Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman is a prominent member of the apex Northern socio-political group, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. An international security surveillance expert and former secretary of the political committee of the forum, Mohammed in this interview addressed issues relating to the governance of Nigeria and concluded that more needed to be done.
Your constituency, the North is currently under fire over what Prof. Ango Abdullahi said. The Middle Belt, Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, PANDEF and individuals have all said the North should bury their dream of producing the president in 2023. There is also the issue of how Osinbajo was recently treated by the Office of the president and most Nigerians believe it has to do with the politics of the 2023 presidency. What is your position?
Osinbajo cannot be president. This mechanism of power and of these herdsmen that are killing everybody shows that it is only a reactionary government that can rule Nigeria. I am telling you. Quote me. When we were with Abacha in the Villa, I think they said watershed, we are in watershed now. When they said we were in watershed, the next thing you heard was…you know what happened. Isn’t it? That was what happened. NADECO came in and some went on exile. Is that not what is happening now? If we are in a watershed, keep your eyes open and watch what is going to happen. If you ask them what two plus two amounts to, they don’t want you to tell them two plus two and four is the same. But we are there now. It is two plus two, but I dare not mention the four to them. Let them see it with their eyes. So, Osinbajo cannot rule Nigeria. The same thing that happened before, Interim Government is the only thing that Osinbajo can handle if we have a reactionary government. If they say Osinbajo should be there, soldiers are watching and as they are watching, they may give us a Jerry Rawlings Ghana. You can never trust civilians with power because of their greed. Corruption is in their blood. Hitler and Musilini if they dig their graves and conduct a DNA test, some of our politicians will have their DNA. So that is why I said God will intervene. We have reached the crossroads and we are waiting for God’s intervention. No be so?
But would you say what is happening now has anything to do with 2023 as far as you are concerned?
I know God’s intervention is coming very soon. The confusion between these groups is what is going to lead to God’s intervention. My friend, this government is jittery and everybody is careful with his words. They like taking prisoners. I don’t want to be a prisoner with government. Mr. Ashaka if I am in prison, will you hear all these?
A new economic team has been formed and that of the Vice-President disbanded. The new team is to report directly to the president. Then almost immediately and coincidentally, a memo was written to the VP that he now has to seek approval regarding the boards and parastatals that he chairs. What do you think is happening?
I say it is job for the boys. Do you understand what it means by jobs for the boys? If they say job for the boys, it means the yesmen are just there not because they are going to do any job. Where is the economy, my brother? Have they paid any federal contractor? They have not paid them. When they pay federal contractors and pay workers, the economy will start moving and people will start spending money. Isn’t it? That’s when the economy will wake up. It is in slumber now. So setting up a team and calling them economic advisers and all that…I am a genius in economy. I was Vice-Chairman of Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Industry. Isn’t it? Sonekan, Kuforiji and others, I have been the host of them in the past. Can anybody fault the advice that I give? I can’t see any other logic better than what I have said.
Let’s speak on RUGA. After a lull in the controversy that trailed government’s intention to set up RUGA Projects in states of the federation, the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore has come out with the statement that they deserve to be given a place in all states of the federation being the largest ethnic group in the country. What do you think of this statement?
They must behave and act according to the norms and acceptable condition of the people that are their hosts. The Fulani do not act according to the norms and accepted traditions of the people. So, they cannot go and set up a Police Force in their land for them. RUGA is like a security organization. Can you set up a security outfit for the Yoruba when they have their Agbekoya? RUGA is a security outfit because there is rustling going on and they will have to protect their cows. That is why I said the idea of RUGA in the South should be perished. Let them do their RUGA in the North. If the Southerners buy their cows, they know how to deal with it. If they want to do commercial agriculture, to do ranching, they can go to NACB. They can go and take up loan there and set up ranches, but they cannot be herders that will be herding cows on the streets. It is cattle ranching they are going to do. Is that not what the Benue State Government set up a law for?
Now that our land borders have been closed and the Bauchi State Governor said before the closure that we cannot close our borders because the Fulani man is just a Nigerian, what do you make of that statement?
