I have a story to tell the North. I hope it receives it in good faith. I love the North. So I have decided to tell the North how his brother the South truly feels. The South loves the north but the South is getting fed up.
The truth may taste bitter but it sets free. I will throw away political correctness and let the North know how the South feels because the North has to sit up and shape up.
The South is getting fed up.
Today, it’s Boko Haram. Tomorrow it’s banditry. Yesterday, it was confounding mass illiteracy. And no mention has been made yet about the abiding mass obesity of the North.
Family resources are being wasted fighting useless fires!
The truth is, the South increasingly sees the North like a slothful temperamental brother that has stubbornly refused to go to school and has begun to keep the company of bad gangs.
So the North isn’t just a laid back family black sheep, it’s now the sort of black sheep that is bringing in wolves and troubles to impoverish and imperil the family.
And nothing rankles the South more than the fact that the North seems utterly oblivious of its predicaments and their toll on fortunes and future of the family. If the North understood the magnitude of its problems, its leaders will weep every day.
The South wants his brother the North to take out time and do some sober reflection in a pan Arewa village meeting. Their emirs, their generals, their billionaires, their Islamic clerics. So that the North can ask himself soul-searching questions about how he came to such a sorry pass.
Because nothing irritates the South more than the fact that the South sees the North, every day, chasing political shadows instead of chasing its children to school, instead of taking care of its ever-increasing number of young pregnant women.
The South is amused when he watches the North occupy himself, chasing population numbers, disfiguring meritocracy with the quota system and resisting power devolution instead of taking practical steps to save his children from poverty and illiteracy.
Yes, this is how the South feels. I know the North has things to tell the South too. It’s normal. But this is how the South feels.
The South is not an angel and the South is not without its own conspicuous sins. But the South can’t understand why a brother beset with so many crippling self-inflicted wounds could yet be so aloof, so arrogant, so enamoured of frivolity.
This is the North in the eyes of the South today: The picture of a backward brother in a poor family. The picture of a fat family liability.
I promised to tell the whole truth.
There is a feeling of disgust that seizes a brother when his own brother’s prodigal shortcomings and recklessness threatens to plunge the entire family into turmoil and shame. It solidifies into repugnance when rather than face his problems, perhaps, that brother takes more interest in claiming ‘firstsonship’ and talking about how his brother has lost respect for him. And rebuking sympathizers harshly, with reminders about groundnut pyramids and how he was once the prosperous one.
The truth is, the South has logged in its own eyes. The South might even suffer from bigotry. But it is indisputable that his brother’s slothfulness poses a more immediate calamity to the family.
The South wants the North to sit up and zip up. Yes, zip-up and stop breeding the way our great grandfathers ignorantly did when there was little else to do than marry and have children. The extended family lacks the resources to feed one hundred million children. And neighbours mock when our scrawny children go plate in hand begging for food.
The South wants the North to note how Fareed Zakaria painted Nigeria in glorious lights a couple of days ago. Nigeria has more percentage of PhD holders in America than China and the UK. Nigeria has a higher percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders in America than every other country. The CNN presenter told the world that Nigeria was rich in quality human resources.
That data is Nigeria’s but it is plainly the South’s. Because last year Zamfara with all its puritanism couldn’t get more than 20 students to write the National Common entrance Exams. It is indeed, an abomination. But have you seen any northern leader weep over this? Or call for a Jihad to fight educational backwardness and social injustice in the north?
So the South wants the North to produce only the children the North can feed and send them to good schools. The South doesn’t and can’t feel safe when his brother’s children rather than become doctors and lawyers are ending up in droves as angry street urchins.
The South doesn’t know how to say it, but he is fed up with the North dragging the family numbers down.
The South wants the North to see Boko Haram and banditry as wolves that can devour the entire family. The South wants the North to hold a village meeting and find a spiritual solution to the wolves. The South knows that his brother has a temper. But he is yet to see that temper unleashed on Boko Haram and banditry. He would like to see one Yerima or one Shinkafi stand up and issue a fatwa against Shekau and the insurgents. And follow it up by mobilizing 2 million volunteers into Borno. Because in actual sense the insurgents have blasphemed God and done incalculable damage to Islam.
The South knows the North loves Sharia. It doesn’t mind. But it wants the north to open the windows of its mind and excommunicate religious intolerance.
I’ve come to tell the North how the South feels. I didn’t come to mince words. The North must discard his pride and face his perilous reality. His farmlands are lying waste because of banditry while his children roam the streets with chronic malnutrition and preventable diseases.
Northern leaders can’t be frolicking in Abuja and Kaduna plotting 2023!
The South knows that it also has some rogues as leaders but it wants the North to stop scratching and smiling, and start treating, in earnest, the craw-craw of having about the worst set of leaders in a badly governed Africa.
An Elderstateman and Afenifere Leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has explained that his grouse about the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is his insistence on the secession of the South-East region in the country.
Adebanjo said that breaking away is never a challenge confronting the country but the constitution.
The Afenifere leader said this during the Never Again Conference 2021 themed: 51 Years After The Nigerian-Biafran Civil War organised by the Nzuko Umunna of the Igbo Think Thank, held via the zoom on Thursday afternoon.
He noted that the constitution currently in use is not a representative of everyone in the country, adding that it gives so much power to the North and this speaks to why they want to be in power for a very long time.
“I am in war with Nnamdi Kanu because I don’t want this country to break.
“Instead of thinking of break-up, we should tackle the root cause of the problem.
“The root cause of the problem is our constitution which is not a true reflection of the yearnings of all the people in the country.
“Now that the North is in control, they want to continue to be there because they are enjoying from the lopsided and fraudulent constitution.
“The Constitution has made our President the most powerful president in the world,” He said.
Meanwhile, the Elderstateman said that there would not have been agitation for secession if the constitution had reflected an aggregated opinion of all and sundry in the country.
“If there is a constitution that is a true reflection of everyone in the country, there will be no agitation.
“There will be no ground for Nnamdi Kanu to want to get away,” he said.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has advised Fulani herdsmen to return to the northern region if their security could no more be guaranteed in their host communities.
The group also told northern governors to get themselves prepared to receive the Fulanis being ejected from southern states.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, said the relocation advice became necessary following alleged attack on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The statement reads in part: “NEF is deeply worried by reports of ejections, under threats and attacks, of Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The forum has been receiving these reports since the night of Sunday, January 31, and has taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers, which these attacks represent for all Nigerians.
“We have also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and have appealed to other Fulani to resist temptation to take the law into their own hands.
“It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the South, to desist.
Majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence.
“The Fulani will not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations.
States that seek to limit criminal activities are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process, and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger at all cost.
The forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.”
The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson has a choice either to make history or follow the dehumanizing history of his forebears for lumping Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria Protectorate together, against the people’s volition in a forceful Amalgamation in 1914 by Lord Frederick Lugard.
Devoid of cathartic memories, the solemn event marked the divorce of the union from the very beginning.
Boris Johnson would be doing so either by reversing the travesty of history – should I say the tragedy of history – choreographed by his progeny who colonised and forcibly coerced the people into a nation without identities or solidarized with the people in their current quest to extricate themselves from the shackles and manacles of Northern domination.
