Nigeria: 'How Can Governors Say They Were Waiting for Buhari to Tell Them When to Release Covid-19 Palliatives?

29 October 2020
interview

Deji Elumoye holds a discourse with the Chairman of the Senate Committtee on Special Duties and a member of the Interim Management Committee of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, who represents Taraba Central, on the recent #EndSARS protests by Nigerian youths and the ongoing efforts reconcile aggrieved APC members across the country

As a Senator, how would you express your concern about the widespread EndSARS protests by Nigerian youths?

Of course, every Nigerian will be very concerned about this, so I cannot be an exception. We are all very concerned about it. It's unfortunate that it has happened, this was something that started in a very credible way, it now turned out in a violent way. There are differences between protests, violence, insurgency and the rest of them. Somehow, hoodlums took over and hijacked it. Because of that in this country you know we have to be very careful. The leaders and citizens have to be very careful and concerned. I'm very concerned. The indication of things that are happening is that we leaders have to be very concerned about the citizens of this country, we should know that the common man has the right to good governance. For me, I don't want to allocate faults. A lot of people have cast aspersions at Mr President and the remaining members in the management of this country, especially the Minister in charge of Humanitarian Affairs... they are the people who did not do this and that, but we have seen where the problem lies. It lies on governance in this country. Some of our governors have not done well at all. How can you have palliatives and you pack them in warehouses and refuse to distribute them. It's so sad. People are dying of hunger, frustration. Mr President has done his best in terms of palliatives and every aspect of it.

What advise do you have for state governments, because many states that hoarded the palliatives have said they were waiting for the federal government to give them go ahead, but the federal government is saying otherwise?

You see we are operating a federal system of government. Do state governments wait for Mr President to tell them when to release their budget or when to do their budget? For me that's not a story I can accept. A governor cannot say they were waiting for Mr President to approve the release of something that has already been sent to them. We did our own. At the right time, we distributed these palliatives and it's very clear people have seen it. So there's no reason a governor should keep things in a warehouse some of them will even get spoilt. Why would they wait for federal government to give out the palliatives? I don't see any reason why a governor should wait. He has his own budget. So what are they doing with the budget of their own state and that of the local government? I think the governors need to sit up and they need to do what's in the best interest of this country.

What do you think of the attack on property of two of your colleagues, Senators Teslim Folarin and Gershom Bassey last weekend?

I think it's sad, I don't know what information people have, maybe they got information that there are some palliatives stored in the house of some of the Senators, I don't know. But for me I think people should not take law into their own hands, the constituents should have called them and said you know Senator we know there are things packed in your houses, I mean you should call us so you can distribute these items to us, that's better than breaking into a house to take these things out.

On the issue of the Interim Management Committee of the All Progressives Congress, five months after, how far has the committee gone?

It's actually not a bed of roses. It's very challenging. There are circumstances in which the caretaker committee came to be, so we are looking at the best way to douse the tension in this country and one of the ways we're going about it is to go into full blown reconciliation. And to do that you need to recognize people, you need to empower people, that's the only way to douse the tension. It's not just the caretaker that will solve the problem, it's pervasive and it is in every part of this country and the party you know is a big party, just like any other political party, others too have theirs, so the bigger the party, the bigger the issue so we're working hard to make sure that what we do is going to be what will be acceptable to the Nigerian people, in particular the APC.

There's insinuation that the committee is working towards extension of its tenure, is it true?

For me the Committee is meant to solve problems, take care of challenges that the party is going through. It's not a matter of six months or 10 months. Let us work towards getting what's best for the APC in this country and you know what is best for APC is what is good for this country so we're not just looking at APC but the generality of this country. Whether it will be extended or not, we have to stabilize this party to make sure that the convention we're going to embark on will be a credible and peaceful one.

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