There is unease in the country and this is manifesting in several ways. There are security issues in different parts of the country, and many are also calling for state police, national conference, revenue sharing formula and so on. Do you think the government is handling the pressure rightly?
First of all if you ask me what I think as a northerner is our challenge, I will say whether it is southeast, southwest or north, our challenge is the same. Our challenge is just good governance. I’m telling you if there is good governance, nobody will be agitating for sovereign national conference or more states and nobody will be agitating for power shift. Look, whether a Muslim, Christian, northerner or southerner, as long as there is food on my table, government institutions work, hospitals work and there are good roads, nobody cares who is at the helm of affairs. So all these primordial issues come up because nothing is working. If things are working, nobody would bother who leads this country. But the main problem is people are now saying let’s get somebody who knows his onions, who will lead by example because that is what the country clearly lacks now. But above all, we have a government in place but the main problem is that the government is clueless. I mean they keep talking about the fight against corruption and up till today from 1999 to date to there is no living example of the anti-corruption crusade that people see as deterrent.
Do you think the government is taking the right steps towards addressing the problems of the people?
No, they are not. There is inconsistency in what government says it would do and what it actually does. The latest one is the fuel subsidy thing. In December when they said they would remove the subsidy and that there would be palliatives. But as I speak with you today, September11, 2012, there are no palliatives in place.
Also, when they say they would go after the main culprits of the fuel-subsidy scam, what has happened. If the National Assembly could invoke the doctrine of necessity to ensure that Jonathan rightly assumes the presidency, the government should also invoke its own doctrine of necessity to make sure that the fuel-subsidy crooks are put behind bars until their cases are over.
There are some Nigerians who are led to think that with the myriad of problems, and the alleged cluelessness of government, that the Jonathan administration may find it difficult to survive the remaining years of his tenure.
Actually this government is surviving because of the naivety of Nigerians. If democracy is the rule of the majority, and it is based on issues, this government would have crumbled. When [Olusegun] Obasanjo came he promised to give us electricity, and so many millions of dollars down the drain. [Umaru] Yar’Adua came with the same lies and nothing happened. This one too came and has not been able to deliver. So all these promises without action, without delivering on the promises are enough reasons for citizens to say ‘go, you have failed us’. But in Nigeria nothing happens. There will be election again and there will be rigging and they will continue to be there telling their lies. May be I think things have not reached the level where me and you would take to the streets and say enough is enough like it has happened in other developed societies. It happened in Libya; it happened in Egypt recently where people got what they demanded.
As a prominent politician from the North, what do you think is the problem the north has with the Jonathan administration?
Personally I think the major problem the north has is the security issue. You could see the lackadaisical attitude of government to the security issue in the way he removed somebody from the South-south as national security adviser and brought in a northerner who frankly does not have requisite experience as the guy he removed. It is beyond just putting somebody from the north into position. Even if you want to put a northerner, why not look for someone with the requisite qualifications and experience? So the impression Jonathan has given northerners is that: Look, it is your palaver so let me pick one of you from a prominent home, and you can kill yourselves I don’t give a damn. You see we need security in every region and every state in the country, so it has nothing to do with where you come from. But the president has the attitude that it is a northern affair and the northerners should deal with it. That is why the whole thing is annoying to some of us. I am on record as the only Nigerian who went to court and got judgment against the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria to make sure Jonathan becomes acting president of the country. I am a Fulani man and Yar’Adua was also a Fulani man like me but I was not thinking of that. I was thinking of what was in the best interest of the country.