By siding with the #EndNigeria protests tweaking globally, it’s important that the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, the Queen of England and the entire country leadership add their voices to that of a traumatized Nigerian generation of youths calling for an end to the marriage of convenient contracted by the British Colonial Masters.
Boris Johnson would be healing the wounds consciously and peniciously inflicted on the dehumanized people occupying a troubled space in order to avert the coming anarchy.
The Prime Minister mustn’t be ignorant of the fact that the country he’s presiding over now once played an ignoble role by viciously hobbling together diverse cultures; traditional ethos, religions and their ancillary totems, tongues without similitude in lifestyle and social heritage or orientation.
Aside, Mr. Boris Johnson owes it an obligation to stand up and be counted, not only as the Prime Minister of Great Britain alone but so much as a global leader who must not avert his gaze away from a formerly colonised nation by his country.
It’s evidence that General Muhammadu Buhari has literally empowered the Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani marauding herdsmen beasts and the bloodthirsty bandits in his own part of the country to overrun southern part of Nigeria who are predominantly Christians.
Androitly, General Muhammadu Buhari and his hallelujah boys have been seeking escape routes in clumping roads. They have been throwing spit into the air and collecting it with their faces. They have been down playing the slaughtering of innocent citizenry in their thousands on the basis of religious beliefs, ethnocentric differences and unremitting brutality against those calling for the dissolution of the Nigerian State.
But the Nigerian President and his minders have refused to ask themselves a subtler question: Is unbending confrontation, castigation of patriotic citizens or brutalizing the nation’s youths more effective in achieving the desired changes the people are clamouring for? Each time I point out the figures of Boko Haram insurgents’, Fulani herdsmen terrorists’ and the dreaded bandits’ victims operating in the Northern parts of the country’s, their first instinct is usually to question the anecdotal evidence and reject the credibility of the data.
The global community is aware that General Buhari’s Presidency, as a matter of official policy, has legitimized falsehood. As I write, one twelfth of Katsina State citizens, General Buhari’s home state are in IDPs camps, dislodged by Boko Haram terrorists.
Yet, Buhari is releasing the arrested Boko Haram terrorists back to the society in the name of ‘repentance’! He even released fund for their foreign education, a strategy that encouraged Northern youths to be enlisted into Boko Haram terrorist groups.
The Prime Minister should spare a thought about the Great Britain being forcefully yoked together in an unwholesome amalgamation between Great Britain, Germany, France and England of different nationalities being one country.
I know it would be in utter horror for the Prime Minister to subscribe to such banal rape of social existence and violation of the code of human cohabitation.
The Great Britain did just that by lumping together Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Edos, Efik and the over five hundred other ethnic nationalities in one country.
The British Government ignominiously ensured in the late 1960s that the attempt of the Igbos to break away and forge their own destiny was thwarted.
If homogeneity and self preservation isn’t important the British would not have voted in the Brexit standoff for its independence and economic separation from the rest of the European countries.
The Nigerian youths have come to the realization that Nigeria need to hold her own Vienna Conference to settle the matter of real nationalities and national boundaries. Nigerians are now awake to reset and reshape a dysfunctional political structure inherited from the British colonial masters and do away with the insane and midnight birth of Nigerian amalgamation in 1914.
Mr. Boris Johnson has been put on notice by this reminder that the amalgamation document Lord Frederick Lugard signed on January 1, 1914, as the governor of both the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria consolidating the two countries as one, followed by declaration of Nigeria as an independent state, forty-six years later in 1960, has expired since 2014.
The #EndSARS and #EndNigeria protests are spontaneous revolutionary movements presently convulsing General Buhari’s Presidency to its foundation. The British Government has a choice to either rewrite and reinvent her own chequered history of romanticizing with banality and the deliberate asphyxiation of the Nigerian people or remains stoically impervious to her perfidious preoccupations of letting humanity down.
President Muhammadu Buhari, has enjoined all Fulani herdsmen to ignore the recent call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, asking them to leave the Southern part of Nigeria.
According to a statement by the President’s Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday night, Buhari said that all citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live within any part of the country they please, whether or not they are originally from there.
“In line with our country’s Constitution, the government of Nigeria and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will protect citizens of Nigeria wherever they find themselves.
“No one has the right to ask anyone or group to depart from any part of the country, whether North, South, East, or West”, Shehu quoted the President as saying. The Presidential Aide questioned the intentions of the NEF and the other so-called Leaders, in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
Shehu said: “They have no one’s authority to make such pronouncements.
“The polarising role of the Northern Elders Forum and all those other groups dabbling into issues of security to score cheap political points, has for long been a sore point in Nigeria’s body polity.
“They should not be allowed to mislead anyone, least of all the Fulani herders.
“The Buhari administration is fully devoted to finding a lasting solution to the herder-farmer clashes in different parts of Nigeria; one that would be acceptable to all the parties involved.’’
Shehu quoted the President as calling on all Nigerians to help keep the peace in the country. (Post Nigeria)
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Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said that, Nigeria consists of two countries: a developing South, and a backward, less educated and unhealthy North, with the highest number of poor people in the world. El-Rufai equally lamented that the northern region has development indicators similar to that of Afganistan, a country at war.
Speaking in Kaduna on Saturday at the Northern Youth Summit organised by Northern Hibiscus, an NGO, El-Rufai however said that the problems of the region must be addressed collectively as a group of 19 northern states governors, not as individual states. El-Rufai said the summit whose theme was “Awakening the Arewa Spirit,” was very timely, adding that “when we talk about awakening the spirit, it means the spirit is either sleeping or dead. Therefore, this summit is very important, just like our keynote address speaker has said.
“But, looking at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle-income country. But, if we segregate those statistics across states and zones, you will see that in terms of human development indicators, Nigeria consists of two countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria.
“We have to speak the truth to ourselves and ask why is it that northern Nigeria has development indicators similar to Afganistan, a country still at war? “We have the largest number of poor people in the world, most of them in northern Nigeria. Nigeria also has the largest number of out-of-school children, virtually all of them in Northern Nigeria.
“Northern Nigeria has become the centre of drug abuse, gender violence, banditry, kidnapping and terrorism. We have also been associated with high divorce rate and breakdown of families. These are the challenges that confront us. This is the Unclad truth that we have to tell ourselves.
“We must, therefore, as leaders at all levels have a conversation about the way forward for our part of the country. Because increasingly, as many of you must have seen on social media, we are being considered as the parasite of the federal economy, even though, that is not entirely true. Because northern Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest businessman in Nigeria is still Aliko Dangote, not someone from southern Nigeria, thank God for that.
“So, we still have a lot to be proud of. We should be proud of our culture and tradition, as well as unity. You hardly can find someone from northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or being aYahoo boy. That is something we should be proud of.
“We are generally considered to be more honest and less corrupt than other Nigerians. That is something we should be proud of. In addition, our demographic superiority gives us a very powerful tool to negotiate in politics. And that is something we should be proud of, and we should preserve. So, we have every reason to unite and not be divided.
