Odilim Enwegbara is a Development Economist and public analyst based in Abuja. In this interview, he, amongst other issues, says why he feels former president Olusegun Obasanjo does not want a second term for President Jonathan even as he calls Nigerians to support his quest for a second term. Excerpts:
Many People have the impression that President Jonathan’s government has the worst record on economy, security amongst other issues. What is your opinion?
First, let’s know who are these people you’re referring to here? I think we should know who they are and why they are drawing such a conclusion because, I will assure you that those who are saying this should be members of the opposing parties — like APC, who have to turn facts upside down so that they can win the presidential election. As an economist and Nigeria’s economy watcher, I will tell you that Jonathan administration has so far outperformed his predecessors.
In fact, Jonathan’s achievements in the last four years remain far higher than Obasanjo’s eight years in power which saw the worst infrastructure decadence in Nigeria’s history, including leaving us with less than 2000MW of electricity, road networks only better than those in the war-torn Somalia, and rotten state of our airports and railways.
From what you are saying you must be one of those calling for his reelection?
Let me say it here that I am not an active politician. But instead I am an economist and nationalist. I have been fighting for a just, peaceful, fair, and equitable Nigeria. It’s a call for us, for our children and their children for them to eventually be proud of Nigeria. I want to say this because there is a carefully constructed front wanting to humiliate Jonathan out of office. This wouldn’t even be imagined had Jonathan come from one of the three major ethnic groups.
Remember how in 1993 Abiola was denied the presidency of this country. What is happening to Jonathan today is like what happened to Abiola in 1993 because Jonathan, a south-southerner is being opposed because he’s not a westerner, or northerner. There is no way the current effort to humiliate him out of office would succeed.
What will you make of the refusal by APC presidential candidate Gen Buhari to participate in the presidential debates?
It is ironical that Gen. Buhari doesn’t want to debate with President Jonathan. By so doing, he is denying Nigerians the right to decide between him and Jonathan who has what it takes to run the affairs of the country.
Had the two debated, one of the questions should have been if the two would be ready to subject themselves to independent team of doctors to ascertain their physical and mental state of health given the tasking nature of the office of the president of Nigeria. Also Buhari would have been asked to explain to Nigerians why should someone who overthrew a democratically elected government now want to be democratically elected? Shouldn’t that be sending the wrong signals to today’s senior military officers who, seeing how Buhari has been rewarded, could be contemplating overthrowing government with the hope that years later Nigerians could be rewarding them too by electing them?
Obasanjo and Jonathan had been like father and son. What, in your opinion led to their present irreconcilable disagreements to the extent that Obasanjo recently denounced the president accusing him of having squandered the country’s foreign reserves, without anything to show for it? On Monday, he tore his PDP membership card and ditched the party.
Besides geopolitical interests I just enumerated above, Obasanjo hates rivalry. Particularly, he hates to be alive and see any of his close successors also become two-term presidents of Nigeria like him. OBJ’s fears are fully understandable especially given his determination to be seen and called “Father of Modern Nigeria.” That’s why the fear that should Jonathan too become a two-term president of Nigeria, Jonathan’s legacies could overshadow his and most important rubish his political godfather status in PDP. That is why OBJ never wanted GEJ to become a two-term president of Nigeria.
If you look at all the attacks both locally and internationally, you would discover that those asking for Jonathan’s head have one affiliation with Washington or another, including some of those who have accused the president of not doing enough to rescue the Chibok girls. They are not doing what they are doing because they love the Chibok girls but because this is part of strategy to humiliate Jonathan out of office.
Are you saying that that is one of the reasons why the US secretary of state, Mr. Kerry recently visited and went as far as giving some marching orders to our president?
The US Secretary of state came here to insult us and our president when he said, “Let me make myself clear…” as if talking to president of a US colony. He has little or no respect for the Nigerian people and their president, not even as a sovereign nation.
He shouldn’t come here to give us a marching order. I am sure there is no way Mr. Kerry could have thought of talking to South African President Jacob Zuma and the people of South Africa the way he talked to our president; not even Ghana’s. He talked down on us and got away with it because Obasanjo and his foot soldiers have cleared the way for Mr. Kerry. America should apologize to Nigerians for the insult we received from their chief diplomat.
What can you tell us about the falling oil prices?
No, the global oil plunge is not because of the so-called shale oil. The truth is that the US national security establishment working in collaboration with Saudi Arabia has been manipulating oil prices since the 1970s, thanks to the 1945 alliance between President Roosevelt and King Saud, which continues to guarantee US-Saudi powerful oil card to be used against those they want to punish. Therefore, the falling oil price is caused by their joint manipulation .
While America is manipulating the oil price down to punish Russia for ‘’invading’’ Ukraine, Saudi Arabia is flooding the market with its cheap oil to also punish Russia for supporting the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. This is a repeat of the 1986 use of oil card as a weapon to orchestrate the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the two successfully manipulated the oil prices by 300 per cent downwards, which led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union which was 80 per cent dependent on oil export as its source of foreign exchange.
Unfortunately, given how highly interconnected the global economy has become, the current collapse in oil prices is affecting the entire global economy. Even the so-called major IOCs, from ExxonMobil to Shell and to Chevron, as a result of the collapse in oil prices, have opted to shut down production as well as rollback critical investments in oil exploration. It is to the extent that export-dependent economies like China, India, Japan, Germany, etc. are already feeling the impact of oil price collapse since big time importing OPEC nations are restricting importations.