MAGAJI GUSAU is a founding member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Sokoto State. He is aggrieved over what he says is the failure of Governor Aliyu Wamakko administration to implement a merger agreement between PDP and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). In this interview with Correspondent, COLEMAN ANAELE, He accuses the government of sponsoring area boys to cause crisis in the state. He also blames politicians for lack of continuity of policies and programmes, among other issues. Excepts
There have been killings in some Northern states, particularly Plateau State, yet the government drives on its policies and programmes, but it seems to an ordinary man that things are not going in the right path, does it mean the situation is hopeless?
I want to affirm here that politically, Nigeria is still great, and socially we are also superb. People tend to look at Nigeria, the same way they look at Zambia, Guinea or Saudi Arabia with very little number of people. Nigeria has a population of over a hundred million people, which is not a small country that one could say he wants to see changes immediately. Most of the problems we are facing in this country are that, Nigeria has not produced leaders who think continuity is the bedrock of development of any country. Every leader that comes in would want to run his own programmes and ignore the programmes he inherited from his predecessor. That is the difference between Nigeria and some developed countries. No matter what, a president of United States of America would never abandon the programmes he inherited, even though he has his own programme to implement, but that continuity is the development of that country as we all can see, ideas are being borrowed or shared. The common man is enslaved because he would want to abandon the project that has been started for him by the previous administration, because he is not interested in that political party or leadership.
For instance, there are so many localities where people would not want you to do a project for them if you are an elected leader, rather they would want you to come and give them money, such as N100, N200, N300 or N1, 000 and so on, forgetting about doing any project for them in such locality; so the common man is also a contributor to the problems we are facing today. I think that the common man should now determine to start electing people with real programmes that would help them but not government gladiators who come to them with their pockets and are decisive with money- spreading. My submission is, charity begins at home. You cannot eat your cake and at the same time have it; you must choose one of the two. Nigeria is a very populous country with over 100 million people. Therefore, the light that should be given or supplied in Gambia, Zambia or Guinea, such must be tripled in Nigeria to almost 10 times. The population is so large, the infrastructure is so small and the common man is not interested in increasing that infrastructure. He would also be a party to vandalise the little or insufficient infrastructure that we have, so tell me where do we go from there? Unless Nigerians become patriotic in nature, to love their country, love what is in it, they cannot make headway. A lot has been said about re-branding Nigeria, agreed; talking about changing humanity, one should start by changing himself first. We as Nigerians, both the common man and elite should have a unified form of making this country great. So, a leader who wants to make this country great would not be supported by the common man, because he would be there fighting crime and other social vices, not stealing from the treasure. And if you don't steal in Nigeria, the common man would not like you, because they look forward for the money you would come and spread on them .
Is that not also encouraging corruption instead of abating it?
That is the position of the people who are encouraging corruption, sometimes they hold you hostage unless you bring out money, and it's most unfortunate.
Are you are trying to say that, the political officer holders find themselves in a compelling situation to yield to such?
Let me now tell you, in case you don't know, whatever post you are aspiring to, politically in the Nigerian context, you must pay to be elected, you must pay people to vote for you, you must pay people to go for campaign, you must also pay people even to wear your slogans, rather than having people that would volunteer to see that, yes we give you every support because you have a good ideology that would transform the lives of the people for better. Unfortunately, today some many people no longer politick for ideology, but they politick for the ideology for food.
In essence, you are saying it runs contrary to what is expected of economic growth and social development of the country and its citizenry?
The ball is on the common man's court, who would determine whether he wants Nigeria to progress or not, therefore if you bribe your way to win election, the person would also do every thing possible to see he regains whatever expenses he incurred during election, he could go as far as to incite the people to cause crisis and what have you. In other words, if any leader is found wanting, it is the common man that should ask him to resign his position. Consequently, we have leaders who do not believe in their own vision, but sycophants. I have never heard of any political appointee or elected, who resigns honourably because his programmes are subservient or frustrated.