“I, therefore, call on you the youth; you account for 80 per cent of the northern population and the future of this region lies in your hands, not in the hands of Dinosaurs like me. I’m 59 and among the oldest five per cent of the northern population. I shouldn’t even be governor; I should have been governor ten years ago. But ‘na condition make crayfish bend,’ so we are here. “But, why are we here? In my view, we are here to prepare the next generation of leaders. That is why the agenda for this summit is very important. So, you should take the panel discussions very seriously and come up with very clear and implementable decisions that you will circulate to all of us elected to lead in northern Nigeria.
“I urge Northern Hibiscus to send recommendations from this summit to the Chairman of northern state governors’ forum. We have to do something about the situation of northern Nigeria and we must do so as a group of 19 governors, not individual state governors.” El-Rufai said.
Also speaking, the sponsor of the event and immediate past Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin said, while the North was in dire situation, the region has not lost everything. “There is growth everywhere and so many leaders have emerged.”
Jibrin who analysed the need to reawaken the Arewa spirit on sociocultural, economic and political spheres, said family unit remains the bigger challenge faced in the region as it contributes to high rate of divorce, late marriages, drug abuse and destitution.
Looking at the economic aspect, he noted the need for job and wealth creation to build businesses, understanding competition, marketing and funding in entrepreneurship. He said there is little or no money available at commercial banks to loan small and medium enterprises because government borrows an average of N1 trillion annually with N600 billion to N700 billion interest from first line charge.
The lawmaker called for role models across board, adding that “we have to mould leaders, we have to create ourselves into leaders,” he said.
In her opening remarks, founder of Northern Hibiscus Initiative, Aisha Falke, said the summit was organised to examine the numerous challenges of the North, with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.
She also disclosed that, Northern Hibiscus had also taken the bull by the horn with a 16-year action to empower the youths with useful skills, especially those who are not privileged to have formal education. (The Sun)
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Prof. Clement Adebooye, who is the immediate past Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University and Secretary-General, Governing Board of African-German Network of Science, tells FEMI MAKINDE that the present government lacks the political will to tackle insecurity
Killer herdsmen are on the rampage in many parts of the country and there is Boko Haram in the North-East while banditry is ravaging the North-West. What do you think are the implications of these crises?
Definitely, these problems will lead to food crisis. The attacks on farmers and destruction of their farms as well as attacks on their households are dangerous. If you sack farmers from their production zones and they are not able to produce, then there will be nobody to contribute the little proportion they contribute to food production capacity of the country. As things are now, many farmers in the North are at the mercy of donors. They are living at the Internally Displaced Persons camps. Producers have been reduced to beggars and when producers are reduced to beggars, then shortage is looming. So, it is implied that there will be food crisis soon if things do not change.
How do you think the herdsmen crisis can be tackled since it will have a negative effect on food security?
Nomadic life is not new in this country and cattle rustling is not a new phenomenon within Nigeria. The question is why have these two suddenly become big issues? Why do the herdsmen now need to carry sophisticated weapons around instead of rods they used to goad their animals? We should ask questions from those that are older and learn from history. We grew up to know herdsmen and the kind of crisis we are witnessing now was not there then. Are we saying the number of the cattle has increased so much that herders now have to carry AK-47 to protect their animals? The answer to these questions is no. The issue is that Nigeria is facing a serious and fundamental problem now. This problem is caused by people who have political motives.
What kind of political motives do the herdsmen have?
The political motives are two-pronged. The first is this Boko Haram issue which, in a way, is saying that western education is useless and that people should shun it. It is a political objective and there are some people behind it. The other one may be extreme politics about who governs the nation and who rules where. It appears as if there is a scheme to annihilate the whole of Nigeria and convert it to a particular dynasty that I don’t want to mention. What is happening now is not new to Nigeria. Anybody that has read history will remember that there was a war similar to this before. Between 1840 and 1860, there was a similar war which was launched from the northern Nigeria and the war raged down the South until they were defeated around Osogbo. They were fighting down the South all in the name of Jihad. So, what is going on now can be something like that. The current attacks are not targeted at farmers only; they are killing students, teachers, doctors, chiefs, kings, their subjects and anybody they see. This is not a war against farmers only; it is a war against the generality of Nigerians. Those who launch such wars like the ones we are seeing always have a date that they will launch the major one. They may launch the final war soon. What they are doing now is just to do a trial run and see the level of resistance.
Are you saying they are planning to unleash terror on the nation and overrun it?
They are just ‘test-running’ now to see the level of resistance of the people but unfortunately, there is no resistance anywhere.
But why has it been difficult to arrest those behind this?
The reason is because there is no political will to tackle the problem. We all know that when armed robbers strike in a place and the police want to work, they get those robbers arrested within two weeks. But how many of these herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted since they have been killing? They have been killing for about four years now; unfortunately, none of them has been caught. This points to the fact they are enjoying a kind of socio-political backing and it is sending a signal that what we are witnessing is a kind of trial run with the hope that in no distant future, they will launch the bigger attack and it will be total.
Is it possible for outsiders to perpetrate these criminal acts without the support of the locals?
It seems to me that the killer herdsmen are not acting and working alone. They have collaborators within the other ethnic groups in Nigeria. For example, I’m still wondering how brave the herdsmen could be to operate around Asejire along Ife-Ibadan Expressway without the support of the locals. This is the worrisome part of the whole saga. It means that the nation has been held hostage. Everybody is just looking for a way to make money at the expense of the masses. That is why some of those at the lowest rung of the ladder are engaged in criminal activities.
Those in the political as well as ruling class have also held the nation hostage by creating disharmony among the people through politics, religion and ethnicity. We have been disorganised to such an extent that all social structures have been destroyed. Pressure groups are no longer there and we are all praying on the mountain in order to solve social problems that could be solved by one day protest. The psyche of our people is damaged by the political class and that is why our youths have lost the necessary societal values and therefore, cannot think correctly.
As an agriculturist, what will you suggest as the solution to the problem of open grazing?
This problem is political and that is why ranching may never solve it. Ranching and cattle colonies as they are proposing are a way of handling the land of some people over to other people. That is the reason it will not solve the problem. It is a tactical way of grabbing land and giving the same to some people. Israel is in the desert and they practise agriculture on a large scale including raising livestock but there is no problem with herdsmen there. About 75 per cent of the land in Australia is desert and Australia has much more cattle than human beings; yet this problem does not exist there. Israel is in the desert and the number of cattle there is much more than the cattle we have here in this country. Despite that the landmass is very small compared to Nigeria’s. Have you heard of herdsmen destroying farms there? They are raising cattle in many countries much more than we have here and they don’t have the kind of crisis that we have.
How are they handling it?
What the government here should do is to create an enabling environment in the areas where people raise cattle. They should set up irrigated pasture in the North. If they establish that, those who carry AK-47 will have no excuse for killing, raping and destroying people’s property all over the country in the name of looking for greener pasture for their animals. Irrigated pasture is a practice in agriculture and it will solve this problem coupled with a strong political will. I am sure you are aware that they grow tomatoes in Kano State, Borno and other states and they grow onions and other things as well. They raise these crops during the dry season with the help of irrigation. Why can’t government use similar irrigation method for pasture instead of coming to seize land from the South-West, South-East and South-South in the name of ranches? Israel produces enormous citrus and many other crops through irrigation. Why is our government running away from doing that?
