Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, a third-time senator is representing Southern Senatorial District of Taraba State.
In this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, Bwacha insisted that in all fairness, the Southeast region deserves the chance to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023.
He also blamed the ongoing communal clashes between Jukun and Tiv in Taraba on kidnapping and failed politicians seeking relevance. Excerpts:
How will you assess Nigeria at 59?
Well, let me first of all congratulate Nigerians for having come this far. Fifty-nine years of nationhood is not easy. Unfortunately, I must say there is so much worry and very little to talk about. As a people, we have failed ourselves. Our leaders are very greedy, selfish and corrupt. They have stolen our common wealth such that we just keep referring to our democracy as nascent year in year out. This is because we are too gullible and there is no sincerity in our leaders, except pretence, hypocrisy and lies. So Nigerians need to pray hard so that we don’t remain like this.
At what point did we deviate to this retrogressive trajectory?
We started on a bad note with the termination of the civil rule by the military which led to the incessant coups and counter-coups that created a lot of instability and ushered in military leaders who looked at the nation’s wealth as a honey pot which was meant to be shared among an elite clique both amongst the military and civilians. So, this has been the bane of the matter. The forceful takeover of government is a major setback for us. We know that in other clans that this has happened, they have been able to fare far better than we have, relatively. Ghana, for instance, is faring better than Nigeria. So, we are just a number with nothing to show for our numerical strength.
Agreed we have enormous population, yet we have the highest poverty rate, our GDP is nothing to write home about. Now if you want to examine the cause of this, you will just have to go back to how we started, because where we are today is a product of how we started. That is why you see that the same leaders are the ones still been recycled. Those same leaders that failed us in the 70s and 80s are the same leaders that are still failing us now. So, we really need to ask questions and pray very hard before we are completely destroyed.
What areas do you think the government needs to focus more on, going forward?
As a Nigerian, we all know our problems. You don’t even need to ask a prophet to tell us where it is itching us the most. It is clear to everyone that our major problem is insecurity. You need to be alive before you can even talk about anything else. So, the government has failed badly in providing security for the people and their property. So, this is the most important area that we need to address and to address urgently because this insecurity has the potential to bring this nation to its kneels and it is threatening our corporate existence now like never before. Every region is threatening a breakaway because they feel this sense of helpless insecurity. So, we really need to pray very hard that we overcome this challenge and stop blaming one another. The time has come for us to put heads together and work collectively to overcome the security challenges that we are facing now.
How will you assess the way the government is currently prosecuting the fight against criminal elements in the country?
I am not in the security circles and have little knowledge about their strategies and modes of operation. I am just a citizen like yourself, though in a vantage position, but not in the policy making position. So, all I can tell you is that we are in a deep mess security-wise. Nobody feels safe to move freely. You just have to contend with either Boko Haram, bandits, herdsmen, kidnappers, armed robbers, ISWA or tribal militias. It is simply overwhelming.
What is your take on the zoning of the presidency for 2023?
I wouldn’t know much and so I can’t say much because I don’t have much say in where the next president should come. Haven said that, personally, I think it is time to give the Southeast a chance. But like I said, that is just my personal opinion and based on human thinking, but you know, God’s ways are different from ours and 2023 is still a long way off. A lot can happen between now and then beyond what any of us is capable of thinking.
What is your take on the communal clashes between the Jukun and Tiv in southern part of Taraba?
The crisis in Southern Taraba is a product of the insecurity we are facing all over the country. I told you earlier that one of the security challenges in the country is kidnapping and it is those kidnappers that have created the problem in that part of the state that is affecting everybody and then some failed politicians took advantage of the situation and have turned it into an ethnic crisis so that they can be seen as leaders in their own ethnic groups, and they are known. So, if the two state governments mean business, they can end the problem. If they are not serious, the problem will continue.
What should your constituents expect from you this time?
Well, once you become a Senator, you are a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not just your senatorial district. So yes, I will continue to ensure that I give in my best in performing my duties as a senator for the whole country first. And then, of course, I have been in touch with my constituents and have been working hard to ease their challenges in various ways. I wouldn’t want to start blowing my trumpet here, but as long as my God allows me and gives me the strength, I will also do my best not to disappoint them. I will not want them to regret electing me as their representative.