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2019 Election: The North Plots Against Buhari |The Republican News

Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

By KENNY ASHAKA

Athe debate on whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari should seek re-election in 2019 continues, indications have emerged that some northern political heavyweights are plotting to stop him by all legitimate means.  Although the All Progressives Congress, APC, led by Chief John Odigie Oyegun and the governors elected on the platform of the party appear disposed towards giving him the ticket of the party, feelers by Sunday Sun indicate that the president may not get it on a platter of gold as several groups and individuals from the North, easily the hot bed of the party are intensifying efforts to stop the bid.  Indeed, it was learnt that the move had taken concrete shape with several meetings held where allegations ranging from poor performance, betrayal and nepotism were levelled against him.  The twist in the saga is whether he should be given automatic ticket, the right of first refusal, or be dropped outright for another gladiator.  But the man at the centre of it all has kept silent over his ambition as he faces one of  the toughest moments of his almost 30-months presidency. Will Buhari be given the ticket on a platter of gold should he decide to contest? The months ahead will tell. What is sure, however, is that Buhari is sitting on thin ice. Nevertheless, the odds in the larger political setting appear to favour a second term for the president, but the enemies he has made in his northern base and what they see as his yet unimpressive performance may be his source of harm.

Two and a half years in the presidency is more than mid-term for President Buhari. In America, regarded as the liberal bastion of the presidential system, the various parties should by now be preparing to be hard hit against one another in a mid-term election. Even then, strong emotions are beginning to build up in the political landscape in Nigeria with plots and counter-plots. Within the APC, some top officials are angling for Buhari to be given the ticket in a way that will be done by prior arrangement. Indirectly and by implicit understanding, Odigie-Oyegun, the APC National Chairman, is saying there is no vacancy in Aso Rock. That disposition towards the election of the party’s applicants for the office of the president in the 2019 poll has left not a few APC faithful to believe that the party is not deserving of support.

The justification is simple. After about two and a half years in power, they say the Buhari administration has left the country prostrate. According to those who spoke with Sunday Sun, only two of the promises made have enjoyed a veneer implementation. Thus, many APC members are now saying that two and a half years in office, Buhari has not reached any milestone that would warrant his preparation to be the party’s candidate in 2019. The young elements are drawn against Buhari on account of age which has been made worse by his illness. To this class of young politicians, the North cannot afford a repeat of the Abacha and Yar’Adua experience.

But the plot against Buhari in the North cuts across party lines and is most characterized in a determined way among Northern elements in the APC who helped Buhari to come to power but who have been sidelined by the president.  “A lot of our leaders have deviated from the foundations and essence of the APC and we are not happy with that. They are running exclusive governments, non-inclusive administrations; they are running administrations that alienates rather than create greater popular participation. They have abandoned the key issues that were supposed to inform why APC was voted for, so overwhelmingly by Nigerians,” a prominent member of the Akida group, a platform that exists to keep alive the basic essence of the APC notes. Thus, they say Buhari has left northerners and indeed Nigerians worse than he met them.

Now, many northerners see Buhari as a president who is inclined to stick together with his friends and relations as a group and exclude those he considers outsiders. He is accused of stocking his kitchen cabinet with people from Katsina and the North East only and that at a time of grave economic crisis, the man they relied on to turn the tide in favour of the masses is not providing firm and decisive leadership. Corruption, they say, is bursting with impunity in a government that professes to be fighting corruption. “Simply put, this government is our party’s government, but it is one that is promoting dishonest exploitation of power, extreme immorality and depravity,” another APC chieftain in Kaduna who prefers to be anonymous “for now” says. They compared his tenure with that of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan and say nothing has changed. In fact, they noted that Nigeria is heading for the descent into the kind of hardship Nigerians never witnessed before. “All we have heard from Buhari up till now are prevarications and sickening recurrence of policy somersaults.”

All said, the race for 2019 promises to be interesting as contending forces against Buhari prepare their strategies. For them, it is like the 2019 poll will take place tomorrow even though it is still about a year and a half away. The political space is already booming underground in some parts of the North with Kaduna being the hot bed. Hustles have started over who succeeds Buhari. In many ways, it is like a civilian equivalent of a military coup. For weeks now, endless nocturnal meetings are being held in obscure locations around the North where various arrangements are being put in place and plots hatched. “Those holding the meetings now to stop Buhari are championing the cause by trying to show that at the time the North stood up to be corrected they were the people who were the coordinators. That is what is happening. It is not the usual political meeting to chart the way forward. No. It is to close the door to Buhari,” a reliable source disclosed.

The source hinted that Dr. Junaidu Mohammed and some of those opposed to a Buhari presidency in 2019 have been holding meetings. “It is better for the North not to have Buhari there. We are wasting our time. For Buhari to continue as president, many of the people across the region will die of hunger. The cabal has hijacked him and it is blackmail; that is why they have a hold on him.