Are you saying the government should assist pastoralists by setting up irrigated pasture in areas where cattle raising is their major business?
Yes, this should be done in the North where cattle raising is their business. It makes sense. Why are the people of the South-West not asking government to give them land in the North to grow kola nuts, cocoa and palm trees? Why is the government not providing the enabling environment for the people in the South to go and plant these crops in the North? Why is the government not allowing farmers to go to Kano and other states in the core North to raise pigs? Why can’t government set aside 50 hectares of land to raise pigs in Kano or Sokoto State? Government should create the enabling environment in the North for those raising cattle, not seizing the land of some people under the guise of cattle colonies or ranches.
Insurgency can’t thrive except it is supported by government. Look at what happened in Kano State during the Maitasine riot in 1983. It was put at bay by the troops of the nation. The government troops drove those militants outside the country. What is the difference between the war by the killer herders and the Maitasine rioters? It is the will of the government that is lacking to address the problem. This government in Nigeria has no political will to stop the carnage going on around the country. There is no where people are kidnapped in Nigeria and such is not traced to killer Fulani herdsmen. Most kidnappings in the country are done by these herdsmen. Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by the herdsmen; the Obafemi Awolowo University professor recently abducted was kidnapped by the Fulani people. Some Methodist priests were kidnapped in Osun State as well as in Ekiti State. This shows that the government has tacitly legalised all these criminal activities and that is why they thrive. Those behind this crime are not arrested or prosecuted; and this has emboldened them to do more. You can’t see this happening in any sane society.
Let us put things in perspective. How many armed robbers have been arrested in the last four years? They are many. How many robbers have the police attacked and killed in the last four years? I am sure many of them have been arrested and some killed. So, why have the security agencies not been able to arrest any of the herdsmen killing people all over the country? Why is it very difficult to arrest these people? The situation is becoming worse in the South-West.
Are you also saying the South-West is under the siege of herdsmen as alleged by the Yoruba Council of Elders?
The South-West is under the siege of these people. I said something earlier that these people are engaged in trial run of their weapons and strategies and that the day of final onslaught is coming.
How do you think this can be prevented?
It is the government that has the security forces that can do that. The ordinary people are incapacitated. The people that have the instrument of authority should act now before it is too late. I doubt if anybody in the South-West or the South-East is ready to go to war now. These attackers will just overrun us if they strike because the government is not interested in protecting the people.
What do you think is the motive behind the alleged plan to overrun the people?
Do you know that these people have a veiled mission? We have heard that the ISIS has joined the fight and you can never tell their strategy. It appears like they are trying to convert the whole of West Africa to come under a political dynasty that will have one identity. Some people are trying to convert our region to a political entity known to them. It is a conversion process that is going on. From what we have read, people who do this kind of things, all over the world, first carry out trial runs just like the ones we are witnessing now. And after that, they will strike. They will first test the strength of their opponents and the quality of their resistance after which they will strike. Let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with Islam. I say this because we have Muslims in the South-West but have you heard that they slaughter people of other religions because of Islam? Also, In Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries where Islam is the dominant religion, such killings do not happen. Why are those ones killing here? You will know that it is part of their culture.
If the executive is not willing to act to prevent the looming disaster, why are the lawmakers at the National Assembly not putting pressure on the executive?
Cheap money impairs thinking. There are no people that will collect the amount of money they collect and will be able to think about the people. They are only representing themselves and not the people. People who get such huge amount of money with little or no work won’t put the people first. Also, the political parties we have do not have ideologies and that is one of the reasons those elected on their platforms do not consider the people in what they do. Nigeria was programmed by God to succeed but some Nigerians have held the country hostage and there can’t be development until the nation is liberated.
You have won many grants for your universities from Germany and Canada. What will you say is making it difficult for many Nigerian scholars to achieve this feat?
The number one thing before you can win grants from these foreign countries is the quality of your research work. Your work must be of good quality before they will agree to fund it. Also, you must have built good reputation for yourself. Those who have given you money before must be able to vouch for your reputation. You must have previous records of ground-breaking research work. Your reputation as a researcher builds the reputation of your university. Those people won’t give you their money because your university has a big name but if somebody from a small university has done a quality research and such has good reputation, it will be easier for others from the same university to receive grants provided they also have good research work they want to do.
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CONTROVERSIAL Second Republic member of House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has said that the North will present a candidate for 2023 presidential election, as zoning and rotation of power have collapsed, and as such any region with the political strength can claim the coveted position.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, Mohammed asked the Southeast to forget 2023, accusing Ohanaeze of collecting millions of naira to support Atiku Abubakar’s presidential election.
Are you satisfied with the conduct of the last general elections?
I thought I would be satisfied after the first election, but later it came to my notice and when I started getting phone calls on the reactions to the elections, within and outside the country, including people who were international observers, I became very disappointed.
When the second round of elections came, all hell broke loose; during these governorship and state House of Assembly elections, what happened was a complete mayhem; no laws, no order and the people who were responsible for maintaining law and order were in the forefront on mangling the election, and upturning peoples mandate.
So, I’m not satisfied and I can never be satisfied.
The problem with this kind of recklessness on the part of people who are supposed to be umpires and administrators is that they rubbish the name of democracy itself; they rubbish the rule of law and more or less, they turn the whole essence of mandate and legitimacy of mandate upside down.
This is very unfortunate because without a government whose mandate and whole legitimacy is accepted by the people, there can never be law and order. Then, there is a beginning of a cause you don’t know where and when it will end.
When the poverty in the Northeast was grinding, we were complaining that there was massive poverty in the region that we better did something about it, but nobody in government paid any serious attention. When the Boko Haram started in 2009, we know what has since then been happening in that part of the country.
From the Northeast, that mayhem, that illegitimacy that re- fused to accept the legitimacy of the government moved on to the North Central and they are currently in the Northwest, where banditry has been legitimised; anybody can go into the bush and calls himself name, and decides to attack whoever he chooses to attack. People in government have been attacked and some of them have been abducted.
This problem of abduction of people has been in the South- South and Southeast for a long time but the government didn’t do its duty. The primary responsibility of government is the maintenance of law and order; law and order became out of reach for those in government either because they didn’t care or they didn’t know what to do. This is the situation until this morning.
Atiku has gone to court to challenge the election; some people say that he is overheating the already heated polity. What do you say to this?
I don’t know whether Atiku means to overheat the polity, but the fact remains whether he means it or not, the net result of what he is doing is to overheat the polity, and that is unfortunate.
Any patriotic Nigerian will know that when the polity is overheated the way it is being done now, at the end of the day there will be violence; there will be massive movement of people from where they are legitimately working and earning their living to their hometowns.
After decades of independence, we ought to be beyond this kind of ramshackle government, where if you ignite a match, people will start scrambling to go back to their homes.
People used to go to their homes to vote during elections, but this time it was a big progress as people stayed where they live to vote.
