called Hajiya Naja is a woman of substance. She is
renowned for being a vocal,radical
activist especially in defence of democracy,
women and human rights in general. She is better
known as wife of yet another late activist Dr Bala
Muhammed.Until his death , Dr Bala was the Political
adviser to the
radical Governor Abubakar Rimi regime in Kano
state.Naja has remained a constant player on the
political scene ever since both at Kano state and
Activism literally speaking is in her blood.During
her undergraduate days Naja emerged as the first
woman President of Ahmadu Bello University Students,
Union.It was a remarkable achievement for a northern
muslim.And, it’s even more remarkable for a woman given the obstacles women face in the daily battle for
survival in the North.
But she seems to know how to clear hurdles and go
ahead to beat men to their game.A major test came
during the late
General Sani Abacha years .Naja surprised
many conservatives by seeking to contest an election
into the Senate.Sources said
the Ulamas and some entrenched forces such as
the erstwhile highly
powerful National Security Adviser,NSA Ismaila
Gwarzo opposed her senatorial ambition.But the
highly politically active Kano people thought
better.And they voted for her at the polls.She
became senator-elect for the Kano Central Senatorial
emerged as the first woman to be voted
into the Senate from the entire North .Though
the Abacha-era Senate became still-born as it was
never inaugurated, this woman of substance left her
mark in the sands of time.
The true test of her political skills came in 2003
when there was heavy opposition to the ruling
People‘s Democratic Party ,PDP whose candidate and
serving Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso wanted to be
office in 2003.The people of Kano wanted Change and
Naja among other political activists in the state
joined forces with the masses to ensure that
Kwankwaso was not re-elected.They stood at the
barricade and mobilized the people of Kano
who in any case wanted change.
The epic struggle for change culminated in the
emergence of Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigerian
People‘s Party, ANPP as the new governor.The icing
on the cake of that battle was that Naja was among the key people including retired
General Bashir Magashi who stood firm to ensure that
the people‘s mandate was not stolen in
2003.Kwankawaso ,the ousted governor ended up as a
minister in the President Olusegun Obasanjo
regime.Those conversant with Kano state politics
said the forces that ensured victory for Shekarau
have long splintered in various directions as the
new ANPP governor made new friends afterwards.
Understanding the sea- change in Kano in 2003 would
require a deep knowledge of the Muhammadu Buhari
factor which became a rallying point for opposition
Naja equally played an active role within the
Buhari circle.In fact, she was the director of
campaign for the Buhari-Okadigbo presidential
organization.She also headed the electronic media
campaign team for
the Buhari/ Okadigbo organization in 2003.
A turning point that however made her part ways politically with Buhari came
afterwards: Some key politicians had been meeting to
form a major political party aimed at checkmating
the People‘s Democratic Party, PDP.Those involved
in the discussion ,the magazine learnt included
Atiku Abubakar who was then an embattled vice
president, Muhammadu Buhari,the
ANPP presidential candidate .Others included
then Abia state Governor
Orji Uzor Kalu and Bola Tinubu who was at
that time, Lagos State governor.Their group was called G-4.The G-4 decided to form an alliance and
delegates were chosen by the G-4 members
for the alliance talks.Naja was chosen to
head the North west delegation representing General
Buhari in the alliance talks..And she became an
active participant in the group’s activities .She
had been assigned to mobilize people in the North
west .She was doing exactly that when someone who
apparently heard a news broadcast on radio told Naja
that General Buhari had pulled out of the group for
which she was mobilizing furiously in the North West
zone .She felt surprised that the General who
delegated her to represent him in the alliance talks
would opt out of the group
letting her know .She chose to take her
destiny in her own hand by remaining with the group
which later became Action Congress, AC.
In the course of time, she also became a prominent
admirer of the principles that Nuhu Ribadu ,
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission , EFCC boss
stood for. And she always said at public functions that the battle to rid Nigeria of
a fight that must be kept alive.She is one of
those utterly disappointed now that the
anti-corruption war is grinding to a halt..
One of the
major issues President Obasanjo had to contend with
was the agitation from the North that a northerner
must succeed Obasanjo.Naja believes such agitations
have not helped the North.In fact she is of the view
that the regime of President Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua
is useless to the North.Sad as it may sound ,she
said the Obasanjo regime seemed to have been better
for Northern Muslims in times of crises like the
mayhem.Obasanjo was firm.But Yar‘Adua simply
failed to act,says Naja.Enjoy her views on many
other issues in the interview conducted in Abuja,
Wednesday, March 25 ,2009.