“All the Buhari qualities have fallen from 90 percent to 10 percent, let’s be fair, to 20 percent. How can a Buhari value now that has fallen to 20 percent get the presidency with these meetings going on? Junaidu Mohammed is a medical doctor and politician. They were the strong forces that floated CPC. Hameed Ali, the present Customs chief, Sule Yahaya Haman, a former Chief of Security in NIA, Sam Nda-Isaiah, those were the people that lifted Buhari up and stayed by him.  But when Buhari now saw the light of the day he surrounded himself with a cabal and left all the people who did the ground work for him. He dumped all of them completely.

“So now it has come to time for them to understand they have been dumped. So that is why Junaidu Mohammed Mahmoud does not want this issue to continue because for all he cares, he is a masquerade. The people operating him are different from him. And honest enough, Junaidu Mahmoud, Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Yahaya Sule Haman, Buba Galadinma they were the people who worked for Buhari. They fought for him, they brainstormed on issues of Nigeria and they gave the answers to him. They were his computer but now he has no computer, because Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Samaila Isa Funtua are not even calculators. They are all consumers. They cannot give added value to anything Buhari.

“That is why many northerners feel Buhari should not be president.  You remember Mohammed Nuru Abubakar, he is a journalist. He has been in the trenches promoting Buhari. Buhari has not said thank you to anybody who has helped him. All the people who have added grace to Buhari coming out as APC…because when he came into APC he needed a new infrastructure that will back APC because it was now an alliance which he was not ready to go with the ACN. He was ready to carry the icing with the cake and leave them with the crumbs, but he needed people to float his own leverage as a presidential candidate. They had to do the groundwork. All the people who helped him, two people complained to me that he never remunerated them.  He never said thank you to them,” the source explained

The plot is to neutralize the nest that some northerners want to create. “They are working to close the doors against Buhari. The meeting is to make all the poor people and the clerics who have been in the bandwagon of Buhari to realize the issue and back off Buhari. I am assuring you about that, because that is what the two people who told me about what is going on told me; that this is what is going to be achieved, and asked if I could give them my blessing.

“Some of the people involved are apolitical and you can never mention their names in politics, but they are the leaders of the North,” the source told Sunday Sun.

A long list of accusations are being drawn up and of course, several loyalists recruited in secrecy. Since late October, some influential members had been holding meetings. To many party stalwarts, especially those very selective in judgment, the timing of these meetings seems marked by good signs and therefore promises to be successful.

Although APC performed well in most states of the North, many party members are reluctant supporting the party if Buhari clinches the ticket of the party. They feel APC could have “captured” more states than it did in 2015 if not for what they see as the mis-application of power and authority by the president and his men.

The meeting of the aggrieved APC members apart, there is another meeting of select like minds, comprising northerners opposed to the Buhari agenda for a second term on account of the ACN/CPC alliance. This group is pushing for an Osinbajo presidency.  They are deeply aggrieved that Buhari has scuttled the smooth arrangement that brought him to power. The group believes that a second term for Buhari would not have been under attack if he had played according to the rules of governance which dictates that in a multi-ethnic and religious country like Nigeria, not only the people of Katsina State origin and the few members of the cabal are fit enough for appointments and attention. This meeting, attended by about 21 members of the group in the house of a chieftain of the APC in Ungwar Rimi last week, concluded that this is the appropriate time to stop Buhari from seeking re-election. The meeting passed a vote of no confidence on Buhari and a programme of action was drawn up.

Their concern was what they perceived as the marginalization of the people of the South-west, South-east and South-south in the affairs of governance. They noted that if Buhari was given a second chance, he would do worse things to southerners. “We are concerned because forget about the fact that some of us did not get anything working for Buhari’s emergence, but what he is doing to the South, especially the South-west that worked for his emergence can rub off on our party in the next election if he becomes our candidate,” Idrissa Makama, who said he is the Publicity Secretary of the group told Sunday Sun.

The group, according to Idrissa, has agreed to push for a “western” president since they believed it has become obvious that the Yoruba have lost out in the Buhari administration on account of “Buhari’s nepotistic stance in government.” Some northern presidential aspirants, sources said, also felt threatened. One of them met with his prime supporters in Kaduna last week to deliberate on “what to do with the Buhari issue who they regarded as a cog in the wheel of their aspirations. At the meeting, the decision to stop Buhari was unanimous. Reliable sources informed Sunday Sun that almost all the party members who attended the meeting wanted Buhari to be stopped as the APC presidential candidate but that they did not agree on the procedure to be applied.

While the young members of the party at the meeting supported an all-out war against the national chairman, which could turn out to be a bitter long drawn battle, the elders counseled against it on grounds that this may break up the party. They proposed that a “smoother style” of stopping Buhari which would have little adverse effects on the party be adopted.