I’m about 70, and when I was growing up, election was like a mad house or a psychiatric home. Once election was approaching everybody was going to railway station to but ticket to travel to their homes, but this time around, people stayed be- hind to vote. This is a big progress and I hope it will continue. Why will I leave Kano to Port Harcourt to vote, it doesn’t make sense.
The main issue behind Atiku’s complaint is that he knew that he lost the election, whatever he says or whatever the people who work for him say. The statement he issues or by Secondus and other people who work with him is that they are now accusing and abusing not just those who are in APC (I’m not in APC and I will never be in APC), but also others who have nothing to do with the election. That to me shows that they are very primitive and immature politicians. You don’t have to abuse me if you want me to vote for you.
Sadly, Atiku has been the mastermind of the rigging of elections in this country from 1999, when he and Obasanjo were with the ticket. If you did that kind of thing, you will not be surprised even if you want to believe what you want to believe, you cannot be surprised if people have mastered what you taught them. Many of the APC members decamped from the PDP. We grew up with some of them, we worked with some of them; we married into their families and they married into our families, so it is not something new. We all know the rig- gers; Atiku is the principal rigger. So, he has no moral basis to complain of being rigged out.
He even went beyond the moral norm by hacking into the servers of INEC, and publishing documents, but to mark him up, INEC went and put the real figures for everybody to see. This is very unfortunate for those who claim to be statesmen. You have to know that the most important thing for you and your party is the survival of the country because the connection I have with Atiku is that he is a Nigerian and I’m a Nigerian. If there is no Nigeria where would he go, which president will he be?
I believe he has the constitutional right to go to court, but the way and manner he is doing it is destructive and he is lying through his teeth; the same thing with Secondus and some of the hired hands, hacks who write statements for them. Some of the people who issue the statements don’t even know Nigeria.
You stay in your village, and after school you come to Lagos and then to Abuja, and you start abusing people left, right and centre. These are the kind of people who are causing a lot of problem; there must be peace before you have governance.
Do you see Buhari’s second term differ- ent from the first?
No. I don’t.
On the record, I read where he said that this time around, his government will be an all in- clusive one. That to me is very fundamental because when I started speaking in 2015 about the manner he put together his government, all these boys in the presidency and others who go about collecting money from ministers and others, started attacking me, issuing statements whether I know what governance was all about.
Many of them don’t even know the his- tory and the genesis of what they were talking about. When I raised the issue of Amina Zakari they kept quiet; when I raised other issues, they kept quiet.
After three years, on the issue of Amina Zakari, they came out to own the statement, they now say that Buhari and Zakari were only related by marriage. If you go and marry somebody’s relation are you not related? His statement is a confirmation that he knows that his government is nepotistic, comprising his relations, in-laws etc.
To make matters worse, every of these appointments, not only that it was not done on merit, but it was given to the least competent person, and where their incompetence became glaring, nothing happened to them.
The statement he made to me is that he accepted that the way and manner he went about making personnel changes in personnel choices was wrong, and in the end it is the country that suffers it. When you make an appointment without merit, you are unfaithful.
He also said that this time around he is go- ing to be tough and he is going to put people where they belong, so that they can do good job, etc. This is an admission that the people he has in the last four years have not done a good job and to make matter worse, he has lacked the courage to sack them. If you have the pow- er to hire somebody, by implication, you also have the power to fire him. If you give a man a job, and he cannot do it, ask him to go because it is a political appointment, there is no capital punishment.
You cannot give a man who clearly is not capable, no matter the issue – or is it because of nepotism, or it’s because he is your friend, or your in-law, or your friend, nephew or niece.
PMB’s handlers say you were so criti- cal of the president because you were frus- trated that he didn’t give you any appoint- ment. True or false?
We have been friends since 1967, at the outbreak of the civil war, before I travelled to Soviet Union for further education, and there was never a time I asked him for any favour, and I want you to quote me directly, and let him tell if I have ever asked him for any favour, or for any member of my family or friend or relation.
Secondly, the military government came and threw us out of power; but one of my closest friends among the military and among people generally was General Babangida. When I started speaking the way I started, it was public, Babangida came out openly to say that I had never asked him for any ministerial appointment, or any other appointment, that I was his friend and still remain his friend in spite of our differences. As I’m talking to you now, yesterday (Monday), I was with him in Minna over break fast. If he had not been honourable enough to deny that that I never asked him for appointment, then their analysis would have continued.
Therefore, this time around when I started with Buhari, another friend, people, especially from the South kept talking, not knowing the relationship between Buhari and I. Well, they can say what they want to say. If I want an ap- pointment, I believe I’m qualified as any other Nigerian living or dead.
Secondly, I will never be a member of any party that Buhari is involved with, be it ANPP, CPC and APC.
Many people had asked me to join any of the parties where Buhari is; I told them that I would never share the same party with him. I told them that Buhari is not a politician. I’m not a member and would never be a member of APC.
If you are not a member of a party what makes anybody think that after he won the election that I should go round and say give me an appointment. I’m not that kind of per- son. I don’t believe that even those who are shameless can go and ask a leader of a party to give them appointment when they are not members of the party in the face of thousands of party members who have not been given anything.
I’m not a member of his party and I have never attended a single political event organ- ised by him from 2002 when he joined APP until today.
He cannot deny me. Off the cuff, I can tell you ten favours I did to him and I challenge him to tell me one favour he has done to me.
Babangida’s security chief, Gusau jailed me; I was detained in Owo, Ondo State for over three months. One can say that Babangida who was the head of the government detained me, it doesn’t matter. However, I survived and I have maintained my integrity and I have been able to talk to anybody; to talk to those in power. They say I’m looking for ap- pointment, what appointment?
Let me tell you, if I were in the dream and I decide to have an appointment, I will not take it from Buhari.
Those who are saying that I was looking for something from him don’t know me. He, Buhari knows how useful I am to him. I took him to the United States twice – CIA, State Department, Capitol, Congress, National Security Office, etc, and I took him to UK once, and he didn’t beg me to do it.
I know in a country like Nigeria, it is difficult to trust people who say they were doing this thing not because they were expecting any benefit but because of the sake of the country.
It is very unusual to hear of a Nigerian who talks of Nigerians hating Nigeria; everybody is after something, but there are few people in this country of over 200 million, who still believe in this country, and can come out to claim their faith in this country.
An Arewa youth leader, Shettima Yeri- ma, in a recent interview, said that Buhari wasn’t the candidate of the North for the 2019 election, and that by 2023, the North will present its own candidate. How will you reconcile this when people are saying for the sake of equity and justice, power should go to South?
Shettima is my friend, even though I didn’t read the statement, but let me state my view. This idea of zoning and rotation has been a tragedy for Nigeria because it can deprive Ni- geria of getting a better leader. That being the case, whosoever wants to claim it, let him go.
Look at what the Afenifere said that next time it would be a Yoruba person. Their under- standing of rotation is between the North and the Southwest, or Northwest and the South- west. That cannot be.
Now the contradiction, which they invented about zoning and rotation, has now collapsed, and now they are looking for lies to tell to deceive us.
Otherwise, how can you say that we now have a president who is from the Northwest and his deputy, who is from Southwest, and hat next time it will be the turn of the South- west to produce the president of this country. What are we talking about?