BY DANLAMI NMODU
are realizing that the president who promised the
nation electoral reform did not actually mean what
he said. After setting up a committee, he has
rejected most of the fundamental recommendations of
the Justice Uwais Committee. What does that speak
about the nature of this presidency?
you see, Yar’Adua has never kept a promise. He is
not one that keeps promises. But apart from that,
let’s even talk about this committee, you cannot
be the cause and the solution, you cannot be the
disease and the medicine. Yar’Adua acknowledged
that the elections were highly flawed. If you look
at the human rights records of Katsina State when he
was governor, it was very, very bad. People were
killed, houses were burnt, there were no elections.
There were no elections even in Katsina. Yar’Adua
acknowledged that the elections of 2007 were very,
very far below international standards. It has not
been acknowledged as the best here nor by the
international community. Since it has been accepted
by Yar’Adua, it was as a result of that acceptance
that he decided to pacify Nigerians, to hoodwink
Nigerians and make them believe that he will change.
How can he be the disease and the cure? He can’t.
However, Nigerians for their cowardice, they
accepted, because the average Nigerian would much
rather say let’s give them a chance.
thought that was exactly what happened. Despite the
flaws of the elections, people seemed to have said
let’s give him the benefit of the doubt
why should you give a consistent liar the benefit of
the doubt? You should not.
when he came nobody knew exactly what he was going
Uh, Uh, …. Because when he came in,
if you remember, he came in with a very
serious promise about the energy sector of this
country. He came with a promise to declare a state
of emergency in the power sector. It hasn’t been
done till date. Okay? He came in when people were
very angry with the elections, so he used the
to pacify Nigerians and hoodwink them. Now
Nigerians know better . But believe you me,
Nigerians will still tell you that let us give him a
chance. Now, he is going to contest 2011.
but let’s talk more about this Uwais thing?
but this Justice Uwais thing, it is like he called
in the governors, the MPs, and did trade by barter;
You get what you want, I get what I want. He had no
intention in the first place of changing anything.
it is like Uwais and members of the committee were
just used and dumped?
course. They were used, not because any of their
recommendations would have been used in the first
place. You see what happens in this country, in
particular when you talk of elections, these things
do not happen by mistake. They are not mistakes.
They are deliberate because certain groups of people
are enjoying it. That is the only means through
which they can perpetuate themselves. So when
Yar’Adua, somebody that supposedly did not want to
contest election but went out of his way to defraud
people through election, you know there is more to
it than that. He started by saying that he was not
interested…. There were no proper primary
elections. Everybody’s arm was twisted. They were
all’made to recoil and withdraw from the contest
for him. But in spite of that the general elections
were so bloody, so fraudulent, that I don’t see
why Nigerian will continue to lie to themselves by
giving him the so called benefit of the doubt.
you think we should blame the fraudulent and bloody
election on former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
(Yar’Adua) is a product of Obasanjo. He came from
the womb Obasanjo. They are the same Ten and
Tenpence. In fact, never in my life could I have
thought I would say the governance of Obasanjo is
better than this. Why? How? How can we continue
under these circumstances for God’s sake as a
nation? He is the product of Obasanjo.
I still want us to talk about the Uwais Committeee
Report. Why would a regime fundamentally take a good
step and then reject the major outcome?
there was no sincerity of purpose at the first
instance. From the onset, he was not sincere. Like I
said, he did it to pacify Nigerians.
is not a sincere leader?
is not, absolutely not. He
did it and he has been consistently lying to
this country. If you remember what he said about the
you said “consistently lying”,
can you itemize what you see as the lies?
of the lies for instance about the economy. There
a time I saw him on NTA and he was asked about what
he hoped to do first and foremost for this country.
He said to revitalize the economy. And then he was
asked again, he said the economy. And then again, he
said the economy. See what is happening to
economy. Look at what is happing to his so-called
seven-point agenda. We all know that these are all
slogans. Now, but most importantly, is the first lie
he told to Nigerians about electoral reform. Nothing
has been reformed and nothing will be reformed. In
fact, they have gone out of their way to retain
Maurice Iwu. And retaining him because he is an
reports indicate he may be sacked?
may. But have you seen them doing it? More so,
anybody who is there will be particularly handpicked
to do their bidding. He must be somebody that will
write down and read their script.
that be why they rejected the Uwais report which
says that the National Judicial Council should
appoint members of the board of INEC including the
course. Yes, why does he want to appoint them? Why
shouldn’t it be given to the judges?
your own experience and analysis, what is
responsible for the flaws in our electoral system?
me tell you, nobody gets liberty and freedom on a
platter of gold. Nigerians must begin to tell
themselves the truth. In 2003 in Kano, we fought, we
stood by it and we won. But lives were lost.
mean the Shekarau election?
