“General Gbor is coming from the Middle Belt, from North-central to unite this country. There will be no nonsense and when I come in, there will be unity.”
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Retired Major-General John Gbor, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for 2019 election, believes that Nigerians cannot afford to elect either the All Progressives Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if the country must change for the better.
In this chat, he insisted that he is the best candidate in the 2019 presidential race.
What informed your decision to contest for the presidency of Nigeria in 2019 general election?
I have chosen to contest for the president of Nigeria because Nigeria is at a crossroad. We are in critical times and critical times require critical leadership. If things were going on well and if there were no crises, if fellow Nigerians were not being killed all over the country, by kidnappers, by herdsmen, by farmers, by all kinds of crooked people; if the Nigerian youths, over 20 million graduates were employed, if our women in the rural areas and in the cities are cared for by the government and if our schools are running well to provide qualitative education to Nigerian children in primary and secondary schools and our university students without educational crisis, probably I wouldn’t have come out, but none of these things are happening. There is serious security challenge in the country, people are being killed all over the country and it looks as if the government is helpless though we have a retired general of the Nigerian Army as the president; he is helpless and this is necessary for General Gbor to come in now to save Nigeria. We had a situation like this in the 60s and someone came from the North-central; Middle Belt called General Gowon; he saved the nation from disintegration.
General Gbor is coming from the Middle Belt, from North-central to unite this country. There will be no nonsense and when I come in, there will be unity. That is what informed my coming in; to unite Nigeria, make Nigerians feel good for being citizens of this country. If not for anything, some of the third world countries look at Nigeria as the country that will lead the entire third world countries as an example. We eventually became an independent nation in 1960. But because we were loosely put together by the British, we ended up in political crisis that led us into civil war and after the civil war, we have not done much to integrate the Nigerian people and make them bring the nation into one national brotherhood. We are still the people of the East, West, North and South. Under the present government of President Buhari, Nigeria is divided more than it has ever been divided before. It has become very necessary for General Gbor to come in as the president of this country and I am not coming on the ticket of PDP or APC, I am coming on the ticket of the party that had his origin before the East, the North and the West, the regions were created. APGA is an offshoot of the then National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC), which was formed in 1994 at the instance of the Nigerian youths. The reason the Nigerian youths are suffering today without jobs, hopes, is simply because what they the youths started in 1944 before the East, North and West were created the youth abandoned it; it was the youth that started the NCNC, it was not Azikiwe or Herbert Macaulay, it was the students of Kings College, Lagos both the ex students of the school, who came together in a meeting, rose from the meeting and went straight to the house of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and told him, sir, the British said we are Nigerians, we don’t know ourselves since amalgamation in 1944 neither do we have one common council that speaks for all Nigerians. We need a council that will speak for all Nigerians. We the youths are ready, but don’t have leadership. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe said okay, he was happy to listen to them. Then he motivated the youths to call for a national conference, he allowed them to use his newspapers, invited Nigerians on August 26, 1944. One hundred and one ethnic groups, not all of them came, they sent two representatives to Lagos and they met in Global Hall and they established the National Council of Nigeria. When they established the council, in that meeting, some Cameroon groups came as representatives, as observers and when they saw that Nigerians have decided to come together as a unit, they also requested that if Nigeria wouldn’t mind, they should include them. So, the Bamoda trade union, the Bakwere union and the Cameroonian youth league was admitted into that council of Nigeria and that same day they changed the name from National Council of Nigeria to National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon. The aim of the council was to weld together all the ethnic groups of Nigeria and work for the prosperity and wellbeing of each Nigerian and Herbert Macaulay was elected the chairman on that day and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected the secretary general and it was the youths that gave out the cock and the cock is still crowing and that is why General Gbor has come to this cock given to Nigeria by youths in 1944 so that Nigeria will wake up so that we will put our nation together and that is why I am contesting.
With all the current challenges facing this country, how have you outlined your programmes to tackle those issues head on to realise the country of your dream?
My coming in as president of this country, the first thing I am going to do is to seek ways of uniting Nigerians. Let me tell you frankly the Hausa man/the Fulani man does not trust the Igbo man, the Igbo man does not trust the Yoruba man, the Yoruba man does not trust the Hausa man, we don’t trust ourselves. How can we live without trusting each other? We are afraid of each other; we use derogatory languages and names on each other. We may come together to share the resources of the nation, but we do not love ourselves and trust ourselves. When I come in the first thing I would want to do is to get a committee of traditional rulers, academicians, renowned people like Prof Wole Soyinka, patriots like the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, intellectuals, men and women to find out what our problems are. Why is it that as a Tiv man, I cannot trust my neighbor, the Idoma man; why is it that the Yoruba man cannot trust the Igbo man, what is the problem, where did it start? Let us get to the root.
