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Chairman, Christian Council of Nigeria, Cross River State, Archbishop Tunde Adeleye, in this interview with MUDIAGA AFFE, speaks on the rising cases of banditry, kidnapping and the need for the creation of state police, among other issues
Banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities are on the increase. How can this be tackled?
I think it is important that this government should look at the issue of joblessness because many people are jobless and they look for any means to get money. I dare say that this government is not caring and hiding under the perception of being incorrupt whereas it is corrupt. Government should stop all its rhetoric and address the national problems of the country by providing the needed security apparatus. I do not think the security apparatus is enough and I do not think that they are as equipped as the kidnappers. I have seen instances where armed robbers were operating and policemen ran in the opposite direction. Government should equip the police, increase their pay and also recruit more.
The call for the creation of state police is increasing. Do you think Nigeria is ripe for it?
I am a supporter of that move and I hope and pray that this government will be able to do it. There is the need for the creation of state police because these are the people that know where the evils are taking place.
Can the present security chiefs win the battle against these hoodlums?
My view on this is that these current leaders in charge of the different security formations have been tried and they have failed. Therefore, they should be eased off while we get some other persons to do the job. Unfortunately for this country, the President appointed these security chiefs from the same family, ethnic group or the same locality or region. For me, this is not good enough because it will not produce the best materials for the job on the ground. If you keep on looking for only those who are from the same region or state as the President, it will not help. Let us look for the best among us without placing premium of tribe.
Is there something that the President is failing to do at this period?
In all fairness, I do not believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is doing well because he is being deceived all around – nobody is telling him the truth. Besides, he himself is dancing to the music of all the praise singers around him. I am not sure he is capable, not that he cannot, but he has been incapacitated. You will recall that this government is an alliance of four different political parties and everybody is key. He is still practising some nuclear groupings within that local organogram. So, he is not capable. The government is physically and fundamentally disunited and, so, it cannot work. However, if he wants to work, I think he needs to be defiant to what people are saying and look at the total programme on the ground to decide for himself. I am not sure the President is bothered on the increasing menace of kidnapping. As I speak to you, two of my church members were kidnapped in one week. The government itself is seen to be sleeping and the country is going down.
The president recently signed the N30,000 minimum wage bill into law, do you think the states can afford to pay this considering their economic situations?
It is laughable. The last time that the minimum wage was increased, it was N18,000 and at that time, the exchange rate was not up to N150 per dollar. Now it is N30,000 and the exchange rate is well over N350. It is simply big money, small value. A big salary that is meaningless. It sounds big in figure, but it cannot buy anything. The best it could do is to buy additional tissue papers. What the government should focus on is to make services and goods available for people to buy at a cheaper rate. I must state here, frankly, that the strikes will continue because I am not sure if most state governments will be able to pay. Even though they can pay, they might not be willing to pay. I will be surprised if the Federal Government will pay because I cannot remember the promise that this government has made and has kept. So, I am not expecting them to keep this one.
Under this circumstance, what do we expect the government to do?
They should ensure that goods and services are available at cheaper prices. Let people be able to do so much with little money and not to buy small things with plenty of money. This situation will skyrocket the inflationary system. To curb this, make the goods available at cheaper rates and the people will be happy.
Many have said restructuring will help to solve some of our problems. Do you think this government will agree to restructure the country?
This is actually a capitalistic and monopolistic government. It cannot restructure. This government is interested in making the centre more powerful. A restructured system will make the different parts of the country to be more powerful than the centre. It will make the centre less attractive and will not need any governor to go cap-in-hand to Abuja to beg for money. We need to restructure, the centre is too powerful and it has to be decentralised. As a governor, I should be in control of the things produced in my area, and I will only pay taxes to the Federal Government. Ab initio, we were not one – this is a country with different people, cultures, tradition and histories. We were just amalgamated by the British government for their own convenience and it left us in complete disarray. If we are married and the marriage is not working, we should be allowed to part ways; we cannot continue like this. For instance, the first sentence of the constitution says that we sat down to agree to work together, but it is a lie. This country never sat down anywhere. A constitution that begins with lies will constitute lie and end with lie.