Former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, criticised the political establishment in a press conference on Thursday in which he announced the formation of a new group that he leads, the National Intervention Movement (NIM).
Agbakoba said that the present cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed, with the president himself “sleeping on the job.” He also had strong words against some state governors like Imo’s Rochas Okorocha and Lagos’ Akinwunmi Ambode.
Below are some quotes from the press briefing:
- On the “sleeping” president:
“We want government to work for Nigerians. Presently, it does not. President Buhari needs to take his job seriously. He is sleeping on the job. He needs to sack his entire cabinet because they have failed.
“Why for instance has nobody been fired for Mainagate? What is government’s plan for unemployment? Seventy per cent of our young people are unemployed. It is alarming! What is the Federal Government’s plan for power?” he said.
- On the failed promises and incompetence of the federal cabinet:
“We need to ask simple questions. If APC promised us ABCD, how many have they fulfilled? How many ministers are actually competent to deliver on their ministries? The Federal Cabinet lacks competence and that’s what’s causing our problem.”
- On the lack of round pegs for round holes:
“For instance, the good friend of mine Dr. Kayode Fayemi has no competence to be Minister of Mines because that’s not his background.
“What is the competence of another good friend, a nice chap and a successful man, Udo Udoma (SAN), to be the Minister of Budget when he is a lawyer? So, the President should be called upon to dismantle his cabinet and pick the right people because the best guys are not there.
“The President needs to either say: ‘I’m tired’ or get rid of people who have no competence. Another good friend Geoffrey Onyeama is an intellectual property lawyer. He has no competence to be a foreign minister, but he’s there.”
- And corruption has not gone anywhere:
“This is a government that says: ‘We’re on top of corruption’. But the NNPC is a cesspit of corruption. And Nigerians don’t know that the President cannot be minister of Petroleum Resources!”
- Agbakoba had a few things to say about some state governors:
“Governor Ambode says he runs the fourth or fifth largest economy in Africa. But we’re all in Lagos. This is a completely broken city and in the index of the harshest cities to live in the world, it’s third from last. We need to look at what the states are doing.
“Look at the joker in Imo – Ministry of Happiness. And we’re there, saying nothing, and this people are screwing us. He is erecting statues of all kinds of people when Imo State owes pensioners.
Fayose “is making Christmas clothes for children but has not paid Ekiti workers”; Wike “is using Rivers state money to buy SUVS for members of the National Assembly.
“Is it not a scandal that oil producing states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, Delta etc owe salaries?”
- The judiciary is not absolved of blame:
“How come corruption cases involving politicians never terminate in our courts? Governors accused of corruption after office get judicial immunity? Politicians charged with corruption present themselves for public office in every election circle. Some are senators making laws for the country.”
- On his new National Intervention Movement (NIM):
The movement was initiated by a group of 90 Nigerians on November 29 as a non-political organisation to uplift Nigerians. We are committed to make a difference in our country. We said to ourselves: When will this rut stop? Everybody is in his house grumbling – no jobs, no money, no healthcare. We spoke among ourselves that what is needed is a coherent political movement. Our mission in the long run is to wrest power from the political elite. We believe strongly that the way forward is for civil society (including the media) to wrest power from this ruling political elite to achieve a new system that is inclusive and works for all and not a few. The movement will grow by inspiring and supporting people to start small groups across the country and would accommodate anyone concerned about the failures of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). We want a functioning democracy where political office holders are accountable to the people, public institutions are strong and there is the rule of law. Look at what #EndSars achieved. It shows you the power the people have. We’re going to use social media to mobilise Nigerians. We want Nigerians to claim ownership of the movement.”