When Gowon came after Ironsi, he knew that was the problem. For him, he consulted and created 12 states. Ironsi gave us 24 states by that group of provinces; six in the East, six in the West and 12 in the North, but Gowon gave us 12 states half of what Ironsi gave us; today we have 36 states and we still condemn Ironsi. He was doing the right thing, but we didn’t know, the simple reason was that he didn’t consult and explain the historical background to what led to his action. So, when I come in, I am going to restructure Nigeria, but my own restructuring is not the going back to the regions as some people are agitating. Regions are here to divide us. States are good. But my own restructuring focuses on economic entities, emergence of economic entities that are viable and sustainable and competitive so that if a state has oil, you mind your oil, take care of your youths, women and the aged. Certain percentage as agreed upon as a nation will be given to the centre. If you have gold, you mine it. If you are into palm oil, it is your property, what you produce you give a percentage to the Federal Government. I have five-point agenda and restructuring is the first one. The philosophy of my administration is that nobody will be left behind, no place will be left behind, everybody will be developed, every human being will be affected positively, and every place will be affected positively. I am going to decentralize the police so that each federating unit should look after his own security, should tap their own resources and if you are tapping your own resources you need security to protect your resources and to protect the citizens of your state. In the judiciary, there are a lot of cases all over Nigeria up to the federal level and this is delaying justice. I am going to decentralize the judiciary, but they will be consulted and I am going to take the judiciary very seriously. Some aspects of the judiciary will be decentralized even the Court of Appeal to the state level so that cases will be dispensed off quickly because we have been delaying justice too much in this country. Also the cost of running government is too expensive. We always borrow money from foreign countries to develop Nigeria, the chunk of it goes to the National Assembly, to the ministers, the governors and the people for whom you borrow this money to develop, to help provide education, roads, hospitals, they hardly get these things. A small percentage of the Nigerian population will borrow money and they share it, this will not happen. We are going to cut down the cost of governance and the excess from this will be used to take care of the poor. The youth and women is another agenda of mine. A country that ignores its youth, that country has shot itself in the foot, it cannot progress. Nigeria has systematically ignored the youths from 1960 to date. When people are contesting for various political positions in this country such as governors, senate, House of Reps and others, nobody talks about what I will do with the youth when I come to power and the youths just follow them blindly, they don’t know that this country belongs to them more than these ones contesting for the various positions. Another 30 years from now, by 2050, our population which is 180 million now is going to be over 400 million and these youths, we will have none that will be managing Nigeria when it will be over 400 million. So, if we ignore these youths today, when the country’s population gets to over 400 million, how can they manage this country. If people like President Buhari, a general cannot manage Nigeria and people are being killed all over the place, with his military background, how do you expect these youths to manage Nigeria when the population is over 400 million? Where will they be getting food when we are not planning? This is not to say there will be no food, but if we don’t plan and have a culture of how food can be produced and distributed, human beings will be eating human beings at that time.
You talked about President Buhari being a military person and being incapable of curtailing the security challenges we are currently faced with, you are also a military person; what would you say have made it difficult for President Buhari?
In the military, we have generals, we have commander-in-chief, but we have Chief of Defence Staff. If we are fighting a war, of course, the commander-in-chief is the overall person in charge, then we have Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, Chief of Army Staff. A general is appointed to oversee that war. Generals are not the same, all generals are trained, but they are not the same. When a general is not doing well in a war situation, the commander-in-chief withdraws him and replaces him with another general. If Buhari is not doing well who is our commander-in-chief, the electorate will remove him and put me there to make sure that things work, generals are never the same.
There is this widespread belief that the military created this current problem that we have, the unitary system that we are practicing today was caused by the military. Do you think those who made this impression are fair to the military?
The issue here is not a question of being fair to the military or not, the issue is how do we handle Nigeria now? We are at the crossroads. It is not who caused Nigerian problem, the British caused Nigeria’s problem by giving us the regions. When Nigeria came together they now refer to themselves as Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.
You said President Buhari has failed to curtail the killings all over the nation; if you become the president of Nigeria, how would you solve the problem of insurgency and insecurity, Boko Haram?
The Nigerian Army is renowned all over the world as the best peacekeeping army and I personally came out with two books on that. Anywhere there is a problem in the world the UN will insist that Nigeria should be part of the peacekeeping mission, why can’t we keep peace in our own country? You have a commander-in-chief who is not able to wield, give the right command to the service chiefs, sit back and expect results you will get it. If they have training problem they will tell you. As the commander-in chief, I will make sure they are trained in the area they need even if it means bringing people from overseas or sending the team overseas for training I will do that. If it is equipment, if they come to me they will get it. If people are saying we are Biafra and we want to go, is that what they are saying? No. They are saying we are angry. We graduated from the university 10 years ago, 20 years ago, no job and the number keeps increasing each year and you as a government you don’t care. You are appointing the same people who were ministers in 1960 to be ministers again and you are ignoring these youths and when these ministers in 1960 come to be ministers again, they don’t even think of their youths in their own localities, so what do you expect? And when they are telling you Biafra they are telling you, Oga, I am hungry, I want to marry, the good things that you have I want to have them too and then you send troops to go and kill them, it is wrong. Even the insurgency in the Northeast, the government has to tell us, but up till now we have not been told who are these insurgents, what is their problem, what are they agitating for? Now, if as government you collect these data and you know that is it difficult for you as a government, you are just a president as an individual, you have a whole nation, you take the problem to the people who elected you and say this is what the people are saying and you will come out with the best way to solve the problem. We should go the grassroots, Boko Haram, they are fighting injustice, the government doesn’t want to come out to say it; they are fighting injustice because people in government are packing too much money, keeping them overseas, people in government are not caring for the youths, they are caring for the wellbeing of others. So, what these people are saying is that slice this place called Nigeria, set up our own government and teach Nigeria how people should be administered. So, we should get to the root of the problem and solve it and not just emphasize the use of force, but use of force is necessary as a way of protecting everybody in the country. While you are using force you should aim at resolving the problem because the truth about Nigeria is that we love ourselves.
