Dr Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a development economist, and a presidential candidate in the 2019 election under the umbrella of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), resigned from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State.
Many have felt his resignation may not be unconnected with his recent travails in the hands of the Department of State Security due to the interview he granted a radio station in which he alleged that a sitting northern governor is Boko Haram Commander based on information from some repentant Boko Haram terrorists. In this chat with Vanguard, Mailafia says he resigned based on two reasons, noting that he is simply a voice for the voiceless martyrs.
Why did you resign from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies?
First, let me make it clear that nobody asked me to resign. Nobody forced me to resign, but I resigned for two reasons: Number one, this is what I wrote that a genocide is going on in my hometown. Innocent people, including children and women are being killed but not only in my hometown, but throughout the country.
In Daura where I grew up as a young man, in Katsina, Birnin-Gwari, Zamfara, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa and it is even moving further South, innocent people are being killed. I cannot reconcile myself with that, working in an institution that is supposed to promote good public policies for the whole country. I find it difficult to operate in that environment and my conscience does not allow me to rest under this situation.
So it's a matter of your conscience?
Yes, it is a matter of my conscience. In a situation where I don't find that genuineness in finding a solution to these problems and nobody is facing up to the truth; we don't want to tell ourselves the truth, so I cannot reconcile myself to that situation.
Number two, I studied the environment and I discovered that I shall not be able to function properly in all good conscience in that environment. I studied the body language and the situation in which I found myself, and I felt it was better to leave that environment.
Have your invitations by the DSS affected you psychologically or in any way?
Not at all! Martin Luther King (Jnr.), the great American Civil Rights leader said that 'unless a man has an ideal for which he is prepared to die, he is not yet a man.' I have taken full count of the cost. The lives of those children, women and elderly being killed; my life is not better that theirs.
What have they done to deserve this? It is for them that I am speaking. I am the voice of the voiceless martyrs, of those whose innocent blood have been shed and is still being shed in this country. I have taken my stand for them because there is nobody to speak for them. Today, I am their voice and I say this evil must be put to an end. We will no longer accept it, we will no longer condone it and we will never tolerate it. Evil is evil by whatever name it is called. This is a great evil in our land. It is curse on our land and I hate it from the bottom of my heart and I reject it.
This is the moral stand I have taken. It is a stand of my conscience and like Mandela said (I am not trying to be anybody's Mandela, he had his faults) but he stood for certain principles that are sacred. In this country, if we cannot stand for what is sacred and there is nothing more sacred than the human life, then we are not a serious country. Government is a contract.
That contract is based on the capacity of the state to protect the lives and the welfare of the citizens and where government fails in that objective, it has betrayed the trust of the citizens. This is my humble opinion.
Are you going to tone down or soft-pedal on your stance on the killings in Nigeria, especially in Southern Kaduna?
No, I will never ever tone down. I will tone down when the killings stop. Let me make it clear, I never lived in Southern Kaduna. I left that place when I was six months old. My parents were missionaries. I was born in Southern Kaduna but I never lived there. I grew up in Nasarawa State and that has been my home since I was six months old. So I am not speaking because of Southern Kaduna; that is where I originally came from but I have never really lived there so it is not only about Southern Kaduna but about the whole country.
These killings going on constitute existential threat. I don't know why for the life of me, that people tolerate the killings and think it is okay and that when we speak, and tell people about the reality of what we are facing now, they are more concerned about the sources, more concerned about political correctness, they have absolutely no concern about the holy martyrs that are being slaughtered.
Why can't we face the reality of the people being killed - the children, elderly, women, the youth being killed on a daily basis? That is my focus. Any other thing to me, is diversionary. People have questioned my sources. They have questioned my political correctness. Why can't they face the truth that our country is dying, that innocent people are being killed, that children are being slaughtered like little lambs, women are being raped and then killed? Is this a normal country? Where is the outrage? Why do people accept this profound evil, this curse on this land? I reject it with the very fibre of my soul. So I will never tone down, I will only tone down when the killings stop.
Just tell them, in the name of God and in the name of everything they hold sacred, they must stop these killings. It is an abomination! It is a curse on this land! So that is my stand.
It seems these killings in the country have really made you a radical of some sort...
Well, actually, central bankers are very conservative. We are not radicals. Having been in central banking and having been in development banking, we are normally very conservative. In spirit, I am a very conservative, humble and private person. I don't know why you use the word radical, are you happy with the killings going on?
So when I condemn the killings, what is radical about that? When someone says evil is evil, stop killing people, what is radical about that. I am asking you?
The truth is that many people are outraged by the killings but they are not courageous enough to speak out as you have done. They are afraid of the authorities.
So you are more afraid of the killers than you are of God who condemns the killing of innocent people? I am not afraid of them. All I am begging and pleading with them in the name of God, they should stop the killings. It is an abomination.
There is nothing radical about that. It is based on my spiritual convictions and based on my faith and on moral convictions.
No religion, no culture and civilisation tolerates killing of innocent people. I mean there is nothing radical about it. To say that the killing is abhorrent, the genocide is abhorrent, is a very simple maxim of universal morality. All I am asking is stop the killings please.
There is nothing radical about that. It is a moral standpoint. All religions condemn the killing of innocent people. This is what I am saying, enough is enough. I don't know how else to put it. I am not a radical, I am a very simple and humble person.
Those who know me will tell you that. The fact that I am outraged by all the killings and genocide doesn't make me a radical. If we all keep quiet, Nigeria will die. Is that what we want? It's not a question of radicalism. Radicals are people who carry guns and go into the forest and start killing people. I have never used violence in my life, never encouraged anyone to use violence in my life. Even my name, Mailafia, means a man of peace and there can never be peace without justice.