I don’t want to hear about this equity and justice, that is sheer nonsense.
The people, who abused this equity and justice, are the people from the Southeast because whatever we are talking about, in a democracy you cannot circumvent voting figures.
You can say it is time for my people. We will not vote for you and let’s see what hap- pens. I said it in one of my statements, look at the way the people of the Southeast voted during the last election; they have a humongous collection of votes and they all voted for Atiku, and they expect somebody to come from his own area to vote for them.
If you want other Nigerians to vote for you, you better look for other Nigerians and make a choice. Maybe, in 2023, Kanu will come and force all Nigerians to vote for them. Democra- cy is a question of give and take; you vote for me and I vote for you, that was what Michael Okpara used to say. You don’t vote for me and maybe you think that by abusing me on the pages of newspapers that I will vote for you. I will not. If I come back into active politics, it will be because of that. Let us see, for abusing people how they will vote for you.
Look at Ohanaeze, how they are duping people; they collected millions from Atiku. Let us see 2023, by the grace of God, which candidate they want to produce.
There are over 232 ethnic groups in Nigeria, how can anybody be a candidate of a group and expect to be voted by the others. You pressmen you have a responsibility to enlighten people. I want to see how they will pick the candidate from Southeast in 2023.
Some of us traditionally, we don’t talk too much, but don’t imagine that we will keep quiet and do your own bidding, it will not happen. See what is happening now, we have started the second term of Buhari’s administration, but today, people are scrambling for 2023, and the Yoruba are saying that it is their turn. How it’s their turn, I don’t know.
We keep on making this mistake of agitation of, ‘it is our turn’ over and over again. Af- ter all, somebody says the classical definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
This is what I see happening in Southeast; you don’t vote for anybody, you only vote for who gives money, also those who say they are in APGA; all those who belong to the Igbo faction of PDP. They should think back and think of their own generation of those who are promising and who are educated and who don’t see politics as trading. Politics is not trading; it is a serious matter.
Both Buhari and Atiku are from the North, was it wrong if Southeast or South- west supported one of them?
It doesn’t matter, but what matters is that there was a candidate who can run the coun- try; is he acceptable to the rest of Nigeria or rather than just an ethnic group?
If you check the figures from the election of 2003 until 2015, Buhari has never won his home state of Katsina. You can see that the fact that he came from Katsina was neither here nor there. His own people couldn’t vote for him in three elections.
But what happens in Southeast is that you have people who enforce their Igbo hegemony on other people by violence, and if the election doesn’t go their own way they go and produce Kanu and IPOB.
I remember former President Jonathan be- ing persuaded by the Yoruba that the Sovereign National Conference was going to be by ethnic groups, I pointed out to them and I remember that Murtala Nyako also pointed it directly to Jonathan that if you do that it won’t work. Like in Taraba, there are 72 ethnic groups and in Adamawa, there are also 82 ethnic groups, while Yoruba has only one ethnic group, and all of them speak one language and one culture. How do you equate their representation at the Sovereign National Conference with that of 82 from Adamawa and 72 from Taraba?
You can see people talk rubbish; they don’t know what they are talking about because they don’t know themselves. Will they accept it if you say that all the Hausa should bring the same number of people with the Yoruba because they are each ethnic group, but there are other minor ethnic groups in the North. So, let’s see what happens.
How do you want the composition of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly?
Frankly speaking, I have nothing but contempt for the entire eighth National Assembly, and the way I see them now, everybody is agitating that it must not be this man; it must be him. They are all positioning themselves for positions of principal officers of the NASS. The Ninth Senate will be business as usual, they will move round, and collect money from the budget and all sorts of criminal things.
It has now become a pattern, anytime they are clearing budget, the ministry, agency or department must bring money, which must be shared. (The Sun)
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THE immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, has given a graphic picture of how the Governor of Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow, betrayed President Muhammadu Buhari which led to the poor performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state during the presidential and governorship elections.
Lawal said Bindow, right from the onset, pitched tent with the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Al- haji Atiku Abubakar, who Bindow believed, sponsored his governorship in 2015.
Lawal said: “Part of what led to this out- come was a historical position that the government of Bindow had on several occasions publicly declared that their government was a government of Atiku. It is on record that in so many fora, his supporters, his henchmen had said it in his presence and he didn’t take any step to deny it.”
Lawal also dwelt on the 2023 presidency, saying that the constitution did not say that power must leave the North in 2023, even as he said every part of the country was qualified to produce a president for the country. Among other issues, Lawal opened up on the issue of marginalization by the Igbo under President Buhari in the sharing of National Assembly leadership positions, declaring that the agitation by the Igbo is genuine, but the basis defective. He spoke more on these and others in this interview with AID- OGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja.
What went wrong that the APC didn’t win the presidential and governorship election in Adamawa State despite big names like you, General Buba Marwa (retd), wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, Mr Boss Mustapha, Governor Bindow, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and others?
I don’t know. We tried our best. Big names don’t mean big votes. We went into this election as a divided party in the state. It has been so for almost two years and you would recall that most of the so-called big names you mentioned had protested the way and manner the party was being run.
By the governor who hijacked the party structure and his loyalists and which we said was being run wrongly. And we had protested this over and over. I led several delegations to the national party chairman with some of these members you just said in the group, to complain about the manner the congresses were being organised. So, we were doing this being mindful of the fact that the presidential candidate of the PDP is an indigene of Adamawa State; a man who at one time won the governorship election of the state before he migrated to become the vice president of the country. This is by no means a small position, and obviously, would have some supporters in the state. And he will be, maybe not desperate, but he will deploy enormous resources to see that at least, he wins his state. This is the norm in every country where politics like ours is being played. So, it is not therefore surprising that the president didn’t win, but he didn’t lose either because the margin was very small and it is thanks to the combined efforts of these people you have mentioned that we were able to reduce the margin to what people call almost insignificant level.
Who do you blame for this defeat? The national chairman or…?
The national chairman doesn’t vote in Adamawa State.
Because you said that you led several delegations and nothing was done…
It is not a matter of blame. In the end, it is the decision of the voter as to how to cast his own vote. And obviously, if a party goes into an election factionalised, the message to the voter will not be unitary and therefore, probably, even demoralising to the rank and file of the party. So, the zeal to mobilise the voters to vote might not be that much. It is not about blame. It is about the voter in Adamawa State deciding to vote where his heart is.
On the presidential election, do you have evidence to say that Governor Bin- dow worked for Atiku rather than President Buhari?
Part of what led to this outcome was a historical position that the government of Bindow had on several occasions publicly declared that their government was a government of Atiku. It is on record that in so many fora, his supporters, his henchmen had said it in his presence and he didn’t take any step to deny it. I remember at one of their road launching somewhere in Adamawa State, the then-led Chief of Staff, made a long speech in which he insisted that Adamawa State Government was for Atiku. Now, we did also point out the fact that the governor himself had claimed that it was Atiku’s money that facilitated his victory at the polls. He had said that on several occasions. We have also had cause to protest that in Bindow’s government, there were about seven serving com- missioners who were very close to Atiku, including his own daughter. Without regard to their merit as qualified indigenes, but I mean, their political inclinations in normal politics will disqualify them from participating in an APC government. But the governor didn’t think so.
