on the 3% given to the oil-bearing communities in the petroleum industry bill passed by the senate?
It is not just unfair but sad outside the figures, they have now elevated other communities in Nigeria where only oil pipelines merely passed through the communities against the oil-bearing communities. That is a grave insult and injustice to the oil being communities whose environment have be devasted, jobs and means of livelihood taken away from them, whose fishing ponds have been bastardised. So just because an oil pipeline passed through a community, the area must benefit. That piece of legislation is an embodiment of injustice to the people of Niger Delta.
Now that the law has been passed, what next for the Niger Delta people?
We will challenge the law, injustice any day is injustice forever, we have as Niger Delta people rejected it. We will challenge the law; it is an insult on us.
Are you satisfied with the NDDC staying without a board till now because of forensic audit going on presently?
It is not just having a board but doing so to the detriment of the law. There is no provision in the NDDC act that enabled the present illegality to be perpetuated. There is no such contemplation like Interim Management Board in the entirety of the NDDC act but they have runned it for close to two years now and nobody has the sense of responsibility to recourse to the enabling law.
This is because people are benefiting from it. People are making cash out of the illegality.
What is your position on the senate’s stance on the issue of electronic transfer of results which differs from INEC’s position?
This has show how fraudulent the APC government has been. If you recall in 2014/15, they promised Nigerians that they will give them a better electoral process. Today they can’t even support the position they met on ground. INEC made it clear that they can transmit results, they did that in two previous elections in the country and bye elections.
They have shown capacity and that the process can work, but APC is fighting INEC and other progressive Nigerians to thwart the progress we have made in our electoral system. If the law is eventually passed, we will go to court to challenge it for being in conflict with the constitution. The constitution in section 161/162 made INEC a unique institution which rules are not subjected to anybody considerations. It is clearly slated that once INEC comes out with its rules, guidelines and position, nobody will review it. Therefore you cannot subject INEC decision to a third party like NCC to decide what INEC should do, let them pass the law we are waiting for them in court. It is shameful that in 21st century and in 2021, anybody could kick against deployment of technology to enhance our electoral system. It is insulting the way Buhari is defending the open grazing system in 2021. A president of a country sitting in National Television to defend open grazing and what he called traditional grazing routes, something that took place in 15th century still being talked about in 21st century owing to ill motives against the interest of the people.
How do you assess the chances of your party in 2023 presidential election?
In the first place we won the election in 2019 but were robbed. So, what should be bothering Nigerians is to look at the merging electioneering process and stand firm to ensure that their votes in the next election count. APC knew that PDP won the 2019 election that is why they running away from electronic transmission. They know that they don’t have the number to defeat PDP and that Nigerians are fed up with them. The ball is in the court of Nigerians to defend their votes, their future and the electoral credibility. That should be the theme of the discussion now. Nigerians must protect the democratic ethos and the integrity of the ballot boxes, that should dominate the discourse. The problem is a malady affecting all sane and reasonable Nigerians. Even people in APC are aggrieved with the way government is toiling with the destiny of Nigeria, the democratic culture and future of Nigerians.
Are you worried that an establishment like NNPC has no Niger Deltan in its board amid other sensitive positions?
Nepotism has taken over the country and it’s a policy of the incumbent administration. Nepotism in favor of the Fulani’s, a fulanisation process, its not just the NNPC but all the revenue generation gateway in Nigeria. Everywhere revenue, taxes, and levies are collected in Nigeria are manned by them. Every agency in the oil and gas sector is under the government of Buhari and his kith’s and kins. He is also the petroleum minister in Nigeria. Every sensitive position in oil and gas industry is under the control of the Hausas or fulanis.
Do you see the Gov. Emmanuel’s completion agenda succeeding with the poor economy and cash crunch in the country presently?
The Governor has promised severally that he will complete all ongoing projects, he has given that assurance on my fora. And I don’t think that a man as foresighted and mentally equipped technocrat can faulter in the completion of his administration. He started well and will complete well. Akwa Ibom since 1999 has been blessed with good governors who have added great value to the state from Obong Victor Attah to Senator Akpabio and presently Deacon Udom Emmanuel who has transformed the state from civil service oriented to industrialized and economically driven state. I believe that by God’s grace, Governor Emmanuel will land well.