From Okwe Obi, Abuja
National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Dr Yagbaji Sani, has said that rotational presidency, otherwise known as zoning, has not provided the needed economic development for the country, rather it has broadened the gap of division and nepotism.
He, therefore, suggested in this interview that political parties should always throw the contest open so that those with the needed administrative acumen would not be disenfranchised because of where they come from.
The former presidential candidate also joined the clamour for the sacking of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, sequel to his utterances on insurgency in the past.
He maintained that the spate of killings and kidnapping perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents is a by-products of Pantami’s teachings.
He, however, backed the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, for facilitating negotiations with bandits and parents of kidnapped children, adding that he has not done anything wrong.
He also encouraged political leaders to judiciously utilise resources in their possession to create employment, build schools, hospitals and roads, in order to keep the youth busy. Except:
What is your take on the spate of insecurity in the country?
If truth must be told, I believe it is the consequences of leadership failure. Because when there is leadership failure, definitely, you will see that even the most basic things that should be taken care of will not be addressed properly. Because when you look at democracy or any form of government at all, in fact, even in constitution, the two fundamental responsibilities of the government is the issue of security and the welfare of the people. That is what the constitution says. Any government that cannot provide the two things for its citizens has no moral rights to expect respect from the citizens. And if care is not taken it might even get to a revolt; the people may rebel against you because you have not been able to take care of the basic requirements. So, I believe that why what is happening is happening is because we have leadership failure. Period.
While the PDP is pushing for a summit to discuss the way forward on insecurity, the APC is not seeing the need for such a meeting. How do we address the problem?
Both the APC and PDP are one and the same. It is six and half a dozen. That is what it is. You see, when you look at APC and you throw back your attention and recollect what happened during the PDP era, it is just a re-enactment of what happened during the PDP era only that this time around it is more endemic. There seems to be a total collapse of the situation today. We are just afraid that the whole thing will collapse under the PDP. But PDP was not better than what we are seeing under APC. Under PDP, Boko Haram insurgents were even coming to Abuja attacking people, and exploding everywhere. People were afraid just like what we have now. People were not free to move around. But the case we have today is worse; which means that the situation has been degrading from the PDP time till now. So, it is like a case of a kettle calling the pot black. There is nothing that the PDP is accusing the APC today that it did not do. There was leadership failure under the PDP too. And what we are running away is for Nigeria to run away from the situation we have found ourselves today. So, the issue is that Nigerians must start to think and look away from these two parties. Nigeria is bigger than PDP and APC because we transcend those parties. Nigeria does not start and end with APC and PDP. And, when you look at it, the same people that were in PDP in which we were having the problem are the same people today that are in APC. So, it is not as if outside these people you do not have Nigerians that can take care of this country. The situation we have in this country is that Nigerians do not want to rise to the occasion themselves. We must begin to see the futility of continuing to support these two parties in government because they do not have what Nigeria needs. And what Nigeria needs today are people who have this country at heart and have the competence and capability to deliver this 21st Century economy that we have which is a promise of greatness. There is nothing that we need in this economy to make it great that is not there. What is lacking is leadership. What is lacking is the fact that our process of the recruitment of leadership is still at that stage of people manipulating the levers of power and rigging elections to bring in people that cannot deliver. So, if you have your process of recruitment of leadership as corrupt as it is, there is no way you can dream of having people that would live up to expectations or be ready to give this country the kind of leadership that it deserves. So, this is why we are just in a vicious cycle. And both the APC and PDP, believing in me, everybody in this country knows that they are one and the same. It is the same bad dream that we had during the last administration that we are having today. Nigerians never thought that we will be where we are in this country today. Why because we have competent people. We have the resources. We have the statute as a nation which is respected across the globe. That is why anywhere you go Nigerians are respected because they know what you are worth; in terms of resources, leadership and capacity. So, when you talk about PDP or APC, believing in me, it is those that what you can call failure of our circumstances. We just found ourselves in almost a failed state. Look at what happened during Jonathan, the international community had come to rescue Nigeria. It is because Nigeria was almost failing as a nation. Today, we are in a worse situation that we need to be rescued that is why some people are saying that we should look for foreign assistance. It is because Nigeria was almost failing. The political class you have today that are in charge of the affairs of this country have failed. The truth is that they do not have what Nigeria needs so they cannot give that leadership. That is why people should look at the direction of ADP. God knows why he put parties like ours in this country today. It is to rescue this country. There is nothing we will do today that will give this country the kind of progress, peace and unity that are required under another APC or PDP government. It will never happen. Because when they come in instead of concentrating on building the nation they will just be talking about things that are not relevant. The issue is that we have come to the stage where another set of people should be allowed to run the affairs of this country. We can do it. It has been proven that things cannot change unless we the followership change. And change is an option. If it is a situation where we do not have an option that would be a different thing entirely. So, the blame game is all because we do not want to change. So, the press has a lot to do here. The press can make this country work by ensuring that it changes the narrative. It should not be about PDP and APC. Nigerians should begin to understand that there is an option or alternative that is more credible that can give this country a leadership that would provide new path to progress, prosperity, unity and pragmatic leadership that will unleash this huge potential that we have as a country. Everybody knows that we are a country that is of promise of greatness by everything that we need to have. Look at the leadership we have today that is not even engaged with the people. As bad as the situation is you should have a kind of interaction with your people. But that is not happening. Money is given out and nobody is accounting for it even for the insecurity you are talking about. Billions of naira have been given to this people, nobody is telling us what happened to those monies, how it was spent. If it was their own money, none of them would allow things like this to happen; that you spent billions and there is nothing to show for it. There is evidence of arms purchased, no money in the account and to the extent that they are even asking for more money. They want to be given more budget to fight this war as if we are people that have saw-dust in our brains. We need to break from this rigmarole and the narrative of PDP and APC. We still have two years to go. It can be done. The press can lead. Every country where meaningful change happened, it is the press that leads the way.
