Nyah Asuquo is Nigerian Ambassador to Uganda and former member representing Calabar Municipality/Udukpani federal constituency. The former lawmaker rose to the defense of President Muhammadu Buhari over allegations by critics that the president hasn’t done enough to drive development to grassroots and urged Nigerians to hold state governments responsible for un-development which exists at the grassroots level, given the fact that the administration of Buhari has never failed in its responsibility of allocating money on monthly basis as revenue allocation to governors of states. He spoke to MIKE ABANG. Excerpts:
Your party, the APC has been having a series of crisis in Cross River; what’s your reaction to this in view of the upcoming general election?
My reaction is that it is unfortunate. It is unfortunate that there is a split and my duty as an elder is to reconcile the two factions. If you noticed, I did not attend any of the state congresses and why I did not attend any of the state congresses is that when two are fighting, there must be responsible elders to separate them, then reunite them for progress so that is what I am trying to do.
Recently, there was a parallel congresses held at the premises of the UCTH; have you made overture to the two factions to re-unite them?
Well, I am talking to the leaders of the two groups currently. So far, as of today, there is progress. I think those factions are ready to come together and settle their differences. You see, why it should be so is that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers and we do not want the grass to suffer. We want Cross River State to be governed by a responsive and responsible leadership and I think it is only APC that can give us that kind of leadership which will be able to align with what the president is doing in Nigeria and all what he has done for the Cross River State people.
Nigeria recently marked its 19th anniversary, what’s your assessment of the level of growth of our current democratic dispensation?
We are 19 years of democracy now. Democracy does not evolve and become ultimate overnight. We are making progress. Today, the president has signed the ‘NotTooYoungToRun’ bill, so he is going to open up so many opportunities for so many young people to come to the political scene and push the banner forward. That is a very nice political development the President has given to all the youth in Nigeria.
Sir, are you aware that in Cross River State, people are saying that the APC was supposed to put its house in order? People believe that what is going on within the APC in Cross River State is a threat to democracy. Do you think so?
No, I’ve told you that in every democratic process, there are always contending forces; it shows the dynamism in the APC. Look at it the other way, if the party did not have the hope of winning the state as a whole so many people will not come in and be fighting for position in the party. It is the vibrancy of the APC as a party that has made people struggle for position. Look at it, four years ago, when some of us were fighting on the platform of the APC, people were not around and we were even looking for candidates to fill but now the struggle for position is so much and it shows the vibrancy of the APC. Like I say, we have passed that stage of reconciliation and re-strategising for victory. What I am saying is that if a party is not dynamic, a party does not have hope and the possibility of winning, will you see people fighting for position? So that fact that people are fighting so seriously for position shows how vibrant the APC is.
The former Taraba State Governor, Jolly Nyame has just been jailed for financial impropriety; critics of the government feel it is engaging in selective prosecution; what’s your take on this?
What is selective punishment there? Those who have been in government for the past 14-19 years have been PDP people and in the history of Nigeria this is the first time that a prominent man has been able to be prosecuted by the court of law. In fact, his prosecution has lasted for so many years. Think of when he left government and a competent court of law in Nigeria, not APC or Buhari, after looking at all what was presented the court convicted him. So that’s not selective. The case has been on and on. You know that in Nigeria, it will be adjourned a number of times and the defense will be shifting date. This is the first time and it shows that the anti-corruption war is working. For the first time, a prominent Nigerian, a former governor has been convicted so let’s leave sentiments on that.
People feel there is too much hunger in the land and that Buhari has not done much projects particularly in the South-South region. Do you believe he has the capacity to propel the nation forward?
I think charity should begin at home. I think the question should be what our state has been able to do to make sure that people who are in Cross River State are gainfully employed. It is not Buhari that is controlling the resources of local government; it is not Buhari that is controlling the resources of the states. Every state government is Allocation every month and other states are using their allocation to
Develop their states. In Cross Rive State, what we hear is super highway and the Bakassi deep seaport which are non-existent. All the other things you hear are propaganda. By December, they will come and show us the new power bike they have bought from Europe, so charity must start at home. Buhari cannot come and develop my village. He does general politics for the whole country for the states/local governments to tap from it and make development available to people.
But if the state is only waiting to show us new power bikes in December, then the condition will be as it is.
The Buhari administration has spent three years in office, what do you think are his major strides?
That has been documented about a week ago in a very lengthy document and it will take a whole day for me to list them out. Go and get that document published by Lai Mohammed and see things for yourself.
A number of the government’s projects like the Lagos-Calabar rail has not taken off after three years; do you believe the APC government at the federal level is sincere enough to execute these projects?
I have just read a few days ago that a United States company has agreed to build the railway up to Calabar. It was well documented in the dailies.
As a Cross Riverians, what are the major things we should look up to in the next generation?
I think he should continue the way he is going to make sure they are done. What I am saying is that we are asking after Buhari but we are in Cross River State. It is the state that has to complement what the federal government is doing. If the state is dead and have no water to drink, how will you have water to feed your farm? The state has to do its best. Go to Basin authority and you will see what they are trying to do for the people of the state. That is federal government.
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