Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Aare Omoba Adeyemi Apanpa is President and leader of the Yoruba Community in Benue State. In this interview, he urged President Muhammadu Buhari to change his Service chiefs. He spoke on other national issues.
What’s your opinion about the recent EndSARS protests which was later hijacked by hoodlums in some parts of the country?
When the protests started, we were all happy with it because they were bringing awareness to the government on what the youths expect from our leaders which unfortunately had not been happening in the country. But along the line, the protests were left unaddressed especially by the Federal Government, probably, because this is the first time the youth would be coming out in this number and people thought it was a joke, until unfortunately, it went out of hand and was hijacked by what you call the looters.
It is not only government that has suffered loses because as you can see, it is affecting everybody. And I think it’s time for government at all levels to come on board and address the issues raised by these youth. We must put a stop to this carnage. The country cannot continue the way it has been in the last few weeks. Government has to come up and address all the issues raised by the youth and the youth also should be ready to listen to what government has to offer in order to move the country forward.
Don’t you think if the issues trailing the protests are not carefully handled, they are capable of moving this country into disintegration?
I agree with you totally, especially the discoveries of palliatives in warehouses. That shows that the people who are our leaders are not open to us. They are not genuinely attending to our issues. Awolowo said that if the rich people don’t train the children of the poor, a time will come when the children of the poor will take arms against the rich. And that is what we are seeing in the country today. People are hungry, no jobs, you’re increasing the price of fuel; you increase electricity tariff, the roads are death traps, no food and the list is endless. Only God knows where we are going but its high time the leaders addressed these issues so that the future will be better for this country. This had happened in other countries and we all know the outcome. When it happened in the Arab world, we thought the Arab Spring was a joke, and later it spread. One thing Nigerians should think about us, our location in Africa, especially West Africa is that by the time we have crisis in Nigeria, the whole West Africa is in trouble because if you combine the population of other West African countries together, they are not up to maybe two states in Nigeria. So, if we have crisis in Nigeria, those countries cannot accommodate us. We have to think about this and be very careful. We cannot run to Ghana, we will overrun Ghana. We cannot run to Benin Republic, we will overrun them. So, the earlier government addresses this issue before it gets out of hands, the better for all of us.
Another issue that has been unraveled by this protest is the discovery that palliatives that were supposed to have been distributed to the people during the Covid-19 lockdown were stockpiled by some of our political leaders. What’s your take on that?
It is really unfortunate that these foodstuffs that were supposed to have been distributed when people were hungry were kept. I recall that the issue about Covid-19 started around February or March this year. Now we are going to the end of October yet these palliatives are still being kept. For Gods sake, for what purpose? And don’t be surprised that some of these foods would have expired because they have expiry date. And you kept them there. Are you going to use them to feed pigs? I think this sad discovery is one of the advantages of the protest. If not for this protest, some of us were not aware that tons of these essential food items are kept somewhere and we heard somebody telling us somewhere in Lagos that he will release them on his birthday or December or what have you. If these people don’t live up to that time, then what happens? Or by the time you are ready to release them on your birthday, you discovered they have expired, what then would you have achieved? I have to praise the youwths who organised this protest for opening our eyes to this level of mismanagement in this country.
Now, let’s look at the problem of insecurity which is now taking a very dangerous dimension. One cannot travel from one part of the country to another in peace any longer. Abuja-Kaduna road is another death trap where kidnappers are holding sway despite efforts by security agencies to nip it in the bud. Some people are calling for the complete overhaul of Service chiefs. Do you also hold that opinion too?
Surprisingly, our President is a security man, as an ex military man. I think this is getting out of hands. The truth is that there’s no part of the country now that is safe either in the day or in the night, and you are keeping the Service chiefs who are supposed to have retired two or three years ago? I think the service chiefs are tired and there’s need to inject new blood into the system. Why don’t you change them? Anybody you bring in now would want to make some mark. They will run up and down to justify their appointment. And don’t forget one thing, when you don’t allow these people to go, that means the officers coming behind cannot grow and if they are not growing, they won’t be able to give their best. I support those who are calling for the overhaul of the security apparatus of the country. This will enable us have peace. You can see that all over the country is being overran by bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, herdsmen and whatever name you call it. From Abuja to Kaduna, you cannot go by road. Even these people are trying to attack the railway. Lokoja to Abuja is a death trap, the same everywhere. But I am of the opinion that if you change the security apparatus, those who are coming on board will try as much as possible to impress and change the tactics and within few months, we will see change. And if those people are tired also, you change them. The only constant thing in life is change and I believe if we refuse to change, the change will change you. So, I support the call for the overhaul of security apparatus.