Don’t mind the Bauchi State Governor. It is trash he is talking. What we should do is exactly what happened in Ghana. All herdsmen, we do not care what they are doing, let them register and pay taxes. The moment they are on the boundary of Ghana, register, pay your taxes, then you will be treated the same way Ghanaians are treated. If you pay your taxes, then you can enjoy their budgetary allocation. Whether you are from Chad or…Chad is their water hole whether they come in from Mauritania, Libya or other African countries, Chad is their water hole. That is why they carry guns because of Lions and other animals. If they don’t carry AK47 or AK49, will they be able to protect themselves from wild animals? That is why when they come into Nigeria, they are carrying AK47 and all that. And since their temperament is that of the desert, if anybody threatens their lives in Nigeria, they shoot him. So, if they are coming, if it is 50,000 herds they are carrying, they pay tax for 50,000 herds. If they have to pay taxes you think they will misbehave? They will then be in the economic plan of the country because they are tax payers. Is the Federal Government of Nigeria Father Christmas? All herds of cattle that enter Nigeria must be made to pay taxes. It is only then that they can benefit from the agricultural programme.
Let’s take on the South Africa issue now. According to the South Africa Government, over 10,000 Nigerians are in jail in their country and of these numbers, 60 percent are in jail for drug related offences. Overall, they have no fewer than 350,000 Nigerians living in their country. What is your reaction to the xenophobic attacks on Nigeria that has come up again?
EFCC has gone into an arrangement with the South African Government to hand over those in jail to them directly. Did you hear about that? They are in agreement with South Africa that those 10,000 prisoners of various offences should be handed over to the EFCC in Nigeria. Whether they are going to bring them in hand cuffs, I don’t know. It is not just in South Africa. These attacks are happening in Kenya now. A Kenyan, very intelligent young man who spoke in the video said even Ghanaians hate Nigerians now because of what Nigerians are doing there. So, Kenya is not South Africa. It is East Africa. So it is happening everywhere. Nigerians are Nigerians. Our attitude to life has made us the target of all these nations. We have a hostile tradition of business. They like ripping people off, to take by force what does not belong to us.
Buhari’s victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal drew flakes when it was delivered because of what APC considered as a sweet victory for their candidate and the party. What do you…
(Cuts in) The President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina was the one who said it. He was sent to say so. I am sure he is not even convinced himself that there is any victory. Victory about what? Victory about what Judges can sit down because they fear for their lives and bank accounts? They read the opinion of Buhari’s government. Can there ever be victory? No. The victory for Nigeria is when herdsmen stop killing people. Victory for Nigeria is if they stop exporting terrorism to other parts of Nigeria.
What do you mean by exporting terrorism to other parts of Nigeria?
Have you not heard all the issues about Boko Haram and killer herdsmen who want Nigeria to be the home land of Fulani in Africa and Obasanjo fired back to say they have no home whether in the Cameroun or Ghana? Ghana had their agreement. They said if they are going to go into their country, they have to be registered and pay tax so they will be improving the income in Ghana because they will be officially recognized. They have to pay taxes for the business that brought them to Ghana. But here they just roam the streets, kill a few people and are being protected. Why? Buhari does not need anybody to tell him that most of them in his government are thinking as if they have no brains in their heads. That is why the Emir of Kano, Sanusi said some time ago that Buhari should reduce the VAT they have increased and reduce his salary; that all of them in the government should reduce their salaries than increasing the VAT because the VAT you want people to pay where will they get the VAT? What are they buying? Their take home pay is nothing to talk about. How much will it end up? At one time you remember I told them that even NEPA in Kaduna were charging electricity for what they are not supplying. Look at now, we are here and there is no supply of electricity and the bill will come at the end of the month. They are desperate to make money but there is no justification. I don’t like using big words, I would have said commonsensical thinking. There is no logical thinking in the way the government behaves now. They are desperate seeking to look for money that they don’t look at the larger picture. You know what the larger picture is? What is going to be the consequence? If we do this, what is going to happen to it? So they move two steps forward, five steps backwards. We are done. Unless the streets are cleared, you can’t even go between Kaduna and Zaria. The new law that there is no checkpoint between Zaria/Kaduna and Abuja/Kaduna roads is all rhetoric. They can use helicopters if they are not the people who are colluding; if the Police and the government are not colluding with the people, kidnappers and others; if they are not making a fertile ground for them to operate, helicopters are very available with facilities the security agencies know; that the moment they finish their nefarious activities and run into the bush, the helicopter will use infra-raid to bomb the place. Have you not heard that the Police and soldiers are colluding with these people?
