Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Mr Balarabe Musa, speaks on the state of the nation.
It is May 29, another Democracy Day? What is your take on the state of the nation?
May 29 has nothing to do with democracy, it is just a day in Nigeria’s history when the military handed over power to a civilian government. So that does not amount to the day being called Democracy Day. Democracy means more than that. Democracy means the absolute will and supremacy of the will of the people. This administration is not fit to be called democratic, it’s mere political manipulation to cover the reality. The reality is that there is civilian dictatorship in Nigeria! But it is being presented as the will of the people.
Are you saying that what we have is far from the will of the people?
It is absolutely far from the will of the people! With the level of disunity in the country and dictatorship, do you call that democracy? How do you call what we have democracy when there is this high level of poverty and anger in the land? How can you tag this as democracy when there is the leading role of the private sector in the economy? The disabling level of corruption cannot be such a thing that would happen in a democratic setting! Let us stop deceiving ourselves that we have democracy by calling May 29 Democracy Day.
With the fight against corruption by this administration being hailed, do you see this as an achievement?
Government is divided into the legislative arm, the executive arm and the judiciary arm. The two heads of one of the three arms of government, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, have made it quite clear that the anti-corruption campaign is not realistic and has been affected by a number of negative factors such as political marginalization, revenge and selective punishment. These factors have taken over the anti-corruption campaign!
Some groups have been calling for the restructuring of Nigeria. What is your stand?
Some people are actually agitating for legislative restructuring in Nigeria is very necessary. Since the amalgamation of the Southern and the Northern protectorates in 1914 by our colonial masters, we ought to have realized that there are many things we ought to look into, like reviewing some of our policies, and in the process dropping the insignificant once that are not moving us forward as a nation and deepening the ones that would better the lives of citizenry. For instance, the dividing of the nation into 36 units has not favored us as a nation. We ought to go back to when we were running four regions.
Every country worldwide has a system that works for it. But in Nigeria self interest comes first while public interest is secondary. We should take that out if our system so that public interest comes first and self comes last. From the colonial rule up till the military took over in 1956, the system controlling development in Nigeria was based on public interest.
That was the reason we did not have at that time this disabling level of corruption back then. Nobody could steal public fund unlike what you have today. People are agitated about the issue of poor power supply but this can be taken care of when we put public interest first and we are selfless.
But it is believed in many quarters that the 2014 National Conference report, if implemented by the Buhari administration, is what we require to take us out of our structural challenges. You don’t share that view?
Former President Jonathan’s National Conference is nonsense! It doesn’t represent the will of Nigerians. Jonathan brought about that conference in order to facilitate his second term bid! So why should Nigerians be boxed into accepting the report? One of the challenges we have as a people in Nigeria is the gap in education between the North and the South. It is 40 years gap. It means the North is 40 years behind the South in educational development. With such gap, how do you expect unity and who do you think would be at the forefront forever? As long as the gap is not bridged, the North would feel threatened. That is the problem. And it has been like this since the inception of Nigeria. For instance, in 1951, there was only one secondary school in the North, while there were about 100 in the South and nothing was done to bridge the gap. For as long as this continues, we may not have peace and progress in this country.
Do you think the South-East has had a fair share in the affairs of Nigeria since after the civil war?
Sincerely, the South-East has not had their fair share since after the civil war. Their marginalization is quite obvious. If the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of Gen.Gowon and the late Gen.Murtala Muhammed had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for the Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalization that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra. If the reconstruction and reconciliation policy had been continued, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of the Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent.
The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their civil war experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. The majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because their people are enterprising in nature. And as you are aware, people that are enterprising would prefer a big community to a small community. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time – bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.
Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There was a time in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising all because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And it is possible the system continues to marginalise some people until there is a brutal revolution.
What would be your advice to this administration in that regard?
There is no point advising them. What you can do is to compete for power and change the situation. Because how do you advise somebody whose position is always negative. Chairman of APC, Chief Odigie – Oyegun said recently that the situation in Nigeria will not change for the next eight years. Oyegun is the Chairman of the party controlling the government. So should we allow them to continue when they cannot bring about any obvious and qualitative change. What Oyegun said is an evidence of the complete failure of APC government. Mathematically it’s means if we rely on APC we will never get out of our predicament forever.
How do Nigerians go about the actual change they envisage as a people?
The first step is to reconcile Nigerians. Secondly, the system controlling the country is based on self-interest first and public interest secondary. This system should be changed in favor of public interest first. And we can begin this by taking leadership role in the states to ensure peace, equality and justice and we take it up to the development of the whole country.