2003 Shekarau election, not the 2007. And Shekarau
then was penniless. I want to tell you that I was
sewing the clothes he was wearing. He was so very
penniless. But he was able to get 1.2 million votes
as against the 600,000 votes he got in 2007 as
governor. Billions were spent in 2007 but he was
only able to muster less than half the votes he got
in 2003. Why? Because we failed to mobilize as we
did in 2003. But most importantly, there was so much
apathy in Kano that people really did not care….
So this is what happens in the generality of
elections in the country. Once you have control of
the resources; like I have always said, there are
five pillars upon which you can usurp power in
need moneybags; the INEC; the police that is the
instrument of coercion; the military at times and
the judges the courts to enforce it. And the
moneybags. The moneybags coming from the executives;
he who wants to retain power. Because he controls
the resources either at the federal level or at the
mean these are the pillars upon which election
see, when you talk of rigging, it is an
understatement. They are no election,
talk less of rigging. They are not rigged.
They strangulate us. There are so many
states that never cast votes. In Nigeria
today, there is a governor that nobody ever voted
for him. He did not get a single vote. In Nigeria
today, there is no even internal democracy within
the parties. You just go with your force, with the
police, they help you; sometimes the military, they
help them. They just force themselves on the people
from the party level. Now what they are saying is
that the legislators can even get free tickets
(automatic tickets) That you don’t have to go and
contest. Why are people afraid of contest in a
democracy? The difference between a totalitarian
government or a military government and a so-called
democracy is the question of choice, the right to
choose. In fact, they are worse then the military
because the military do not go about taking billions
out of the national coffers in order to put
themselves in office. In the case of this co- called
democracy, billions of tax payers money are put into
the fraud, into these fraudulent elections. So you
see, they are even worse than the military. Because
in a military regime, nobody asks them to come. They
just come with their guns and boom,
boom, they are in power. These ones, they kill
in hundreds, they plunder the resources, they force
themselves on us and they continue to plunder. They
have anything to show for it. We have one or
two or maybe three governors in this country that
have anything to show for it… So what are we
talking about? Which democracy? Who is deceiving
who? Are Nigerians deceiving themselves?
you name any governor think is doing well?
yes! I am so proud of the Lagos State governor
mean Babatunde Fashola?
Yes. I think he (Fashola) is one of the greatest
people that have ever lived. But one of the reasons
is that Lagosians are a different set of people.
They are rich, they are literate. But once a people
are devoid of education and are wallowing in
poverty, then anybody can do anything with their
resources. They don’t even know it is theirs and
they can’t protest. But the Lagosians are so
enlightened. And the average Lagosian, I believe is
above the average Nigerian in terms of living above
subsistence level. They have had a history of very,
very active governors from Lateef Jakande. Even the
former Military Administrator, General Buba Marwa;
so they have consistently had good governance not
because probably are really elected because Buba
Marwa was not elected, but generally because you
know you can’t play around with them. You can’t
compare that for instance with Kano state or with
or with Sokoto State or with, well maybe
Kaduna is a little bit better. You can’t even
compare them to the Niger Delta States where they
have diverted the attention of the public to
something else while they plunder their resources.
what exactly is Fashola doing that you think is
deserving of commendation?
you see the re-organisation of Lagos. The
infrastructural development that he has embarked
upon. His programme on education, I think it is
commendable. And he is doing it without much
fanfare. If you look at the seven-point agenda for
instance, of Yar’Adua, all you hear is the
sloganeerism, the enormous resources put into
publicity, pubicising the seven-point agenda. But
nobody can give you a blue-print of what Yar’Adua
intends’or how he intends to implement the
so-called seven-point agenda. It is just a slogan.
Maybe, he just woke up one morning and decided this
is my agenda. But how he goes about implementing his
agenda till date nobody knows. And they say he is
still preparing. After over two years, he is still
thought we had gotten to the point where I would ask
you to review the performance of the Yar’Adua’of
the Yar’Adua regime but you have already started
have you got to review? There is nothing for you to
mean the Yar’Adua regime.
no, no. there is nothing for you to review
he came in, despite the flaws of
the election, people decided to give him the
benefit of the doubt and when he started reversing
Obasanjo’s policies people thought may be has
something to offer. But suddenly things’’came to
in) Let me tell you, there was never a time that
Nigerians (as a whole) decided to give him the
benefit of the doubt. Maybe people like you and not
me (laughs). Definitely not me. The elites generally
decided among themselves
because you see a lot of them are either cowards,
hypocrites or simply greedy; people that are so
dependent on government patronage. They cannot do
anything outside government, so they say benefit of
the doubt. Ah, Ah, who has spoken to the populace,
the millions and millions of Nigerians who have no
access to the media, that are wallowing in poverty
and illiteracy, who spoke to them to say that they
have given him the benefit of the doubt? No, no
Nigerian did. But maybe a handful of people that
benefit from this manipulation are giving the
benefit of the doubt whether they would get
something out of it. This is the truth o! No more,
no less. Nobody gave him the benefit of the doubt.
