A legal luminary, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) Thursday lashed out at the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as a monumental failure.
The former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, who is the leader of the National Intervention Movement (NIM), likened the government of Buhari like a man sleeping while his roof is on fire.
He accused Buhari of “sleeping on the job”, urging him to take it more “seriously”.
Agbakoba, at a briefing in Lagos on NIM’s objectives, said the movement aims to mobilise Nigerians to hold government accountable at all levels.
“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 members of his 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?
“Should the privatisation process be reversed? Why is our bidding and procurement processes failing? Why is government still appropriating billions of naira for turnaround maintenance of dead refineries?,” Agbakoba queried .
According to him, governors must deploy resources efficiently at the state level.
He cited instances of Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode, who he said “is fixing federal roads when Lagos State roads are deplorable;” and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha who Agbakoba said “is erecting statues of all kinds of people when Imo State owes pensioners.”
He said Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose “is making Christmas clothes for children but has not paid Ekiti workers”; adding that his Rivers State counterpart Nyesom Wike “is using 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?” Agbokoba said.
The Senior Advocate said NIM’s 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,” Agbakoba said.
To him, more is expected of the judiciary. He said: “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.”
According to Agbakoba, it was unfortunate that a country that produces crude oil cannot refine it. He said queues were returning due to fuel scarcity when “dead” refineries ought to have been “sold a long time ago”.
“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? 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. The Federal Cabinet lacks competence and that’s what’s causing our problem.”
The movement, Agbakoba said, was initiated by a group of 90 Nigerians on November 29 as a non-political organisation to “uplift Nigerians”, adding that members are “committed to make a difference in our country”.
Agbakoba said NIM intends to 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,” he said.
According to him, the APC and PDP lack ideologies, which he said was why Nigerians “are in a sorry situation.”
“We live a failed state, and unless we articulate the elements of this failure, we’ll continue to fail. 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. How come we have about 11 governors facing trial sitting as Senators and EFCC says they’re doing a fantastic job? And they transfer it to the judiciary, which I think also has a part of the blame.
“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!
“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.
“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,” Agbakoba said.