Why didn’t he lean on the Atiku’s backing to win the governorship election?
You see, in a democracy of our type, I
think the person that got this very, very well was the president who admonished the voters to vote for candidates of their choice. In my previous interview with you, I did mention that in 2015, we propagated the principle of APC. That is, from top to bottom, APC, on our understanding that the president would need such a cohesive team to perform. But to our dismay, as the political drama was play- ing out, it was in fact, the APC legislators that were fighting the government to a standstill. So, it didn’t make sense, therefore, to repeat the same principle in which just because somebody is in APC, vote for him whereas as we have seen, they ended up being the most vociferous enemies of the president.
Sir, is that not a kind of anti-party statement?
At 63 years old in a country like Nigeria with about 90 political parties, am not afraid of pitching my tent with any political party. I mean, if as an individual, if by chance or by mistake, somebody gets the APC ticket and decides not to follow the APC manifesto and decides not to do some developmental goals in line with the APC constitution, in line with the APC manifesto, I don’t think it makes sense for my state to continue to be a state of underdevelopment. It is a state of penury, so I can’t continue to support somebody just because he says we are in the same political party. It is not religion. Political party is not religion. Even in religion, people do change faith.
Is there any agreement with Fintiri, maybe he will join APC later?
I don’t know much about Fintiri. I first came into contact with Fintiri when he was Speaker and was working to impeach Governor Nyako, the then APC governor decampee. And I was one of those the party assigned the responsibility of working to frustrate the impeachment. It was at that time I first heard of his name and subsequently, told to frustrate that impeachment process.
But I was not likely to do so. After that of course, he later became acting governor for three months or less than three months. But I am not a state party man.
Can APC ever rise again in Adamawa?
Definitely! Part of the consequences of what has happened is APC trying to rebrand itself in our state. And definitely, we will learn our lessons from what has happened in the last four years. We will rebuild our party, we will reorganise our party with the belief that even those in our party who probably misadvise the governor or probably advised him wrongly whether deliberately or not, would have learned their lesson and will now be able to rebuild a party that am sure definitely, we will reclaim our mandate in 2023. This I am very sure of.
With the struggle for leadership positions in the 9th National Assembly, do you fear that the APC might lose control of the legislature like it did in 2015?
APC didn’t lose the legislature in 2015. Obviously, those who emerged as leaders, except one, were APC members. It was just the candidates themselves that were a dis- appointment to the government. They per- formed in a way that bears that out. Now, I am not a senator, I don’t have votes in the National Assembly. I believe majority of the senators in this 9th Assembly are people that are matured, grandparents, experienced in politics and have learnt their lessons from what happened in 2015. And my expectation is that they will try to avoid those pitfalls and choose leaders that are APC in nature, APC in party, APC in conviction and committed to the manifesto of the party and committed to support the government to succeed, a gov- ernment in which they are a part because the National Assembly is part of the government.
There are concerns that only the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are the two people pulling the strings in the party. Do you agree that the party has been hijacked by powerful forces ahead of 2023?
Truly, if they pull strings, those strings do not include my own tail. I don’t know what strings they are pulling. As I have just told you, as I have learnt from Adamawa State, and which I continue to say, getting the nomination of the party to contest election is a completely different ball game from the general election because the electorates have their own minds and they have their own PVC and it is not a colony owned. It is one man, one PVC and one vote.
There are insinuations that the North may not cede power to the South in 2023. Do you believe this?
I don’t attend any meeting in which a so called north takes decisions. If there is such an organization that takes those decisions, they don’t invite me. For obvious reasons, I am a democrat and I believe every part of Nigeria has qualified candidates for the presidential. Every part of Nigeria! Indeed, I don’t see why the… even if it is in the north, if we say the Northwest has produced a presidential candidate, the Southwest had produced one, I don’t see why the North Central can- not produce or the Northeast cannot produce just as South-South, Southeast, Southwest and even Northwest can still produce. The constitution doesn’t say it is prohibited. And as I said, I believe every zone, every state, has capable people that can run this country effectively.
Do you believe in the principle that deputies should always succeed their principals like Osinbajo succeeding Buhari in 2023?
It is not in the constitution, so it is not a principle. Principle of what? It is not in APC constitution, it is not in the national constitution, it is not in the Bible, I don’t know whether it is in the Koran; I don’t know. So, I don’t see how it became a principle.
From the way you are sounding, you are speaking as if in 2023, there is no hope for the southerners at all?
When I said every area can produce a president, where do you get this conclusion? I just said every part of Nigeria can produce a president, a competent one. I know so many. Being a cosmopolitan man, I know Igbos not less than ten that can successfully run this country; I know Yorubas that can do, I know Ijaws that can do, I know Hausas that can do, I know even Kilba. Hey myself, my friend, I can be president of this country. I consider myself quite competent to do so from a small tribe of 300,000 people. There are so many such tribes that can produce good, competent leaders all over Nigeria.
For the second time, the Southeast is already shouting of marginalization under Buhari in the sharing of National Assembly leadership positions. Do you think their complaint is genuine?
Personal to me, their complaint is genuine, but their basis is defective.
How do you mean Sir?
I keep telling you I am not a member of the National Assembly. But my understand- ing of their rules is that you must be a rank- ing member. That is to say you must have been a member before, and therefore, has knowledge of how the place operates. But if the goodwill is there, somebody must begin somewhere. I mean, if the goodwill is there and the desire to unite the country and make everybody feel a sense of belonging is there, you can bend over backward, modify the rules and even a green horn can take one of the leadership positions. However, be that as it may, it is also true that in a political party contest, those who delivered the votes are en- titled to the perks of the office.
But in this case, the Southeast even has a ranking lawmaker.
Yes. Dr Orji Uzor Kalu was in the House of Representatives and now going to the Sen- ate. He is a ranking lawmaker.
Yeah. I didn’t know that. He was in the House?
And he was a governor.
Yes. And he was a governor. Is he not eminently qualified?
He is qualified. Maybe not eminently, but he is qualified. Maybe not eminently, but he is your boss. He is qualified.
Why are you removing the eminently?
Because as I said, the qualification criteria is subjective. If you like, you can say hey, how are you going to give the Senate President to Abia in which the president didn’t get much votes, the people don’t believe in the APC and they believe in a different political party that lost? So, how do you dissuade the worries and the feeling of marginalization by those who overwhelmingly voted for the party? These are the reasons why they voted for the party and they are entitled to the perks of the office, the benefits of the office be- cause they delivered the votes. Without the mandate of the overwhelming votes of those people, we would not have won the election. So, that is why I am saying that on the face of political party system, those who delivered the votes are entitled more to rewards of their votes. Those who delivered few votes are still entitled to, but in principle, the minimum constitutional requirements. But if the good will is there, why not? You can bend over backward and say hey, these are our brothers. You can still give it to them.
Don’t you think by giving the position of Senate President to the Southeast, it will win more followers to the APC?
