By Dickson Okafor
Late Senator Kanti Bello granted Daily Sun what would turn out to be his last interview at his Apo legislative quarters residence, Abuja. He expressed his disappointment with his kinsman, President Muhammadu Buhari, who he said surrounded himself with incompetent people.
You were one those who advocated for Buhari’s presidency, can you confidently say that your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has delivered on its promises?
For the last years, I shied away from granting interviews not because I don’t want to say anything but because the way things are in the country now is very disappointing. I assisted this government with my talent, resources and physical strength by going about mobilizing people to ensure that the party won not only my state Katsina but all the northern states. I was the first person in 2002 that kept visiting Buhari to ask him to join politics, that was the time the textile industries in the north were going down and the power situation was getting worse. So, I felt we needed somebody who could do the job and save the nation from going down the drain. That was how I appealed to Buhari to come and join politics. I know other people encouraged him but I was the first. After he agreed, I went to notable people like the late Wada Nas, Suleiman Ahmed who is now sick and Sen. Muhammadu Bello and that was how we started a political meeting in Buhari’s house. I did my best to help but in spite of all my efforts, I’m disappointed at the way things are today in Nigeria.
I decided not to talk because what do I tell people after telling them that Buhari was the right man for job? Now we have gone past two years and there seems to be no hope. Honestly, I have never seen a great deception in my life like the Buhari-led government. He did well as regards fighting terrorism, but after that, we ended up creating kidnapping. Now you cannot travel to Kaduna by road for fear of being kidnapped. So, in terms of internal security, he has not won the war yet.
His economic policy, that is if actually he has any , is wrong. We are experiencing the worst economic situation since 1960. When APC came into power, a bag of maize was N4000 but today, the same sells for N16000. When Buhari came in, the dollar exchanged for N162 to a dollar but today it is N360 and it even got to N500 to a dollar. So, everything has increased four times and people cannot afford basic necessities of life
What would you say is responsible for this?
Incompetence is responsible.
Is it on the part of the President?
Buhari made his choice of cabinet members after four months when he ought to have hit the ground running. To be frank, most of the ministers from the South are okay, but some from the North are incompetent people. He appointed people in the third class of political rating because they are his boys who tell him what he wants to hear. We kept quite thinking he will remove them after some months having seen that they are incompetent but he retained them and that is the reason for the mess we find ourselves. Nigeria is so big and important that it cannot be left in the hands of armatures. I’m not saying all the people from the North in Buhari’s cabinet are incompetent some are capable, but generally, majority of those he made ministers are not supposed to be given such positions. Those of us who know Buhari know that he would have started well if he is the one making those appointments because all the discussions we had with him were not implemented. I was shocked when the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation was found guilty by a panel in the Senate of corruption but it took Buhari so long to get the guts to ask him to step aside.
Do you have confidence in the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu?
I have nothing against him but the Senate got letter from the DSS indicting him of corruption which made them not to confirm him, yet, Buhari presented him again. He broke into the house of judges at night and made them look corrupt. That is nonsense. This is a man the Senate said has questions to answer and he goes about arresting and intimidating people in the guise that he is fighting corruption and up till now Magu is still on the job. Where is the rule of law our party has been talking about? If the senate says Magu is not qualified, he is simply not qualified. Is he the only one that can do the job?
Are you exonerating the National Assembly from corruption because you were once a Senator?
The law says you cannot be the EFCC chairman until you’re cleared by the Senate and if the Senate did not approve, you cannot be confirmed. So, I was shocked when the Acting President said they won’t follow the law. Since this government came into power, there has been a deliberate attempt to rubbish the other arms of government except the presidency. The executive from inception, made the Senate to look corrupt to the ordinary people through the media just like the Department of State Security tried also to make the judiciary look corrupt. Now the Buhari administration has destroyed the other arms of government by making everybody believe that the legislature and judiciary are corrupt through deliberate propaganda. In the night, you raid the house of judges, which kind of government is this? Are we in a Hitler type of regime where propaganda is the strongest weapon? If you say the truth or the mind of the people, the next thing is they will start to abuse you but I’m not afraid of anything because I have nothing to hide. The truth of the matter is that the government has failed Nigerians and that is the truth. I wish they can make amend within the remaining 20 months.
Can these lapses be attributed to the ill health of the President?
If there are competent hands, the absence of President Buhari won’t be felt. There are speculations that it was not Buhari that made most of the appointments, and that the appointments were made by a clique within the government and I agree. If the so-called cabal doesn’t like you, they will block you from seeing Buhari and they will not appoint the person into any position even if the person is competent. I don’t care if I will be accused of saying what I’m saying because I was not given appointment.
Do you in support Mrs. Aisha Buhari when she said that those who are serving in her husband’s government were not those who worked for the party’s victory?
She spoke the mind of many of us who gave our all for the victory of APC but were used and dumped. Even within the party they questioned and asked why she says that. Those abusing her for saying the truth are those who are reaping where they did not sow. As far as we are concerned, the president has the right to appoint anybody he wishes to appoint, but if those he appoint are found wanting because of lack of performance, he should have himself to be blame and that is exactly what is happening now. This government is run by incompetent people.
Are Katsina State people not bothered that they have produced two presidents who fell ill while in power?
Ill health is inherent in human beings. If it is the will of God that Buhari will die he will die at anytime. We should not be focusing on the health of the President but on how we can revamp the situation because it is clear to that APC has caused economic failure.
What is your take on agitation for Biafra?
The agitation about Biafra is because of the economic situation and the question is, what do we do? It is for us to make our agriculture to work, revive our industries so that we can survive as a nation The people Buhari appointed are not telling him the truth. I doubt if Buhari is the one ruling because I had a serious discussion with him and he gave me his word, but he did not do what we agreed. That is why I said, this is not the Buhari I used know. The Buhari I used to know if he gives you his word, he does it. So, the issue is simple, Buhari and APC as a party have failed.
Do we look forward to the emergence of another political party in 2019?
No, but we should look forward to another Nigerian to help the country come out of economic mess Buhari and his men has plunged us into. We need someone that is economically knowledgeable and has the capacity to change our fortune. We are in an economic mess and we need somebody with the capacity to solve our economic problem. This is not the time to talk about tribalism and sectionalism. The problem of Nigeria today is economy, whether we like it not we need a competent Nigerian that can boost our economy.
What is your assessment of Osinbajo?
People are saying that Osinbajo is better than Buhari. I learnt some people were complaining that he appointed most of his people into positions in his office. To me, if they are competent what is wrong with that? I don’t see anything wrong if Osinbajo appointed his people into positions in his office. Today, Nigeria can only generate 4, 000mega watts of electricity when we should be talking about 200, 000mega watts. So, we need somebody to put us on that road and we shall get the person in 2019 by the grace of God.