A former presidential candidate on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Mr Martins Onovo has come down hard on the Federal Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), declaring that the government has been behind the spate of security challenges in the country.
“Both the Federal Government and APC are the sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria. It is very clear that APC is the sponsor of terrorism in Nigeria, and we have the testimonies, and we have the evidence, and this is why it looks as if terrorism can’t be defeated,” he stated.
In an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Onovo, an engineer, accused the present administration of monumental corruption, even as he declared that only restructuring can save Nigeria from total collapse.
He spoke on other national issues. Excerpts
How would you react to the present state of the nation, especially the insecurity challenges? Many prominent Nigerians have expressed concern that it portends grave danger for the country.
I also share the same concern. But already the country is in grave danger. Nigeria needs a major readjustment now, and unless there is a miraculous intervention from God, the possibility of our still remaining one seems to be getting remote. Nigerians need to be given an alternative to what we have now. Interpretations may be different, but already four out of the six regions in the country have issued a sovereign dispute with the Federal Government.
We got into this present mess deliberately and very clearly. In 2016, my group, the Movement for Fundamental Change, told the nation that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is desperate to destroy the country. But some sycophants, instead of looking at the reality, claimed that we were raising a false alarm because my party -the NCP- didn’t win the 2015 presidential elections. Those accusing us may not have had the information we had, but even an objective person without the information we had would have come to the same conclusion. Now we have enough confessions about deliberate plans to destroy this country.
Some of these confessions include that of a leading APC national chieftain, Kawu Baraje who confessed that the party imported bandits and terrorists into the country in 2015 in order to win the elections. Don’t forget that Gov Nasir el-Rufai also publicly declared that he paid bandits in order to stop the killings in Kaduna State. Timi Frank was acting APC National Publicity Secretary. There was a time he claimed that President Buhari hated Christians. There was also a time APC national leader, Bola Tinubu claimed that President Buhari is an ethnic bigot. Gen TY Danjuma also at a time declared that members of the armed forces are not neutral, that they were conniving with bandits. And we have evidence of that because there was a case in Plateau State where the Nigeria Police arrested a herdsman with Nigerian Army rifles. Then we have testimony of Col. Tony Nyiam that when Fulani herdsmen attacked Ogoja and were repelled, that those ones that were arrested among them were carrying Nigerian Army rifles.
So what more evidence do the Nigerian people need to know that the Federal Government and APC are behind all these crises? But materialism has blinded so many people in Nigeria, including members of the Fourth Estate of the realm who are supposed to educate others. To make matter worse, anybody that rises up against terrorists Fulani herdsmen, the Federal Government moves against them.
Look at what happened to Gana in Benue, how he was extra-judicially murdered. Look at what is happening to Sunday Igboho in the South-West today. Once you rise up to defend yourself, which is a divine right that is universally acclaimed, the government will move against you. Why was Gana extra-judicially killed by the Nigerian Army? He had a peace treaty with the state government, and he was on his way to surrender before he was killed by the Nigerian Army. So how much evidence do we need from what I have itemized here to know that APC is the sponsor of terrorism in Nigeria? Both the Federal Government and APC are the sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria. It is very clear that APC is the sponsor of terrorism in Nigeria, and we have the testimonies, and we have the evidence, and this is why it looks as if terrorism can’t be defeated. But what continues to baffle me is why over 200 million Nigerians will remain quiet while all these are going on. Why should we allow APC to hold us down?
Are you saying that Nigerians are docile?
Nigerians are not only docile but too corrupt and materialistic, and that’s why this kind of nonsense can be going on in the country. Nobody will tolerate what is happening in Nigeria today in any other part of the world. There is nothing I’m saying here that Nigerians don’t know, so why are we afraid to demand what is right? Why should the status quo remain, and in whose interest? Nigerians should rise up to the present challenge by rejecting bad leader- ship and insist on good governance.
Former Head of State, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar,and others have warned of a possible break-up of the country. Do you harbour such fear?
