Oseloka Obaze is the former Secretary to the Government of Anambra State and the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State in 2017.
He is also a diplomat, writer, public policy and governance expert. He is the Managing Director/CEO of Selonnes Consult, a policy, governance and management consulting firm.
At the moment, Nigeria is in dire straits. What are your views on the significance of protests against special anti-robbery squad (SARS) tagged #EndSARS, any necessity for police reforms?
Protests against SARS’ overreach was perhaps long overdue. As a nation we let the complaints against police brutality nationwide, linger for far too long unaddressed. The police is a national institution and should be supported; but rogue elements within security outfits, not just the police, must be flushed out as they tarnish the collective image of such institutions.
Police brutality, torture and extra-judicial killings, where there have occured must be investigated and the culprits brought to book. We have arrived at the moment of truth; there is no more dodging the issue. Along with the panels set up by FGN, we must embark on meaningful police reform and seriously consider State police.
How would you address the Nigerian military’s alleged roIe in Lekki Toll Gate shooting of non-violent protesters holding national flag?
The Nigerian military has statutory responsibility and means of dealing with such matters, which starts with a Board of Inquiry. Nonetheless, the matter has been mishandled. Neither the Federal Government nor the military has openly admitted that the shooting occurred, despite abundance of social media evidence supporting such allegations. This has led to suspicions of a cover up. If in the end the shootings are proven to have occurred, those involved and even those involved in the cover up must be held to account.
Yoruba/Igbo face-off in Lagos is troubling. What’s your take on the ethnicisation of the #EndSARS protests?
It’s sad that some try to romanticise their deep-seated proclivities for ethnic distrust by giving every crisis an ethnic colouration. The #EndSARS protesters comprise of an eclectic youthful crowd, which definitely crossed every ethnic consideration.
But those with long-standing hidden agenda have sort to undermine the protestations by injecting hoodlums into the process. Their hint that the unfortunate destructive and looting fallout have ethnic undertones, is also not true.
Looting happened across the nation, not in Lagos alone. So such attitude is troubling, but such claims by nattering nabbob of negativism ought not to be countenanced, talk less of being dignified. I’m glad that there has been a pushback from credible quarters.
What would you say concerning the COVID-19 palliatives warehouses looting and their implications on future of the country?
As I’ve remarked before now, there is a raging debate about the so-called looting of Federal Government of Nigeria COVID-19 palliatives in about ten states. As a nation, we should be dubious as to the intent of those who hoarded palliatives while millions of Nigerians starved. The morality or immorality of such policy or official conduct is not too hard to decipher.
If Borno State could share its palliative transparently in one day, so could have the other states. I’m not a supporter of rascality or surrogate for advocates of looting; but it needs to be said that Nigerian officials who callously made the orderly and peaceful sharing of COVID-19 palliatives impossible, made the ongoing disorderly and riotous grabbing of the palliatives inevitable.
Good governance goes hand in hand with morality. Going forward, government officials have to be proactive and transparent.