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‘Buhari should convoke a national conference now to re-negotiate Nigeria’

National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, in this interview with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, urges President Muhammadu Buhari to convoke a national conference during his second term in office where the myriad of issues bedeviling the country will be thrashed. He also wants the President to keep to his pledge to run an inclusive government even as he tasks him on addressing tackling some of the infrastructural challenges facing the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari commenced his second term in office last Wednesday. What do you think he should do differently to succeed this time?
Let me say that President Buhari himself has set the ball rolling in the direction I will really want. He set the ball rolling on the day he accepted his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when without being persuaded or prompted he said he would run an inclusive government this time. And he has repeated it on three different official occasions, which means that he is really determined to do that. That will be very good for a country as diverse and heterogeneous as Nigeria.

Recently when the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors went to honour him at the villa, he surprised the whole nation when he made the statement that at this point in our democracy, true federalism has become imperative and indeed compelling. That was a very soothing statement coming from the president without being prompted or persuaded.

I want to believe that if he made this statement before the campaign, some people might think that it was a campaign talk as his rival was using it as a campaign issue. But now he has won and doesn’t require to campaign for anything again. So, I will encourage him to go in that direction.

As a matter of fact, while consolidating on governance in the areas of fighting insecurity and anti-corruption crusade, he should also consider declaring a state of emergency in the power sector. Nigeria is an embarrassing story to tell when it comes to the power sector.

For a country that is desirous of growth to be talking about generating 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts of electricity is appalling. So, a state of emergency is required in the power sector to address the situation.

It has been proved to be totally economically unwise to depend on the seaport in Lagos alone to service a country as large as Nigeria with so many business people who are importing and exporting goods. Before now, even before the civil war, there were seaports along the coastal lines that have been abandoned and everything is now concentrated in Lagos.

Look at how Lagos is today with all the setbacks businesses now suffer as a result of the situation. So, he should make reopening all the abandoned seaports as quickly as possible a cardinal programme of his second tenure. Doing this will surely expand our economy.

He should also summon the political will to encourage ranching. Nigerians want a situation where farmers can sleep and wake up in the morning and see that their crops are in their farms.

Nigerians want a situation where farmers can plant their crops and expect that they would harvest them; not planting and then livestock will come and eat them up. Ranching will solve that problem; ranching will solve the problem of cattle rustling. In fact, ranching will solve half of our security problems in Nigeria today, especially in the North.