- Prof Ben Nwabueze is the lawyer and the president of Patriot, a revered group of intellectuals and elder statesmen campaigning for good governance
- In his interview with The Sun, Nwabueze explained why President Muhammadu Buhari is not a born again democrat
- He advised Nigerians not to expect too much from the president as he lacks capacity to govern the country
- Nwabueze also spoke on corruption in the Goodluck Jonathan administration and Buhari's anti-graft war
Read excerpts from the interview below:
'Buhari is not going in the direction of democratic rule'
"He is not going in that direction. He declared himself to be a born again democrat. He said that after his election and installation. But I don’t think the way he has been going has really proved him to be a born again democrat.
"Quite frankly, I am not surprised considering his antecedents. I pointed that out before the election. I said that he is a man who, throughout his career, was a military commander commanding some units in the army, and therefore, used to giving orders and requiring his orders to be obeyed and they were obeyed in line with the principles governing armed forces in the country.
"Secondly, from being military commander he became head of the federal military government. And absolutism was the case. Everybody must carry out his orders. Not only soldiers now but the whole country of which he was the head of state. With that background, with those antecedents, I think it would be too much to expect that he can change overnight to become a born again democrat. I didn’t see it as possible."
Steps that show Buhari is not a born again democrat
"The first step was to rule this country for four months without ministers contrary to the constitution. The constitution does not confer absolute power on the president to rule any how. It specifies that he must rule with a council of ministers. But he ignored all that. He went ahead and imposed personal rule on us for four months. What he did was anti-democracy. It is not in line with the command of our constitution.
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"We are not really getting institutional government, a government that is based on institutions and not by one man. He has a council of ministers now but the question again is: Is the government of this country really run by that council? Is it not whatever he says that happen? Yes, the constitution gives him the power to take certain decision but the same constitution says the power must be exercised in a certain way, manner and form. The same constitution that vests the title of power in him goes on to say that he has to exercise it with the advice of the council of ministers. He must hold regular meetings with the council of ministers to advise him on how to exercise his powers. He didn’t do that for four months. He was ruling alone, making appointments, deciding policies, doing all sorts of things for four months."
Nigeria & Saudi Arabia-led coalition against terrorism
"We are all against terrorism but don’t make it a religious issue. This country is not a Muslim country, it is not a Muslim state. He does not need to drag Nigeria into the coalition. Nigeria is not a Muslim state and that is why CAN in the North is up in arms over that. The opposition by CAN in the North is not enough, CAN all over the country should be up in arms as was the case when Babangida took the country to OIC. I am surprised that the reaction so far has not engulfed the whole country."
Buhari's war against corruption
"We all support the war against corruption, but that war must be fought according to the constitution. It is a choice we have to make whether we want to fight corruption at all costs, irrespective of the constitution; is that what we want? The moment we throw away the constitution, you are inviting anarchy."
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Goodluck Jonathan's administration & no will to fight corruption
"The problem with the past administration is not so much about the constitution, but it is the fact that there was no will to fight corruption. Not only Jonathan, but the Obasanjo administration did not have the will to fight corruption. They did not believe in the genuine fight against corruption and only used the constitution as an excuse for not doing what they were supposed to do, because they themselves were corrupt. Let us tell ourselves the honest truth: they were corrupt."
"Buhari does not have the capacity to govern Nigeria"
"I do not think that it is a question of not being prepared. Don’t forget that the 2015 election was his fourth time of contesting, of making attempt at being president. He tried to be president for 12 years. So, he had more than enough time to prepare himself if he had the capacity. So, it is not that he was not prepared; the fact is that he lacks the capacity to govern as the problems are beyond him. Even if you give him 20 years to prepare, it would still be beyond his capacity.
"Nigeria is a very complex country. I have told you before, that we have 389 ethnic nationalities. The complexities and the issues involved in ruling such a country are huge. Leading such a complex country is an intellectual issue and Buhari does not have the intellectual capacity to comprehend what it means to govern this country."