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Sooner NASS shall become rehabilitation centres for ex-governors -Eseme Eyiboh, Rep candidate


NASS has been described by many as the retirement home of many Nigerian politicians, especially governors who fear political irrelevance after leaving office.

Former House of Representatives spokesperson, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, has predicted that going by the current fad in the system whereby the outgoing governors aspire to be in the National Assembly, especially the Senate, sooner than later, the federal legislative chambers would become rehabilitation centres for former governors. Eyiboh, who is now the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Eket Federal Constituency in Akwa Ibom State, also opined in this interview with Razaq Bamidele that all the stakeholders, including the media, should rally round the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to guarantee credible elections in 2023. According to him, the electorate have a bigger role to play to ensure a performing government because foundation for bad governance is always laid by faulty leadership recruitment culture of the electorate.

 READ ALSO: Electoral Act Amendment: Fayose cautions NASS not to usurp powers of political parties, wants electronic transmission of results reconsidered

By your expectation, how can the 2023 poll be free, fair and credible?

 The trajectory of the social democratic values must be rearranged to ensure the emergence of credible candidates for effective representations with a view to engendering sustainable development. So, the media, the electorate and other critical stakeholders need to rise up to the challenges by assisting the umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to conduct credible polls in 2023

Do you believe the political analysts that foresee that the major parties may collapse or implode or go into extinction due to the internal squabbles?

 I am sure you are aware that all the registered political parties are jurisdictive persons. They can sue and be sued. So, they have a life of their own. It is only when they are being proscribed or delisted, that is when you can talk about this issue of the major political parties going into extinction. Even if 20 people or more have left, in each of the parties, you can’t talk about the extinction of political parties. The major political parties are having a series of crises, but that is not to say that they have been extinct. They are having a series of crises. These crises are characterized by post-primary contests and the major political parties being populated by heavyweights, usually there must be the winners and losers in every primary election. So, what the major political parties are going through now is a consequence of the post-primary crises. That does not mean that the smaller parties are without blemish because they are also having people leaving in droves to the smaller parties to take solace, which is the issue of getting the mandate to be on the ballots.

Given the performances of the two major parties, namely All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in governance at the national level, don’t you think the electorate this time would want to vote personality instead of the party?

It has nothing to do with the two major political parties. What you have there is different from politics and governance. You have a sub-national government across the country and also the Federal Government. There are some states, as a matter of fact, which cannot be proud of themselves, considering the money they received. Then there are some states which of course, don’t have money but are trying as much to be able to deploy the little they have for the social democratic values of their people. So, it is wrong for anybody to say that APC or PDP is not doing well. It has nothing to do with the political party. If what you voted to represent you is a bad product, then it is a bad product. What the person would be doing in the name of your electoral constituency is to showcase those weaknesses that you refuse to recognize when you are voting. What I am saying is that weaknesses in government concepts, and weaknesses in performances are reflections of the poor leadership recruitment culture of the electorate. What do you call the government? The councillors are members of the government. The chairmen of local governments are members of the government; the state house of assembly, the governor and deputy, the commissioners, the national assembly members, the president and all that. So, when you want to do a performance evaluation or audit, you don’t use a universal template. For instance, if it is Akwa Ibom, at that level of sub-national, is it doing well? If it is your local government, you now use that template. Is your local government doing well? If it is your House of Representatives or Senate, if they are not doing well, you also have while evaluating them, evaluate your electoral judgment. Did you do the right thing in 2019, when you voted for a particular individual? One, it is the individual that would represent a political party. You voted for the political party because of the candidate. You don’t vote for a candidate because of a political party. That is where we all got it wrong.

Do you then see that the Nigerian electorate would vote for individuals this time around, in view of the alleged bad governance by the parties in power?

Well, it is up to you people in the media to also mount a campaign against a new system now called vote-buying. Vote-buying cannot be a representation of quality judgment. Vote-buying is still the same thing regardless of anything. I don’t care if he is competent or not as long as he gives N10, 000, I will vote for him. When we begin to know that candidate ‘A’ is a very competent candidate to represent you regardless of the political party, you go ahead to vote for that person on the platform he represents. We will do better when we get to that point.

 Don’t you think that vote-buying is a result of desperation by greedy politicians, who want to win by all means?

That is why I am telling you that you people in the media and community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, should mount intensive campaigns. INEC is doing very well. You have a responsibility to also mount a campaign to educate the people that this N10, 000 that you collect to vote has a repercussion. You know, politicians won’t want to stop being ahead of their opponents. A politician won’t want to stop using all manner of intrigues to be able to find himself in the desired office. But, you should also be able to educate the people to appreciate the fact that competence, pedigree, and image are key in the electoral process.

What is your position on the belief of some people that APC represents bad governance despite riding to the leadership position of the country on change mantra?

 You are still using a universal template in assessing performance in governance. For example, the poor performance of the government of Akwa Ibom State cannot be leveraged on APC. I am using that as an example. We have 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). And these 36 states, some are doing creditably well, while others are performing woefully. If you want to go into the issue of performance audit, you have to do it on a state-by-state scale. If you look at the 774 local government areas in this country, you also do it on a local government-by-local government basis, because if you want to turn around to say APC is in government and not doing well, that would be a very wrong template and judgment.

