There was drama on Wednesday as the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, clashed with a former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, and an ex-Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, over the poor performance of the economy and decline of the Naira against other currencies.
The incident happened at the second public lecture organised by the Kukah Centre for Faith, Leadership and Public Policy with the theme, “From activism to political power: The challenges of democratic governance in Nigeria.”
The programme was moderated by the founder of the centre and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Hassan Kukah.
Oshiomhole berated the previous Peoples Democratic Party-led government for the development, saying that the crass corruption which characterised that administration was responsible for the country’s current economic crisis.
Oshiomhole said, “We have to change the society where all you need to do is to get your brother elected and get him around the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and he turns to an oil marketer, do some papers and becomes a billionaire in the name of subsidy.
“We have to change that; and that is what this change is all about. There is always a time between decisions and consequences.
What politicians did in the past; that is the consequence we are facing now.
“There is always a timeline between massive looting of the treasury, transfer of defence budget to private pockets, taking money meant for infrastructure and spending $16bn on light. The more money you spend, the more darkness.
“To be an activist does not connote only being a progressive. What I question is that you cannot have a centralised system of compensation for governors, chairmen and councillors.
“If we have a national compensation, how can those governors turn round and question the national minimum wage? It is that discrimination that I find extremely offensive and unacceptable. No one can change the society with individual activism.
“The idea is not to bring down a government but to defeat a particular policy. It was not my interest to bring down President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government but to oppose some of the policies.”
Earlier, Duke, who also doubled as the chairman of the occasion, berated the government of the All Progressives Congress and its change mantra, adding that, the change campaign was nothing but fake propaganda.
He said, “Sadly, politicians in our society today are mostly jobbers and budget padders advocating for themselves and not the society.
They cleverly and surreptitiously apply the word change. I, of course, won’t use that word because, as a member of the PDP or what is left of it, that word change dey do me one kind.”
Duke also questioned the sincerity of Oshiomhole as a labour leader during his days as the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress.
According to him, idealism then contradicted some of the programmes championed by Oshiomhole.
Similarly, Aliyu tackled the APC government, governors and their economic policies, warning that, such economic policies had increased the suffering of Nigerians.
Aliyu confronted Oshiomhole, who he said benefited tremendously from the PDP government but only turned around to ridicule the party.
He said, “During my time we paid salaries. In the North, apart from Kano State, the rest 18 are civil service states. Payment of salary is very crucial in sustaining the economy. This time round, they don’t understand anything about the essence of salary.”
Speaking on the policies of the APC government, Aliyu said, “Please Governor Oshiomhole, talk to Governor Rochas Okorocha, tell him that civil servants were not employed to be farmers.”
He said although the governor can defend the government, the prevailing economic circumstance was biting the masses severely.
Aliyu said, “Go to the market, go to the streets, you will hear cry. I don’t understand this silence when some people are messing up.”
The Director of the Kukah Centre, Dr. Arthur-Martins Aginam, said the forum among others was to elevate the quality of political discourse in the country by generating ideas through robust and informed engagement between public officials and citizens and in the processes deepen the nation’s democracy.