Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The paramount ruler of Nupe Kingdom, Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, has said that unless Nigerians de-emphasise on issues of ethnicity and religion in electing leaders both at the federal and state government levels, getting competent leaders, particularly for the presidency, would continue to elude the nation.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday Sun, Alhaji Abubakar advised the electorate to put aside tribal and religious considerations to elect leaders that could ensure the provision of their welfare and development of the country in the 2023 general elections.
The royal father who is the chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, also spoke about alleged financial crisis at EFCC, saying that it was sad to have those put in position of authority to fight corruption being found wanting for corruption charges.
He said any official of the EFCC found guilty should face the wrath of the law, just as he added that scrutiny of would-be head of the Commission should be properly carried out before giving such person the responsibility of fighting corruption.
The Etsu Nupe also spoke on rising cases of rape, the need to revive Northern monuments, among others. Excerpts:
Your Royal Highness, what roles should traditional rulers play in the review of the 1999 constitution?
The role of the traditional rulers are numerous. Right from the beginning, the traditional rulers have always been playing positive roles in their various domains. You will agree that they are the closest person to the community, on a daily basis they oversee the affairs of the people in dispute resolution, peaceful harmony among the community and the rest. They mobilize and support those who are in government. During election, they don’t just support a particular candidate, rather they support all the candidates that are seeking for one political position or the other. Aside from the advisory role, which they are known to be performing, write from inception, the on-going review of the constitution should take note that we are closer to the people, the view of the community is best known by us more than the politicians. We listen and know the feelings of our people more than any political leader. In the review of the constitution they should give us opportunity to play more roles, in addition to the above that is highlighted, it would be good for the development of the community. It pains me that sometimes, government would want to site a project in a certain community without consulting the traditional rulers for advice. Most times, these projects are abandoned because it could be that it is not the project the people wanted or is sited were the people do not want. Government should be ready to consult traditional rulers, take advice from the community and as a whole the community should be carried along before any developmental project be embarked upon.
As we approach 2023, which is another election year, which factors should determine the person that should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, taking into consideration that ethnicity and race may rear their ugly heads?
Once election is drawing closer, it comes with all forms of agitations. I’m not surprised to hear all these agitations coming now. My advice is that the most competent person should be voted in come 2023. Competence should be the yardstick in choosing who will succeed President Buhari. Our democracy has grown a long way now, as a result, let us do away with religion, tribalism, ethnicity and the rest and settle for candidates who know it and that can do it. If the person who is competent is a Nupe man, so be it, if he is an Igbo man, so be it, if he is a Hausa man, so be it. At the end the person should be judged based on character and not the region or religion he belongs. The competent person should at the end of the day give us good leadership. My belief as a Nigerian is that most Nigerians would not bother who is at the helm of affairs so long as there is food on the table, water is running, transportation is affordable, the health care system is also affordable, for him life goes on. These agitators should note that competence is what we should be looking for not a Yoruba man, Igbo, Hausa, Nupe, or other tribes. The competent person should have concern, capacity, feelings and ability to carry everybody along in the country. If at the end of the tenure, he is found wanting, let the person be blamed and not his religion or tribe. I urge Nigerians to gear up to choose a competent person come 2023. Most developed nations in the world today choose their best for this kind of assignment. If the best is chosen and he performs it would be good for this country.
How would you react when the head of the anti-corruption agency in the country is allegedly found wanting on corruption charges which he supposed to fight?
It is sad that those who are put in place to fight corruption are now being found wanting. Office of this nature, before appointment is made, the candidate should be scrutinized well before the appointment. Where and where has that person worked, did he perform credibly well while he was in that office? All these questions must be addressed. The person’s previous performance should form the reason he should be given this exalted position. At the end, if the man is found wanting as can be seen of Ibrahim Magu, the suspended EFCC Chairman, he should be made to face the law. His tribe or religion should not be the issue rather his performance should be the reason. The person who is put in this position of trust of this nature, if found wanting let him face the music squarely. The position of anti-graft agency in a nation is so critical to that nation, so if the person soils his hands, let him face the music. It would not speak well of that nation for a caliber of that person to fall so low. If you are put in certain position of trust, you are supposed to know your limitations.
The country is engulfed in killings on a daily basis, from Boko Haram, to Fulani herdsmen, to bandits, etc. In your view how did we find ourselves in this mess and what should those in authority do differently to find lasting solution to insecurity?