How can somebody like this be give the benefit of
the doubt, somebody that acknowledged himself that
the elections were flawed, but they went out of
their way to buy their way through the judiciary. We
read a lot about this…
they denied corruption of the judicial process.
are lying. Don’t mind that.
have always denied buying their way
we all know better. Honestly we all know better. But
except for those three great Justices, Nigeria would
have been doomed. Because at least there was a
the Supreme Court judgment?
at the Supreme Court level. Apart from that,
it is just terrible. But you can see what happened
in quite a few of the states. A governor is given a
governorship seat without a single vote. If you take
the case of Sokoto and Kebbi States, you know what
happened. People jumped from (parties). While Sokoto
was made to pay (through annulment of his election
and a re-run election) Governor Dakingari of Kebbi
state was allowed to go scot-free because he is the
son-in-law of Mr. President.
ruling in favour of Dakingari seemed to have stirred
some controversy, because some people felt it was
just done to favour the president’s family
course that is it. You hear of people buying
positions in this country. We have never had it so
governors rushing to marry the president’s
is rushing to marry the president’s daughters
because there is benefit out of marrying them.
do you think are the benefits?
have just spoken about the Kebbi State governor.
That is one benefit. And then when it is election
time, you see, these people have inferiority
who marry the president’s daughters?
They have such inferiority complex because they
believe that they can’t make it on their own even
though they had made it on their own prior to that
time (of marriage). I can’t imagine why a governor
who should have been elected free and fair, they
would now need to go behind the president for his
next re-election. It doesn’t make sense.
marrying the president’s daughter is some kind of
you believe it is a product of inferiority complex
course, in addition to the insurance. Because you
have to believe in your self. In the first place,
you were a governor before you married her. So how
did you become a governor in the first place? Why do
you need to hide behind the president for a second
term? Is it because you have no intention
of working for the people? Is it because you
don’t believe that you are in touch with the
people to the extent that
they cannot be your fortress? Because if you
really give to the people what is due to them, then
they will become your fortress. You don’t need the
president. But because votes do votes’do not
count’anyway. And people could be punished for any
form of disobedience. You see what is happening is
that governors are now like, you know.
boys to the president just like the local government
chairmen are errand boys to the governors. They
might decide top wrench your election from you if
you are not in the good books of the president; they
could do that.
can see why these people choose to marry the
is one of the reasons
Because these daughters of the president, remember,
were there in Katsina, long time ago unmarried until
he became president. Then everybody is now rushing,
why? Why didn’t they marry them in the first place
when he was in Katsina, eight years as governor?
Suddenly everybody is rushing to marry the
becomes of these marriages after the president’s
exit from power?
think you should ask former president Shehu Shagari,
because he was a victim of that… President Shagari,
they married his daughter. After he left the
presidenc, they divorced her.
it is. It happened.
something which bothers Nigerians but which the
presidency plays down. When
look at the president, he doesn’t look like
someone who is very healthy despite the denials. He
is not looking robust. But here we are hearing of
campaigns for 2011. But let’s even discuss the
crisis of the president’s ill-health and its
denial. What does that mean?
you have not forgotten, his election took off with
this illness. Even as a presidential candidate, the
first information Nigerians were given were about
his ill-health. We started hearing that he had
collapsed, he had been flown out, Obasanjo was
calling him, putting on the speaker phone: ‘Umaru,
are you dead’ Everybody heard this in Nigeria. So
Obasanjo had already prepared the minds of Nigerians
to the fact that he is giving them a sick president.
This is it. The question we should ask is why did
Obasanjo decide to take the weakest link among the
why did he?
obviously Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’is the weakest
link among the presidential candidates. In fact, he
was not even part of the contest. So
Nigerians should ask Obasanjo this. Obasanjo
probably might have wanted somebody that would not
live long. You see, for me, I hate to talk on tribal
politics or religious politics because it is
fraudulent. It is a weakness, it’s’a smokescreen
actually. They are all the same Ten and Tenpence
actually whether Hausa-Fulani, Niger Delta or
whatever or Yoruba. Because the whole idea of this
so-called gentleman’s agreement on rotation is to
take them closer to the resources. But if you are
talking in terms of merit or good governance, what
does it matter whether you are falling from the
skies to be my president. Does it really matter who
gives me water? Does it matter who gives my children
education? Does it matter who gives us goof health
care? What does it matter who gives me good food?