The security network of the country is still giving much concern even though government appears to be doing much on that aspect, yet incessant killings, robbery attack, kidnapping and so on, still reign supreme, what do you think are seriously amiss?
You see, charity begins at home, as I have always said, leaders are supposed to be leaders, people who are not leaders assume to be leaders, now want to lead by any means, no matter who dies is not their business. Even in some states there are gallant security personnel who want to perform credibly but they are not allowed to perform. Once you have difficulty or problem with your governor, you tell him the truth, but he never heeds to that, he would just go to Abuja to get his way, then that commissioner would be removed or redeployed because he wants to maintain the integrity of his profession. More so, some of the governors are not helping matters, they have area boys around them; most areas where there are area boys the governors are responsible for the protection and feeding of these boys, they sponsor them in every thing, and some commissioners of police in these areas know the gang leaders and would never arrest them because they are being paid to the detriment of the society. Forget the fact that these police chiefs go on air to say we would not condone these areas boys, but they condone them. When the government of Lagos State said, it was enough for the area boys, in joint effort with the security they succeeded.
In Sokoto State, the reverse is the case, because the government wants the commissioner of police to be subservient and since the commissioner knew that if he were not subservient to the governor he would be removed, he has to corporate.
For instance, there were times when a police commissioner was posted to Sokoto, who was determined to nib in the bud the areas boys menace, the said commissioner only lasted less than a month, he was removed. We reacted to that in a petition to the then Inspector General of Police, to see the reality, instead the commissioner was removed. I implored the National Assembly to make a law that would see to the dismissal of any commissioner of police whose state has been consistently attacked by armed robbers. If this were done we would have security in our states. For example, what has happened in Plateau State, a place where we have the likes of Solomon Lar, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Mantu, Yahaya Kwande, present and past governors, they would not have allowed the state to be taken over by religious and ethnic crisis - sectarian in deed. The state government objected to the panel setup by the Federal Government and constituted its own parallel panel, the consequence of all that, instead of abating reoccurrence, the situation has become unabated. I am quite aware that, there has been crisis in Jos, politically, socially, and all that, since I was the National Secretary of Congress of National Consensus (CNC), 1995 - 1996, and I know in some areas, you as settler-majority cannot win any vote, against the real indigene who might be the minority as they would impose their candidates on the settlers, to rule. I cannot imagine whereby we have these aforementioned elders and statesmen of Plateau state, yet crises were happening there consistently.
Recently after the last killings in Jos, the military and the state government have traded words at each, the latter accused the former for not responding in time to avert the suspected security threat, whereas the military blamed the state government for failing to brief the command on security alert, what do you think could the lasting solution?
Nigeria is a multi-religious country. Nigeria is a social country with different tribes and ethnic divide, so nobody can in the real sense say, because you do not belong to this area or state therefore you cannot live there, so if that should happen, it means we are all going back to our regions - the Hausas will move to the North, the Yorubas to South West and Igbos to South East, is that what we call Nigeria? Definitely 'no' the only way out of that problem is that people should learn to live together, because every body requires one another. A situation where I live my whole life in your place, and yet you refer to me as a settler, so how do you want me to feel, that is the major problem Jos people are facing. Here in Sokoto, during the last general election, an Igbo man was elected a councilor, doesn't that show sense of belonging, love and oneness, which is very rare to happen in any part of this country apart from Sokoto.
Like I said, these respected personalities, Yakubu Gowon and Co should come together on roundtable and call their people to order, that is the only way peace would return to Plateau state.
The cold war within PDP caucus in the state, which led to the suit against the incumbent governor by the aggrieved members of the party, which you are one, how have you resolved the matter?
