6th May, 2015
Businessman cum philanthropist, Deacon Iyke Kanu, in a recent interview with journalists bared his mind on why he jettisoned his Abia gubernatorial ambition to support Alex Otti, the untold reasons why President Jonathan lost to General Muhammadu Buhari and why the Igbos need a Tinubu to move to the next level politically
The general elections 2015 have come and gone but the ripple effects still reverberate across the length and breadth of the nation. What is your take on the conduct and outcome of the elections?
I will say that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. This is the very first time we are witnessing such level of maturity in this nation and within our neighbouring countries where an incumbent president concedes defeat and quickly congratulates the winner of the election. The underlining understanding of the whole exercise is that Nigeria is fast developing in governance and democratic norms; and I hope the coming generations will emulate this commendable trend.
Does President Jonathan conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent make him a hero as being celebrated or overblown across board, especially, considering the fact that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had objected to his candidature for re-election and this led to the defection of some PDP governors to the opposition APC, ultimately depleting and by extension destroying PDP as a formidable party?
First of all, let me correct an impression that PDP is not destroyed. The fact that they lost the presidential election doesn’t mean the end of the party. PDP is going back to regroup to come out stronger. In spite of what has happened, they can become stronger to present a formidable opposition to the APC. Now, about Jonathan being a hero or not, that I don’t understand what you mean by hero or the entire hullabaloo about it. He lost an election and has nothing else to do than to hand over to the winner, which is democracy. He did not contest that he didn’t lose the election. The process of the election was free and fair at least to the best of our ability for now. Being a gentleman, there is nothing he can do than to accept defeat because he was actually defeated. So, I don’t know what you mean by hero. In what way? He lost an election and that’s not heroic or do you mean he shouldn’t have accepted the outcome of the election; that’ll amount to transiting the nation into something else that will destroy our democracy that we are building. That he lost an election and conceded defeat, to me, does not make him a hero. Rather, I see him as a man who has aligned himself as a gentleman, who has seen that his people desire change and have to accept the wish of the people to prevail.
How would you rate President Jonathan’s administration?
I think Nigeria has been together without encumbrances and he has been able to come up with a clear democratic process. I give him kudos for that. At least to the best of our knowledge, he never tried to manipulate the democratic and electoral processes like most of his predecessors did. Beyond that, every government in Nigeria has been characterised with corruption and his administration is no exception. We have seen and heard through different news portals of high level corruption under President Jonathan’s tenure. For instance, I heard in the news that the NNPC has started refunding some money back into the national treasury which actually means that indeed deep rooted corruption thrived in the system under the watchful eyes of Mr. President.
What in your analysis could be responsible for his losing the election?
I think the people where fed up with PDP, and secondly, this Jonathan’s tenure was rooted deeply in corruption. Evidences abound here and there to buttress the claim.
Again, Nigerians are reasoning very well now, questions are being asked and our people are not just following the order of the day. People are ready to speak up and make their voices heard irrespective of whatever you give them as inducement. For instance, there was a situation in this past election where people collected money from a certain political party but went ahead to vote their desired party and candidate. I think one of the major factors that made him lose was bad governance and corruption in high places. He was unable to control those working under him. He lacked the charisma and potentials of a president. He’s so soft that even when corruption is stirring him in the face, he lacked the will to either question or bring the cuprits to book. Recall that in the past six years that his tenure lasted nobody has been taken to court or jailed for corruption in spite of the massive outcry against looting being the order of the day. Does it mean that all was well, everybody was upright or that everybody is now a saint in Nigeria? No! But he lacked the propensity to act or prosecute those working under him who where enmeshed in high level corruption. I think Nigerians don’t want that anymore, we want to protect the sanctity of our nation. If he has the opportunity of being the president again, he should sit back and look for the right crop of people to work with who are not corrupt minded like the legions he surrounded himself with, which is my advice for him.
Do you see the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari as the much anticipated messiah this nation yearns for?
It is only God that can determine who is a messiah in a country and its only Him that reserves the prerogative to send one. I have never seen the President-elect as a messiah, at least for now. I cannot judge if he is a messiah or he is going to be the best or worse president for this nation. We never can say until he sets up his machinery of governance. But looking at the kind of people around him, with one questionable character or the other, one can be forced to say that we are still in the same situation except he can come up as the leader whom nation has anticipated to call the bluff of even those who helped him to actualize his mandate if he discovers they have inordinate ambition to drag his administration in the mud, and bring everybody to justice irrespective of positions and involvement in his ascendance to power. Judging by his past records, I think he is an anti-corruption crusader that could bring the hydra-headed corruption in this country to its knees. You know people are judging him based on his military era where he had a knack for high level of discipline but you know he is coming back as a democratically elected president who does not have all the autocratic powers to carry out what he wants at will. He has the House of Representatives, the Senate and other agencies of government to pass through appropriately, who will contribute to the day to day running of government as required under a democratic setting. Now the question is, who are these people? What is their aim in government? What are their antecedents and social value? These and many more should be considered to determine if they share the same vision with the President. We pray that he will live up to the expectations of the whole nation who voted him.
Do you see him as being courageous enough or having the will power to dare even those who oiled the wheels of his political machinery when found guilty of corrupt practices?
I believe he has such character judging by his past records; I believe he is a man who is against corruption. He’s a highly disciplined man. I once read of how he divorced his wife for receiving money from an ex-president. If he can do that to his own wife then I don’t think he can spare anybody. But he needs wisdom and understanding in whatever steps he’s taking.
For over a year now, the Chibok girls remain in Boko Haram’s captivity. during GMB’s campaigns, he promised to bring them back and alive if elected as president, but he seems to be singing discordant tune now. Do you see him bringing these girls back and alive?
