High Chief (Alhaji) Musa Shehu Isiwele is the national president of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and Federal Government delegate to the ongoing National Conference where he served in the Standing Committee on Transportation. In this interview with LEADERSHIP team, he bares his mind on a united Nigeria, corruption and the way out, among others.
You caught the attention of other delegates when you commented on the inaugural speech of the president...
Yes. The president said the country must remain one which, I myself subscribes to. For over 30 years now I have been in Kano. I am more popular in Kano than where I come from which is Uromi in Edo State. Because a lot of people in Uromi don't know me, they see me as a stranger whenever I go there. It is a place you go once in a year for may be festivals. So, the issue of dividing Nigeria, I say no because we have inter-married one another. You can't ask me to leave Kano because I have my personal building there. You cannot ask Dangote to leave Lagos, it is impossible. So, we must remain together. Then I talked about thieves in Nigeria. No governor in this country today who has ruled his state for eight years and he is not richer than the state he ruled. A lot of them are richer than the states they governed because they buy jets and fly them over our heads and somebody steal a goat, police will charge him to court and he will be sentenced to seven years imprisonment. But those who steal trillions will be negotiating, these are my concerns. No governor ever allowed local governments to exist freely even with the face of illegal caretaker committees. The governors now change names of these contraptions; some called their own IMC, meaning interim management committee. Then you will see that what they are giving to these local governments from monthly allocations is paltry, they now put the rest in their pockets. So, I said we have two options, either the local government is autonomous or we proscribe it because if you proscribe it any governor who want to create 100 or more local governments is free to do so. It is because of the federal allocations, that is why they emasculate the local governments.
Now, these former governors are here now. They own the five-star hotels in Abuja, if you go to Malaysia, Dubai and UK, they have all these five-star hotels. But in their states where they were governors, we have somebody taking N5,000 as a salary a month. No water, no light, so what are we talking about? I said they should be executed. That was my take and everybody was laughing.
There are issues, which Nigerians are passionate about like fiscal federalism, state police and others but these are the same issues causing ripples among delegates. Why will some delegates refused to do what the people want?
To me as a human being and a Nigerian, I support the state police because I remembered there was a time when we had the NA police, local police and the Nigerian Police. Because if the local police is prosecuting you and you are not interested, you can appeal to the Federal Police to take over the matter. So, if you create state police, it will create job opportunities. Now, every state already has a similar thing like that. If you go to Lagos you have LASTMA and KAI, if you go to Kano you have Hisbah, and so on, so what are we hiding? Just give them the name state police since all these organisations also arrest offenders for one thing or the other. Another advantage is that natives will be able to police their state effectively since there won't be a stranger among them, everybody will serve in his or her state.
So, why will some delegates be against things that will benefit Nigerians?
You know we are many and not everybody has Nigeria at heart.
Another controversial issue is the clamour for resource control by the South-South, what is your take sir?
If we want to live together, we should do things that will give everybody peace of mind. Because if today as I am from Edo State and South-South and we have oil today, we don't know if the oil will dry tomorrow. So, let everybody shift ground and give ourselves sense of belonging. I heard other people also saying they should scrap the Niger Delta ministry and stop the amnesty programme or take it to the Boko Haram insurgents too, this is not right.
As a transporter, what would your constituency take away at the end of this conference?
We are going to take a lot of things because I submitted a memorandum calling for a Transport Bank. When we have a Transport Bank, the genuine transporters can go there and have loan with one or one and the half per cent interest rate. Nobody can go and take a long with 30% interest rate, before the vehicle arrives and getting the plate number, the loan might have finished. So, that is why we are calling for this Transport Bank because government has no business in transportation sector, it can't favour them. Go to along Kubwa expressway now, you see a lot of "El-Rufai" buses which are no longer working and parked there. But look at the Ekene Dili Chukwu, the 911 trucks they were using from Onitsha to Kano at N3 fare are still there. I can give you a good example of myself, I bought a vehicle in 1980 at N48,000 and it is still working till today, how many years now the "El-Rufai" buses have served? So, the government must hands off the transport sector.