Brigadier-General Tunde Ogbeha (Rtd) was administrator of Akwa Ibom State and the defunct Bendel State during the military rule of General Ibrahim Babangida. In 1999, he was elected into the Senate to represent the Kogi West constituency of Kogi State. The septuagenarian is not happy with the state of affairs in the country at the moment and gives his reasons in this interview with WILLY EYA.
There is tension in Nigeria today arising from so many factors but the most disturbing is the spate of violence in the land. Perhaps just to mention a few are the most recent killings in Benue and Taraba states. You are in a position to know; what is the problem and how do you feel about the development?
My reflections are long and many but I want to emphasise on the spate of killing in the country. I think it is unacceptable and sad, and I think the sooner the president addresses it, the better it is for us. We need to stay together as a country and there is need for us to understand ourselves. The spate of killings, kidnapping and all of them is very unfortunate and condemnable. Other reflections are there but I do not think I am ready to talk about them now.
Apart from the issue of security, are you happy with the state of affairs in the country today? Do you think that this is where we should be after 57 years of our existence as a nation?
I cannot be happy with the spate of killings because it is retrogressive and nobody can be happy because it affects development and all facets of life. So, one is obviously not happy with the situation that we have in the country today.
But where we are now as a nation, what are your recommendations? From your vantage position as one who has seen it all, how do you think Nigeria can get out of the mess she has found herself?
The government needs to do the needful. The government has to stop the spate of killings now and ensure there is a renewed confidence in the people. The government should make sure that all Nigerians have a sense of belonging. What I am saying is that the government needs to stop the spate of killing and also ensure that the country is secure. This is because the first responsibility of any government is the security of lives and property of the people.
Why do you think that suddenly, Nigeria is witnessing this level of division among her various ethnic nationalities? Even though we have always had such in our body politic but not at the rate we are seeing it today. What do you think has gone wrong?
That is surprising to me and probably what it means is that the government has created that environment and it needs to be reversed. That is why I said the government needs to do the needful and the government knows the needful. People who kill should be held responsible and accountable to give comfort to the victims.
As a way of solving the problem of incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen, the Federal Government is thinking of establishing cattle colonies, do you think that would serve as a panacea to the recurring problem?
I do not understand it and I cannot comment on what I do not understand. The government needs to explain to us. If it would reduce the spate of killings and activities of the herdsmen as regards killings, it is alright but as I said, I do not understand the idea of cattle colony; it needs to be explained and I cannot support or do otherwise in what I do not understand.
We are in 2018, a year before the next general elections, what do you see ahead of the poll in view of the tension already in the country?
I am not a prophet, so I do not see anything but all I know is that 2018 is going to be a remarkable year full of activities. I hope that in the midst of these activities, the nation would be peaceful and the government representing the people would do its best.
Even though Nigeria is said to be out of recession, are you not worried over the state of the economy as it affects the common man?
They said the economy would improve, so let us wait and see.
Looking at the activities of the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) which are the two main political parties in Nigeria, do you think there is hope for Nigerians? What do you think are the problems of our political parties?
You can only address the party in government and not the opposition party. But whether the opposition is doing enough, I will say no. However, I am sure that this year, they would do more.
You were once at the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, looking at the legislature today, do you think they are doing enough in terms of positive legislations that would move the nation forward?
I think the National Assembly can do more.
With the present state of affairs in the country, what is your assessment of the nation’s political class?
I would rather not comment on that.
With the tension in the land and given the nature and character of our elections, what is your advice to Nigerians ahead of 2019?
Nigerians should be patient and be engaged. Nigerians should ensure that they participate in the process of the election.
If you have the opportunity to meet President Muhammadu Buhari today, as a priority, what would be your advice to him in view of the state of affairs in the country?
My advice to him would be on tackling security. That is the most important. This is because if we do not have peace, nothing meaningful can happen in the country. So, security should be the priority and then you can delve into areas like the economy. But first of all, you must ensure that you secure the lives and property of the people. After that, then, you tackle the economy.
What is your take on the fight against corruption which was one of the major campaign promises of the APC-led Federal Government?
It is commendable but my position is that the anti-corruption war should be done fairly and justly.
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