But you see, that is not the essence of governance
in Nigeria today. What we have today in Nigeria is a
question of the degree to which you are close to the
coffers of the nation. So the closer you are…That
is why they want to take first their tribe ;
their tribe must be from their village; from
their village must be from their house first and
foremost because that way they are sure their hands
can get into the cake, the national cake, no more no
less. So if somebody from Owerri is president, then
the Hausa man in Sokoto will feel that the resources
are too far, you understand. That is all. They are
lying. What difference does it really make to you
who gives you what is rightly yours? It is about
why do you think the former president Obasanjo chose
Yar’Adua’whom you have described as the weakest
one point in time, there was pressure on Obasanjo to
take power back to the north
reasons best known to them. It is not our God-given
right to rule Nigeria. Northerners might have ruled
Nigeria because of probably, their population, if
votes actually count or whatever.
are saying Northerners
don’t have the God-given right to role
leaders have claimed in the past that Northerners
are born to rule
gave them? Who “born them to rule”? You
understand who “born them to rule”? Who gave
them the right to rule? We are equal before the
constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It’s everybody’s right to be where he wants to
be. So I don’t know when God put his signature on
the North to rule Nigeria. And look let me tell you,
Northerners are generally Moslems.And the first law
put upon moslems by God Almighty is on governance
and justice. That is the first law.
mean most Northerners are Moslems
most Northerners are Moslems and they know this. And
they also know that you would lose that leadership
role if you begin to exploit, if you become unjust,
definitely you would be broken into pieces by God
Almighty Himself. And I believe that is what the
Northerners have done and that is why they are
losing. Because as far as I am concerned,
Yar’Adua could be from out of space. He is
useless to the North, even if you talk in terms of
the theory I gave you earlier on, the closer he is
to your town the closer you are to the resources. I
want to ask and I challenge all these Northerners
that have ruled this country, what benefit has their
rule been to the North? We are still the most
backward in terms of literacy, poverty, any kind of
infrastructure is non-existent in Northern Nigeria.
So what are they talking about? Recently Moslems
were killed. They say Moslem, Moslem, ok, Moslems
were lynched in Jos, but Yar’Adua’was talking of
Mumbai. So of what use is he to the Moslems. If
Moslems for instance want to be sentimental
about saying that I want him because he is a
Moslem, I don’t give a hoot who he is. My
rights’must be protected. And
does it really make any difference? Are you
yourself? Are you not being illusive to think
that ok, he is Hausa-Fulani, he is there? You are
not dining with him.
the same Yar’Adua you criticize over the Jos
killing is also being criticized by the Governor of
Plateau State for allegedly taking sides with
side did he take? Look, let me tell you, Obasanjo is
better for the Moslems than Yar’Adua. Because
one point in time Obasanjo had the nerves to declare
a state of emergency. And let me tell you, more
people were killed during the time of (Governor )
Jang than during the time of (former Governor
Dariye. So what are we talking about. In fact
it took a lot of pressure on Yar’Adua’to even
comment. When people were being killed in Jos,
Yar’Adua was busy talking about Mumbai, the
terrorists in Mumbai in India. He did not see the
terrorists in Jos.
this the general feeling in the North?
Because he did not protect their interest. And in
the north generally, except for his friends from
Katsina, who knows there is Yar’Adua in office ?
Except of course, the Lady Macbeth, Turai, his wife.
Who knows he is president ? I mean for somebody who
claimed to have had cold but had to be rushed
abroad, I don’t know if his seven point agenda
does not include health facilities. But he had cold.
For cold, all the doctors in Nigeria and all the
hospitals in Nigeria cannot cure him of cold, he had
to go out. You begin to see the unseriousness of his
government. Nigeria has no security any way, so
let’s not talk about the security of Nigeria if the
President is abroad on health grounds. But for
God’s sake, if you cannot think of providing your
country with infrastructure, with health care, to
the extent that the president will be cured of cold
as he claimed outside, then something is seriously
wrong with the way he thinks and the way way he
thinks he can implement or provide for the people of
on the Jos issues you raised. Don’t blame
Yar’Adua’,he probably was trying to be careful
because the Christians were equally killed.
it’s true. Let me tell you, a lot of the people
that were killed, you see actually a lot of
Christians were killed by Christians. Because what
is happening in Jos today-Jang just stopped short of
confessing to that-is that they have to look at the
question of so-called indigenes. There were lots of
Christians that lost their property.
would Christians kill Christians?
they were not indigenes. To the Jos person or
whatever, first and foremost you are not a Christian
but an indigene. So even if you are a Christian but
a non-indigene, you still become a victim. Because
it is just like what was happening to the Ibos in my
this based on the facts on the ground?
for instance in Kano, Ibos had been targeted.
