Elder statesman and first civilian governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has said that even though the Middle Belt may have some grievances that they remain north and will always work with the region.
He warned the south not to be blinded to think that Northern minorities will work against the North.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, Alhaji Musa also called for restructuring of the country along regions, as practiced in the First Republic.
What is your view on the way things are going in this country?
It’s really an unfortunate situation. The worst is that we are not satisfied with the performance of Buhari, but when you look at the country all over, the tragedy is that a better person has not emerged. Look at the entire country, do you compare Buhari with those who are wishing to take over from him. Can you say they can perform better, the answer is no, unless you want to deceive yourself. Mention them from the North, East, West and South.
Those who can emerge to do better have no one to sponsor them, and they are the ones who can perform better than those that have failed.
This money politics makes it impossible for someone who can do it better to emerge. Money power is the deciding factor to win an election in Nigeria. Under this situation, how can you find somebody who can perform? For him to emerge he must have so much money.
There are people who are 100 per cent better than Buhari but they can’t emerge because of this money politics. This is a big tragedy for Nigeria.
You have painted a gloomy picture of the polity, where do we go from here?
The first thing is for us to reconcile ourselves, and agree that we have one united Nigeria in which everybody has a sence of belonging.
In order words, we have to reconstruct, even if we don’t like the word, ‘reconstruction’, and the agenda of those calling for reconstruction, but we really need reconstruction for two reasons.
The first is that we have been in existence for more than 100 years and within this period we have made a lot of sacrifices and we shouldn’t loose it simply because of problem.
Secondly, we have harmed ourselves to certain extent that we don’t even regard this 100 years experience as worth it, and we are talking of ethnic nationalities, which is not necessary any where in the world today; no where in the world today that you talk of ethnic nationalities. A big country in the world, the biggest black nation, what have we to do with ethnic nationalities?
So, there has to be a reconstruction of Nigeria so that everybody will have a sence of belonging.
We should reconstruct along viable political units. In order words, we have to return to regional arrangements, and make do with the six regions, which should be the federating units, and not the unviable 36 states.
Let every region create as many states and local governments as they can cater for with their resources, so that nothing can come from the centre to the states or local governments. The federating units are the regions and there is nothing that the centre will give to the regions, and each should manage its affairs, and they can do it.
That was the way Eastern Region, the Northern Region, the Western Region and the Mid Western Region that came up later were doing it, None of them failed to pay salaries of workers, which is the issue we are having today. We are advocating restructuring to the return of the regional arrangement.
We also are supporting restructuring in improving the economy; we want the states, in order words the centre, the regions and other units, each of them to play the leading role in the economy.
For instance, the centre should play the leading role in the economy, the regions should also play the leading role in the economy to cope with situation and correct the damage being done by the stupid thing called, open market economy. Market economy will return us to slavery, because the economy of countries of the world is not the same.
If you talk of market economy, you are talking of equality and competition and so on, how can Nigeria compete with America, Germany, France and Britain. It is not possible for us to compete with them because the competition is not of equals. These are countries that built their wealth on the basis of slavery, and what opportunity have we to enslave anybody? We don’t have such.
So, as far we are concerned, the state should play leading roles in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of the human person and prosperity and even development of the country. That is the solution to the problem we have.
For example, if we say we abide by the market economy, at the moment, it is very difficult for investors to invest in Nigeria; even the bureaucratic system makes its very difficult for them. If a foreign investor comes to Nigeria, before he can bring his money to work, he would face a lot of huddles, why should it be so? Simply because the states have no adequate role. Did we have this difficulty before 1970? No, we had no difficulty with investors coming into Nigeria. Our difficulty was imperialism because the government had to agree before this man comes to invest. Also, during the colonial times, nobody could come and invest without the approval of the British government who held the colonial power. We are now supposed to be free. We should have a free policy so that any investor can come to Nigeria and invest with confidence. But where is the confidence now.
I oppose this idea of resource control because it will not enable our unity. For instance, this resource control for those advocating for it should know that it would undermine ourselves.
For instance, those asking for resource control except troublemakers in the East and in the West, are the South south, that is the Niger Delta, it will inevitably work against them because we are talking of what Nigeria should look like in the next 100 years.
In the next 50 years what would we have in the Niger Delta as a resource when the oil may be insignificant? What we have is largely in the East, in the West and in the North.
In 20 years time when oil is no more, what would they have, is it fish? Even the land resources had been destroyed by oil exploration. If there is no more oil in the Niger Delta, there would be no economic resource, and what would they have when they talk of resource control.
But when there was no resource control, the resources in the north, the east and west sustained the economy in the 100 years before the discovery oil in the Niger Delta.
When you take into account human benefits, resource control by a unit is not in our own interest. Let us have central resource control with the region to take care of everybody.
