By Ngozi Nwoke
Elder statesman and leader of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has said that the future of the country is bleak without restructuring. In this interview, he spoke on various issues including the alarming rate of insecurity in the country.
The security situation is becoming scary; will Nigeria be able to halt the slide to anarchy?
There is no security in Nigeria and I tell you for sure that as long as Buhari in still in power, there can never be security in Nigeria. There is enough evidence to show that he too is a contributor of the insecurity in the country. How can a government claim to fight insecurity when a senior member of its cabinet is a supporter of a notorious terrorist group? I’m referring to Pantami, his aide. He was known to be a staunch supporter of Al-Qaeda. Now the president said he has been purified. Purified in what way? The fact that he was given such a sensitive position in Buhari’s cabinet is enough suspicion. The Southern governors came together irrespective of their party affiliations and declared that no open grazing which is the major cause of the killing and kidnapping in the North, then you as president came up to say that you discovered an old law that approves open grazing. How on earth is open grazing a functional action to approve of?
In 2018, when these herdsmen killed over 800 Christians on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, till date, there hasn’t been a single arrest of not even a single herdsman. Kidnapping, raping, not a single arrest. The governor of Benue State cried to him for help as the chief security officer of the country on the frequent and malicious killings of his people by the herdsmen and all the president could tell Governor Ortom was “Go and make friends with your neighbours.” Who are the neighbours Buhari was referring to? They are the Fulani Herdsmen. So, one would wonder how you make friends with people who kill you and destroy your source of livelihood? You asked if Nigeria can ever fight insecurity and I’m citing practical instances why this country cannot overcome insecurity. Ahmed Abubakar Gumi goes regularly to negotiate with these herdsmen on how much ransom families of kidnapped victims should pay. Imagine that Gumi can visit the bandits, that is to say that he knows where to locate them, but the army and the Federal Government claim they do not know how to catch them. Except we are blind and we just chose to dwell in self-denial, the truth is that Nigeria cannot overcome insecurity if Buhari remains in power.
What is your view on the attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy?
The attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy is utterly shameful and disappointing to say the least. With such a gruesome attack, Nigerians expect that the flags be flown at half mast or at most a statement from the presidency or a presidential visit to the families of the dead military personnel. In a civilised country, Buhari and his security aides should have honourably resigned from office due to their incompetence and lack of professionalism. Buhari is a failure to Nigeria. How do you explain to Nigerians who are supposed to hold you accountable for every action you take in office that armed bandits invaded a defence academy as sophisticated as it is, killed military personnel and successfully escaped? And till today, there has been no arrest on any of the bandits? Only God can save us from this government.
Is the situation more than just the failure of leadership; do we have Afghanistan on our hands?
Certainly, I can tell you that Nigeria is becoming another Afghanistan from all the ills we see daily. All these Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and other insurgents freely and successfully terrorizing the country, without the timely intervention of security agencies, is enough for anyone to agree that Nigeria is becoming another Afghanistan. Boko Haram is the lower cadre of the Taliban. The agenda and purpose of the Taliban is to dominate Afghanistan which is the same agenda and purpose of Boko Haram; to take over and Islamise the country. They are working in cooperation.
Following the insecurity situation in Katsina, Governor Masari enjoined his people to take up arms to defend themselves. Have we got to the stage of self-help?
It is obvious that the state and Federal Government have woefully failed to defend the lives and properties of the people of Katsina State. What else will he tell them if not to defend themselves. The Emir of Muri also enjoined his people to defend themselves. If there was devolution of power or autonomy for state police, I do not believe that the level of insecurity in the North would have gotten to this level. As a matter of fact, it is inhumane and the highest level of wickedness against humanity that you failed in your responsibility to protect the lives of your people and at the same time refused to allow them defend and protect themselves. He refused the people to set up their state security outfits and when Amotekun eventually came on board, he refused them from carrying arms. Yet he expects them to face bandits and kidnappers who are fully equipped with sophisticated weapons. How is that even possible? Buhari is making Nigeria a laughing stock. He is a shame to Nigeria.
Governor Matawale of Zamfara has also suggested that the Federal Government declares a state of emergency in the North. Do you think that would be the solution?
A state of emergency should not only be declared in the North, but in the whole country. A state of emergency should be declared on the resignation of Buhari and his incompetent cabinet. We need a new government which has the courage to solve Nigeria’s enormous problems.
With the level of insecurity in the land, do you think 2023 election would be possible?
I do not believe in 2023 election. Talking about 2023 election is a diversion of attention and focus. The constitution must be changed and Nigeria restructured to federalism before talking about 2023 election. Nigeria will only be better if the constitution is changed to federalism.
Is restructuring which will lead to the establishment of state police not the best solution at the moment?
Before we talk about restructuring Nigeria, we must talk of changing the 1999 military constitution. We are only saying restructure the country to a federal system and that federal system must agree to act independently. The national assembly is a product of fraud. The military designed the constitution to favor their regime. Change the constitution. He wants to impose military constitution in a civilian regime. The military changed the constitution in 1966 to suit their ambition. There are so many laws imposed on us from the constitution that are against the human rights law. Until we go back to the independent constitution, there will be no peace in Nigeria. If the constitution is not changed, there will be more Igboho’s, and more Nnamdi Kanu. I have told Buhari several times to put the South-West to test. I am the chief champion of restructuring.
Do you still see any future for Nigeria?
I do not see any future in Nigeria if the constitution is not changed. President Muhammadu Buhari is the enemy of this country. People are talking about corruption, asking of the result of his corruption fight when right in his cabinet, Timipre Sylva was accused of corruption and found guilty by the EFCC, prosecuted by Festus Keyamo, with 26 houses recovered from him. The president who claims to have zero tolerance for corruption returned those houses to him, appointed him as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources together in the same cabinet with Festus Keyamo who prosecuted him for corruption. This is the most shameful act ever witnessed from a president. Until he goes back to the constitution we had during the independence, there will be no peace in Nigeria.