Abubakar would not be the first person to warn about the possibility of a break-up. For- mer President Olusegun Obasanjo also raised that alarm that the country is sliding towards disintegration. The deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido also raised a similar alarm. The situation will continue to get worse as long as you have APC and General Buhari in government. Buhari should resign. He can’t solve this problem because his party created the problem in the first place. I will not be the first person to call on Buhari to throw in the towel. Alhaji Tanko Yakassai called on Buhari to resign because of insecurity. The Northern Elders Fo- rum called on Buhari to resign because of insecurity. Even Katsina State youths have called on Buhari to resign because of insecurity. So what is Buhari still doing in that position?
Buhari should have even been impeached because of insecurity. How did we get to this precarious situation? Nigeria is supposed to be a heterogeneous society like the United States and Canada, but the difference between those countries and Nigeria is that while those nations are blessed with good political leader- ship, Nigeria is not. When you lose good political leadership, you lose the economy, you lose everything. Corruption has weakened Nigerians, while materialism has undermined the spirit of courage, patriotism, and nationalism among citizens.
Under this APC government, Nigeria has had its worst rating in the corruption index of the Transparency International. Nigeria is now in 149th position. The biggest corruption in Nigeria since amalgamation took place under this government, and that’s the 25 billion dollar NNPC scam. That’s about 10 trillion naira. Now the very worst report written by the Auditor-General of the Federation since 1999 happened under this government. Buhari’s government has spent 41 trillion naira since he took over power as President in 2015, and there is nothing to show for it. There is no new refinery. There is no new power station. The railway he commissioned, he admitted that former Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had done it over 90 per cent. It is just stories, and 41 trillion naira had gone. Show me a new 100 kilometres of road that APC had constructed. Look at the Sukuk fund road projects being undertaken by this administration. Some of them are being built at over N5 billion per kilometre, and that’s a kilometre of road. Is that not ridiculous? This is the most corrupt government I have ever known. Everything under this government is corrupt. Even appointments being made are corrupt.
Do you support recent calls by some influential Nigerians that responsible citizens should be allowed to carry arms in self-defence in view of the killings by bandits and other criminals?
Any citizen who is verified through criminal record should be allowed to carry arms and register it. For those who are nurturing concerns that it may lead to proliferation of arms, I don’t agree because when you are talking of proliferation of arms, you are talking about il- legal arms, and not those ones that are legal. Those that are to carry arms are to be licensed and registered. You license their names, to their government identity cards, to their residence with their bio-data, with their socio-economic data, and once you do that there will be no need for any anxiety. Without arms, when bandits and terrorists attack, you will be at their mercy. But when you are armed, at least you will be able to put up resistance or defend yourself.
Allowing people to carry arms in self-de- fence will also strengthen our military capability because you will have young men available for military operations in time of emergencies. The Nigeria Police, according to a recent rank- ing by the World Institute of Police Services, is the worst police in the world. So why would you want to entrust your security to the worst police in the world? Before this government came into office, we were not the worst police in the world. But now see where Buhari’s administration has led us. Before Buhari came into office, we were not the poverty capital of the world, but Nigeria is being ranked the poverty capital of the world. Before APC and Buhari took power in 2015, in the global index on terrorism, Nigeria was number four. But today Nigeria is number three. Imagine the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed saying security has improved. But if security has improved as he wants us to believe, how come Nigeria has become worse in the global index on terrorism, and Fulani herdsmen were mentioned as contributing to that ranking?
There is also what is known as farmers and herdsmen crisis across the country…
There is nothing called herdsmen and farmers’ crisis. It is the media that is creating a deceit. There is nothing called that. What we have is a situation where you have a Fulani Army trying to take the land of the natives, and even the Presidency asked us to surrender our lands to them in order to keep our lives. One thing I want to emphasise here again is that as long as Buhari remains in office, the security situation will get worse. When I said in 2016 that APC is the greatest threat to Nigeria since independence, APC propaganda machine claimed that I’m a sore loser. But who has been vindicated today? What I’m saying is not metaphysical but science. Just use simple security memory index, you will see that the security situation has progressively gone worse. What we have in Nigeria today can be likened to a war situation.