Bolaji Abdullahi, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, said he is unaware of the plot by the North against Buhari and directed Sunday Sun to the president’s spokesperson or the president’s political adviser “who will be in a position to answer such queries.” However, Abdullahi said “as far as the party is concerned, we are not aware.” “We held a NEC meeting last week and at the meeting the members passed a vote of confidence on the president and of course you should know the caliber of people that attended the NEC meeting which includes the governors of the party. Of course, majority of them are from the North. So we are not aware of any meeting by anybody or groups. In any case, the president has not said that he is going to contest. So whoever is doing anything now is just embarking on a fruitless exercise.”

He reiterated the party’s stand on the presidential ticket of the party, saying “we have said it; there is no automatic ticket for Mr. President. Even if he is going to be unopposed, which is most likely, there will still have to be an affirmation. So there is no provision for automatic ticket in the party’s constitution.”     (The Sun)

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2019: The North, Buhari Should Behave Themselves, Nigeria Does Not Belong To The North, Says ACF Scribe, Mohammed |RN

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The Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum and member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman has expressed anger that some people are clamouring for President Muhammadu Buhari’s return in 2019.

Abdulrahman told Sun that, “We must not lose sight of the fact that it was an alliance that brought him in.

He further said that Nigeria will crash because of North’s supremacy and any attempt by Buhari to hold on to power will be disastrous.

Noting that President Buhari came to power through an alliance with the South, he said the agreement must be respected, adding that Nigeria does not belong to the North alone.

He added, “The North and Buhari must get serious and behave themselves. Nigeria does not belong to the North because if you maintain the position, grandstanding that the North is powerful in Nigeria, you are wasting your time and Nigeria would collapse and crash.

“Why is the North asking for eight years? It is because of incapability to put in a leader. After Buhari, the best is Buhari. I am telling you now; go and write it down.

“The best the North can ever offer is Buhari. He failed three times woefully until the South West came and they had an alliance. Why are they trying to abuse that alliance?

“Four years is enough for the North. Let us respect each other.”

He said 2019 is not for Buhari and CPC but for the south-west and ACN.

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Deliberate Twisting Of President Buhari’s Commendable Interface With World Bank – Femi Adesina |RN

Buhari-and-World-Bank-Chief

President Buhari with World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim

Those who specialize in a deliberate twisting of information have wailed and raged endlessly on the news item credited to the World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, who disclosed in Washington DC, United States of America, that President Muhammadu Buhari had requested a concentration of the Bank’s intervention efforts in the northern part of Nigeria, particularly in the North-east.

The ignorant and mischievous people, who twist everything for their vile purposes, are making it seem that it was a calculated attempt to give the North an unfair advantage over other parts of Nigeria.

The truth of the matter is that President Buhari, right from his first week in office in June 2015, had reached out to the G-7 in Germany that Nigeria needed help to rebuild the North-east, which had been terribly devastated by the insurgency. He said the country would prefer help in terms of the rebuilding of infrastructure, rather than cash donation, which may end up being misappropriated. In concert with Governors of the region, a comprehensive list of needed repairs was sent to the G-7 leaders.

Also, during a trip to Washington in 2015, and many other engagements that followed, President Buhari sought the help of the World Bank in rebuilding the beleaguered North-east, which was then being wrested from the stranglehold of a pernicious insurgency. It was something always done in the open, and which reflected the President’s concern for the region.

Related: Buhari Asked Us To Focus On Northern Nigeria – World Bank |The Republican News

Those ululating over the disclosure by the President of the World Bank should be a bit reflective, and consider the ravages that the North-east has suffered since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency started. Schools, hospitals, homes, entire villages, towns, cities, bridges, and other public utilities have been blown up, laid waste, and lives terminated in excess of 20,000, while widows and orphans littered the landscape. The humanitarian crisis was of monumental proportions.

President Buhari simply did what a caring leader should do. He took the battle to the insurgents, broke their backs, and then sought for help to rebuild so that the people could have their lives back. Should that then elicit the negative commentary that has trailed the disclosure from the World Bank? Not at all, except insidious minds.

President Buhari has a pan-Nigerian mandate, and he will discharge his duties and responsibilities in like manner. Any part of the country that requires special attention would receive it, irrespective of primordial affinities, which narrow-minded people have not been able to live above. This President will always work in the best interest of all parts of the country at all times. Let ethnic warriors sheathe their swords.

FEMI ADESINA
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
October 13, 2017

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Restructuring: You Can’t Treat Unequals Equally, El-Rufai Tells Igbo, Others |RN

 

 

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Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai

ABUJA — Amid agitation by leaders of the South East for the creation of an additional state in the zone, Kaduna State governor and chairman of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Committee on True Federalism, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has declared that it would be a grave injustice to agitate for “equal by unequals”.

 

According to him, even in population and resources, the regions of the country are not uniformly endowed.

He, however, said though the representatives of the agitators were few in number, “the majority must always win.”