This type of thing, you know they say I am too troublesome. But you see, the APC has won presidential election. Even in spite of the minimal votes it got from the South-east, it still won. The APC, as it is, you have to go like searching for a needle through a haystack to be able to find one elected per- son from the APC in the Southeast. And there are zones that have hundreds of elected members. So, you want to jump them where you have people and people where you can choose from and go and start…?
Should it be done on that basis?
I don’t think you heard me. I think you have a preconceived mind. You want your boss to be Senate President. I don’t mind, he is my friend. We are not discussing personalities, but if you want us to do… Uzor Kalu is my friend and among all those contesting for this thing, I think he is the closest to me. But I am pointing out the realities to you, the realities of politics. I don’t say ok, let me give you the presidency so that you can vote for
me. Vote for me and then you get what you are looking for. It has always been the case with the Southeast. They go their own way which they are entitled to doing and then they come round and say marginalization in an election in which they marginalised themselves. They marginalised themselves in this election. They went for PDP which lost. No-body forced them to vote PDP. But they lost. So, that is politics. Politics is a game of risk. You lose, you sit down and watch through the window when people are chopping on the dining table. So, they shouldn’t blame anybody on marginalization.
How do you assess the Buhari government on its three point agenda in the last four years and what do you think should be done differently in the second term?
It is an unfair statement because for two years, I was an active member of the government; the Secretary to the Government which people say is the engine room of the government. So, to ask me how we have per- formed is like asking a mother whether her son is smart.
What is next for you politically? Are you looking at the presidency in 2023?
I, B.D. Lawal, joined politics in 2003. I joined politics in the Buhari political structure to contribute my quota and effort towards making Buhari president. In 2003, my goals, my ambitions were not achieved. In 2007, it wasn’t. In 2011, it wasn’t. But in 2015, God gave us what we have always been looking for patiently and doggedly. Now, by the constitution of Nigeria, President Buhari can only be president for two tenures, two terms and by the grace of God, He has made the second tenure possible. Buhari has won the election. So, to that extent, as far as I am concerned, God has been kind to me, He has helped me achieve my ambition in politics.
Are you saying that you are done?
As far as I am concerned, my principal, primary goal of joining politics has been achieved.
So, every other thing is addition?
Every other thing is a hobby.
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Outspoken Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu has accused INEC of working against southern interests in the recent presidential election. He also accused APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of using his personal interest to endanger the lives of other Yoruba people across the country. He spoke on these and other national issues in this interview conducted by TUNDE THOMAS.
What is your reaction to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over Alhaji Atiku Abubaka in the presidential election?
Buhari’s so-called victory was made possible through the collusion of INEC officials and the security agents that were deployed for the polls. The presidential and national assembly elections were marred with a lot of irregularities. To make matters worse, INEC officials and security agents openly worked for Buhari and APC, instead of being neutral. They openly supported Buhari and APC. It was glaring that INEC was acting out a script and that script was to dance to the tune of Buhari and APC. The election was far from being free and fair.
Again look at the number of deaths, the number of Nigerians who were sent to their untimely graves just because a clique wants to remain in power at all cost. Buhari has nothing to rejoice about. That election was a setback for our democracy. The president and his party members didn’t allow the will of Nigerians to prevail. Thank God Atiku has gone to court to challenge the outcome of the charade called election.
Are you saying that INEC compromised?
Obviously. INEC didn’t live up to expectation. It was glaring that INEC compromised and that’s why I described INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, a big failure. In several parts of Nigeria, especially in the South, millions of voters were disenfranchised especially in areas perceived to be strongholds of opposition parties. To show you how biased INEC was, while INEC insisted on the use of card readers in the South, same rule was not applied in the North and all manners of people were allowed to vote. At the end of the exercise INEC was declaring millions of votes in the North while working against the interests of the South. The situation portrayed INEC as having a hidden agenda. This is why Afenifere spoke out against some of these evils that took place during the presidential and national assembly elections. Imagine how APC supporters and thugs unleashed violence on voters in Oshodi, Okota, Isolo and some areas where they felt the party was not popular among residents. We are against the attacks on Igbo and other non-Igbo who were victims of APC supporters and thugs attack. We are all Nigerians and nobody has any right to impose his own will on others. You can’t force me to belong to your own political party or force your ideology down my throat. It is a free world and there should be freedom of choice.
As Lagosiansfile out on Saturday to cast their votes to pick the next governor ofthe state, what is your advice to the parties, the electorate, INEC, and security agents?
Lagosians don’t have problem with one another. Lagos has always been a melting pot for all Nigerians, and people have been living together in unity, and harmony. We are shocked by the action of APC supporters and thugsduring the national assembly and presidential elections. There should not be a repeat of that show of shame during the gubernatorial elections. I advise security agents to be alive to their responsibilities. How can thugs, hoodlums and street urchins be attacking people and security agents would be found wanting?
I’m also shocked that when those thugs attacked people penultimate week neither APC national leader, Bola Tinubu and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu deemed it fit to speak out against the evil. Even up till now neither of them has condemned those behind the attacks. Even the governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambodefailed to speak out and this was why Afenifere spoke out in order to douse tension. Afenifere spoke out to reassure non-Yoruba living in Lagos that the attack on them wasnot by Yoruba but by some thugs who wereworking for some political overlords. Yoruba are peace loving, and we will continue to promote and exhibit virtues that will continue to strengthen the bond of unity among Nigerians. Although we were initially shocked that Governor Ambode didn’t speak out but we later understood his own predicament. Ambode is also being persecuted by Tinubu and other APC leaders. But these people should stop playing God. They should notendanger Yoruba interests because of their own selfish interests. Voters in Lagos should not be intimidated. They should be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights in an atmosphere devoid of harassment and intimidation.
Now that Buhari has won the election, what advice do you have for him?
Buhari has gone beyond advice. Buhari already has a mindset and that’s why advising him is a waste of time. Buhari is opposed to restructuring of Nigeria. He wants the status quo to remain. But the fact still remains, whether Buhari wants to believe it or not there is no alternative to restructuring. Afenifere leaders’ opposition to Buhari is not borne out ofhatred butout of our desire to have a country where there is justice and equity.
Look at the herdsmen menace, Buhari has failed to curb it simply because the herdsmen are his kith and kin. Butthe nefarious activities of herdsmen have been leading to loss of lives on daily basis across the country. But for how long will they continue to go on rampage before Buhari will deem it fit to find a solution to their menace?
Some Nigerians who have expressed joy over Buhari’s victory have declared that his re-election will enable him tosustain the war against corruption and carry out other reforms that will transform Nigeria, what’s your take on that?
Which war is Buhari fighting against corruption? Is Buhari truly fighting corruption, when his right hand man, and APC National Leader Bola Tinubu put bullion vans containing money in his compound ,and EFCC is looking the other way? To rub salt upon injury, when he was confronted about the propriety of what he did, instead of being sober Tinubu said he has the right to keep his money anywhere including his house, andsome people say Buhari is fighting corruption. Rememberalso what APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said publicly that any looter that joins APC will be forgiven his sins, and you say Buhari is fighting corruption. Buhari’s war against corruption is a mockery. It is not only one-sided but also selective. (The Sun)
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