Now, to the economy; how do you feel about the soaring inflation and insecurity across the nation?

 Part of the cases of insecurity in this country is the issue of the aboriginal question. For example, in the South-east; are you saying that the one in the South-east is a result of hunger or whatever? It is an aboriginal question, where the government would be able to rise up against its people and begin to kill its people, kill security agents. The last time they were doing voters’ registrations, they didn’t allow it to take place and that had a consequential effect on the voter population. So, when you look at the issue of insecurity, some are self-inflicted.

Then there are some which are politically motivated. It is sad that we see national security as nobody’s business. Citizens are not concerned about national security. We don’t see a crime against an individual as a crime against society. How many are ready to point these things out? These criminals live in various communities. They are living in our midst and we know them. How many people have walked up to security agencies to report? We don’t want to do that. Traditional rulers are supposed to be at the frontline of our value system, but unfortunately, some of them have been compromised by the same criminals. There are instances that traditional rulers are being caught for being agents of the bandits and some of them are even involved in cases of kidnapping. Some of them are providing local intelligence to bandits and terrorists. That is not a normal society where national consciousness is a value. So, the citizens of Nigeria should rise up and take ownership of the government and provide a complementary strength on the issue of insecurity.


The political trend in the country now is that our governors, after leaving office, aspire to be in the Senate. What is your take on that?

I am very sad about it. Because, one, most of the people, say 80 per cent of the people going to the National Assembly are being promoted by the governors. So, as we speak today, what are the total numbers of governors in the senate? They are forming more than two-thirds and if that is what it is, are you going to see a robust engagement? No! Are you going to see a robust attendance? No! Are you going to see contributions that would reflect the collective aspirations of the people? The answer is no! And they continue to rise exponentially into the senate. So, are their surrogates also rising in droves to the House of Representatives? At the end of the day, the intention of democracy would be defeated because issues of oversights, appropriation, and legislation are going to be undermined.

Let me give you an example. A governor who has had absolute control over the local government administration is now coming to the Senate and his surrogates are coming to the House of Representatives and then there is a constitutional amendment on the issue of the autonomy of local government, they would vote against it. They would vote against it because they are still benefiting from the local government system. Their cronies are still there. They are going to defeat the issue of checks and balances. The product of the legislature, of appropriation, of oversight, of legislation, those things are going to be undermined. Sooner or later, we will witness that the National Assembly and Senate in particular, will become a national rehabilitation centre for former governors. I stand to be corrected.

What are your chances of winning the coming polls in your constituency, knowing full well that the state is believed to be a PDP state?

Well, the narrative might still change. I am not saying this because I am the person involved. Before you will hear people say, what did the governor say in the primaries, and whatever the governor says or whoever the governor anoints, that is the person to win the primaries. It is no longer so. In 2023, the trajectory of our political culture is going to change. We are going into a referendum and 2023 in Akwa Ibom and Eket Federal Constituency. What is a referendum in this case? A referendum is a popular vote to determine a particular subject, a particular issue by the people. And this referendum is to determine a particular question about our future. In this referendum, the result will shape the future prospect, the opportunity of each electoral constituency and Eket people are enlightened, sophisticated and urbane, and ready to participate in this exercise. And I represent the symbol of this referendum. What that means is that before people used to vote on what the governors said, on political party, no matter how bad the candidate is, but today they are going to vote for people regardless of a political party. It is a vox- populi. It is the voice of the people.

How do you assess the performances of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State?

 Based on my knowledge, he has some pluses here and there and he has a very, very poor performance in some areas. For example, as we speak, are you aware that in Akwa Ibom, the local government areas in the state have no boundaries? And because they have no boundaries, it is subjecting the local government areas to communal conflicts, quarrels, and disagreements, because of the absence of gazetted boundaries since the creation of Akwa Ibom State till now. Whatever is done within the context of delineation is done by speculation. There is no clear delineation of local government boundaries in the state. If you don’t do that, how do you now determine the issue of security, economic development, and the principle of justice? There should be a boundary between Nsit Ubium and Nsit Ibom. There should be a boundary between Abak and the neighbouring local government. When those things are not there, you are leaving the citizens with the option to speculate on where their boundary is. So, there is a need for a statutory delineation of local government boundaries in the state.

Do you expect a credible election from the INEC next year?

 Well, if we go by what happened in Osun and Ekiti States. You know, the fairness and success of any election is not 100 per cent INEC; the people also have a role to play. For example, somebody comes to your community and everybody queues up to vote and the other people, knowing that they are going to lose the election gang up and disrupt the election. It’s going to be cancelled in that unit. So, if we begin to have a multiplicity of such insecurity, it is going to affect the outcome of the election. As I said, CSOs, NGOs and non-state actors should be able to rise up to complement the efforts of INEC and the security agencies. You can stand up in your polling unit and stop any strange person from coming in to disrupt the process. Everybody queues up and votes and makes sure that the result is posted.