‘Pro-Biafrans are hungry’ | 7 things we learned from Olisa Agbakoba’s interview

In an interview with Vanguard newspaper, the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) shared his thoughts on the state of the nation, his perception of President Buhari and the future of Nigeria.

Here are 7 things to learn from what he said.

  1. Buhari needs to pay more attention.

He spoke on the state of Nigeria and the perception of the people towards the Buhari-led government.

“Well, it is good when you listen to perception; know what people think because action of government is to reflect what people want. When I was NBA President, I always do what I call sweeping. I will make sweeping calls to about 10 Chair persons to know what lawyers are thinking.

“Perception is very important. It is for the President to pay more attention to the way people feel and that is why we need a communication strategy, such as having a Director of Communication. You find different people say different things about the President.

Some say that he does not know what he is doing and some say he is too slow”

2. The current administration has not done well in communication

The lawyer believes that Muhammadu Buhari has good programmes for the nation but needs to communicate them to the masses for acceptance and trust.

“I hope that the present administration will understand that in 2016, communicating their strategy should be of prime importance so as to dispel all doubts. Also, the Biafra thing is what a good communication strategist will communicate. I think this administration has not done well in communication. In abroad, what attracts people is the programme. If I look at your programme and I am able to compare, then I can make my choice.

“If you look at the Presidential Debate in the US, you will be able to make your choice. But in Nigerian politics, it is a personal thing. You will need to know the person and touch him. In the US, for example, you do not need to know anybody; he will appeal to you by what he does. So President Buhari’s programme, quite surprisingly, appears to me as something to be looked at.”

3. There is no template for developing a country.

The former NBA president says that there is no set design for the development of the country.

“The nature of person’s ideology changes with where he is. So the natures of what countries do depend on where they are at any time. Basically, Nigeria as an emerging economy is a very poor country, typified by the fact that we are in the primmest land yet I have no water. Anyone who wants to design a programme for a poor country will take into account what the people want and what their need is. There is no template.”

4. Buhari’s programme for Nigeria looks like social regulation

Speaking further on his perception of Buhari’s economic model, the lawyer said: “but I think I understand what President Buhari’s economic policy is, it has two components. It is a derivative of social regulation. Underpinning the programme, as I understood, it is social regulation, which makes provision for people who are at the bottom and trying to bring them up and at the same time leaving space for market efficiency so  that the markets can run.”

“Social regulation means we cater for those who need government support but we will allow the Dangotes and the Otedolas space to work, then we task them to about 30 percent to 40 percent, which will be well collected. Once that is done, the money would drizzle down to assist the social regulation policy. It is a mixed economy model that I think it is what this administration want to present.”

5. Okonjo-Iweala’s programme for Nigeria failed

In addition to stating what the economic model of the present administration looks like, Agbakoba went on to juxtapose the model with the immediate past minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s model for the Nigerian market.

“If you have a programme, the one that is commonly referred to as market feudalism, which means asking everybody to go and the best person to sell wheat flour wins. Then you will find out that the person can drive his price up, in the exclusion of others, and make money. So market feudalism, which was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s doctrine, failed because in the years you will see that her policies did not work.

“The other one is social democracy and you will find it in Denmark, Norway and other countries. That is why they are the richest countries in the world, even if they have small population. They do social democracy where they plan for everybody. They know the need of everybody and try to meet it. I think social democracy is a better programme for Nigeria than market feudalism. Now, I go back to the challenge of not communicating effectively.”

6. Nigeria will not change until Nigerian take up arms and fight

Agbakoba rues the maradona style of politics played by the Nigerian elites who do everything at all cost to get into political offices. He sends a message to the citizens of the nation on how to deal with these elites.

“My view is that if you give N1 million as allowance in the national assembly many will go and not return. We need to understand that the elites and elite’s structure are the ones who propose people to the tribunal. Of course, they pay lawyers to do the cases. I am tired of unravelling the conflicting decisions. You look at Taraba, you look at Kogi and somebody told me that they will end in absolute mess.

“Have you seen any election that is different? It is the same complain that INEC did not bring materials on time or they did not provide enough material. Until we help Nigerians understand that they need to take up arms and begin to exercise their right, Nigeria is not going to change.”

7. Biafrans are hungry

Weighing-in on the agitation for the Republic of Biafra by some people in the Eastern part of the nation, Agbakoba sympathizes with the cause of the movement but maintains that some elements are out to manipulate the agitators.

“The Biafra thing is not an agitation. People there are very hungry, I am from there. They have been dispossessed and abandoned by different political leaders who deceive them when they come for their votes. APC, PDP and APGA- all kinds of parties deceive them and led them to exactly where they are. The last time I was at the area, I was shocked when I drove around. I was shocked at the level of poverty and unemployment.

“So when somebody who is an elite wants to manipulate them, which is what is going on now, they will fall for it. I I think the best case has been explained by Prof. Wole Soyinka. We should not say that this country is indivisible. There is nothing indivisible about Nigeria. If we cannot live together, let us go in pieces. Who is to say that it is indivisible and treason? It is not.”


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