Do you also subscribe to the sacking of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, following his utterances on insurgency?
I have told you about leadership failure. Where you have leadership, government will not wait for this thing to happen whether wrong of right. The man is not denying what he said or didn’t say. He did. So, the issue is that government, particularly the president, should realise the fact that he was elected by the people of this country and he swore by the Quran that he was going to protect the interest of this country; that he was going to exert fear or favour. So, when you have discovered that in one reason or the other you have a minister in your cabinet that has been accused of most of the things that are happening today in terms of insecurity, whether remotely or anyhow you want to look it, at least, to demonstrate to the nation that he is representing them and that he is living up to his responsibility, this man should be eased out because he did not deny it. Why are we having the problem we are having today? It is because of people that had, or still have those kind of mentality, and their ideology is not in tune with the modern way of doing things. He said he did, but he is recanting that he is not in that kind of belief anymore. But, we are suffering from the by-products. That is what snowballed into what we are having today. It is those people that you taught, those radical thinking that are still in the bush. Even though you have now said that you have renowned that ideology, we are still suffering from the damage in this country. Because that is why we still have the likes of Boko Haram people that are thinking differently. Yes, he has apologised. If the country wants, it can forgive him or allow the law to take its course. But, the right thing to be done is for the government to relief him of his duties and responsibilities, and then let him understand that what he did, the country is still suffering from it. In other climes, if you are in government of a high school, and they discovered that you raped a girl or smoked marijuana, you would be in trouble. There was a judge of a Supreme Court that was supposed to be appointed in America, you can see the extent they went because a woman came out and said the man took advantage of her in a high school. It became an issue. So, it is not enough to come out and apologise. He should not be allowed to continue in office in all fairness given the circumstances we are in today, and given the fact that we cannot divorce those radical ideologies we are having today. So, he is responsible.
Are you comfortable with the role being played by Sheikh Gumi in negotiating with bandits?
Under this circumstance or the situation we are in, it is the right thing to do. Do you know why? The government has denied people money they are supposed to use to build hospitals, schools and roads. They come to Abuja, collect the money, sit down in a room and divide the money among themselves, thinking that the people are stupid or they do not know what is happening. If they are using the billions collected from the federation account to build schools, hospitals and good roads you would not have bandits. If some have jobs and leave their houses at 8:00a.m to go to work, would they have time to go into the bush? That is why they are taking it by force. So, under this scenario, it is right. Let them sit up. Let them stop stealing. Let them use the money to create employment and not to buy houses in Dubai or Europe and always going for vacation. They have exhausted all the civil ways of doing things, that is why they are in the bush. Gumi is right. When Buhari came to power he said 70 per cent of the budget is being stolen. But what did he do about it? And you want the people to just fold their hands and be watching you?
Though we still have two years to the next general election, there has been this agitation for the Southeast to produce the next president. What is your take?
I do not like to indulge in what I call a very high intelligent way of looking at issues in the country. The problem we have in this country transcends zoning. They are more serious than where the president of Nigeria should come from. Why are we where we are today? It is because of the issue of zoning. You can take it from the Jonathan’s time to now. It is just because they did not allow the best material to emerge as the president of this country; it was always handpicked. It has always taken religious dimension as if when it comes to the issues of the country the person can do better. We should wake up and begin to think about this country as a serious business. If in your private business you start bringing in sentiments like employing your brothers even when they are not competent, what would happen to the business? Definitely, it will fail. For God sake, let us be serious. The position of the president requires more than what we are attributing to it. I look at it as lazy and people who are not serious in their way of thinking. In social club you can do that, but when it comes to the issue of president, we should have a checklist as a nation. We should look at track records and performances that will matter. This is doable. The leaders of thoughts are there to do it. The press is there. It can set the agenda and change the narrative. Look at where we are today. We are a laughing stock simply because there is a leadership failure and because we did not do the right thing. If zoning is working, why are people in Katsina being killed like chicken? Why is the whole North on fire? The business of running the country is a very serious business. It is not about this man is a Yoruba man, or Hausa man or an Igbo man. Let us begin to look at tract records. If you look at countries that have gone passed us like Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, most of them jettisoned the idea of where a person is coming from. Because when you do that you have completely disjointed the whole issue of running the country from what it should be to what has no relevance in the governance itself. And that is why we are always failing.
What is the prospect of ADP in the next general election?
It is very bright. Do not mind the ballooning of membership they are telling people. Believe me, by the time the two parties will explode you will see what will happen. We believe that the ADP has a very unique opportunity in 2023 because Nigerians will wake up. And sane people who have the country at heart will look for a party like ADP to begin to build Nigeria and not themselves or tribes because that is what we represent. We are the Noah’s Ark that will take the country to the Promised Land.