Sir Sydney Chukwukelu, an Anambra-born policy analyst and forensic expert, in this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, spoke on the recently held 2023 general elections as well as the implications of the new cashless policy on Nigerians. Excerpt:
How do you see the state of the nation in this first quarter of the year?
The nation is in a comatose situation politically, economically and otherwise. We are still a puppet nation several years after independence. We are still learning the fundamentals. We have not grown beyond a certain threshold. We are doing the same thing the same way. Every four years since the return of democracy, we have been doing the same thing. We are not growing as a nation. It is a major challenge. Economically, the value of the naira is going down while the cost of living has been going up. The economic indices are not smiling or working….. Continue Reading
The politicians are not bothered. The economists in government do not seem to know what they are doing. If the economists are doing well, why is the economy not improving? Why are their actions not reflecting on the economy?
2. MegaMillions – MPU
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has just concluded the 2023 general elections. How do you see the outcome of the elections?
The major fallacy about the current INEC and these 2023 elections is to say that there was an election. The fundamental problem is that a Professor took four years to prepare for an examination and failed. A Vice Chancellor and other Professors who supervised the examinations also failed. What is the state of academia? What is the state of the Ivory Tower? Most of the aspects of the general elections were handled by the academia, professors and senior lecturers. If they failed so woefully, what is the state of the Ivory Tower? How can they say the elections were free and fair? How will you say they have done a very good job? The INEC Chairman should hide his head in shame.
What aspects of the elections would you say the INEC Chairman and his team did not handle well?
The operations and uploading of the BVAS was a problem. Contrary to expectations, the Electoral Officers failed to upload the results of the presidential election at real time and from the polling units. Where it was uploaded, what they uploaded was not what happened at the polling units. The INEC chairman misled Nigerians that the BVAS was the ultimate. But, there was a clandestine plan to make the BVAS not to work in the presidential election, whereas the same BVAS worked in the National Assembly elections. By their action, INEC turned Nigerians to militants. They told the people to wait and monitor the elections, whereas thugs came with their guns and machetes killing and maiming the people while the police could not protect the people. The art trying to make Nigeria unmanageable.
Do you think the process that led to the declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the winner was free, fair and devoid of manipulations?
The presidential election was not free and fair. There was a lot of manipulation and intimidation. It was a type of ‘Agberocracy’ and ‘Intimidocracy’ type of election. It is far from being an ideal model we are looking for as a nation. To me, the declaration should not have been made by the INEC chairman. He told us that the BVAS would be used to upload the elections in real time. But, for two weeks, they were still uploading the results. On what ground or basis did he make the announcement and declaration if he was not acting out a script? It is baffling that this election was managed by professors of the nation’s citadel of learning. What message are they passing to us as a nation?
Going by the judicial decisions on the past presidential elections, do you think that Peter Obi will get victory at the tribunal and the Supreme Court?
I believe that if the right thing is done, it will show who really won the election, whether Bola Tinubu, or Peter Obi, or Atiku Abubakar or any other person. I believe that Peter Obi commanded a very positive and clear lead in the election. Opinion polls rated him higher that all the other candidates. He commanded mass followership which put him on a clear lead. All these could have translated to victory for Peter obi if the election was free and fair and if proper things were done. Based on what was uploaded on the INEC portal, Peter Obi had a clear lead. But, INEC cleared the portal. Now, they are to cook up figures. They are trying to fall back on the results they declared with a lot of alterations and cancellations.
Based on antecedents, no President-elect has ever lost at both the tribunal and the Supreme Court. Why do you think that Peter Obi’s case will be different?
The Judiciary has not really fared well in their decisions on presidential and some other elections. There was a case where the Court declaration was like a joke, where for instance, someone who came fourth in a governorship election later became the winner. The whole world is watching to see what will happen. It may not give room for this maneouvering. We are watching. Peter Obi performed so well in this election. So, I believe that justice will be done. Things cannot remain the same. The old order has been called to question. Things cannot remain the same.
Would you say that Peter Obi would make a better president than both Bola Tinubu and Abubakar Atiku?
Peter Obi is the superlative best in the 2923 election. Peter came into the presidential race with excellent intentions fully prepared and ready to play by the rules. He has the energy, the drive, the vision and the understanding. He has the right and requisite experience that will deliver the promise of a modern Nigeria. He understands the vision of a modern Nigeria. He is an embodiment of modern Nigeria. The wisdom and knowledge is encapsulated in him. His slogan to change Nigeria from consumption to a production economy is an unbeatable vision. By denying Peter Obi his hard earned presidential victory Nigeria will lose a lot. It will send a wrong signal to the youths who craved for him and voted for him.
With several allegations against INEC and its Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu over the 2023 general elections, do you think he should continue as the INEC Chairman?
It is unfortunate that people mess up the nation and they are not prosecuted. I think the president should investigate this election properly. Everyone culpable should be prosecuted. It is baffling that a lot of resources have been wasted. If a Nigerian Professor will use four years to prepare for an examination and fail woefully, what is the fate of the students? I suggest that a Special Judicial Panel of Enquiry should be set up to look into the activities of INEC and why they failed to deliver a free and fair election. Whoever is found culpable should be prosecuted.
Do you think that President Muhammadu Buhari can do this since the declared winner of the election is from his party?
President Buhari should bequeath to the nation a true democratic culture, and not one based on manipulation. He should write his name in gold by doing so. He should show the whole world that he is not part of the manipulations. The whole world is looking at Nigeria. The world is baffled over what happened in these 2023 general elections.
Nigerians have been undergoing harrowing experiences due to the implementation of the cashless policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). As an expert in financial matters, would you say that the policy needs a review?
There is no better time for the cashless policy than now. But, there should be more education of the people and compel people to use their ATM Cards, POS and make available all the gadgets seamless. Cashless policy has a lot of advantages. It helps in the economic system. The banks should be able to make it work. But, they do not have an excellent network system. The banks should be compelled to make their networks excellent. That is why a lot of cash transactions keep hanging for a long time and alerts do not come and the system does not work properly. If we have a very good system as obtained overseas, there is nowhere we cannot buy things with cards. POS works in rural areas. So, the cashless policy can work in rural areas. There should be micro-finance banks and rural banking. There should be more awareness on the cashless policy in rural areas.
What should be done to make the December 31st date declared by the Supreme Court of Nigeria for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the total withdrawal of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes realistic?
I believe that by now, the CBN should be releasing the new notes to the commercial banks. The commercial banks should in turn be releasing the new notes to the people. The commercial banks should have no business issuing old notes to people now. The CBN should print more new notes now so that the old notes will gradually phase out by October. The CBN should not wait till December to withdraw the old notes to prevent people from rushing at the banks again. The banks should have robust software to manage the huge transactions that come with the cashless policy. There should be proper education of the people on the cashless policy.
What are your last words as we round off this encounter?
There are some institutional reforms that Nigeria should systematically and carefully embark on. One of them is who heads the INEC and some of the fundamental institutions to reform the state. It should be by Nigerians and not the government of the party in power. Now, the whole structure by the government has been watered down. That is why there is bribery and corruption with impunity and the crave for politicians to grab power. Politicians see it as a means of livelihood. It creates militancy, Boko Haram, and even IPOB. The Army and Police should be more professional in discharging their duties. What is happening now is affecting the whole fabric of the society….. continue Reading