No, no, no the matter has not been resolved. Yes we've gone to court, we also made some publications in this regard, but the people who are supposed to resolve this problem are two; one, the national leadership of PDP who is the major cause of this problem, and also the Sokoto State Government, should have looked into this problem, should have listened and called members to come and reconcile the matter. But none of these people dared or thought of such initiative, because they are insensitive to the problem. The National leader of PDP does not care; because the party is for sell to the highest bidder. PDP never had bad leadership than it has today. The national chairman of our party and his deputy are the real problem of PDP; that is why PDP is loosing elections particularly in the South where we have the majority of the states controlled by PDP. Imagine, where we presented a candidate for Anambra governorship election, and we lost. Secondly, I speak for PDP to be vibrant in Nigeria, in that regard, a mini convention must be called, must be called to move those that have spoilt the party.
In sokoto State, God knows where we are heading to, because of the insensitive nature of the National Headquarters that is why PDP is dead. There is no PDP structure in Sokoto State; rather we only have a government with a flag of PDP and nothing more. There is a government yes, with a flag of PDP yes, but there is no visible PDP in Sokoto State. I have said this time without number, but time would come when the national leadership of the party would realise that somebody has been telling us to come and correct what is happening in Sokoto. You can imagine where the present PDP government cannot carry people who held this party for the past 10 to 12 years along and yet how can one convince me there is a PDP? The new corners are now the PDP whereas the old and foundation members are relegated to nothing. Take a drive to any part of the state, you would not find PDP structure as a party where people could go in and out to show that activities are happening, rather you see, the so-called PDP house with flag erected and security personnel guiding it and probably also the clerk. A political party office is a place where people of like minds converge to share ideas; funny enough, you cannot see the structure, neither in any ward nor local government of the state. If people or security personnel are seen guarding the place it means there is a problem.
Does that mean, the incumbent governor is gradually losing popularity because accusations and counter accusations characterised the recent rally that he held in Sokoto?
Did you see any state governor in this part of the federation that is throwing money to the people on the road apart from Sokoto State government? After all, the money he is throwing belongs to the state; so if a governor is throwing money, it means he knows that he has a problem. So, like I told you, the young people need money, they need assistance, therefore they can do any thing to get that money. And he (governor) knows people need the money, so he had to throw it to them. We (old PDP members) got the incumbent governor to government, as a result of merger between former ANPP and PDP in order to defeat the opposition, Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). But as soon as he came into power through our collective effort, he turned his eyes against us being the foundation members of PDP. That is why I said, future election as I envisage, unless God wishes, any member of the old PDP in the rural areas who has completely been removed from the mantle of his party for twelve years would not be able to campaign or even vote for our party, unless the party is reconciled. And I have been calling for the reconciliation for barely two to three years. However, we are waiting for the court to decide on the MOU we had during the merger, which was 50/50 apart, that is why we are patiently waiting so that we can forge ahead. But unfortunately the state judiciary workers' strike obstructed the acceleration of the hearing.
You, as one of the aggrieved leaders of the PDP has registered your case, which is pending in the court also the incumbent governor is faced with another litigation bothering on his legitimacy as a governor over party membership. Don't you think with these, the opposition parties in the state would capitalise on this in next year's general elections?
That is why I said there is a problem, you cannot fight two people, you cannot fight the opposition also fight your party members, who have asked and advised you to see reasons and accept to do the right thing. A government that is into intra party squabbles at the same time squaring it out with an opposition party in the state is a major mistake. That is why the leadership of the government is restless. The government cannot come down for the people, according to their new policy; the government is so large that instead, you as a person should go along with the government.
This is not a system that we need; rather we need a united party that would be able to win future elections. The problem now is, the PDP led government is not determined or willing to reconcile the internal problems, they are at present, battling with court litigation.
So, does it mean the situation is helpless?
Some of us are useful, but the government said we are not useful they have resorted to call us excess luggage, what then is expected of us to do? That is why we are watching the development. There are many ways to tackle these issues and not the way they are going about it, but because they say we are not relevant any longer, so we sit and watch. You are only interested in holding government offices it is a common knowledge that every political party has its own plans and programmes on how to win elections, which may differ from one party to another. The issue is, is the incumbent government yielding to the yearnings of the common man, these are the yardsticks of gauging a leader to live above board. Maybe, the government should have sat down and reevaluate its own programmes and avoid sycophants. Any government that allows sycophant to be its yardstick of leadership would not succeed, it will meet doom. There are people that are really critics; they criticise because they want the government to listen and have a re-think. But then, when you criticise, you would see government gladiators who would portray you in bad light as enemy of government. No government succeed without criticisms, no government succeeds without opposition. The recent development in Sokoto is that people who have shown interest to vie for political positions, at the Sokoto House of Assembly and the National Assembly have no single old PDP member in their list. The present crops are all members of Aliyu Wamakko faction, because they won't win any primaries as long as the number of delegates in the local government, wards and the state are only exclusively members of Wamakko's faction.
