By Chinelo Obogo
A former member of the House of Representatives and Senator, representing Kano Central at the National Assembly, Rufai Hanga has revealed what he claims is the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to sack the security chiefs despite calls by Nigerians to do so. Hanga, who is the founding national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the platform on which the president contested for elections in 2011, told Daily Sun that, he(Buhari) values loyalty to himself over competence and that he is afraid junior army officers may want to topple him if they replace the current security chiefs.
He also speaks about the 2023 elections, claiming that the decision by the President to dissolve all the state chapters of the All Progessives Congress (APC) is a strategy to weaken the chances of the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, from emerging as presidential candidate.
The rate of insecurity especially in the northern part of Nigeria has deteriorated. Just few weeks ago, 50 farmers in Borno were killed by terrorists and not long afterwards, over 300 school boys were kidnapped from Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s state. Many have wondered why despite the rising level of insecurity, the President has refused to let go the security chiefs who don’t seem to know what to do to tackle the situation?
The issue now is that Buhari has not only lost touch, he doesn’t have the capacity to do anything.
At what point did you realise that he didn’t have the capacity because you were once one of his core loyalists?
Right from his first tenure, people were saying that he was not in charge despite what was happening and I can give you just one example. When Buhari made one of the major appointments, he saw the person he appointed for the first time and asked him if they had ever met, and the man, who is from my state, said no. What does that mean? It means he appoints people he doesn’t know. It is very ridiculous. Whoever occupies any sensitive position should be someone that you know very well and someone whose competence you can vouch for. In his first tenure, he even confirmed that he had never met 90 percent of his ministers before appointing them. How can you appoint someone without meeting them and sitting down with them to ascertain their level of competence? That is why there are many people with cases in the anti corruption agencies in his cabinet.
Unfortunately, the security situation in the North is worse than it is in the entire country. Even in Abuja now, criminals are going around killing people. The same time that incident happened in Borno was the same time something happened in Zamfara and Kaduna. Between Kaduna and Zaria, we have the military academy in Jaji where people from all over the world go for training. Just along that road, people were abducted in broad daylight. Is there anything more scandalous than the fact that along the road where the largest military formation in Africa is located, there is high level of kidnapping and armed robbery?
Before Buhari became President, he was consistently condemning the previous administration over insecurity while promising that if elected, he would lead the war against Boko Haram from the front. He had the support of people like you who told the country that the he would use his experience as a General to de-capacitate the terrorists. What then went wrong? Why are you now saying he is incompetent?
It is one thing for someone to say something and it is another thing for the person to do it. Someone may always brag that he can do this or that but when he is given the opportunity, you will discover that he has no clue. All he was after was power and he has gotten it. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself and that is what is happening. People have been crying for him to change the security chiefs but he has refused because he doesn’t want to be toppled. He said it openly that even though he is not satisfied with what the security chiefs are doing, that the problem is that down the ladder, there may be some ambitious officers. So, he is afraid that there may be people down the ladder who may stage a coup against him, so the security chiefs are the only people he trusts. He doesn’t care that they are doing damage to the country.
Does that imply that he values loyalty to himself over competence?
Everything is always about him. He wants people that would be loyal to him and those he can trust, not those who are competent and would serve the country. These people have served for over 35 years whereas their juniors and those after them have long been retired. Why is he still keeping them? If you do the same thing for a long time, you would get tired. These people are tired, they have exhausted all that they know but you have refused to give a chance to those under them that are younger, have fresh ideas and are itching to show their competence. No one would come and share his ideas for free when he is not the one that would be congratulated. So the president is doing more harm to the country and even to himself. Look at what Garba Shehu said when the farmers were massacred, that they didn’t get clearance before they went to farm. It’s scandalous and shameful that a farmer should go and ask for permission before he can go to his farm.
Not long ago, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, told the country that the President agreed to appear on the floor of the House to answer questions on what his administration is doing about insecurity. Few days later, the President refused to turn up and the Attorney General of the Federation said the National Assembly doesn’t have the right to summon the President. As a former lawmaker, what is your take on the issue?
This National Assembly is the worst that we have ever had in the history of this country. They were not sincere because they knew that he would not come. If the National Assembly was true to itself, they should have insisted that he must come.
What are they afraid of?
These people are not only taking jumbo salaries, they are also taking contracts. So, the moment they start to put pressure on the President, they would be blackmailed.
Back to the issue of insecurity, many have said that we are not seeing much condemnation and outburst from northern leaders against this current administration compared to the previous one. In the past, the likes of former Governor Murtala Nyako wrote a letter to Buhari’s predecessor accusing him of committing genocide against the North in the name of fighting Boko Haram and not just him. But we aren’t seeing such outrage anymore. What went wrong?
We don’t have opinion moulders and everyone is a leader to himself, that is why there are so many groups; Arewa this and Arewa that. The real people don’t talk because they would not be allowed to say anything. All those you see coming out in the media to talk are inconsequential. The second point is that former President Goodluck Jonathan was a victim of propaganda from the South West spearheaded by Bola Tinubu.
However, we still have people like Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso and others who are very vocal about the insecurity situation. I’m a Northerner but if you had not spoken to me, I may not have given my opinion. We in the North are complaining and we know that what is happening is wrong.
What is your assessment of the Northern governors especially those in the APC as they are the majority in terms of tackling insecurity? Should they be putting pressure on the president to sack the security chiefs?
These governors are sycophants who are after themselves and plotting on how one of them would be President and another to be vice president. They were the ones that told the president not to appear before the National Assembly. What is wrong with the President going to the chambers? They are abusing the system and treating the federal chambers the way they treat their state assemblies and they want the President to do the same to the National Assembly, to disregard them. Unfortunately, the National Assembly is weak because most of them there were imposed by the governors. We really have a big problem.
Who are to vote out because the President would not be on the ballot in 2023? Are we to vote out the APC?
The party should be voted out because they are manipulating the president. As I told you, one of them wants to be President and another wants to be the vice, so unless we defeat the party, things would remain the same. There are also people like Tinubu who are interested in the presidency but he is out now.
He is still influential in the South West, so why are you counting him out?
The South West is just one zone out of six and even there, Ekiti, Ondo and Oyo are not with him, so where is his influence? The APC leadership in all the states has been dissolved and it was dissolved because they want to install their own people. These are some of the moves they are making to neutralise Tinubu. If he had a chance before, with the dissolution of the state executive across the country, he doesn’t stand a chance again. He has been completely neutralised because when it comes to convention, the only states he is sure of is Lagos and maybe Osun.
What then happens to those in the South East like the Governor of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi who defected to APC in lieu of 2023?
I have never seen a person like that man. In the South East, Ebonyi is the minority and even in the state, his constituency is the minority. He can’t even deliver his senatorial district because that is where Pius Anyim comes from. Umahi doesn’t have a structure, that is why he left the party and no one wanted to go with him. He is an envious man and he started showing his envy when Peter Obi was nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in 2019. But as it stands, he is finished.