Speaking at a town hall meeting organised by his committee to get inputs from youths, the governor said when people talk about restructuring, most proponents think of their zones while no one thinks of the country.

He said: “The greatest injustice is trying to make equals unequal and unequal equal; things are not done like that. What do I mean by that? There are those who have said that Nigeria and United States are the same.

“It is just like saying everyone who is six feet, five can play basketball. As human beings, we are equal but you cannot come and stand here and say we should create nine states in each zone, Nigeria is not equal, likewise the population and resources, you can’t do that.

“The representatives of the agitators are few in number and so the majority must always win. The president of the country exists, the Senate exists and there are 36 states of the federation.

‘’We the old ones are still here, some of us are good, some are bad, like the youths but you must learn to live with us because we are still here.

“Now, some people say because we have oil, let us have resource control. We must think of what is in the overall interest of Nigeria.

‘’By that, I mean what works for everyone. Because what works for one part of the county will not necessarily work for the other and so as long as we are from one country, we must seek for what is of the common good, not the one that serves one interest group.

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Restructuring: North Will Take Rational Position Soon, Says Usman Bugaje |RN

Usman-Bugaje

Dr Usman Bugaje

…To hold conference in Kaduna Wednesday

From: Ismail Omipidan

Former Special Adviser on Politics to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and convener of Arewa Research and Development Project, Dr Usman Bugaje, has said that the North would soon take a stand on restructuring based on research and consensus rather than on emotion and selfish interest.

Bugaje, in a statement issued, on Sunday, further noted that it was time for the North, as a bloc, to rise above the seeming confusion occasioned by the contentious nature the debate over restructuring had assumed in recent times, and present a “more rational position,” on the issue.

According to Bugaje, “In the last one year, or so, ‘Restructuring’ and ‘True Federalism’ have dominated political discourse in Nigeria. Unfortunately, when you listen to the speeches and read the articles on these issues, you will find out that there are as many comprehensions of these terms as there are people speaking or writing. Besides, most of the discussions seem to ignore the history of the evolution of our federalism and this failure has actually helped to rob the whole exercise of its propriety, accuracy and clarity.”

He further said though citizens were at liberty to canvass for restructuring, their use of vague terms and imprecise arguments had not only resulted in communication breakdown but have helped to spread confusion and generate unnecessary tension in the polity.

To this end, Bugaje said the Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), would hold a two-day conference in Kaduna, this Wednesday, to help bring clarity, accuracy and coherence into the debate as well as provide a sound basis upon which the north would anchor its position on restructuring.

He said the planning committee of the conference drew heavily from Northern academic institutions and Northern organizations like the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, Code Group, Northern Delegates Forum, Northern Re-awakening, JamiyyarMatanArewa and Arewa Initiative for Good Governance, among others.

“This conference seeks to blend academic presentations with realpolitik,” he said, adding that “while academics and experts will lead with papers, a panel of practitioners will discuss the issues extensively. The audience will also be given a chance to raise issues and make their inputs into the discussions.

“Some of the key papers will be on the historicity of the Nigerian federation; an examination of the constitutional developments in pre- and post-colonial Nigeria; and the dangers of war, the dynamics of peace. Others will look at the principles of fiscal federalism and revenue allocation; the land question and the development agenda of the North. In the afternoon of both two days a panel of experts will focus on these presentations and bring the practical dimensions to the fore while the audience gets a chance to make their inputs,” Bugaje said.   (The Sun)

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The Igbo Rebuilt Their Region After War But North Still Has Mud Houses – Atiku |RN

 

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Former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku

 

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says despite fighting a civil war the Igbo have been able to rebuild their region, but that the north still has mud houses.
He spoke on the background of the need for Nigeria to be restructured.
Addressing a coalition of youth groups under the aegis of Play Forum in Abuja, Abubakar said those afraid of restructuring were lazy.
He said every region in the country should be allowed to control its resources.
“Left for me, I will ask every part of this country to take charge of its resources while the federal government should handle defence, foreign affairs and immigration among others in the exclusive list,” he said.
“It should not be complicated to start with all the recurrent items in the constitution. The president can dialogue with the governors or the national assembly for states to take charge of the roads, hospitals, schools and such other items in the concurrent List while the federal government will continue with items on the exclusive list.
“I would not have gone to school if I were born today. My parents were so poor they couldn’t afford to send me to school. I was born during the era education was free, food was free for me, I was sponsored from primary school to the university. There was even a job waiting for me before I graduated. Yet, there was no oil boom then. I am certainly not a product of oil boom Nigeria.
“So, I don’t know what those who are against restructuring are afraid of. Those afraid must be lazy. We fought the civil war with the Igbo. Today, the Igbo have been completely rebuilt, but we still find mud houses in the north. Is it the fault of the easterners that the north is like that?
“I think that what is most important is the devolution of powers and resources with the various governments whether states or regions. How do the people hold those in power accountable for the resources handed over to them?” (The Cable)

