From Gyang Bere, Jos
Former member of the House of Representatives and a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Bitrus Kaze, has taken a swipe at Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State over plot to recall the senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye.
Kaze who together with Dino, were suspended from the House in 2010, when they raised allegation of corrupt practices against Principal Officers of the House, said it was Dino that save them from the suspension handed them and expressed optimism that Dino would survive the recall plot.
Some forces in Kogi State appear bent on recalling your former colleague, Sen. Dino Melaye. Do you see him surviving the plot?
Dino Melaye impresses me as an extrovert, he is fighter and somebody who has fought more battles alone than with groups. He has survived difficult political terrain of this country. But that INEC has released dateline regarding his recall surprises me because there is a court case concerning the matter, probably the court has not issued any orders. However, it is the same INEC that had in the past withheld certificates; denied declaring of results and it is the same INEC that has withheld official actions in several matters because of court cases. I do not understand why they are now in a hurry to bring into conclusion the process of Dino’s recall. It is very possible that some of the voters that have signed the recall letter might be fake; INEC must truly establish that those people are authentic. INEC needs some sense of dignity, integrity and credibility for the recall process so as to send a message that it is a genuine one, because with my personal knowledge of Dino, I will be very surprise if Dino is recalled.
I believe he is going to survive it because he has punctured the signatures and the matter is already in court, no matter the figure that have signed the recall letter, if only one voter is able to proof that his name was used but it was not his signature, that will discredit the whole process.
Some persons have accused the governor of orchestrating the recall; do you share the same opinion?
In fact, if it were not because of the court of law, in fairness to Dino, the Kogi State Governor does not qualify to be a governor; this is somebody that did not contest an election. To me the person that ought to be the governor of Kogi State today is Falake, Bello is a stranger to that seat and I am surprised that he is using the position to fight Dino. The impression in the public domain is that the recall is being engineered by the governor of Kogi State who has done everything to discredit Dino.
You were involved in rancour in the House of Representatives alongside Dino which turned the plenary into a rowdy session, how did you survive it?
That is why I said I know Dino as a rootle fighter, before that rancour occurred on the floor of the House of Representatives, we had obtained facts and figures of fraudulent activities of our Principal officers during Demeji Bankole’s era, I still have copies up to date, we accused the leadership of the House of awarding contracts far and beyond what Patricia Ette was remove for, and we could prove our case. Even though the House suspended us, the court voided that suspension and unfortunately up to this moment, Principal officers of that time in the House are still battling to clean themselves of corruption cases that we raised since June 20, 2010, that is why I said if it is the Dino that I know, he will not go to the Media without getting certain facts in his pocket, that was what helped us survived when we were suspended from the House of Representatives.
Are you worried about the quit notice issued by Arewa Youths to Igbo to vacate the northern region?
That notice is very unfortunate and reckless; it is irresponsible in my view. What these youths actually voiced out is not as disturbing to me as the credence given to the voice of the youths by Prof. Ango Abdullahi. But even at that, that is not much more disturbing to me as the rather complete silence that followed from key Arewa figures. I expected former Heads of State, key traditional rulers and religious leaders to have risen to the task of condemning the action.
Are you saying that the likes of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma and other key religious and traditional rulers in the north have not come out clearly to condemn the youths?
Yes, all these leaders that represent the face of the North have not come out to state clearly their position against the quit notice issued by the Arewa Youths to the Igbo. I mention Gen. Gowon and Gen. Theophilus Danjima consciously because they do not really represent the face of what is call the north, they belong to the Middle Belt and I know, certainly they will not support what will re-enact civil war in this country.
In fairness, this thing goes beyond religious, social, economic class and even beyond any partisan divides, it is threatening the very foundation of our country and everybody, whether you have the face of the north or not, everybody is suppose to come out and condemn the perpetrators of this rascality. I call it rascality because in my view, it did not send the appropriate signal to investors and would be investors. I mention the former Heads of state, even the current President, Muhammadu Buhari, how come he could give Sallah message, condole the governor of Kano State over the demise of key personality in the state and he cannot speak on the unity of the country.
Are you insinuating that there is something more to the quit notice issued y the Arewa Youths than meets the eye?
I am disturbed about the complete silence, I have not seen enough fire against the pronouncement by the youths, if it were something political, if it were something that bother on religion against what is called the north, we would have seen the entirety of the north come out and speak against it, so why not in the case that affects the unity of Nigeria? In any case, if the Igbo are asked to leave the north and supposing the Igbo in the South- East or the Yoruba in the South -West ask all Northerners to leave, what do you think will happen to our country? We will have no Nigeria; it will precipitate exchange of fire and war in this country.
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State came out promptly and ordered the arrest of these youths, why do you think they have not been arrested up to this moment?
That is one of the reasons I mentioned former Heads of State and even the current President of Nigeria. It is very surprising to me really, why did they arrest Kanu in the first place, the man that propagate Biafra, if they cannot arrest their counterparts from the north? As far as I see these Arewa Youths, they are just another side of the same coin of Biafra, the northern front of Northern Biafra if you like. There was no reason in the first place to charge Kanu to court with treason if there are treasonable elements that have done same if not more damage to national unity and are walking free. Why did it have to take the governor of Kaduna State to tell the Inspector General of Police to move to action? Did it take the governor of Imo for example to tell the Inspector General of Police to charge Kanu to Court? When the governor of Kaduna State speaks, it is to his credit, but nobody has taken action. To my mind, it has moved from complete silence to active complement to those indecent youths, it is unfortunate.
The country appears divided as to whether Amnesty should be granted to looters or not, which side of the divide do you belong?
Actually, it is a very difficult one for me, once you pronounce amnesty for looters; will that encourage or discourage looting? If you will loot, only to declare parts or you move swiftly or smartly away with it and go scout free, of what benefit is it to the country? Al though I am not really aware of all the sections of the bill to see if it covers only a particular period in our national history but if it is going to be blanket that every other looter in the future that comes and declare should go scout free, then, to an extent, that will be given corruption an official status. But if it is to cover from the period of Independence to 2015, where anybody who is in possession of funds is willing to declare and submit such funds to the federal government, and such a person is granted amnesty, then it makes sense to my mind.