Former Governor of Kaduna State during the Second Republic, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, is one politician who is down to earth any time he airs his views on the state of the nation. In this interview with ONWUKA NZESHI, he delves into various contemporary political issues. Excerpts…
What is your take on the recent apology rendered by the PDP to Nigerians?
It is a sensible political reaction to the allegations against them. What the PDP has done is sensible. It improves its image in the eyes of the public. It means they can admit mistakes and hopefully, they can correct the mistakes.
But the ruling party has dismissed the apology as a hoax that should not be taken seriously
No. The thing is this, APC should not say a thing like this because whatever mistakes PDP made, the APC is making the same mistakes, with even more serious consequences for the country.
Are you saying that Nigerians should forgive the PDP for its mistakes?
Yes, honestly, we should forgive them. They should give them another chance. But that doesn’t mean that I am supporting the PDP or supporting the APC. No. I am just being fair to them and everybody.
What is your reaction to the Third Force springing up outside the main political parties?
We have been having such political coalitions with various names, particularly after the Second Republic, but let us give them a chance too. Let us not dismiss them with a wave of the hand but let us be careful in dealing with them. They have not promised us what their predecessors did not promise us. For instance, we’ve had groups that proposed mega alliances and mega parties and those who promised to change Nigeria in various ways.
Apart from this Obasanjo group, there is still another group which has not appeared but maybe they are afraid of appearing. They are a group of secessionists from both the North and South. These groups include the Afenifere in the South West; the Middle Belt Forum in North Central and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in the far North.
These are socio-cultural organisations in different regions. Why are you calling them secessionist groups?
Of course, they are all secessionist groups. If you know the history of every one of them including the Ohaneze, you will agree with me that they are secessionist groups. I am telling you what they are in reality. In the case of ACF, they are not so vocal about it but you know they have been secessionists right from the beginning. They don’t openly call for secession from Nigeria but they want Nigeria on their terms and if they can’t get it, they must secede. The same thing with the Afenifere; the same thing with Ohaneze Ndigbo and the other groups. The philosophy of these groups is that their ethnic or regional agenda must come first and Nigeria comes second. If they can’t get Nigeria on their terms, they will rather break away.
This is strange. Do you really believe that these groups are not socio-cultural organisations?
They are more than socio-cultural organisations; they are basically secessionists. They wear the toga of the socio-cultural organisation but basically, they are secessionist groups because, for them, it is not Nigeria first. It is their area first, Nigeria second. That is the truth.
I know you are surprised at what I have said but that’s the truth. The political parties are the only groups working for Nigeria. No matter how much you dislike the PRO, APC and the other political parties, they don’t champion the cause of one particular area, they champion the cause of one united Nigeria. I call them secessionist groups because they want a Nigeria created only on their own terms.
What could be responsible for people placing sectional interests above national interest?
It is a major challenge. Every country has nearly the same problems as we have in Nigeria but other concentrates on their national interest first and whatever sectional interest they have is secondary because they know that they need to have a country first before they pursue their individual interests. For instance, if Nigeria breaks up, do you think there will be anything left in Nigeria?
If the secessionists, particularly the ACF, Ohaneze and Afenifere, the three biggest groups; if each of them gets what they want then what will be left of Nigeria? If the ACF does not get Nigeria on its terms, they could secede. But after that what are they going to do? Is there really anything new they can bring to the table? After all, they have been involved in the governance of Nigeria right from the beginning. I think you know the leaders of these groups, ask them what contributions have they made when they had the opportunity to preside over the affairs of Nigeria. The same thing you should ask the Afenifere. Most of them have been involved in Nigerian politics right from the beginning. What have they done specifically for the West?
I will give you an example. We have now a political party solely for the East and that is APGA. What have they done for the East particularly? It is a regional political party based on ethnic sentiments. The party has even won governorship election in Anambra State and has been ruling the state since the party was formed. Can they point at anything significant that the party has done in furtherance of the interest of the South East more than the other political parties? I mean other parties such as NPN, PDP, APC and so on. Can they name any distinguishing achievement of any of these ethnic and secessionist groups? No. Nothing.
How do we get over this sectionalism and enthrone nationalism in Nigeria?
First of all, let us have a true Nigeria. The root cause of all these is the social, economic and system controlling all developments in the country and the political leadership produced by the system.
Both our economic and social systems are based on self-interest first and public interest is secondary or even non-existent. Let us change the system and the political leadership produced by the system. We need to have a system based on public interest first and enlightened self-interest, second.
In addition, let us by any means possible work towards free, fair and transparent elections capable of establishing a legitimate government in Nigeria.
Thirdly, let us begin the whole process by re-defining the leading role of the government in the economy to ensure peace, justice, equality, the dignity of the human person and progressive even development of the whole country. These are possible things to achieve and if we do these things, then we will be able to eliminate these divisive tendencies.
All countries that are advanced in terms of national unity, peace and progress have done what I suggested that we should do. If we adopt this approach we would have eliminated a lot of problems confronting us as a country.
Even the advanced countries have not solved all their problems but that has not resulted in the collapse of those countries or made it impossible to develop. Take for example Britain, Germany, United States and the rest of them, have some of these sectional tendencies but it has not made it impossible to govern with national unity, democracy and progress.
What is your reading of the political dynamics that will shape 2019?
Unless we work hard; unless those of us who are conscious enough, who have the vision, who are committed and who want to see a united, democratic and progressive Nigeria, make every sacrifice to bring these dreams about, the present negative state of the nation will continue until it leads to… well, we hope a constitutional revolution. If the constitutional revolution becomes impossible, we may have a proletarian revolution. These are the realities of life.
How do we achieve this constitutional revolution?
We should aim at solving our problems to avoid a distraction or disruption of social order. We should face our problems with a constitutional revolutionary approach. Constitutional revolution is possible, by which I mean, let the National Assembly, states houses of assembly and even the legislative arms of the local government councils be really what they ought to be. Let them work for the people and not for themselves. Let them be revolutionary in their work and by so doing they can bring about changes in the constitution which will enable us to solve our problem constitutionally or legally and without disruption of social order.
But if this becomes impossible, then the inevitable will happen which is a proletarian revolution. Check the history of all the advanced countries particularly the western countries we know are better: Britain, France, United States, Germany etc. They are today what they are because they got themselves involved in a constitutional revolution. Remember what happened in these countries before they got to where they are today. The American Civil War, during which they fought over two issues -slave trade and British colonial policy. Britain itself had to deal with a monarchy to enable parliament to function. The same thing happened in France and Germany. These were revolutions but constitutional ones.
If we are to embark on a constitutional revolution in Nigeria, what issues should we be tackling?
The issues are so many. The issue of restructuring will be part of it. Whether there is a revolution or not, restructuring is a normal thing. The only mistake in Nigeria is the misuse of the idea of restructuring which unnecessarily frightens some people. Every person who wants to know whether he is going accordingly or not; everybody who wants to find out whether what he is doing is right or wrong will have to review it. Restructuring means reviewing a system. For instance, we have lasted 100 years since the creation of Nigeria. We have adopted various types of government, adopted so many policies but now we see a lot of problems like corruption and waste of economic resources, political anarchy and the rest of them. Why should we keep suffering in these problems for 100 years without going back to find out what went wrong? How can we change things for the better? That is simply the goal of restructuring. It is only the political manoeuvres who want to manipulate things for selfish purposes that have made the idea of restructuring bad and frightening. But in truth, it means a holistic review of the state of the nation. What is wrong with that? (New Telegraph)