Former protem chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and leader of the nPDP that merged with five political parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, says dialogue remains the only panacea to solve increasing insecurity in Nigeria. He speaks with Tope Sunday.
Sir, you have just clocked 69, what is your message for Kwarans and Nigerians in general?
I give Allah the glory as He is the owner of the glory. He is the perpetual owner of all glories. I wish to appreciate all Nigerians for their resilience, perseverance and Never “Say Die attitude” at this very difficult time in Nigeria.
I am urging Nigerians to be security conscious about their environment. We must remove I don’t care attitude or “sidon look” attitude. We must be conscious of what goes around in our neighborhood including objects and people moving around us and report to the appropriate authorities, any suspicious movement or situations.
Nigerians must go back to our culture of working together and cooperating with our neighbours in ensuring that our environment, our neighborhood, our states and our country are safe. This is the time we must be very alert and live up to our responsibilities and be our brother’s keepers.
Nigerians, particularly the elites, and especially the youths must be more involved in governance. We must show that we are alive in our thinking, in our perception and in our belief in good governance. We must tarry and be critical of whatever the authorities tell us.
We must put on our “thinking caps”, analyze issues and situations and shift the corn from the shaft- truth from baseless and destructive lies. I am particularly referring to our youth because this is the time for them to stand up and bail the future, which we believe is their own.
It is not for the youths to believe in anything they throw at them and later lament when the truth stares at them at the face. The youth must come out of their gullibility, they must demand and even fight for good governance.
Government in Nigeria stands on tripods. We have the judiciary, the legislative and of course, the executive. One major arm of government, the legislative, must be the eye, the brain, and the conscience of the public who elected them. Whenever they are not doing their jobs, the youth and indeed, the entire populace should question them.
The three arms of government are supposed to be complementary, but the legislative arm must be at alert always. It is the checks and balances in any functional democracy. Therefore it should work for the people and not the executive. It should insist on ensuring that the executive deliver good governance to the people as well as the judiciary delivering justice to the masses.
While we appreciate the fact that the legislative is doing its job for the progress of the people, they are not supposed to be rubber stamp to the executive. They are supposed to appreciate what the public needs and what the public lacks and then tell government to do the right things. Of course, we are all living witnesses to what is happening now. I mean the performances of the 9th National Assembly with regards to the insecurity in the country. It is on record that the 8th National Assembly worked relentlessly and passed laws on how to beef-up security in the entire country. Where are those laws? Accented or not accented to?
It is now we are lamenting. Recalling that this is what the eight National Assembly has been saying and what the 8th National Assembly stood for. Regrets and lamentations are not the best for us in this country.
What’s position on calls for the president to rejig our security apparatus, will the change halt increasing insecurity in the country?
This is why I am calling on Nigerians to be resilient and the youth and the general public to demand good governance because we have never had it so bad. Our brother countries in West Africa like Sudan, Niger Rep. that have been in wars, did not have as much insecurity threat as we now have in Nigeria before they went into war. It seems we are taking advantage the resilience of Nigerians. But we must be warned, there is always a limit to the elasticity of any pressure.
Those of us who can remember knew that there were serious enabling laws that were enacted by the 8th National Assembly but the present executive blatantly refused to assent to such bills.
The panacea the 8th National Assembly recommended then which was put in abeyance is what we are now dusting up. I mean that is one step forward and ten steps backwards. It is not the best for Nigeria. It is not the best to govern by sentiments of nepotism, hatred, insincerity and injustice.
My take is the security apparatus of this country has failed us. It has collapsed and the center can no longer hold. There is no control whatsoever any longer .We need to sit down and dialogue. I am now beginning to change my mind that it is high time that we began to decentralize authorities, and institutions. Besides, it is high time that we Nigerians needed to sit down and reason and make the right choice before we put our fingers on the ballot papers to vote whoever we want into power.
What is your take on Amotekun created by the South West governors?
It is complementary to government security agencies and should stay. I hasten to appreciate the Inspector General of Police for his courage on this out-fit. I have been listening to and observing comments of well meaning Nigerians as well as reactions from the representatives of the federal government. The Nigerian police are saddled providing public security. I have never heard the Inspector General of Police condemning Amotekun .That is an educated, honest and dedicated police officer different from what we had in the immediate past.
Government should sit down with the organizers of Amotekun and dialogue with the governors from the affected states, instead of coming out and condemning them. The issue of Amotekun and the like has existed in other regions of the country anyway. I am not a Nigerian that would be partial because I belong to one section of the country, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
So if other parts of the nation have been operating such outfits successfully why not in the Southwest? In Kwara state, for example, we have vigilantes. Many individuals, groups and organisations have resolved to hire the services of vigilante in many communities in Kwara state.
They have been successfully and peacefully complementing police efforts in the state.
Why haven’t the government blacklisted vigilantes? We have been hearing the activities of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the troubled North Eastern part of Nigeria.Why didn’t government say it is illegal? Amotekun is a welcome idea and an idea coming from leaders that have the concern of their people at heart. I think the government at the center should sit down and dialogue with them and resolve the grey areas and let Amotekun function to complement the police effort.
Does PDP need name change?
Well as far as am concerned, there are many things attached to a name and there are many things that a name can do and may not be able do. Yes, it is not the name that matters but the characteristic and behaviour of the bearer of such name. Same with political parties. The members and performances of the party members send the wrong or right signals. This results in the perception of the people about the party. It is just like the saying that one may change the name of leopard but cannot change its colour, leopard is leopard.
As far as I am concerned, the PDP stands for progress, PDP stands for the people just like the mantra says, power belongs to the people. The PDP is more interested that the wealth of the country goes round the nooks and crannies and not concentrated in the hands of the so-called cabals. So for me, it is what the PDP does for the people that matters and not about the name.
In any case we now know which party is the chief of the thieves in Nigeria.
What is your take about the committee set up to resolve the issue of Ile Arugbo ?
It is a good idea. People have their own tradition and culture and the Ilorin emirate community is not an exception. Ilorin emirate community is known for its peaceful coexistence among families and individuals. My view about the committee is that we are putting our house in order and that the leaders who thought of it are carrying out one of our passionate values in Ilorin community, i.e. peaceful coexistence. That is what we are known for. Anybody who is condemning this is only telling a story about himself or herself. Anybody that is standing against this is standing at a distance and throwing stones at his father’s house.
I give Kudus to the setting up of the committee and advise that it should not be ad-hoc but a permanent and functional committee. Also its membership should not unwieldy.