Gyang Bere, Jos
Ambassador Ibrahim Kasai, a Northern elder and former Ambassador of Nigeria to Ukraine has said President Muhammadu Buhari must strengthen the criminal Justice system to take corrupt politicians out of the streets of Nigeria. In this interview, he said Mr Sowore who planned to stage a revolution should be detained and prosecuted for the crime of treason.
The issue of revolution by Sowore has been in the front burner of politics in Nigeria; some said the man wants to destabilise President Muhammadu Buhari’s government because he failed the last presidential poll while others said Sowore is right because nothing is working in the country; what is your take on that?
Well, by way of contributing to the national discourse, let me say that what is going on now in the country is not good for our national development; a crime is a crime. If somebody said he is leading a revolution, the word revolution alone connotes a change in government; look at our constitution, you cannot change government just like that, nobody has the right or power to just change the government; the only way you can change the government is through the ballot box, that is why the electoral system is there. More so, Sowore contested an election and lost to President Muhammadu Buhari and I don’t think he is doing this because he lost an election because for every crime, there is an intention; this is to say he had the intention and he acted; he has completed the act of a crime. When you conceive an idea and you practise it, that is an act. What the DSS have done is right, he should be charged for treason and that is all, crime is crime. There is no need trying to douse tension that he was only trying to discredit what was going on; there is no room for that.
But the former Vice President and PDP Presidential candidate, Alh. Atiku Abubakar and some respected citizens of Nigeria have come out to condemn his arrest. How do you view their action?
The advice of those citizens is not in the National interest; it is a selfish advice, we all know that the opposition has the right to criticise but the choice of word revolution is not good; there is no second definition of revolution. You can criticise the government, yes but also offer solution. Whatever the PDP Presidential candidate said, and those in support of the act is not in the National interest.
Why does it seem that the present government is intolerant of opposing views?
You mentioned protest but nobody is saying there shouldn’t be a protest; a protest has a way it is handled and the police that checks crime in the society has procedures for doing things. If you want to go on a peaceful protest, you inform the police and give them the reason why you want to go on protest and they will tell you the routes to follow; nobody will accept burning of government properties, going into treason and destroying lives and properties, that is why the police will be happy to escort the protesters, that is why protest is encouraged. If you inform the police, they will guide the routes so that nobody takes advantage of such a protest to perpetrate criminality but when you mention revolution, you are already on a different page; you are not protesting, you are taking over government violently; that is what revolution is all about, you are going directly to take over the seat of the President.
Do you think that Mr Sowore has the capacity to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari through a revolution?
Why not? Revolution can be led by anybody; have you not heard of captains or Sergeants taking over government? Ordinarily, you will think that a junior officer cannot succeed in instituting a change in the country; he can be used as somebody’s puppet; he can be used as an arrowhead or he can initiate the idea but you don’t know those in support of it, so a revolution can be led by anybody. The actors could be hidden somewhere, he can be one of the either active or dormant participants. We, Nigerians sometimes play into the hands of the law; we like playing with words, we like cheap popularity. Why using the word revolution?
Do you think the action of the Inspector General of Police was right to have ordered Police officers Nationwide to stop the protesters?
The Inspector General of Police has a mandate, to maintain peace in the country and there is no government that will hear of revolution that will just sit down and not do something about it. There was no reason for the revolution, if people had in 2019 refused to participate in the election, then we can say something is wrong and if they had gone to the streets to say no, we don’t want, we can say okay, there is a kind of revolution going on.
Don’t you think if the kind of swift reaction and the attention given to the revolution is applied in tackling kidnapping, banditry and other forms of criminality that Nigeria will be a society free of crime?
They are not the same, the scenarios are not the same, this is one act that we have not heard of in many years. The crime you have just described is almost the order of the day everywhere, particularly the issue of kidnapping, and you know we have problems in our hands, that is Boko Haram but they have been tackled. Perhaps, their next action is to go into such criminality of kidnapping. I want to say that Boko Haram is no longer strong as before; they devise another strategy, either to collaborate with some herdsmen who are into criminality to cause some kinds of havoc; they no longer use bombs; do we hear of bombing Churches, Mosques or structures in the country again? They have moved away from that but the order of the day is kidnapping, banditry and so on. I have cause to believe that this thing is coming from the same people who are recruiting other non- Nigerians into this new criminality and that is why our security agencies are doing their best in fiishing them out. You will believe with me that of recent, the police, the military have been arresting them in their numbers and the police also got an incentive for doing that; their salaries have been reviewed. In general administration, when you give incentive to workers, you will see the best in them. I think that is the reason why you see so many people are being arrested; they are not finding it easy.
Are you optimistic that Buhari will survive the tribunal case instituted by the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar?
Let me tell you that I do not bother about the election tribunal because I know that the victory of President Buhari will not change at the tribunal. The
President has already won his election and the losers have lost and I believe that the petitions are meant to buy time, to assure party members that something might happen. It happens in politics, when you have the resource, you keep on struggling with the case to assure your members up to the time of another election period; if you don’t give your members hope, they will disappear, that is a tactical way of managing opposition. Even where you don’t have a case, you assure your people that you have a case so that they don’t desert you.
With the population of Northern Nigeria, what is the possibility of power shifting to the South in 2023?
I have said it and I still want to say it again that the Presidency will shift to the South West, because if the North insists that we should produce the presidency again, other people will say no. The other political parties will say no; PDP was a big party but it crashed and they are regrouping again and we are seeing the benefits of that zoning. If APC doesn’t toe that line, it might make a big mistake, I believe that APC will do the same.
Some Nigerians demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should name his successor now and start grooming, is that a good idea?
No, I don’t buy into that idea at all. As times goes on, his successor will evolve; people read along the lines and you see leaders emerging. The President is not a king maker. Buhari has refused to be a leader of the party which is right for our country; he has refused to be named the leader of the party. Bola Tinubu is seen as the leader of APC out of respect. Buhari will be the last person to say this is the person that will take over from me, you will never hear that from President Buhari; the Buhari that I know, it will never happen. People will nominate and then select through the right process; the APC will select a candidate that believes in what the APC is doing to take over from President Buhari in 2023, we will make sure that we don’t make mistake within the party and then we will sell the candidate to Nigerians.
Some people feel that if the South East which has been marginalized over the years does not produce Nigeria’s President in 2023, it could have grave implications, what will you make out of that statement?
There is no allocation in politics; you don’t allocate positions; leadership emerges and if you are not a participant within a group, you don’t just imagine that somebody will say you have never had it, you should just have it. Obasanjo’s case was different; in 1999, the South West were not in PDP but Obasanjo was picked from prison; the reason was that at that time, the leaders were looking for somebody who believed in one Nigeria and Obasanjo being a former Head of state and a military leader fought to keep Nigeria one and that leadership needed to come from the South West because of the problem of June 12. That was an exception but now we are almost stabilising by way of power sharing, and zoning has already come to stay and it is embedded in our constitution.