APC had been in the hands of the caretaker for a while now. Are you content with the way it is being managed?
Yes, I am most content with the way the party is being run. The structures were dissolved sometime in June last year and they were given six months to organise a convention but that was not to be. They were given more time to reorganise and one of this is the registration of members and revalidating their membership for people like me, who have been in the party for long. Their mandate also included reconciling members that have issues. The exercise is still ongoing until June this year before it will end. I am satisfied with what the caretaker committee is doing. There is nothing new if we express different opinions, no matter how highly placed they are because APC is a party driven by people and there is no way you can avoid issues from time to time. We disagree to agree and also agree to disagree. It’s not new in politics. People should not create the impression that our party is made up of angels, we are not. We are ordinary human beings. I have not seen anything that will cause me worry in the party. We respect ourselves and some of the discontent tunes we hear from time to time is nothing strange. It will get worse now that we are approaching the calendar in this country, where a party will spend two years on campaigns and two years on governance. We have just gone over the 2years of governance and we have started the two years of campaigns. During this period, we will have crises and the political atmosphere will be heated. By God’s grace, we will overcome our identifiable problems.
Most people believe the APC revolved around the president and that after his eight years, the party might implode or disintegrate once he leaves. Do you share this view?
President Buhari is the leader of the party and president of Nigeria. Nobody should doubt the fact that his exit at the end of his tenure is bound to give us some worry and food for thought. We will ensure that there is no instability as a result of his exit. We are working in earnest to ensure that there will be no implosion after his exit. There is nothing strange in anybody thinking that way because President Buhari is the leader of the party. He is well respected and accepted in the party. That is the extent of his acceptability in the party. Buhari does not interfere in the affairs of the party, he just waits until reports are given to him before he passes judgement or gives an opinion and allows the party leadership to implement. Buhari by nature is not a dictator and that is why he doesn’t interfere or exert his authority over the party. There is something mystical about Buhari. It is something that one can’t explain. In some places, his fellowship is mythical. Even when he ruled as a military man and some of the policies introduced by his government sounded harsh, yet the people still loved him. The president’s fight against corruption has also endeared him to so many people. The poor man is always behind anybody fighting corruption. Yes, he has made a public declaration that he does not intend to extend his tenure beyond the constitutional provision. He made that public pronouncement at the party’s national working committee meeting, stating that he is under oath to preserve, protect and defend the Nigerian constitution. The President said this to avoid the trouble of bootlickers, who will want to convince him on tenure extension. That is why the party is beginning to prepare so that another person will emerge in 2023. The President may also help us to be part of the decision to get whoever will be his successor.
Nigerians are worried that there might be war if the South and West insist on herdsmen vacating their forest. How would you react to this?
Every country has prophets of doom and Nigeria has its share of these prophets of doom. God will help us to see that we work so hard in order to shame these prophets of doom.
Most frightening is the way some people, who are in positions of authority and spit out words that threaten the unity of the country. Yes, there are problems with herdsmen and it has now been roped around an ethnic group in Nigeria yet, one of the leaders of this country made some statement about herdsmen that disappointed me. Herdsmen are Nigerians too and of course; the constitution says that anybody whose maternal and paternal grandparents were Nigerian’s from the year of amalgamation in 1914 are Nigerians. So, people are being mischievous by imputing that herdsmen are not indigenes. I dare ask, how many traders do business in their States of origin? How many people do we have in Kano, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Yola and Borno doing business or any other profession that are indigenes? They have huge investments in states that are not their own and we tolerate them. Why can’t they reciprocate?
What is the way out?
The way out is for the government to wade into the crisis. We have traders in the markets of Abuja, Kano, Zaria, Enugu, Lagos and other places. Government provides water, light and other amenities to make the market functional at the public expense but what are they doing for Nigerian Fulani herdsmen? Are they not Nigerians? They also have rights. The circumstances that brought their limitation to the forefront is now pushing them out. They are being squeezed out. They have rights and liberty to pursue their business. Permit me to say that there are deliberate efforts at misinformation. Now, in some parts of the South, they are saying these herdsmen are foreigners, how many of them have they arrested and shown to be foreigners and from which country? They are just giving innocent Nigerians bad names. They are giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it. The impression is being created that these herdsmen are foreigners in order to absolve the accusers of the constitutional burden on them, which is to protect the herders as fellow Nigerians. Once they succeed in giving the herders a non-Nigerian identity, the duties the constitution impose on them would have been discharged by the misinformation to the Fulani’s.
Most Nigerians have condemned the nomination of retired services chiefs as ambassadors. What is your take on this?
I think that is unthoughtful of them with due respect. They are Nigerians. So, because a person served in the army, Air force, Navy or Nigerian police, that person cannot accept diplomatic jobs because he is retired. The past service chiefs were not sacked from service. They didn’t leave the service because they committed a crime known to the Nigerian law. Why should anybody not want them to be invited to serve the country in another capacity?
I cannot become an ambassador? I think it is ridiculous. Why would somebody who served as a civil servant and retired be given appointment to serve as ambassadors? Why can’t that same gesture be extended to the soldier? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. We must check our personal and unfounded emotion’s when criticising people. Yes, we had few problems with security, but the immediate past service chiefs did not create it. They played their part to bring the insecurity to an end, though they didn’t completely succeed. The critics often forget that our security challenges are peculiar because we are not fighting a conventional war. Our various communities and leaders have roles to play in bringing the security problems to an end.
Before they became service chiefs, these problems were there. I commend President Muhammadu Buhari for considering the immediate past service chiefs fit to join our diplomatic service.
Some see the appointment as a way to shield them from prosecution because the chief of army staff was alleged to have committed human right abuses. Do you concur with them?
I have seen some of these things in the media but where is the evidence? What has America not done in Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran? Who is doing anything about it? I believe Gen. Buratai and his other colleagues, who served this government, tried their best. Their appointment is well deserved.
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