Politics

Call For Power Shift In Edo Governorship Election Real – Ebhomien | Independent Newspaper Nigeria

 Professor John Ebhomien, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is a former Consultant to the United Nations Office on Project Services. The former World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist and financial management expert, in this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, speaks on the recently introduced cyber-security tax, Lagos – Calabar Coastal Road, the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, among other critical national issues. Excerpt:

 The Federal Government and the Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria (CBN) just came out with the Cyber-security Tax and is contemplating the Communication Tax. How do you see this development beating in mind the state of the econo­my and their effect on the economy?

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Yemi Cardoso, must be commended for what he has done so far in ensuring that there is sanity in the financial institutions. But, a lot needs to be done to ensure that there is stabil­ity in the economy, reduced infla­tion in all ruminations, and ensure the interest rates and foreign ex­change rates are human face. The production sector requires urgent attention. The Central Bank of Nigeria and the fiscal authorities should dialogue with stakeholders in the sector on how to bring down or cushion the effects of inflation, high interest rates and high for­eign exchange interests which have gone haywire. The recent planned policy of the CBN to in­crease the recapitalisation fees for financial institutions is a good de­velopment. This will go a long way to restore confidence in the econ­omy and ensure that depositors’ funds in banks are safe. We have seen the hydra-headed problems of Binance activities, which recent­ly brought the nation’s economy on its knees. The proposed cyber security levy and other levies by the CBN on Nigerians are unac­ceptable. The CBN should come up with clear cut policies that would help to overcome the myriads of problems confronting the econo­my. The CBN and the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) must also wield the big stick on erring banks and financial institutions, which engage in sharp practices and round tripping.

What do you think are the economic benefits of the Lagos – Calabar Coastal Road, especially considering the huge funds it will gulp? Don’t you think it may end up a white elephant project?

The Lagos – Calabar Coastal Road now under construction will go a long way in enhancing the na­tion’s economic growth. Nigerians must comment on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Minister of Works, Engineer David Umahi for taking the bull by the horns by embarking on such a gigantic project which is the first of its kind not only in West Africa, but the African continent as a whole. If you consider the multiplier ef­fects on the Blue economy, we un­derstand that this project will not only create industries, it can rake in billions of dollars, create viable employment youths, and reduce in­security and other vices that have been begging for answers over the years. Remember that the project was conceived by former President Goodluck Jonathan. But, it could not commence because of some po­litical issues. Those who are trying to bring certain filial sentiments and making it personal failed to do their homework to know what Nigerians stand to gain from this laudable project. Personally, I will advise Mr. President and the Min­ister of Works to go on with the project and see to its completion because of the socio-economic effects now and years ahead. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should ensure that the funds appropriated for this project is used judiciously. There must be probity and accountability in its execution.

How do you see the coming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections coming up soon?

The forth-coming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states will be political battles of the ti­tans. Politics is a game of num­bers. The governorship candidates in the two states and their support­ers in Edo and Ondo must under­stand that they are brothers and play to the rules of the game. The elections are not do-or-die battles. They should endeavour to educate their supporters to follow the path of peace and inflammatory state­ments that can cause breakdown of law and order in the two states. The primary elections in the two states have been conducted and the winners have emerged. My advice to the losers is to cooperate with their parties to ensure victory. Campaigns must be issue based. They must avoid character assas­sination. The candidates and their supporters should realise that this country belongs to all of us and we should do everything to ensure that peace and unity prevail.

What is your view on the issue of power shift in the Edo election that has been played up so much by Governor Godwin Obaseki?

On the issue of power shift in Edo State, my advice to all Edo in­digenes is to vote in an Edo Central candidate to be the next governor in the spirit of togetherness and unity. What is good for Edo South and Edo North is also good for Edo Central. The voters should vote for the best among the candidates from Edo Central based on their antecedents and what they can do for the people. The call for power shift in Edo governorship election is real.

The issues surrounding the APC gov­ernorship primaries in Ondo State are yet to be fully resolved. What is your advice to the party on this?

Concerning the Ondo governor­ship primaries, I advise the APC members in the state to resolve the issues of the primary election amicably. They should learn a lesson from the Bayelsa and Zam­fara states to mention but a few. Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has discredited the primaries. A stitch in time saves nine.

The Rivers State chapter of the All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) has just or­dered its lawmakers in the state House of Assembly to begin impeachment moves against Governor Siminalayi Fubara, even as the governor has with­held assent to some bills passed by the state legislature. How do you think the Rivers crisis could be resolved?

The political imbroglio in Rivers State has assumed a dangerous di­mension. The political gladiators, Chief Nyesom Wike and Governor Fubara should realise that Rivers State Rivers State is bigger than any individual. They should real­ise that they are brothers. They must therefore work to ensure that there is peac in Rivers State. The members of the State House of Assembly should realise that as representatives of the people, they should lay down their arms and do away with their proposed impeach­ment plots and allow civility and decorum to override personal in­terests. They should stand on the path of truth, justice and progress. There can be no meaningful devel­opment where there is crisis.

Chief Nyesom Wike should also realise that as a father figure, he should embrace his political son, Mr Fubara and resolve their nag­ging issues peacefully. They should advise their supporters to lay down their arms and do whatever is hu­manly possible to avoid further escalation. There must be politics without bitterness. That is the way to go. To err is human, to forgive is divine. If God be for us, who can be against us? They look unto God in whatever they do.

What is your take on the recent hike in electricity tariff?

The recent hike in electricity tariff is uncalled for. The Nigeri­an Electricity Regulation Com­mission (NERC) should reverse the tariff hike. There is palpable fear, anger and hunger in the land. There is food inflation, en­ergy inflation, housing inflation, transportation inflation, and oth­er sundry inflations in the econo­my. The NEPC should not inflict further hardship on Nigerians. The NERC is supposed to have done its homework and carried out Impact Assessment Analysis on the economy. Coming out with an increase in price is not in the best interest of our people. They should proffer solutions on how to bring up palliative measures that will help to alleviate the suffering of the people.

What is your advice to Nigerians bearing in mind the current suffering in the land due to the poor state of the economy?

My advice to Nigerians at this critical period of our economy is that they should all engage in productive endeavours and avoid those things or actions that will have dangerous effects on our lives and economy. They should avoid banditry and should not engage in criminal activities that will bring down the government. They should pray for Mr President and other leaders for God Almighty to give them wisdom, understanding to carry out their jobs with a high sense of responsibility and integri­ty. The elites must be leading light to the government and bring out useful suggestions on how to move the economy to an enviable level comparable to what obtains in oth­er nations. Our leaders should exe­cute their responsibilities with the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. The leaders should think before they act because good thinking brings good services and good products.

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