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No Automatic Ticket For Buhari In 2019, Says Ango Abdullahi |The Republican News

Prof.-Ango-Abdullahi                       Ango Abdullahi, Northern Elders spokesman

•Says North ready to support Atiku, Kwankwaso, others

Professor Ango Abdullahi is the spokesman of Northern Elders Forum, and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.  He expressed support for the position of the Yoruba nation that Nigeria be restructured. Although there is a caveat that each existing region be allowed to decide the modalities for internal restructuring in view of new realities before fusing with others under a federal constitution similar to the First Republic. The NEF boss spoke with ABDULLAHI  HASSAN in Zaria on other national issues including the current rift between former Vice President,  Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC; the speculated cabinet reshuffle; Buhari’s performance and health; who the North will support for President in 2019; and ongoing militarization of the South East.

Sir, few days to Nigeria’s 57 years of nationhood, are we where we ought to be, given our potentials and the level of development of other countries with which we were at par at take -off?

Well, the starting point is to thank Allah for enabling us to observe yet another independence anniversary which we got in 1960. Obviously, the citizens must expect a lot of good things to have happened in terms of development over these years. When we look back, we can see that Nigeria is endowed with a lot of potential areas for development. This is what has been the expectation of Nigerians, particularly my generation because when the country attained independence, I was at the University College, Ibadan. Our fathers or leaders of the country at the time used to talk to us in the university and asked us to work hard, saying that very soon Nigeria would attain independence and that we were the ones to take over from the British. There were high hopes and expectations from within and outside the country that the new nation would make rapid progress in all aspects that touched the lives of her citizens. As you said, we will be 57 years and the question is, have all those aspirations been achieved? The honest answer is no.  If I was a teacher marking Nigeria from 1960, or a teacher marking Nigeria’s script as one of my students  of over these 57 years, I will grade her a failure.  When you look at it from the point of view of the opportunities available, the resources available, the chances available, both internal and external and you sum all these up, including  the human capital, I will say that Nigeria failed to achieved  the goals and aspirations it set for itself and for its people. There are benchmarks with which one can base this conclusion. There are quite a number of countries we virtually achieved independence either together or almost at the same time. Some of the references used in gauging our development indices are  India, in 1948  and Malaysia. Malaysia has really moved faster in their development endeavours. Unfortunately, despite all the endowments, Nigeria has failed to achieve the goals expected of it since independence.

So, who or what do we blame for the failure?

Well, if you go back to 1960, I will say that our founding fathers did extremely well. They did very well indeed. I will score  them high, going  by my marking scheme. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, with all his colleagues in his cabinet did well for the independence government; Chief Obafemi Awolowo for the  South Western Nigeria, along with his friends, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe; Michael Okpara for Eastern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello for Northern Nigeria. All the leaders did well in terms of providing honest and committed leadership to their people. If you  did an honest assessment of each of these leaders on what they achieved even before or after independence, you will appreciate and commend them, especially for managing  their resources well. They had nothing to depend on except revenue generation mostly from tax and agriculture, being the main export product that  earned the country a lot of foreign exchange. In fact, 75 per cent of total revenue came from agriculture. For those of us now who  witnessed and were beneficiaries of that government, the current state of things is regrettable. For example, I went to  elementary school free, Middle School free and university free.. those were things  enjoyed within the limited resources. In Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced Universal Free Education Programme for his people and ultimately placed Western Region at an advantage over the North and East. In 1953, there were only two secondary schools in Northern Nigeria-Barewa College and Government Secondary School, Keffi. By 1966, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello had provided  secondary schools in each of the  provinces in the North,  as well as Teachers Colleges and vocational training centres. He  established Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria  in 1962. One should ask why those leaders were different from those that followed them? Despite the interruption of democracy by the military in 1966 which culminated in civil war , their legacies and values have continued  to yield positive results… Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s regime invited most of the products of the First Republic to  serve as federal commissioners. People like Chief Obafemi Awolowo was appointed Finance Commissioner, Malam Aminu Kano was appointed Health Commissioner. From 1960 until 1974, Nigeria was doing well in the area of development. I happened to have served as Commissioner of Economic Planning  under the military government from 1973 to 1975. As from that period, things began getting worse, particularly, during Gen. Murtala Mohammed. Although Murtala appeared to be a nationalist and Pan-Africanist, regrettably, he messed up the civil service, which has always been the stabilising factor in any country’s development programme. Politicians come and go, but civil servants remain until retirement. Murtala abused civil service rules, he arbitrarily sacked civil servants, permanent secretaries , directors  were sacked on radio without procedures, no query, warning or setting up of committees. The security of tenure that civil service guaranteed, Gen. Murtala destroyed it when he came to power. Now a civil servant has to be a liar, or sycophant to keep his job. This is where Nigeria began to run into serious difficulties in governance. Secondly, we rushed to change from parliamentary system in the Second Republic to presidential with a military fiat . This  is the major  mistake  that was made. Presidential system brought about nothing other than huge overhead costs in government; compared to parliamentary system.