Corruption is another issue. The government of Buhari came on board to say that he will fight corruption even with his last strength and he has been fighting corruption. But you have pockets of allegations of corruption, embezzlement of funds by officials of this government; example is the former SGF, Babachir Lawal, and some other persons and at the moment the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole. Do you think this government is fighting corruption and how can you assess that corruption fight?
I don’t think Buhari is capable of fighting corruption and I don’t think any president that ever came before has the capacity to fight corruption because none of them knows the origin of corruption, they don’t know where corruption is coming from, they don’t know why a Nigerian given a responsibility to oversee a project or a state or a ministry decides to take the money for himself that is meant to take care of the people, they don’t know why, so how can they fight it. If Nigeria is a tree, corruption is in the root, stem and branches. So, if the president comes or any other president comes in and says there is corruption here, and he plucks or cuts one stem or branch, the roots are still there. The way to fight corruption, what I plan to do is that our youths have been ignored, for the first time the youths will know that government loves them, for the first time they will know that they are the government of this country, they are the future of this country, we will treat them with care. Now, when we empower them, when we educate them, they will generate their own ideas of what Nigeria should be and when you are stealing money as a president, governor or minister, these youths will be the ones to get up and fight you.
There is a feeling out there that your party is an appendage of the APC; that APC and President Buhari are sponsoring you to scuttle the votes in the Southeast for Atiku and PDP. How do you react to this?
I am very happy they are thinking that way, they will get a shock and the whole country will be shocked when General Gbor becomes the president of this country. I have told you that Buhari has failed Nigeria, APC has failed Nigeria, PDP has failed Nigeria. After the military left ruling for about 22 years, PDP came in, but they had nothing to offer Nigeria, they got embezzling money all over the place and that is why Nigeria is suffering, nobody is having it better in this country. Now, APC came which is a conglomerate of three parochial parties; one from the West, one from the North, CPC and another one and they cannot even govern; how can I be party to that kind of thing. Let no one make that mistake. I am not an appendage of anybody and I will never be.
You have been talking confidently about winning 2019 election, but people get surprised given that APGA does not have that widespread structure. How do you want to go about it?
Nigeria has a choice. This is the mistake that Nigeria makes, Buhari has come as the presidential candidate of APC; former Vice President Atiku has emerged as the candidate of PDP and I, General Gbor has emerged as the presidential candidate for APGA. You have a choice, if you want go and vote for Buhari, you will go down as a nation, if you want go and vote for Atiku, which PDP has already failed Nigeria, they have nothing to offer to this country. I am not contesting just to be voted by APGA, I am contesting to be voted by Nigerians. There are Nigerians all over the country. I am not from the East, I am from the North and, therefore, North-central and Middle Belt. If Nigeria wants a change, they want a nation, which General Gbor is going to recreate; and make Nigeria a proud nation for Nigerians, for Africans and for the black world, let them vote for me. I am coming to save Nigeria and recreate Nigeria just as Gowon came and recreated Nigeria, but now we have taken Nigeria down again; General Gbo is coming from the Middle Belt just as General Gowon did to reunite this country and make it one indivisible nation.
What you are saying is that 2019 election will not be about parties, but about individuals?
2019 election and all other elections had been about candidates, parties and platforms, but platforms produced individuals. If Nigerians go and vote for party for the sake of party; as I told one elder from the South and he said General Gbor my own area is heavily PDP, I told him that the problem of Nigeria today is beyond PDP, it is beyond APC and it may be beyond any other party, but General Gbor is coming in on the platform of APGA. So, if you are voting for APGA you are voting for General Gbor to save Nigeria otherwise all Nigerians will regret being citizens of this country. In another 10 years from now, the Nigerian oil will be gone, not that the oil will go completely, it is just that no country in the world will produce a car that will run on fuel. Countries in the world are going to produce cars that will run on electricity, so where will you sell your oil to be stealing the type of money people are stealing all over the place. When General Gbor is coming in to prepare Nigeria, particularly the youths, I want to convey to the Nigerian youths the next economic boom of Nigeria.