These are very hard working people. They work very
hard to make it and they the indigenes are out
begging. If they are not begging in the streets with
their pants, then they are moving from one house to
another looking for pittance-you know executive
begging. They don’t want to work for reasons best
known to them. Except for the farmers who are really
actually sustaining this country, a lot of those in
the metropolitan areas are not doing anything. So
they begin to envy those that have worked hard and
earned (their income)- And then they use religion.
So, when they want to steal their things, they begin
to tell you about religion. They use religion as a
pretext or as the ideology to attack these people.
mean the so-called religious crisis in the north is
just a cover…
is. The same thing is happening in Jos. It
is not really religion. The average
person-let me tell you-if you go there, the average
native is there drinking his Kai Kai or whatever. They don’t want to work. But the average
Hausa man who is also lazy in his own place, once he
leaves his town, he can do anything. So they go,
they settle, they work very hard. They are like the
Ibos. They work very hard. They make money. And then
the envy. Ah, Ah, how can these people come to my
town and they are making money and I am not making
.But they don’t ask themselves why they are not
making money while others are making money? That is
what is happening. And then these people, these
so-called retired civil servants, retired army
officers, they had been detached from their people
for a long time. When they were making it in Lagos
as army officers or what have you or civil servants,
they were totally detached from their people and
then after retirement, they went home as aliens. All
of a sudden, they realize that the only way they can
be re-absorbed is through this concept of divide and
rule. So they now begin to instigate (saying) Ah,
these people are the source of our problems. But
when they were drinking their Kai
Kai with the Hausa-Fulani and other Moslems up
there in Lagos, they were all the same. Now, they
are all retired and tired. But the only way they can
continue to be relevant is this indoctrination about
Christian-Muslim. It is not actually that. It is
there also the pout that most of these crises
the manipulation of the masses by political elite to
serve their interest
is exactly what I am saying. They are retired. They
are no longer relevant. They are not in governance.
But they have to be reabsorbed. So when they foment
crisis like this, when you want to call leaders, you
call them. When money is coming for rehabilitation,
it goes to them. It doesn’t even go to the people
whose houses were burnt down or whose families lost
remember one of Mantu’s aides said Mantu was
behind some of the crises in Jos. But Mantu as a
is what I am telling you. It has nothing to do with
religion. It is purely economic and the elite are in
search of relevance. So they manipulate these people
that are wallowing in poverty and illiteracy,
ignorance. That is all. Once people are poor and
they are ignorant, they are very easy to manipulate.
go back to this Yar’Adua issue again. The curious
moves towards 2011. We all know about the
president’s ill-health. Even though we have been
told he is hale and hearty he doesn’t look hale
he doesn’t. Definitely not.
Adamu Aliero (FCT minister) has told us the
president is going to contest. And Tony Anenih is
praying that God should keep Yar’Adua for us for
the next six years.
we have heard the PDP as reports said today
Wednesday March 25, that Yar’Adua is going to
contest in 2011. Obviously we are going to have a fait
tell you… always look beyond what they say
and try to see it for what it really is. What it
really is in Nigeria today is that people are so
impotent and so dependent
and so dependent on government patronage that they
don’t want to risk challenging anything that is
wrong. Not just because they benefit from it but
because they know that corruption is so entrenched
in the system, that really to fight it is to lose
that which you will take
to your mouth. To fight it is to lose the
millions and millions and millions you would have
otherwise made by just complying. Look, somebody was
asking me about wanting to contest. But he also
wants to know if Yar’Adua would contest.
mean a politician?
a politician. And then…
that is what they do? They first of all want to
sniff around to be sure whether the incumbent will
that is one. And then secondly, the southerner will
tell you, why is the north retaining power? Why
ain’t they rotating? Why ain’t they handpicking
us? Because they know that one, votes do not count.
Two, merit is insignificant. But most importantly,
the populace are immaterial. It is just what I get,
when and how. So, the average politician is so lazy,
so irresponsible, so compliant to this fraud, that
he wouldn’t even dare. He would rather he is
anointed. But the constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria is explicit and there is the
supremacy of the constitution. You have the right to
contest. You have the right to vote and be voted
it is believed it is the turn of the North and
who gave them the turn? That is the point. Who gave
them the turn?
your own view?
no, no. it is the view of the constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. There is no question of
turn. It is not turn. It is a right. But somebody
from the South-South will tell you it is our turn.