In other words,  the presidential system is more expensive to run anywhere around the world.  It also brought in corruption  and  lack of accountability. In the parliamentary system, ministers were appointed from elected members in the Parliament, which means that you have a constituency to account for, not only to your constituency, but also to the parliament and the prime minister. While under presidential system, you can lobby for positions by licking the  boots of other political leaders, in a nutshell, you can be enlisted to be a minister even if your people don’t know you. In other words, you don’t feel accountable to anybody apart from the person who nominated you, or a godfather. In presidential system, a minister is free to do whatever he likes as long as  the President is comfortable with him. These are some of our major setbacks. So, to answer your question, this is to some extent, the factors responsible for the lack of development of our nation today.

You were an arrowhead of support for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is nearly 15 months for this administration to exit, but people are still complaining about lack of development viz bad roads, ill-equipped hospitals, schools etc. Does that mean that Buhari  has failed Nigerians?

    You see, the problem is the system.  Buhari may be a good person; he could be a gentleman who  wants to work honestly but in a wrong system. It was a system of military fiat when he was a head of state, but the system he finds himself now does not allow him to manoeuvre. He has to cross many  hurdles and checkpoints at the National Assembly and his party before he can execute anything meaningful, and all these squabbles are not based on principle but  personal interests, either at party level or at constituency  or at the level of the judiciary.  All this really will make it  impossible for a good person or committed  person to operate effectively in this country in the manner which will accelerate development.  Perhaps,  you might ask the question if  we can really change? Buhari might not have failed, but the system of government that he is operating in has substantially failed in the same manner as the ones before it.

Many Nigerians expected the President to re-shuffle his cabinet soon after his return from medical vacation as a step towards rectifying mistakes in the administration, but that is yet to happen.  How do you view this?

I really don’t count that as a solution to government’s problems, weighed against the substantial damage he inherited. You see, once a system is not right everything inside it tends to fail. Of course,  people blame President Buhari for not picking a good team to start with. I personally made that observation  two years ago and I came under much fire from the corridors of power but I’m here again criticizing. I have so far been vindicated  in terms of the quality of people he picked as operators of the government, either at ministerial level, or institutional level. Their quality has failed to measure or meet the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians. When people think that cabinet reshuffle is the answer, it may bring out some good, but for me, it is too late in the day. Ministers are part of the instrument of decision-making, the only difference between them and their permanent secretaries is that only ministers are allowed in the Federal Executive Council. Bureaucrats in their ministries prepare the memos they read at FEC. What I am saying is that it is not enough to simply look at the ministers as the problem. I can argue that most of the people who brought the problem on this country, especially during Obasanjo and Jonathan’s administrations are still and very much in this administration. When you are talking of corruption and incompetence, in fact 70 per cent of the people who operated in the Jonathan government are still in this system. So why do people expect Buhari to perform miracle? It is possible, but very difficult in this kind of system or arrangement.  I believe that the system in which Buhari is operating is not working, since it was changed in 1977/79. It does not fit the kind of federation of Nigeria’s structure, because when the British came, actually, they thought Nigeria could run in two parts, the Northern and Southern protectorates. But very soon, they realized that there was substantial difference between the eastern part of the country and the western part, which later made mid-west to be created, leaving the North as it was.

What do you make of the stiff war between Abubakar Atiku on one hand and the President and his party on the other over alleged spite of the former VP?

You see, I don’t regard Atiku as a major actor in the system; he only operated in the system, but largely failed us. He operated as a Vice President to Obasanjo in the latter’s government, which, as far as I am concerned failed.  So they both have failed. I could not see Atiku being isolated as a major factor in subsequent years. He joined APC, but he was not part of the major groups, though he contested in the primary election when we were challenging the Jonathan administration. In 2015, I was one of those who  felt that PDP had failed to honour an agreement that everybody was aware of and which most of the leaders signed. I was one of those who drafted the constitution of PDP and signed for it to become a political party. So I was also a member of the first Board of Trustees of the party. But the party quickly collapsed and failed. People in executive authority replaced the PDP. The PDP paved way for Obasanjo to be reelected. In the case of states, the party paved way for governors to manoeuvre. So what we had was mini dictatorship within a short time.  Obasanjo changed  the party chairmen about three or four times. If you want to maintain your position you have to go and vow before  Obasanjo or a governor. Atiku can go and make whatever complaints,  he knows how he joined the party, he is just a party member like anybody else. The only thing he may argue is that when the party was formed , he played a role, which  he thought should be appreciated, recognized and rewarded. He is only behaving like most ordinary Nigerian politician. He participated and contributed and he now waits for reward.    In other words, he is like an investor expecting dividends and profit, therefore, he wants to get dividend on his investment. I think this is all Atiku’s complaints.