Are you saying the situation has degenerated into such a serious faction?
Honestly, I am telling you the situation is as serious as that. Apart from Dan Bature and few others who else is there? No body. Before any election takes place, we in PDP believe in organising primaries to see who and who would emerge, which is not common with other opposition parties, they rely on selection, while PDP relies on election. Unfortunately, the selection process has been introduced into PDP by the present government. So, I foresee the movement of people from PDP to other parties, except these anomalies are corrected now. Massive decamping into others parties where these people can be relevant cannot be doubted. For instance, in my own case, if I want to contest for an election for the position that I won, which was taken away from me because of this merger that was a Senatorial position. Even in my local government, because out of 17 members of local government council, two or three members were members of old PDP, the same in my ward and other local government of the state. So what is the benefit for me to contest election under the platform of PDP? I'm therefore relying on the upper chamber of the National Assembly to pass a bill that allows an independent candidate so that I can now come out as an independent candidate if I cannot join any other political party. Though, the Senate chamber is sitting on that bill, because if they pass it, there is the tendency that many of the legislators will not regain their seats. What it means is that, everybody has to step down to go and contest including the governors.
Attahiru Bafarawa as a former Governor of the state, is presently charged alongside others over alleged misappropriation of the state's fund to the tune of N15billion during his reign, some political observers and other stakeholders in the state have fingered the incumbent government as mastermind of the whole allegation, what is your position on this?
One thing I have always repeatedly said is, any person who lives in a glass house should not throw stone, because somebody can pick the stone from outside and throw back, and that could be very dangerous. In the first place, the state government made a political mistake of setting up a commission that investigated Bafarawa, a political mistake, which was implemented in a political manner, whereby you are investigating a former governor yet you chose your area of interest, within a short scope. That is why, people are right to finger the government of the day to have a hand in it. Because government should have investigated the past regime from the beginning to the end, and for every ministries and parastatal in the state. You find out that, the investigation was only conducted in pilgrim's welfare agency and a joint account of state and local government for a certain period, and not from the beginning. What about the Ministries of Works, Health, Agriculture, Water Resources and others not included? Any incumbent government has the right to investigate the activities of the past administration, but in the case of Sokoto, it has set up a bad precedent but the incumbent government, definitely would be investigated in future. Even as EFCC was interested in this issue, my question is, why now? The incumbent governor was the deputy governor under Bafarawa, for almost seven years of that administration before they fell apart for political reasons. Like I said, all these are ill fated political motivation, and EFCC has not helped matters either, it has fallen from its previous standard, it is still not the real EFCC that we want to see. I think also that, it has to do with the governorship tussle between DPP and Wamakko over the court litigation, to divert the attention of the DPP from the governorship issue, to rather fight corruption issue. There are differences between what happened during the administration of Bafarawa and what is happening at present. Granted that we blamed Bafarawa over that, but is the present government trying to avert itself from not falling into the same trap that Bafarawa fell. Is the joint account not tampered with, is the government now accountable for the money it receives?
These are some of the issues it should look into before making contrast. Critically, I for one would have advised the government not to have involved itself in that commission, even though there was a recommendation to investigate the past government, but not for specific areas alone. Therefore, government should have opened its arms to investigate every part of that administration. People could have come out to say yes, what the government did was right, it was transparent; unfortunately it was not to be. But, I sympathise with Wamakko, because he has set a precedent that would not allow him to have rest of mind after his tenure.