Former Governor of old Kaduna State and National Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe musa has said that Nigerian masses may soon rise against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari if the current economic hardship in the country is not addressed immediately.
In this interview with Saturday Sun’s NOAH EBIJE in Kaduna, Balarabe Musa warned that there is nothing that pushes people to revolt against government than hunger, pointing out that the primary responsibility of government is the welfare of the people and this, Buhari must not shy away from.
Lagos-based Catholic Priest, Cardinal Anthony Okogie recently wrote President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that there is hunger in the land and that Nigerians are dying of hunger. Are you in agreement with Okogie?
I am more than in agreement with him. In fact, I dare to warn the President and everybody that can listen, that history has proved that mass hunger, hunger of the population, mass poverty of the population, killer hunger have always been the most immediate cause of proletarian revolution in every country of the world. And the President should know this; let him not be deceived by those who are benefitting from the current situation of hunger.
Do you think Nigerian masses can revolt?
Nigerians are not different from the rest of human kinds; they are not different from the rest of the people in the world. Whatever people did in the world to protect themselves or show their anger against bad government, Nigerians can do it, and nobody should deceive himself that Nigerians are so docile, that they will not revolt. Anger pushes anybody to the limit.
Sir, what is your advice to Nigerians over hunger and economic hardship in the country?
Well, they should protest. I know that it is a risk because security men may shoot them. However, they should protest because this is their life. Somebody is playing with their lives, somebody is destroying their lives, they should defend their lives and protect their interest.
Even in the face of shooting by the security service?
Of course, others did so to liberate themselves, why can’t they do it?
But government has continued to tell Nigerians to be patient. How do you react to this?
Well, the thing is this; it is a political gimmick, and this can be sustained only in a situation whereby people see hope and changes. But where people don’t see changes, where they don’t see the basis for expecting changes, and they suffer continuously, appealing to them to be patient i may befutile.
Also, Nigerians are crying over riding insecurity in the land. Do you also see it in that direction?
Yes, it is increasing, and it is changing forms.
What are these forms?
First, the most serious one is the Boko Haram. After the Boko Haram, we have the revival of the Niger Delta militancy, and other forms of insecurity like cattle rustling, armed robbery, kidnapping, and other criminal activities are taking the centre stage, and the accumulated effects of some of these criminal activities are worse than Boko Haram or Niger Delta militancy.
What is the way out of all these crises?
Well, I think I will tell the President, the immediate way out is to change the social, economic and political system controlling all development in this country, and the political leadership inevitably produced by this system which is based on first self interest, public interest second or even incidental. We have to change this system in favour of a system based on public interest first, enlightened self interest second.
How can the system be changed?
The best way to change the system and the leadership is to bring about the leading role of the states in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of human being, progress and development of the country. And this is not something that is far-fetched because this is consistent with chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, this is what the President should realise. Let him not be deceived by these champions of the middle role of the private sector in the economy. There is no way the private sector can deal with the situation in the negative state of the nation today, there is no way the private sector can do it because the private sector’s responsibility is to make profit. And the primary responsibility of government is the welfare of the people. Now in a situation like this, it is the welfare of the people, which is primary and you can bring it about only through the middle role of the states in the economy. It doesn’t mean that the private sector will not participate, no, the private sector and the public sector will compete, but under the leadership of the public sector which is responsible for the overall welfare of the people.
Mr. President has said at different occasions that Nigeria is broke. In your opinion, is the country broke?
No, Nigeria can’t be broke, the country is very rich. The problem is the system and the managers of the economy. The problem of Nigeria is real, but it is something that can be managed. But as I told you, if the President is looking for an answer, he will get it; he can get it in what I have said; change the system and the leadership like I have said.
Up till now, the ruling APC has been blaming the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the hardship in the land. Should APC continue with this blame game?
No, no, definitely APC inherited this bad situation, but APC came to power with the promise of correcting the negative state of the nation. In this case, instead of correcting it, they are just complaining, making promises, how can they continue to do this over one year of leadership? We want to see them really doing work, and there is no way they can do any work and achieve anything without changing the system and the leadership inevitably produced by the system, both of which are based on self interest first, public interest second or even incidental. This should be changed in favour of public interest first and self interest second. This can deal with this level of corruption, stealing and criminal waste of resources which is the root of the problem of Nigeria. In the history of Nigeria, up till 1970, the philosophy was public interest first, and self interest second. And the states maintain the leading roles in the economy, and that is why up till 1970, there wasn’t this level of corruption, stealing and criminal wasting of resources. We have known times in Nigeria before 1970 when nobody could steal a kobo of public funds and get away with it. Today, if you are a favourite of the President, the governor or the local government chairman or who they have appointed into office, you can steal anything and get away with it provided you are lucky because some people stole, they are not lucky and they are caught.
Sir, before the last general election, many Nigerians saw Buhari as an angel who could rescue the country from socio-economic problems. Is the President really an angel?
Well, may be Nigerians are now saying that they misjudged, and Nigerians should in future make sure that they access any prospective leader critically, taking into account his records, his inclination and everything, particularly records of performance in office.
You are into farming, how has government policies affected your farming business under President Buhari’s administration?
First of all, the government is not even helping in any way now. Government used to help a lot, but now they are not helping at all.
How was government helping you?
In the past, government was helping with cheap loan. For instance, three percent interest, government was helping with the supply of cheap inputs, government was helping farmers with modern agricultural processes and so on. And there was even a time when government was buying grains in particular from farmers that they could not sell at commercial and competitive price. But government is not doing that any more.