His challenge seems to foreshadow the direction of the politics/contest of the 2019 presidential election. Who will the north support between the two leaders in the event the dice is cast, and why?

I am not a witness to that, I don’t know, what I read in the newspaper is that, Atiku only complained that he was sidelined in the process of operating party and government. That was not enough for me to say that he has reached a point  of  contesting or  quitting the party. I would want to say he, of course, in the primaries of the party together with others and they all lost to Buhari. It’s also wrong to assume that in every contest, you must win. You may contest severally without winning, so winning election is not always automatic. There are some party executive arrangements that sometime make you an enemy if you  contest elections and lose, and this is happening in many states now, those who contested for governor became enemies  of those who won. I think that is what will continue to divide APC, if care is not taken.

Is the Buhari-Atiku altercation in the interest of the  North, and where do we place the aspirations of others like  Kwankwaso , Lamido, Tambuwal, etc?

No, no, you see the fact that Buhari is incumbent does not automatically confer on him  the candidature of the party in the next election if  there is internal democracy in the party. The fact that you are a sitting president does not mean other members of the party cannot contest against you. If I were Buhari, I will  welcome competition in my party. This is an opening for democracy in my party and I will ask  people to come and test their popularity. If he has done well, people will re-elect him. This is a confirmation he has  done well and that both the party and voters trusted him. I criticize all political parties for the system they employ in conducting primary elections. The one I am most familiar as good was the one used by Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, that was a direct primary election, where every member of the party has a chance to come and vote for who will represent him as a councilor, chairman, governor  or president. In direct primaries, all parties have chance to come, cue and vote or elect any person of their choice. But the current  delegate system brings nothing except corruption. Once the parties are corrupt, certainly, government must be corrupt, this is what is happening now all over the country.

Where do you stand on the question of whether or not Buhari should run again, against the backdrop of non-delivery on electoral promises and his health issue? You may wish to answer that question with what you think is in the North’s strategic interest, vis-a-vis, experience over the issue of tenure and dispute with the South on zoning principle.

On the issue of who the North will support among Northerners who are likely to contest, I will say we will support internal democracy, that the person who wins the primary election in the party becomes the candidate. It is premature to say and there is no  basis for me to deny Atiku or Kwankwaso, or whoever is said to be contesting, the right to contest. Whoever emerges from the North, we will support him. You see personally I am not a member of any political party, I am only concerned that there should be an internal democracy in any party for development of our democracy, so that people will know that the candidate emerged  and was chosen by their wishes and support. That is the most important thing. In the case of Buhari, he  had a bad start as far as I am concerned, somebody who is in office is supposed to show his credentials of being in that office and these credentials should sell him not only to his party, but to the generality of Nigerians. The decision will be made by party members and eventually when election  comes, voters will ultimately decide party’s decision. My support or non support for Buhari does not matter, our concern is for the system to be  sanitized.

The Yoruba nation unanimously and unequivocally stated last week  its position on  restructuring, declaring it was mandatory as the basis for the continuation of the Nigerian union. The Yoruba also defined what this restructuring should be, so there won’t be any ambiguity that those opposed to it had often cited. Your take on this?

I believe Nigeria has been in existence for 100 years now, in this 100 years, there are people who believe that Lord Lugard or the British made mistakes in the way they crafted a territory and called pieces of this country called Nigeria in 1914. Up till now there are people of high intellect and in responsible positions who  believe  that Lugard made a mistake by merging the Northern protectorate and Southern protectorate and Lagos Colony. These agitations have manifested in various forms over the years and appear directed against the North.  You see, there was no restructuring agitation during Jonathan or Obasanjo’s administration. It started few years ago. All these agitations started when there was no  true  government. My first reference is to go to 1914,  examine this question of whether Lugard or the British made a mistake by merging the territories that appeared  incompatible, according to the agitators. So, if we want to give credit to the British in 1914, for crafting the constitution for these colonies and you also want to give credit to our founding fathers who really faced the British and argued for independence, you may say that, perhaps, this was the fundamental mistake of  our coexistence. There is also a merit in looking forward that even though diverse, we could eventually be molded into a nation. So they tried together with our founding leaders and agreed on the federal constitution. By 1960, if you remember very well,  prior to independence, the regions asked for self-government on different dates. The Northern Nigeria  said it was not ready  in 1957, while other regions said they were ready, which later brought about some misunderstanding in the country, but eventually the regions resolved their differences in term of dates. The North later had its own in 1959, while other regions had theirs  in 1957. Again within one year, Nigerian leaders sat together and discussed independence of the country. The final constitution we had was a federal constitution with regions as the federation units. Western Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria. Those were the federating units under the 1960 federal constitution. My excitement about the position taken by the Yoruba  is that we should go back to the 1960 constitution, go back to the regions. I agree with this position in all honesty and sincerity, but the only point I may have difference with is that, let it be Western, Eastern and Northern, as it was said, but the Yoruba should remember that each of these regions  in the past had a constitution. If we are going back to that, then we must take  each region  to  have its constitution. It’s also  good to remember that a lot of things had happened even before the British left, there was minority commission set-up by the British prior to 1960. The minority groups from different parts of the regions asked for status. The Western Region later agreed that Mid West should be created. So even now, if we are to go back to the regions, what should be done is for each region to go back and consult its people to decide whether these regions will be like what is used to be,  or  there should be amendments in the 1960 constitution, or  there is need for new arrangement before making recommendations to the rest of the country. The Eastern Region will do the same. The Northern region will do the same. You see , I am not discounting that there will be a lot of requests,  even before 1960 , there were lots of agitations in the North for Middle-belt. In short, I agree entirely that we should go back to regions as the Yoruba have suggested, the point of difference here is that the regions should go back  decide for  themselves and decide how they want to restructure themselves. Nobody should decide for any region how to be restructured. I am happy to hear that even South East governors have decided to remain together, to that extent, this might be attractive on the part of Northern Nigeria. I am among those who support this Yoruba recommendation.

