Chris Nwookobia Jnr is the Director General (DG), Change Ambassadors of Nigeria (CAN). He’s a human rights lawyer, a writer and a columnist. He remains the youngest presidential candidate in the history of Nigerian politics having run for the exalted office of President in 2011 at 40.
Nwaokobia could be described simply as a detribalized Nigerian with amazing faith in the potentials that abound in this great enterprise called Nigeria. He holds a professional chair honori’s in Political Science and Public Administration.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the Delta born activist cum politician dissected many issues of national interest, including the ongoing anti-corruption crusade and more.
How would you assess the present administration? Would you say this was the kind of change promised then by the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
The present administration is effectively on course particularly when you juxtapose the present with what obtained before now. A dispassionate assessment of the Buhari/APC regime will show a commitment to fixing Nigeria.
It will show a journey to the isles of responsible and responsive leadership. Will show a proactive effort at reworking our collective values and morality. Will show a determination to perform and redeem our nation from the jangling discord of poverty to the amazing place of promise. The change we voted for is a process and we are effectively walking the talk.
Sooner than later you shall proudly salute this administration because the determination of the change regime is to make Nigeria great again. The fight against corruption as promised is on course. The effort at job creation is at all time high with about 500,000 about to be engaged by the Federal Government, and the effort at diversifying our economy is profound. I can go on and on.
What’s your candid assessment of Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade?
The anti-corruption crusade of government is profound and salutary. We can see the much resources that is being recovered from looters by the day. We can see the rejigging of the EFCC to prosecute the war without let or hinder.
And we can see the boldness of the Magu led EFCC in purging our space of corruption and corruptive proclivities. Only the unfair and the partisan will fault the renewed fight against corruption and query the sincerity of Mr President in ensuring that we kill corruption.
Is the approach not being sentimental?
The fight against corruption is by no means sentimental or selective but passionate and profound. It is about saving our country from the ills of sleaze and profligacy, it is about bringing to book all those who raped our country, and it is obvious that this war is being waged irrespective of partisan biases, and indiscriminate of creed or clan.
Do you support the call from some political quarters that former President Jonathan should be probed inclusive in the ongoing Dasukigate involving diversion of $2.1 billion arms fund?
I think that no Nigerian should be elevated above the law. I think that if we must move this country forward all and everyone that has superintended over any aspect of our national life should where necessary be summoned to answer questions regarding his or her stewardship, I therefore align myself with calls for former President Jonathan to tell us all he knows about the Dasukigate and allied corruption laden issues under his watch.
What do you think the present administration is not getting in the governance of this country?
The present administration is on course. The present administration is steadily reworking Nigeria, all that is needed is the profound support of the people. Governance is not a Micro-wave where you chuck-in and chuck-out, it is a programmatic process, it takes sincerity and determination to achieve the set goal of progress and prosperity and this regime is not lacking in the needed zeal and zest requisite for national growth.
Right now, people are lamenting harsh economy, businesses stagnated, crude oil somersaulting uncontrollably. Can this government survive all these before 2019 when another general elections will hold?
The present socio-political cum economic challenges is known and appreciated by government, and like the IMF President, Mrs. Lagarde admitted on her visit to Nigeria, this regime is committed and determined to solve the problems that assail us. But like one cannot make omelette without breaking an egg, we must endure and support government in this drive to make real the promises of change.
I personally think that it is unfair to expect magic in eight months. What the other party could not achieve in 16years they expect of Buhari in eight months. Such is the nebulous height of our politics. What I know for sure is that in a few months Nigerians shall be grateful to God that we all voted change.
Jobs shall be created and the economy rebuilt because governance has shown an unequalled resolve at diversifying our source of revenue, government is inspiring new home grown economic paradigms, businesses shall sprout and soar yet again. We need patience and support as we make real the promises of democracy.
What’s your take on the crisis bedeviling the 2016 budget?
The details of the budget is being reworked, and I’m principally convinced that the reason the budget raised so much hoopla is because a change regime is in the saddle. The items and projects repeatedly budgeted for in the past which did not raise a noise have become issues of great concern because change is here.
Interestingly, to show sincerity of purpose those responsible for the shame are being sacked. Such is the decorum and integrity that this regime brings to governance.
What’s your comment on all the bogus and frivolous provisions in the budget?
Those who prepared the budget were obviously poised at embarrassing the government. The bogus facts and figures are sordid, shameful and lampoonable, and I’m happy that Mr. President has distanced himself from it and fired those responsible. Such is the tendency of a great leader and statesman, to usher in transparency and accountability in governance is manifestly the passion of our Dear President.
Does the budget actually reflect the change mantra the APC claims?
Sizeably the budget is a budget of change because it provides immensely for social securities and for the good of the Nigerian masses. It provides for the feeding of children in schools, it provides for social security payouts to the unemployed, and for infrastructural development. I’m sure that even the dye in the wool critics of this regime cannot fault the details and intentions of the budget.
Do you support the call for the withdrawal and re-presentation of the budget by some people?
The entire budget may not be withdrawn but the Ministers must ensure that in the defense of the budget as it pertains the various ministries all frivolous details are deleted. Such is the permissible minimum open to the ministers and the National Assembly.
A lot of people believe it’s because you’re looking for recognition by Buhari, that’s why you are his unrepentant and addicted follower. How true is this?
I have for upward of two decades and half fought for the good of society. For me, it has always been country first, I’m an avid Buharist because he evokes profound patriotism and passion to get our country back on track. For this cause was I born, for this cause I contested the Presidential election in 2011 as 40 year old. I remain in Nigeria the youngest person to have had his name on the Presidential elections return sheet. So saying that all I seek is President Buhari’s recognition is pretty unfair.
I seek a better Nigeria and I am ready, willing and able to support and work with Mr President in ensuring that we make real the promises of change. For me, it is and will always be country first. God bless Nigeria.
Being 40 in 2011, that means you’re 45 now. How does it feel clocking 45?
I shall be 45 on March 12, 2016. Clocking 45 reminds me of the impatience of time. It emphasizes the transience of life and the realities of life. However it feels me with amazing gratitude and profound gratefulness to the Almighty God who has brought me this far.
What are your aspirations now?
My aspiration is to do good and nudge my country to greatness. I seek a veritable turf to impact the society positively. I’m a great believer in the human fraternity and I desire to help in breaking every biases that stand in the way of better brotherhood and understanding.
What greatest lesson or lessons life has taught you?
Life has taught me to love God and to believe in the beauty of the human pilgrimage. Life has taught me to everyday surmount a fear; for every great effort is first threatened by fear. Life has taught me the nobility of love over hate. And life has taught me that all things are truly possible.
Tell us your philosophy of life and how it has been working for you?
My simple philosophy and approach to life is to always stay positive. I see the cup always as half full not as half empty. I hold unassailable faith in the God with whom all things are possible. And I hold to the supremacy of love over religion.