Recession: We should be patient with Buhari – Frank Kokori

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By Willy Eya

Former Secretary-General of the Petroleum Energy
and Natural Gas Senior Staff
Association of Nigeria (PENGASAN), Chief Frank
Kokori acknowledges that the nation’s economy is
currently not doing well but he believes that
Nigeria has the potential to survive the turbulent
times.
His advice is that despite the situation, the
people should still be patient with President
Muhammadu Buhari. In this interview, the activist
and social crusader spoke on various national
issues.
Following indications that the nation’s economy is
in recession, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari to
resign. What is your take on such a call?
It is comical. Those who managed the economy for
16 years are still gallivanting, oppressing Nigerians
with stolen wealth. So to me, it is comical. I think
the people calling for the president to resign are
not serious. I think President Buhari should be
given some time because they destroyed the
economy and if they destroyed the economy,
obviously it takes time to revive it. Let me tell you
something; when a country is down like this in
recession – it has happened to China, it happened
to India and at that stage, they locked up their
country for more than 20 years; the Chinese Yuan,
the Indian Yuan for more than 10 years. They just
decided to be in; they were not importing
anything. India grew and China grew. After some
time, they brought their country up. It got to a
stage in the world where the Indians could not feed
themselves; some of you were young by that time;
they even flooded Nigeria – our schools at that
time. We are passing through the same stage in
Nigeria today.
He (President Buhari) is the only man who can
save the country and he is the only person who
can save the country because the country is in dire
need of leadership. What brought us to this stage?
Leadership! And if you, no matter how you are an
antagonist of President Buhari, you cannot take it
away from him. The man who is still there and
tells you to be diligent, don’t be corrupt, myself, I
would not be corrupt. If I am corrupt, disgrace me.
So we just have to follow him. The monies are
being found everywhere; under the mattress, under
the septic tank, everywhere. So, let us give him
time to retrieve these monies. It is painful, yes!
Everybody is suffering. For Nigeria people to really
come out of this, is by what we call painful
surgical operation because there is no way you
can do a surgery without pain. I think Nigerians,
we have been too quiet for a long time and
because of that, leaders took us for granted. I am
not a fanatical supporter of President Buhari but I
just believe that the country was so bad and
battered that we really need a surgical operation.
We need to work hard. There was so much money
but we did nothing with it. So, we should give
President Buhari sometime; there is nothing
anybody can actually do about it. And for anybody
to call for Buhari’s resignation, it should not be
from the PDP, a party that was in power for 16
years. The PDP is already in great factional
trouble. So, such a call coming from the PDP, that
is an insult.
What is your reaction to the impression in some
quarters that those who make up the President’s
cabinet cannot lead Nigeria out of the woods?
You see, these are things that are laughable
because when you say your economic team, who
is really the economic team? We have a minister of
finance, is she not part of the economic team? We
have people like former governor of Lagos State,
Babatunde Fashola who within eight years turned
his state around; we also have people like Ibe
Kachikwu in the administration. So, when you talk
of economic team, the people are there, it is just
that the economy is down, the oil is dancing, a lot
of things are down, it happens. Nigeria is not the
first. The oil you are depending on, $140 per
barrel, they are all caged down today. The
production level at 2.4 mbpd going down to almost
1.2mbpd, what do you expect. So, do you need
any professor to come and tell you that the
economy is bad? It is bad. We have to stick to the
ideas; we have a good team, let them put
themselves together.
As a statesman and from your vantage position,
how do you feel about the obvious division among
ethnic nationalities since President Buhari’s
administration came on board. Are you not worried
over the level of division in Nigeria today?
No! Those things come up at a time in our lives.
Are you really sure that those people who call
themselves Biafra, they are really serious that they
want to get Biafra? No! It is just that people like
Ralph Uwazurike who are my junior comrades, at a
stage, they wanted to gain attention. You can’t tell
the Igbo not to live in Nigeria. Who owns Abuja?
Who owns Lagos? You want to leave Nigeria. You
see these are childish people who just want
attention. The case of Nnamdi Kanu is the same;
he wants attention. If you take a real secret ballot
referendum, people will not vote for Nigeria
splitting because it is not possible. So, a
Northerner, can he go back to the North? We
Niger-Delta, you just want to have the oil in your
creek area; can you survive without every other
part of Nigeria? These are just things that happen.
So, forget it. These things are result of hunger.
People want a lot of attention; if not, nobody really
wants to do that. We agree that Nigeria
governments have not been impartial, they’ve not
be very objective. When people come to power,
they tend to favour their area and this entrench
other people in the sense that when you favour
your area more than the other area, you put
governance before you put people. This is a
question of having good detail and good
leadership. I think that is what we have as a
problem. How can you talk of breaking Nigeria
when America, that Texas and California are almost
the size of Nigeria didn’t allow any country to
leave not to talk of a small Nigeria! Everybody
wants to have its own. If you allow it like that,
people in Igbo land, the Anambra people will want
to get their own, the Enugu people will want to get
their own; we Deltans, the Urhobos will have their
own, the Itsekiris will have their own, the Ijaws will
have their country. Who is Delta here? The
Urhobos, the Itsekiri’s, the Ijaws; you see, they are
happy to live together. They will say they want to
have their own and if you run the nation like that,
then there will be no peace; that is the problem we
have in Nigeria. We just need good management
and good leaders. That is all we need.
Are you comfortable with what is happening in the
oil industry? First, look at the price of fuel in
Nigeria, in your active days, fuel was one thing that
most Nigerians were always kicking against when
the price is increased. How do you feel with the
price of fuel today and the effect on the economy
generally?
No the economy is bad because fuel price in
Nigeria for now, if you imagine that the dollar is
selling at the parallel market for four hundred and
above, then one hundred and forty-five naira is not
much. But these are that the whole pains we are
having because we have so much unemployment.
Because when you don’t have a job, no matter how
many pricing you give to oil, that is not your
business. So it is we, the poor masses that suffer.

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