Let me take you back to what you said earlier about the exportation of terrorism…
I said they are exporting to other states.
Who are those exporting?
By RUGA you are exporting terrorism because the people do not behave in the culture of their hosts. You must behave in the culture and be seen to have been domesticated to the conditions acceptable by the people of that particular kingdom or where you want to stay. You can’t take visitors and expect them to come and decide the wellness and security of the people. No. They must conform to the peace, behavior and everything of the people that are their hosts to be allowed to live there. And all the communities in the South West have been complaining. The royal households, the Obas, even the Ooni of Ife said they have to be armed to defend themselves. You have not heard that? So, it means the people that have come are creating insecurity and insecurity is another word for terrorism because the people are imposing themselves on their hosts and wanting to dictate the conditions of peace there. Is that not terrorism? It is. If I am able to pick my car like we do in those days, go to Abuja in the morning and come back in the evening without having to watch my back or driving mirror or see helicopter upstairs then victory has come for Buhari government because that will be replicated in all the states of the federation. Who says it is a confirmation that Nigerians really voted for him? Peace of the graveyard? You are voting for dead people. Dead people are voting. Are you going to rule over dead people? Obama said it and Trump said it. Who are you going to rule over when you have already divided the nation? Nigeria is divided now in terms of who wants what. Most of the businesses in the North have relocated to the South. Are you aware? So who are you going to rule over? Most of the businesses that can make money, lucrative businesses have all moved to the South because they are visitors. You take a vote, assuming the votes are in terms of the flags they raised and you say they voted for me, who are you going to rule over when the people are hungry? Have you paid salaries? You are telling them to pay more for VAT. Has the economy picked up? If you do not pay all the wages and salaries and pay contractors and all that, will the economy pick up? Is it not the contractors and the payment of wages and salaries that allow money to change hands and the activities of the economy to continue? I call it watershed and my boss, Abacha said if it is watershed, sweep all of them away (laughs).
You are a security expert, let’s take a look at the way some governors are negotiating with bandits…
(Cuts in) Look, this government thinks government is a tea party. Leadership is not a tea party. If you sustain a country on corruption on one side, then the hopelessness, poverty of the majority of the people on the other side, that country will not survive. Quote me. People are living on the gains of corruption. The ruling class is united by the proceeds of corruption. That is what sustains the survival and friendship of politicians. The people who are supposed to be voting are all united by squalor, poverty, depravity and hopelessness. This kind of country is not bound to survive for too long. So, Nigeria will not be a country for too long if they continue. I have told them they won’t survive for too long and I mean it. How would they survive? So we are waiting for God to intervene. It’s only God’s intervention that can deal with it and we call it God’s intervention. Whenever there is watershed, there is bound to be God’s intervention.
You are yet to address the question of governors negotiating with bandits.
They are in agreement. There is hunger all over the place and they are using kidnapping to finance their operations. They need the money. So, governors are financing the operation of bandits now. When they negotiate with the bandits, is it not money they give them? So they will buy more guns. That is why I said there is no difference between Boko Haram and killer herdsmen. They should tell us the difference. They are the coordinating center. Government, Police and all of them seem to be the coordinators of all these things happening. My brother, is this any different from what happened in Pharaoh’s Egypt? Tell me. You read the Bible. What happened in Egypt is written in the Bible and the Quran. Is it different from what the government is doing now? It is the same and it is God that removed Pharaoh.