Government has practically militarised the S’ East under the pretext of going in to tackle crimes and insecurity in the region. We have seen a crackdown on Biafra agitators, while Arewa youths known to have breached the constitution are treated as sacred cows. Tell me how can this brazen display of double standard promote a sense of equality and fair treatment and as such oneness among Nigerians from different divides? Again, as long as this continues, don’t you think it will only further fuel discontent and agitation? And do you believe this strong arm tactics and forceful approach by government is the best way to bring about peace?

Well,  I consider  all these Kanu’s  saga as general pretence of Nigerians’  dishonesty.  When the Northern youths reacted to the abuses that their parents and grandparents were being subjected by some interest groups,  insult and provocation , nobody  uttered a word of guidance, counseling or caution among so-called elders in the East,  even as I am speaking now. It is when our children reacted the way they did that they had, had enough of these abuses coming from that area, and also supported that those agitating for their own state should be given chance for self-determination in line with the international protocol for self-determination.  With this, who now says that Nigeria’s unity is settled? It is not settled for  more than hundred years? We can see from this saga that there is a lot of pending issues on  Nigeria’s unity. If this problem is still lingering, then you cannot say Nigeria’s unity is settled,  this word is Utopian. Settling  the issue of unity is a determinant factor for coexistence, as such you cannot say Nigeria is indivisible, while its component parts are not united. So you see, I disagreed with all this Utopian position that Nigeria’s unity is settled. The question of its unity now or in future will be the question to ask from time to time. I keep repeating that the problem of Nigeria is the elites, both political and other levels, Nigerian elites have been the cause of either disunity or lack of developments and if that is the case, then we are not prepared to read and visit our souls and attitude. It means that the  celebration of  independence anniversary, to me, is an anniversary to mark the waste of two generations of Nigerians over the last 57 years. Let’s ask ourselves; if we the elites are the problem of Nigeria, why can’t we  come and sit down and tell ourselves the truth? Enough is enough, let’s save future generations, if we continue the way we are going, nothing positive will happen apart from wasting time.

At Yusuf Maitama Sule book presentation, Chief Edwin Clark  made a similar observation and requested you all to come and resolve  your differences as elites in order to save Nigeria from ongoing crises. Are you ready?

I don’t want to reveal too much on what transpired between me and Chief Edwin Clark,  it is an old issue,  we engaged Edwin Clark and his people when we were fighting Obasanjo’s third term, we engaged him positively together with the current father to the Senate President. The Northern Union headed by its chairman, the late Dr Olusola Saraki, while I was his deputy, fought against Obasanjo’s third term agenda. Edwin Clark pledged that whenever the North takes over the presidency, his area (South South) will produce the Vice President.  And this was how we sealed the deal, which produced Jonathan as Vice President to Umaru Yar’Adua. The arrangement was perfected and successfully executed. I don’t want to go into details of other negative side of the story, but I know we’ll get ourselves together for discussion on the solution to Nigeria’s problem.

So, if I may ask you as part of the Nigerian elite, what is the solution to the crises?

We have been failing Nigerians, the elites before us, like late Sardauna, Chief Awolowo,  Dr. Azikiwe and others risked their lives, worked and died for Nigeria, under an arrangement that was not forced. Like what the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, said, let’s understand our differences, so that we work together for the development of Nigeria. This can still be applied today, that is why I feel excited with the position of Yoruba elders,  that we should go back to our regions as federating units. The elites should stop pretending that tough time is over  and  Nigeria’s unity is settled. We in the Northern Elders Forum have agreed that we  are ready to engage in dialogue with anybody that will solve Nigeria’s problems.  (The Sun)

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