Second Republic politician and former National Chairman of the defunct Alliance for Democracy in the current democratic dispensation, Alhaji Abdulkarim Daiyabu has placed the socio-political and economic affairs of the nation on the laps of former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) and former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ).
According to him, while Babangida initiated the descent, Obasanjo deepened it and President Buhari adopted it without learning any lessons from the past.
He also fielded questions on the battle against corruption, the judiciary among other national issues. Excerpts:
Nigeria today is facing a lot of problems, looking at the political situation, how do you see it as somebody who has been in the political field for a very long time?
The problems we are facing are the things that put us into the difficult times we are in. Right from the time the military took over the governance of the nation, it has been one problem after the other. These problems have taken us backwards in all ramifications. The problems started since they toppled Muhammadu Buhari and installed Ibrahim Babangida as president. Since that time, things have been changing drastically, especially with the introduction of IMF, International Monetary Fund, which changed the face of the economy for the worse, and a lot of other measures by the government also contributed to where we are today. Contrary to initial expectations, today there is no electricity, no housing programme tailored to the needs of the masses; no good railway system; no good roads. Things are just not working in many sectors of the economy. Today, Nigeria is in serious debt. The people are groping in the dark hoping that things will improve with time. But each successive government since that time has failed to put smiles on the faces of the people. These things were caused by Ibrahim Babangida. In 1999, the same Babangida connived with Abdulsalami Abubakar to impose Obasanjo on us to become the president of this country against all known democratic practices. This is how this country has been going since then like a nation in captivity. Obasanjo carried along as if nothing was amiss, coalesced with very bad politicians and others outside politics, to the extent that he committed serious crimes; some of them impeachable crimes. But they could not impeach him. Corruption was the order of the day and he rode on it to escape impeachment. He had people who were ready to lay down their lives so that he will not be impeached. Those people fought hard to defend him against all the impeachable offences he committed and that was how he escaped it and ruled for eight years and even put in his successor. You know how Obasanjo was when he was brought out of prison to contest the presidential elections. He was not rich. Today, he has amassed wealth, power and influence and nobody can do anything to him. He is untouchable. If he had set the pace in good governance and democracy, things will not be the way they are today. But he brought in a system that undermined democracy and today most of his successors are following in his footsteps. Buhari is different from all the people who have held power in the country. But unfortunately, the people around Buhari are sycophants and cannot tell him the truth. Their attitude is yes sir, yes sir, even when the man is clearly heading the wrong way. This system or is it behaviour has not helped the country in any way. It has dragged us backwards. He brought in his relations and in-laws to connive with elements that are determined to destroy this country. The situation now is such that dictatorship is creeping in. Nobody is listening to the people. The politicians are busy fighting to be relevant and to play up Buhari rather than the foremost interests of the nation. Criticisms, no matter how well intentioned is frowned at so as to please the president. Officials and supporters of the government are after what comes to them. Everything is now open. He has nobody like Tunde Idiagbon who was the rallying point in his first coming as military Head of State to cleanse the system without bias. Because there is nobody like Idiagbon, his lieutenants are having a field day with nobody checkmating them. Every day you hear of mind-boggling stories of corruption even from his close lieutenants in office and nothing is done to checkmate them. He does not also have somebody like Gray Longe who was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation when he was in power as military Head of State. Not having these kind of gentlemen in his government has created a big question mark in the cleansing process of his administration. The feeling I have is that he learnt no lessons from his previous outing as Head of State. You can imagine somebody who was military Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to be toppled and incarcerated for 40 months and he learnt no lessons from it? He has surrounded himself with enemies of the state; enemies of Nigerians. That is why his government is not meeting the high expectations placed on it by the people at inception. They only tell him what they want him to hear. That is why they are after every inch of the economy. They want it to be in their hands and the people are watching helplessly.
Is the judiciary not there to address the issues that you have just raised?
See what is happening to the judiciary. Do you believe that there is independence of the judiciary? So, where do we go from here? Where is the hope of the common man or the oppressed? When you are oppressed and you have nowhere to run to what do you do? That is why social revolution is necessary. The people are not only helpless, but weak and lack the wherewithal to ask for anything due to them constitutionally. What is the work of government to the people? That is where we are today. An Inspector General of Police in this country had been arrested before and treated as a common thief. Do you see that kind of thing today? Everything has the colour of partisan politics. If you steal, all you have to do is to change your party to the ruling party and once you have the card of the ruling party your sins are forgiven and you are protected. So, where do we go from here? Social revolution is necessary if we have to make headway.
Why do you think social revolution is necessary now in the nation’s evolution since you have traced the beginning of the rot to previous governments?
No single person can solve all our problems. If you go back in history, no lone ranger solved the problems of his country without support from members of the public. Our own cannot be different. Anybody that tells you that he alone can solve the problems of this country is a liar. He is deceiving the people. I spoke about Gray Longe and Tunde Idiagbon who helped Buhari in the past. Even Hitler did not operate alone. He had institutions and people who backed him to take on the world. Even Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first prime minister of Nigeria had the people who helped him. So, Buhari must have at least four good characters that must assist him on this job. Those I see around him have not demonstrated that they can make a difference. This is the crux of the matter. This is where the problem lies.
Are you not asking too much from Buhari?
Nothing is too much for a citizen to ask from his leader who campaigned and made many promises. The attitude of the people to the government is important. The relationship of the people with the government is crucial. One of the challenges of any government is how to forge peace and unity. Government should be unifying the people and not be seen to be taking actions that undermine the unity of the people. Even if there is no law and order; even if there is no security of lives and property, government must place itself in a position where it will have the capacity to endear itself to the people and achieve results that it set out to achieve. When there is no freedom of speech, government’s efforts may not really be perceived and placed where it should be. There will be little snags here and there. The society will most likely go wild. Caution in governance is necessary so as not to open too many fronts of battle.
As an advocate of social revolution, what do think should be done to those people who have stolen the country blind in the past 59 years of independence?
Let me say that I am not one of them. I am completely different from them. If I can get people who support me the way I go about my own things there will be no need for this call. These people do not care and never cared for the people and so they deserve any treatment that the people deem fit to mete out to them. If the people can work with a unity of purpose, the country will be better. United we stand, divided we fall. There is no mountain so high that a people that are united cannot climb. I am a believer in the people’s power. The peoples support for government counts a lot. Politics is about public relations. If you have fantastic public relations with your people, understand the problems of the people, take them along in your policies and build a common pact with their enterprises, you will be the darling of the masses and the hero of democracy. And when the people try to understand the problems of the government through the government’s approach to issues, they will sit together in a bond of friendship and brotherhood.
They will bind themselves together in the interest of the nation. There will be no grumbles and any challenge to the government is a challenge to the people. The people will reach out to like minds in other places and bring heads together to confront a common foe. That way, more support can be drawn to the government and it will succeed exceedingly. The attitude of some officials is to build barricades around the government and chase after any dissenter ruthlessly. This attitude will not help and will always fail government. Some others resort to propaganda and lies. Any government that thrives on lies and propaganda is merely building on castles. It will collapse, sooner or later.