These girls have been abducted for over a year now. I remember a friend once told me that if you are away from your wife for one year that she is no longer your wife because a lot of water might have passed under the bridge. People that have been abducted for over a year now, you don’t know their fate now. If he promised to bring them all back and alive, then maybe he knows their whereabouts which I doubt. But we look up to seeing his manifestoes come to manifestation. I implore that we keep calm for now and see what he’s got up his sleeves but I doubt if those girls can be brought back intact. We should not expect him to perform miracles, though as a general, he has better standing to deal with issues of this nature than an ordinary civilian president. I believe he will perform creditably in terms of security of life and properties in the nation. He has promised the nation optimum security. We are watching.
As a politician who was actually prepared to run for the office of Abia State governor before you stepped down, and being in the state during the governorship election, looking back, do you regret not participating in the election?
I don’t have any regrets whatsoever. One of the reasons I stepped down was that when I was about obtaining my nomination form, I met a very trusted brother, Alex Otti, who was equally of same village with me. We had a detailed discussion and I decided to step down since we share almost the same vision for our dear state, though he eventually lost the election gallantly. But seeing what transpired in Abia State, casting my mind back to your earlier question if we can see Jonathan as a hero for conceding defeat, there are some people who cannot for one reason or the other do that, they will rather die than concede defeat to their opponent even when it’s obvious they lost; that was the situation we found ourselves in Abia before the election was declared inconclusive for a rerun which my brother was eventually schemed out.
How long do you think the alliance between the north and the southwest that orchestrated the paradigm shift in the nation’s polity will last?
The idea of the alliance was to see that PDP which has had strong grip on the nation’s polity is sidelined and the only way to achieve that is by such understanding. Such alliance can only continue to thrive if every party involved is sincere to the rule of the accord but whereby probably for selfish reasons, maybe the president-elect aligned with the southwest just to help him get to power and afterwards jettison them, then the marriage would collapse even before the full consummation. Consequently, if the southwest because of their contributions to the success of the party decide to become Oliver Twist, and then force the president to get fed up with their incessant and selfish demands, then the alliance will not last long. But as long as they work in the same accord that brought them to power, they’ll go far, otherwise they will lose it.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fast assuming the status of a Yoruba political leader. Only recently he has was compared to the legendary Pa Obafemi Awolowo. How do you see this enigma, bearing in mind that at a point he remained the only visible opposition in the southwest but he remained resilient in his stride to form a formidable alternative to the ruling PDP and finally he has actualized that dream. What is your take on him?
The only way I can describe Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that he is a political enigma. He is a king and also a king maker. He has the well being of his people in mind and his people realizing that, gave him all the support. He’s a great leader. I can recall attending a political event at the TBS sometime ago and the way Tinubu came down to the downtrodden mingling and chatting away with them without being conscious of his social status tells a lot about him and such disposition can build confidence around his followers. Tinubu is a bridge today between the south and the north because of his political charisma. He’s a great leader and people like him are made by God for a purpose. If not for people like Tinibu today, we’ll not be talking about change that we have today. Recall that at a time, Tom Ikimi and Chief Vincent Ogbulafor in separate statements told the nation that PDP will rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. Now, if people like Tinubu are not there, there wouldn’t have been much that Buhari would have done because if the whole north gave him their votes, I don’t think he could have won the election but the likes of Tinubu were able to galvanize the whole southwest together as someone who enjoys the trust and confidence of his people and then the change came. So I will say that Tinubu has done creditably well. Take a look at Lagos State today which has become a model for the nation, the leadership is being navigated by him, you can see peace prevailing. The most secured state in Nigeria today is Lagos State. The most developed state in Nigeria today is Lagos State. I think we should allow this political colossus to extend his tentacles and see what he can do nationally.
Being an Igbo man, do you think the Igbos are lacking a character like Tinubu?
Greatly! There is nobody like Tinubu in the entire Igboland and it didn’t start with this political dispensation. The problem with the Igbos started during the colonial era. When the colonial masters came to Nigeria before the amalgamation, they used the leadership in the Northern Protectorate provided by the Sultan of Sokoto and other Emirs to govern them. They came to the West and the Obas were on hand to assist in governing the people of the region because the people are subject to what the Obas say. So, it was easy because of the trust and confidence they reposed in their Obas. But in the East, there is a popular saying that “Igbo enwe Eze”, meaning Igbos have no King. Everybody is a king in his father’s compound. So, it will be very difficult for them to come together and say let us listen to one man; that this or that man can take us to the promised land. No! That is lacking in Igboland.
I think it is time the Igbo political think tank started thingking of the best possible way out of this quagmire; otherwise the Igbos will continue to lag behind in the polity of Nigeria.
In addition to that, what do you think is the place of the Igboman in the coming political dispensation?
Well, we are part and parcel of the nation. We are pure first class citizens of this nation and we still have our pride of place. The fact that we do not have an arrow head does not stop us from being part and parcel of the nation after all, the bulk of the nation’s wealth comes from this divide of the nation. Secondly, I don’t believe General Buhari’s administration will marginalize any part of the nation for that matter. The Igbos have the right to integrate and belong to any political party they so wish, it’s a matter of choice. That we don’t have APC Senators from the whole of south east, though regrettable, does not stop us from having a part of the national cake. I think there must be an adjustment to bring an Igbo man into the federal character. There could be important appointments and don’t forget that it’s all politics. Some senators and high ranking Igbo politicians might decide to defect to the APC to actualize the place of the Igbo man and I think in future, the Igbos will align with the national government. The truth was that there was massive belief across the south east that President Jonathan was going to win, and they decided to offer him massive support. You may call that political suicide.