Who gave him the turn? If you are worth your salt,
go out and contest. But they would not be bothered.
They would not bother to contest because they know
that you are supposed to be anointed. Anything
outside that will not be acceptable to the
powers-that-be. But it is one tiny circle that is
holding Nigeria by the jugular vein. Whether they
are from the South-South or from the North or from
the East or from the West. See what happened to
Obasanjo. Obasanjo or the Yorubas were brought into
power to atone for the sins of (General) Babangida.
It wasn’t as if it was the constitution of the
I get you right there is nothing stopping
southerners from contesting in 2011?
no. why are they not contesting? But because you see
the PDP has been so carved by the Abdulsalami
government; It has been so carved
from the onset to retain power. And power for
them, not for us. They handpicked their oga (Obasanjo)
whom they thought would do their bidding for them.
Unfortunately for them, Obasanjo did not go the
whole hog for them, but he did give them a little.
I’m sure he did. But what I am trying to say is
that there is nothing like turn. It is my turn,
it’s your turn, no. that is not democracy anyway!
there is nothing stopping people from the south
Tell me which law stops anybody from contesting
election? Which law says it is the turn of the North
today and the turn of the South tomorrow?
no, no. I am asking you as per our constitution,
which law? Even within the PDP for instance, they
say it’s a gentheman’s agreement.
you calling on any credible southern candidate to
me, yes. Why not? Because so long as we stand on
these lies, you will never get people that are
if southerners come up now it would be said they are
eating into the turn of the North
it is not our turn. We are not getting anything, for
God’s sake. What has the North got since
Yar’Adua came? I am sure that Lagos gets more
electricity than Kano. We have no water, we don’t
have health. Even the enabling environment for you
to do business, the economy has gone down. The Naira
is in tatters. And is there any difference between
the Naira I spend in Kano and the Naira that you
spend in Oyo for God’s sake? No. Is the value of
the Naira any better in the North than it is in the
south or anywhere? You see, we have to be able to
tell ourselves the truth. We should no longer allow
ourselves to part of these lies. The least we can do
for instance is to stop grumbling and come out and
say it as it is. Because what I know about this
country is that nobody is enjoying even his loot.
Even their loot… What I am saying is that loot as
much as you want to loot; you still cannot sleep
with two eyes closed whoever you are in this
country, because of the total insecurity. Whoever
you are in this country, if you have an accident or
you breakdown in any way as a result of illness, the
only solution is for you to be rushed (out), to take
an air ambulance. And maybe before you get there,
the first one hour is always crucial in things like
that. But before you get there, you could be dead.
Or you could have a permanent damage
to your health. But how many people can even
afford that? What is happening to the billions and
billions and billions of God-given Naira or Dollar?
The God-given Dollars, the God-given oil? Who worked
for the oil under the ground? Who worked for all
these mineral resources? Who kept it there? It
belongs to the people of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria as given by God Almighty. But who is
siphoning it? Who is enjoying it? Who is plundering
these resources? Why do we always get bad, bad,
worse, worse leadership? For God’s sake, because
of our inability to tell a simple truth. Because of
our inability to call a spade a spade. Because of
our inability to say ‘No’, for God’s sake. And
we are either not saying no because we are thinking
of, ‘If I say this no, I might not be
commissioner, I might not be minister, I might not
get adverts in my paper. This is the reality.
are hitting at the journalists too?
am so sorry but this is the truth. And then when you
get it, of what use is it? You spend everything on
diesel. You spend everything paying school fees. You
spend everything giving yourself security. You
cannot even go on holidays in Nigeria anywhere. If
you are very, very lucky, you have to travel out.
You can’t take a holiday’in your own country for
God’s sake. We are still in bondage since 1960 our
flag independence. What are we talking about? So
what Nigerians do is to sit and grumble and grumble
and disperse. Me, I take exception to that.
a southern candidate comes at to contest, from your
knowledge of events and people, do you think there
is any acceptable candidate now that can challenge
is there it challenge in Yar’Adua? There is
nothing to challenge. Just leave him with the
problems that he has. His personal problems are
enough for him to take care of him, let me tell you.
