Nigeria: State of the Nation - Govt Can't Go Far By Silencing Critics - Tanko Yakassai

16 December 2019
interview

Elder Statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai in this interview berated the Nigeria media for not doing enough to make the government adhere to the rule of law. Yakasai maintained that unless the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration engages a massive national transformation programme Nigeria would fail as a nation.

What is your view on government not obeying court orders?

Why is the media bothered about violation of court orders by this administration now? There are many violations of court orders by this administration that were not reported the way they ought to. I am disappointed in most Nigeria media because they are not carrying out their role in a democratic setting the way they ought to. The media in Nigeria ought to have taken very seriously their role as the fourth estate of the realm and as the watch dog of the society. They ought to have been outspoken very strongly on how the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, was removed and replaced without due process. The media ought to have come up with a strong campaign against it so that they won't be able to carry out their plan. Without the support of the media we cannot achieve success with of the rule of law.

But a national newspaper last week carried a front page editorial on the issue and attacked the President frontally...

I read it and I was highly impressed. But why should it be only one medium? A tree cannot make a forest. The more top media get involve the better for our democracy. I have talked on the state of the nation and I am getting tired of talking. Right from the beginning, I was the only Nigerian from the North who said Buhari is not competent to solve the problem of this country but the media will not report it. Now, he won his second term. It is when the nation starts to suffer, and then you will remember. There is nothing we can do. Let us make sure that he will not end like this in 2023. Whoever is going to take over from Buhari should be someone who is committed to development and good governance. Also with a strong media campaign, the international community will come to our aid and all the developing countries will come to our support then we will succeed as a nation. But with the way we are going, we cannot succeed.

The presidency asked the UK, US and EU to mind their business and not to interfere on matters affecting Nigeria. What is your take?

The international community has the right to express its opinion about what is happening in Nigeria. This is how human right laws are guaranteed all over the world. Look at what is happening: the government of the Republic of the Gambia filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit seeks to ensure that Myanmar takes responsibility as a state for the genocide committed against the Rohingya.

It started in October 2016 and then again in August 2017. Myanmar's security forces engaged in so-called "clearance operations" against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State. The operations were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations that, according to UN investigations, amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. Survivors reported indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture. Since August 2017 more than 745,000 ethnic Rohingya civilians have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar, with nearly 400 Rohingya villages attacked and burned.

The clearance operations followed decades of systematic persecution of the Rohingya by the government. Over the course of decades, Myanmar has rendered most of its Rohingya population stateless through discriminatory laws, and placed severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, fundamental religious freedom as well as reproductive and marital rights. In other words, nobody can say another country cannot talk about what is happening in their own country.

On the arrest of former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team PRTT, Abdulraheed Maina

When I read it I was shocked. An individual would siphon such huge amount of money with all the checks and balances for years without being caught. How many people has this government convicted for corruption since inception? The people that were convicted for corruption like Joshua Dariye and the rest of were not convicted by this government. Dariye was arrested during former President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration. This government has not convicted a single prominent public office holder for corruption.

What about Senator Orji Kalu the former governor of Abia State, who was convicted last week and jailed for 12 years by a Federal High Court?

He was arrested before. He wasn't arrested by this government. In fact he joined the ruling party to exonerate himself from judgement as a result the case was delayed time after time until the court now found him guilty. If it will take 12 years to file a case and finalise it, then anybody is free to steal and make profit with it before he or she is arraigned in court.

Is Nigeria becoming a failed State?

No, Nigeria is not a failed state. People still go about their businesses without anybody molesting them. The only thing is that the government is not meeting up to the expectation of the people. There is still law and order in this country. However the government is not doing well. They unnecessarily convict people that oppose them, Children are out of schools, it's not a crime but the government ought to address it. In addressing these problems, there must be a national initiative.

The only government in the history of Nigeria that attempted to address it is the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan who started Almajiri schools when he realised that the problem in the North is lack of education. Jonathan created 12 universities during his administration and cited nine of them in the North so as to accelerate education. Unfortunately, when this government came, they didn't even care to continue in that regard. These are the kind of things you can do to make development thrive in a country. Those going to Quranic School are not out of school children but they are not in formal education which the government can do something about. But it appears this government has no programme and you can't make progress without a programme.

Do you think this government is capable of funding these projects amid the nation's rising debt profile?

The government receives revenue every month. Even if the revenue is voluntary, huge part of it can be dedicated to updating younger Nigerians through education. When Jonathan created the Almajiri schools, he didn't have to borrow to sustain them. It was part of the annual budget for that period he used. If this administration engage similar programme, I can assure you that in another few years, the problem of children out of school will become history in Nigeria.

On insurgency

The problem in the country now is not insurgency but armed robbery; you cannot travel from one state to another state comfortably without nursing fear of armed robbers and kidnappers in any part of Nigeria. Even the Boko Haram insurgents have changed their tactics now. They are attacking only targeted spots.

On the way forward

A massive national programme to address all these issues that are bedevilling us as a nation. It is necessary for the government to tackle these challenges successfully. If they have programme, they can solve the problems.

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