We know that what oil exploration in the Niger Delta has done to the environment is by far more than what coal mining in the east and tin mining in the Jos did to the people of the area.
The oil exploration in that region has made the environment uneconomic in the next 200 years.
We have to recognise that the people of Niger Delta really have a case in favour of compensation for them. This is being done, but unfortunately some irresponsible state governments who receive huge sums of money from the central government to undo the damage being done to the people of the region by oil exploration are not doing anything in this direction.
But the central government also, which devotes a lot of money for the Niger Delta recovery conspires with elites in the region to steal the money.
So, we want restructuring along reconciliation, along regional government.
You are one of the elder statesmen in the North, supporting restructuring, others are opposed to it but the Middle Belt came out and distanced itself from the position of the North…
(Cuts in) Those in the Middle Belt are calling nonsence. Those in the Middle Belt and those in the South are calling nonsence. They are just undermining the interest of the country, just as much as the so-called, ignorant Northern youth.
Particular those Southern leaders, calling for restructuring are not doing so because of their concern for Nigeria. They are doing it for their own different regions; some of them want return to ethnic nationality.
Again, those southern leaders that are even supporting these Northern youth are only making trouble for Nigeria because those youth who gave this quit notice order should be condemned, just like all the relevant leaders in the north have condemned them.
The southern leaders, particularly those who are holding powers in the South have behaved in such a way that there is less hope for Nigeria.
These so-called Southern leaders, who are troublemakers, are adding to the situation that led to the civil war.
How did the civil war come about? It was by the over use of power by the NPC in the North, but reaction to that was not in the interest of Nigeria as a whole, it was just against the North.
What did it result to? It was the conspiracy between the western section of the south and the eastern section of the south, as they ganged together to make the 1966 coup possible.
That is the same thing they are now doing. Those leaders in the south who never agree among themselves are playing the same game, which led to the 1966 coup.
The elites in the west told the elites in the East let us come together and do something about this feudal and conservative attitude of the north.
But, instead of doing it in the interest of Nigeria, and in the interest of everybody, they did it in the interest of conspiracy. The leaders in the east found out that they had been betrayed by the leaders in the west, and that is exactly what they are doing.
The northern youth provoked the rest of Nigeria, and instead of dealing with the reaction of the northern youth, these so called, southern leaders, who never agreed among themselves, who always conspire among themselves came out to support the ignorant northern youth.
Look at these so called Southern leaders, can you name any of them who took part really in the building of Nigeria. None of them.
Whatever their problems, the Zik, the Awolowo and the Bello really kept the country together in spite of their different backgrounds. One was republican; another was liberal and the other conservative, but they all agreed that different sections of the country can have their self government according their preparedness. They prepared and have self government. They also agreed that by 1960, they should have one independence for Nigeria because they realized that it was in the interest of all of them.
These Northern youth who are giving ultimatum (the way they gave the ultimatum is unnorthern; not in accordance with the culture of the North. The culture of the North is that the youth listen to their leaders; the youth never call the shots) cannot compare with their counterparts in the South. The Northern youth are 40 years behind in education and development compared with their counterparts in the South.
They are the ones giving ultimatum to other Nigerians; it is not in accordance with culture of the North, and yet some so-called Southern leaders are supporting them.
The Middle Belt has also joined the South in calling for restructuring, does it mean that the North is now divided and the monolithic is gone?
I told you about troublemakers. When the civil war came didn’t the Middle Belt unit with the north against Biafra? The war against Biafra was not fought by the Hausa/ Fulani alone, the Middle Belt was greatly involved. Don’t listen to that.
They may have grievances. For instance, when you consider Huasa/Fulani, Kanuri, who are the bases of the Northern leaders.
When you are talking about that the rest of the North, they look too feudal and conservative, and that is justified, there is no doubt about it.
When you come to any issue, Middle Belters prefer to go where historically they have a sense of belonging and that is what happened when the civil war came and they united against Biafra,
Let us have a situation where we all will belong to one Nigeria, where everybody has a sense of belonging.
But, you can’t say the old monolithic north is no more. Because history, resources, population are more in their favour.
Even though the Middle Belt may have some grievances, like I said it should be addressed, but that should not blind people in Nigeria, particularly from the south that when it comes to the end of consideration of any issue that Middle Belters will work against the north; they will always be with the north.
In fact, what relationship has the northern minority in common with the south west in terms of history, in terms of economy and in terms of everything?
What have they got to do with the southeast? We are not talking of principle of humanity.
They have everything to do with the north because historically they have been there, they intermingle, and even economically they are closer. What economic relationship has the Middle Belt with the west; what economic relation has the Middle Belt with the east?
They have genuine grievances, and that doesn’t mean that they are closer to the south. They are northerners.