But you see, the issue is not Yar’Adua or
The issue is the …140 millions, impotent ,
are they being
for refusing to challenge oppression. Cowards. They
are all a bunch of cowards . Or a lot of them are
just hypocrites. They just sit on the fence, waiting
for when they will be called to either get their
contracts or their political appointments,
Sometimes, I pardon the general populace because a
lot of them are trying to come to terms with what to
eat for that day. And that is why the governing
elite continue to perpetrate these atrocities,
bleeding the nation. Because, if there is
food on the table, if they give the enabling
environment, if they give education, then they know
that they would be challenged. But for God’s sake,
my father cannot be their slave and I will
not be slave and my children
their slaves ,no! We must be able to say no
to this system , even for our own survival as a
take a look at the anti corruption war, which even
the senate said is slowing down. Since the
removal of Nuhu Ribadu, things
have not been the same.
can they be the same? It was deliberate. Now we know
why Nuhu Ribadu had to be removed. Because the
corruption in the presidency has soared.
.It is worse than Obasanjo’s time.
is a very grave allegation
it is. But it is true, what is happening in this
gives you that impression?
is so much corruption
want to tell you that during the time of obasanjo , you would see
activities.You have seen some changes. for instance
I can tell you about
Abuja. I can tell you that Obasanjo through
had a lot
to show. But what have you got to show now.
Tell me one sector. But is the money still not
flowing? It is still flowing for
God’s sake. But who and who and who are
controlling the Government of the federal Republic
of Nigeria.? You can count them on your finger tips.
So who is eating what? Family and friends. This is
when this report is published they will shout blue
murder, denying it.The same thing
happened during obasanjo’s
regime when a foreign report said over 50%
of corruption during Obasanjo’s regime
happened in the presidency but the regime said it
was not time. You are saying corruption in the
presidency now has soared?
it has and I
am sure they will say
it is not true. It is true. It is so obvious.
you basing this allegation on what you suspect to be
of the henchmen of the presidency
money is coming out but it is being trapped.
And look at what is
happening in the power
sector. Look at the scandal. People are being
removed. People are
one- third of our budget is said to
be going to
the power sector.
And his friends and relatives are all being
entrenched in the power sector, Why ? I saw a paper-
one of the newspapers was giving an analysis that
they actually want to trap the money to use
it for their campaigns in 2011. This has always been
the case and I have not seen anywhere they denied
rather then coming out with electoral reforms they
are preparing to
course, I told you they have gone beyond rigging.
When you rig, there is an election for you to rig.
There are no elections so what are you
rigging. They are only siphoning.
do you make
happened to Nuhu Ribadu and el-Rufai?I know for a fact that these people who
were very instrumental
to the election of Yar Adua. But it seems
they were apparently
used and dumped
see, for me Yar’Adua has
been very, very treacherous. But I now
understand why he took the actions he took on
what do you mean?
corruption is in his favour. And Nuhu Ribadu
can be quite
bold and he can
be quite unpredictable when it comes to nailing down
anybody. So I want to believe that Yar’Adua was
very clear as to what
to do as president of the Federal Republic of
not part of it?
corruption was not part of it , because he can only
perpetuate himself in
power corruptly. So Nuhu Ribadu had to go .
el Rufai, (he)has done so well for Abuja. Whether we
like it or not he was such dynamic leader in Abuja.
He did a
great job. See Abuja now is in tatters. Abuja is now rubbish dump,
you never got
to see during the time of el Rufai. Hospitals were
working then. Roads were clean.
Shrubs were trimmed. There was
water. He went
around the city to
check for broken-down pipes personally. I had seen him on the
streets on one or two
occasions doing that. And you see
something was booming , you could hear the
echo of government . You could hear the echo
of Ngozi Okonjo –Iweala, the finance
Minster ;you could hear her, the vibration. We all
felt her in the country. We all felt el Rufai. We
all felt Nuhu Ribadu.
ever achieved anything, these were his
achievements. But soon after, what is happening? The
Naira is in shreds. And you see I want to talk about
this naira even as a lay person. I can’t understand the explanation of
this government and the explanation of this
our dwindling oil revenue. If you remember
Abacha was governing this country (when petrol
price) was $8 per barrel. Then it went up to $9 per
barrel. By the time the oil price rose, it got to
$15per barrel. From $9 to $15, everything done by
PTF was as a result of that windfall of $6 per
barrel of oil. It was in fact $3 per barrel that was
given to the PTF. And every hospital you go today in
Nigeria you will see PTF. They are still using PTF
bedsheets.There were PTF tablets,PTF roads .PTF
was all over with $3 per barrel. The most important
thing was that the Dollar was pegged at N80 to the
Dollar, at a time when we were selling petrol at $15
per barrel. Now Yar’Adua is still selling at about
N40 - $ 389 per barrel, but the Naira crashed up to
N190 to the Dollar, how do you explain that? Who is
lying to who? But what I think they did was that
they stole from Peter to Pay Paul…
executive editor Insider Weekly who conducted this
interview is also editor- in- chief