In this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, the Lagos State Peoples Democratic Party’s spokesman, Bar Gani Taofik, shed light on the reasons why President Muhammadu could not end banditry and other insecurity challenges in Nigeria. He also spoke on other important issues affecting the country. Excerpt.
Would say Nigeria is crumbling looking at various problems besieging it, especially in the area of security. What is your take on this?
The reality is that we are in a very precarious state now. People will express it as a time bomb but to me, it is a bomb timed in the sense that it is not in doubt again that all the nationality, everybody is now ready to leave. Everybody is disenchanted with the nation; everybody now feels that the best is to be independent. Unfortunately, the blood-shedding aspect is what troubles me. Of course, we can leave; we can become independent without any spilling of blood. The way things are going, that may be the way. Unfortunately, we have a President that does not even seem to be concerned that this country is already drifting into another civil war.
Is it that you foreseeing looming crises in the country?
What else can anybody use to suggest that we are living in serious hatred when it has even got to an extent that the people who are privileged to do agriculture recently, said that they will no longer share with the other people. It means that the union can no longer work. The only thing that remains is for the President to come out and say enough is enough.
What is most important now is to have a conference. It is long overdue that we have a conference of all nationalities. Let us say in this 21st century what we want and let the whole world see if it is possible or not practicable that we should continue to stay as Nigeria. If possible, anybody who wants to go can go and we should not allow it to degenerate into killings, war and the rest. That will not be good for us.
Some Nigerians want former President Goodluck Jonathan back. Do you think that will save the current situation?
Well, as regards whether former President Jonathan should come back, it means that he will have to contest the 2023 general election. Well, if the t’s and I’s that were not crossed or dotted the last time can now be crossed and dotted and he is convinced that he can contest and win, good luck to him.
But as far as I’m concerned, I think his best has been given. Such a man should remain the nationalist that he is. In such a situation where something happens to the country and we need somebody to come and put us together and head the nation in the interim, President Jonathan may be fit and proper for that type of goal. But for him to go and attempt to want to contest, for me, those reasons why he lost the election will come up again and if he loses the election, his integrity will so much be reduced. So, I will advise him as a person, as a brother and as a friend, not to contest. He should continue as a father figure, a role model.
So, what role will you advise him to play in solving Nigeria’s problem?
I will like him to come out on important occasions like if for any reason Nigeria needs him to come and sit for a conference or even administer the county just like we had it in the history that we had an interim government headed by Ernest Shonekan. He did not participate in any election, but he was fit and proper to put the country right at that time, such a role is what I feel that Goodluck Jonathan can prepare himself for. But again, I can tell you that history will always write President Goodluck Jonathan well. Posterity will always smile on him. It is now that Nigerians knew that it was a serious mistake for them to have bought in this type of change, fake change indeed.
Are you saying Buhari has not surpassed Nigerians’ expectations?
President Buhari, that has turned out to be the worst president Nigeria has ever had? In terms of managing the economy, in terms of managing crisis, in terms of putting the nation together. It is on record and we are no surprise. He has always been a captain, but he has not always been a ship captain. Even when he was in the military Head of State, he was not in charge. He rode on the strength, on the prosperity, on the meekness, on the ability of Tunde Idiagbon.
Meanwhile, we will also remember that this is the same man who put an end to democratic rule when he overtook a democratically elected government. So, he has a history of not somebody who performed well, who is competent. It was not on the basis of his competency or ability to perform that he became president. Don’t forget that up till now as we speak, the worst government that Nigerians have had before this President Buhari, which was internationally regarded as the worst human right violation government, was General Sani Abacha. And the man who was the right-hand man to General Sani Abacha was President Mohammad Buhari. He was the president and the chairman of PTF. PTF was actually the parallel government then. Up till now as we speak, Buhari has not come out to accuse Abacha of any infraction.
Nigeria appears to have been plagued by banditry and others. What is your view on this?
Of course, there is obvious nepotism in handling this matter and this is just because Buhari is a Fulani man.
When Jonathan was there as a vice president in the first instant, he was told to go into the creek when we had a problem with the South-South people and he went into the creek. President Buhari was in his state, was in his local government, was in his ward, was in his house in Katsina on the day that over five hundred people were kidnapped. In the end, only for those bandits to be given money as ransom to release those people…. We do not have a president in Nigeria.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his last open letter advised that stakeholders including the opposition should be called to help Nigeria out of its many problems, especially insecurity. What is your take on this?
I agree totally that that is what a president is ought to do. But I do not see President Buhari doing such a thing for two reasons. Number one, fundamentally this is a crisis traceable to his ethnic group Fulani. Whatever he does now will be seen as an attack against the Fulanis. Number two is that president Buhari has an alibi and this in the fact, he is mentally unfit.
What do you mean by this?
President Buhari will fail any medical test of mental alertness. If he has to go and put himself up for such a test, he will fail. So that is the alibi. In essence, what am I saying is that we do not have a government, we don’t have a president. Imagine, people will either from the Ministry of Justice, from the Ministry of Works or anybody who is just interested in any issue, will just come up and just keep nagging because the president himself is not in control. Why is nobody interested in why our First Lady decided to leave the Aso Rock up to the extent that the mother died and she did not even show up? If she has a medical reason, why not let Nigerians know? She’s a public figure. Let’s pray for her. But it may even be more than that, it might even be related to this rumour that we do not have a president as Buhari, but another person as the president.
So, these are fundamental issues. When did Nigeria stop being dogmatic? Where are these people; Wole Soyinka, Tunde Bakari? Where are they? Where are the people who called on late President Musa Yar’Adua to come home and die? Now, nobody is saying anything about all these things that are happening all in the name of friendship; or is it that they have collected bribe?
“So, the proper thing is what former President Obasanjo has suggested but President Buhari cannot do it. I challenge him to do it if he can, he will write his name in gold. This country is going to a state of bloody disintegration, the president is sitting there, he is comfortable, he wants his name to be written as the last president in Nigeria that is what he is trying to do. This is a man who believed his time is up and can be called up by God at any time, so he may not even bloody care if he is the last president of Nigeria.