Security is the concern of all citizens. The moment the people are aware that the act of securing the community, and the country is a collective responsibility of all, it will be the beginning of how we can move our nation out of the present situation. Citizens are not coming forward with information to enable the security personnel work on. The security personnel are not ghost, they live in the community with these criminals. In some cases, most of us know these criminals that are terrorizing the society, but would not come forward with information, maybe as a result of the fear of the unknown. These criminals have sophisticated weapons even more than those that are engaged to fight them. In this situation the security personnel are handicapped. The welfare of the personnel should be addressed, be it housing, medical etc. If the personnel is well taken care of by the government, he would be ready to die for the country. The situations today where all these incentives that will make life happy for the personnel are not there, his moral would be low. To me, the welfare of the personnel, recruitment of more men should be looked into by the government. Also, more sophisticated weapons should be procured to enable the security personnel to face the modern nature of criminality. What those in authority should do differently to address current situation is to move with the current trend of event; more equipment should be procured, recruitment of more personnel, welfare of the officers should be addressed, training and re-training periodically should be carried out, among others.
Some people are still doubting that Coronavirus is not real. How will you advise such Nigerians on how to believe and protect themselves against the COVID-19?
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is real. The situation where the entire world is shutdown should tell the doubting Thomases that the virus is real and effort should be put in place by all sundry to protect themselves. I feel so sad any time I hear people saying COVID-19 is a scam. Could it be as a result of the illiterate nature of the society or people just want to behave funny. We watch on a daily basis number of the people that are dying, we also read on a daily basis number of people dying with figures being shown, so what should make people think the virus is not real. I advise Nigerians to strictly follow the guidelines being announced by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Wearing of masks, keeping social distance, watching of hands regularly.
Cases of rape is on the increase in the country, we hear of cases of fathers raping their daughters, elderly men sleeping with minors, in Kano recently more than 14 men were said to have gang raped a minor whose age falls around 14 years. What is your reaction on this?
Right from creation, human evolution comes with certain behaviour. Some of these behaviours may not be normal as we are seeing. What on earth would attract a father to sleep with the daughter? The population of women is more than men, meaning at any time a man is moved there would always be a woman around, why should it be his daughter. The girl child should know when and how to go closer to these rapists. The minors should not allow themselves to be lured by these criminal gangs in form of money, delicacies and the vogues to belong, they should keep far distance. In those days people who are found in the act of this nature are castrated, but the society has changed, let them face the law. Cases of rape are condemned in all totality. I suggest that National Assembly should come up with laws to deal with these barbaric behaviours and those found wanting should be made to face the law squarely. Parents should sit up to their responsibilities by providing the basic needs of the girl child, so she won’t look outside.
Some of the monuments or legacies that are pride to the Northern region are no more there, Bank of the North, New Nigeria Newspapers etc, while in the Southwest they still have WEMA Bank, Tribune Newspapers, etc. What is your advice to the 19 Northern states that own these monuments?
The late Sardauna of Sokoto (may his soul rest in peace), in his wisdom set up these monuments, his aim was to ensure that these monuments outlive humanity. Generations should come and go but these monuments remain. But today these monuments are dead. For the bank of the North, what killed the bank is that people took loan and failed to pay back, how would you borrowed money from the bank and fail to pay back, certainly the bank would die. Since the 19 Northern states governors meet quarterly, I advise that they set up committee aided by Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to meet monthly where issues related to the North should be deliberated and seek solution to them. The late Sardauna would be sad if told that some of his legacies are dying. The River Basin Authority, the essence for their setup is to provide irrigation for all year farming in the North in particular, and Nigeria as a whole. If these dams are functioning well it means farming could take place all round the year, but some of these dams are lying fallow. Look at the vast lands where these dams are situated, they are lying fallow.
Recently, the Nupe Day celebration was held indoors instead of what it used to be, like celebrating it in an open field. What happened?
The reason for the postponement of Nupe Day was as a result of COVID-19, which requires that people should maintain social distance. Therefore, it would be wrong for us to gather people in a crowded area in the name of celebration. However, we did television advert, radio jingle to inform our people to maintain social distance, wearing of masks, etc to stay alive because it is only the living that celebrate. Prayers by both Muslims and Christians were held in Mosques and Churches, aimed at the well being of Nupe people and Nigeria as a whole. The Nupe Day always provide an avenue where people from all over the world come and watch the history and the rich culture of Nupe.