Sheikh Abubakar Gumi recently advised that bandits be given amnesty…
Gumi is a man that should be watched. It is not only amnesty he called for. He is also quoted as saying in one Hausa newspaper that Boko Haram is a blessing to Nigerian Muslims. If you also watched the video of his meet- ing with bandits, you will see where he told the bandits that it was not the Muslim soldiers that were shooting at them but Christian soldiers. Have they not already divided the Army? But they will now be telling us that the opposition is trying to divide the Army. Is Gumi not inciting the bandits against Christians by claiming that it is Christian soldiers that are shooting at them? Let us not continue to deceive ourselves until the whole country goes up in conflagration. Imagine Gumi even comparing Niger-Delta militants with bandits! What a shame! But I’m not surprised. When the source of a river is dirty, that river will be virtually dirty. That’s what I can say about Gumi. If a religious extremist like Gumi will call for anything, you will know that what he is calling for is very wrong. It is obvious that there is no basis for comparison between Niger-Delta militants and bandits. If Gumi can say Boko Haram is a blessing to Nigerian Muslims, then you don’t expect same Gumi to bring a reasonable solution to any problem in the country. I don’t agree with that. For me, Gumi didn’t go to negotiate with bandits. He went there to incite them against Christians.
On 2023, there have been arguments over rotation and merit. While some are saying that the principle of rotation should be respected, and that it should be the turn of the South, especially the South-East, others are canvassing merit, where do you stand?
We stand on merit, and that merit should be based on rotation. Every local government in Nigeria has a suitable presidential material. I’m not the first person to say this. Late Alhaji Balarabe Musa said so. He said you can find an excellent presidential material in each of the 774 local government areas of Nigeria, and you don’t also change the rule in the middle of a game. Nigeria is a heterogeneous society, and based on that, the overwhelming, majority accept rotation. Any argument against rotation is deceitful. Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State has declared that it is the turn of the South in 2023, and that this has already been agreed to in APC, and that anybody who says other-wise is being dishonest. I’m quoting el-Rufai. I’m not in APC. Rotation is a Nigerian thing. It is very patriotic, and it is in the best interest of the country, and if there would ever be any 2023, it should be the turn of the South-East. For equity and justice, it should be the turn of the South-East.
I said if ever there would be a 2023 because of my fear for this country, because of terrible things that are happening in this country. Look at what is happening in Niger State where vehicles that are carrying foodstuff to the South are being turned back, and Nigerian security forces are looking the other way. Are you not aware that the Nigerian military used helicopter gunships to cause mayhem in Orlu? There are so many things happening that nobody knows whether there will be 2023 or not. So I’m not willing to talk further about 2023 because it is only a living man that can talk about 2023.
What is the way out for the nation to get out of these crises?
The country must be restructured. Nigeria needs a major political adjustment, and restructuring is the only safest option because it will be least expensive, and also because an overwhelming majority of Nigerians agreed that we need to restructure. Already four out of the six geo-political zones in the country have agreed on restructuring through their socio- cultural organisations, so what we should have been doing is to discuss what should be the terms for restructuring.
My own terms, which I believe should be ideal for us, are that we should have six regions using the current six geo-political zones with six constitutions. A federation is a federation of constitutions, this is the proper definition of proper federalism, and that is what the original founders of Nigeria agreed upon. At the Lancaster Conference in London, that was what the founding fathers agreed upon before the military disrupted the agreement. We need to go back to that original agreement with some updates, and modifications. Nigeria was founded as a federation but the Army truncated that arrangement and imposed their own structure. When you go against your own foundation, your structure will collapse, and that’s why Nigeria is having all these challenges.