Muhammed: SIP a fraud, conduit pipe for handlers
Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, in this interview with JOHN AKUBO, decried the modus operandi adopted for the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPSs) saying it was fraught with irregularities. He also carpeted the National Assembly for meddling in an affair that is exclusively that of the executive branch to implement.
Given the controversy that the National Social Investment Programme has attracted lately, don’t you think the scheme is beginning to look like another failed project?
STRAIGHT away, what I will say is that I am not surprised that the latest adventure into the so-called social investment programme is failing. It is failing not because people do not know what made the previous ones to fail; it is failing because the ones that failed were deliberately compromised, and far from being transparent, and just a conduit for corruption.
When it was operated directly from the Office of the Vice President, people like I raised issues on the way and manner that it was being run; the benchmarks that were being used to dish out the money; the elitists creations involving computers and other stuff. So, most of the people qualified to benefit from the programme did not, and the whole thing was just dark, and lies were coming out of it because there were quite a number of people with media background in the Vice President team.
Second, the lady who was supposed to be running the programme knows nothing about the programme because she never ran one. So, anytime there is a criticism, somebody would be asked to draft a statement, and of course she could not deny because she knows nothing about it.
As a former policy adviser on poverty alleviation to President Olusegun Obasanjo, I am in a position to comment on the SIP and no one can accuse me of not knowing what I am talking about because I helped to design an anti-poverty initiative with the help of Ford Foundation, the UNDP and the World Bank.
I recall that as an adviser, the President asked me to get in touch with some ministers regarding what we were putting in place, but all the ministers that I was asked to reach never bothered to reply me till today. But in spite of that, it was when I left the Presidency that I decided to speak about some of those issues. However, I have noticed that this time around, an anti-poverty initiative is being run with so much fanfare and so much lying beyond anything that President Obasanjo could have imagined, and of course, nobody cares to respond, and now we are going through it all over again.
For instance, in my reaction to TraderMoni and others such schemes, I pointed out that the beneficiaries of the system were highly skewed. On what basis were the number of beneficiaries from Rivers and Lagos states (one of the wealthiest states in the country) picked, or were entitled to benefit from TraderMoni in comparison with poor states like Zamfara, or Jigawa or Bauchi, or so many other poor states in the North Central?
So, for me, the whole SIP thing is opaque, and is being run in a manner that is not accountable and transparent. I have no doubt in my mind that if it is still left in the hands of those that managed it in the Office of the Vice President, it would surely fail despite being taken away to the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
So, whatever happens, we must first of all find out what happened to the previous money allocated and how they were disbursed for us to arrive at where we are today. But I must also warn that the managers have to be careful because they cannot cheat all the people, all the time.
Before the 2019 election, TraderMoni was being used as campaign tool, and many saw it as a variant of corruption. Could it have been administered the way it was without transparency concerns?
First and foremost, the idea, and the principle behind interventions like TraderMoni are not indigenous to Nigeria as they are also carried out in other parts of the world. However, in those climes, they are carefully designed, manned and implemented by honest people, who also make use of reliable statistics to evaluate income level, and come to the conclusion of how each person should have his/her income augmented. You can see clearly that nothing of this sort is being done here. The entire thing is fraud from top to bottom. What was done in the past was fraudulent, and what is being done now is equally fraudulent. Of cause, if we are determined, we can track those who are manipulating the system and benefitting from it, as well as using their media connections to abuse those that dare to pick holes in their activities.
Having said that, let me add that it is shocking for the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, to say that everything is okay. From the start, this woman had nothing to do with Buhari. In fact her husband was abusive of Buhari even in court when he was the Chief Justice of the Federation. For her to now land this kind of plum job shows that there is something fishy. Even in the All Progressives Congress (APC), some stakeholders were shouting that they have not been fairly treated, when an opponent, who openly abused the President when he contested election in the past is now one of the major beneficiaries of the government. This clearly shows that it was not party loyalty that gave her the job, neither was it rational consideration.
But you know that at a point, crisis engulfed this programme when it was still in the VP’s office, could that have led to its being unable to deliver on its objectives
Those who ran this programme before failed. And after the programme was transferred out of the Office of the Vice President, they nearly created another crisis that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was being sidelined; that it was only his people that were somehow being hounded. But I ask, what did those surrounding Osinbajo do when they were in charge of the SIP? Mind you, we have not all forgotten what happened before. However, what has happened shows you that they have no regard for accountability, and no respect for transparency. They believe that they can blackmail the government of Buhari, or anybody else to continue running things as they like.
But Uwais recently accused some members of the National Assembly of attempting to compromise the SIP register. What do you make of that allegation?
What ever is said about the current National Assembly is not my cup of tea; I can’t stand them. Nobody has conclusively and comprehensively put up any defense on how the National Assembly was trying to involve itself with the implementation of the SIP. It is an executive prerogative. Yes, they can ask questions; they can make observations, but they have no right to query the national social register, or the names, which they give for money to be shared to most of which are fake. But whatever embarrassment that the National Assembly earns for itself is deserving because this thing is not the job of the National Assembly, but that of the executive, whom it assigns it to is another matter.
When similar observations were made about the SIP earlier, some members of the national Assembly were summoned by the VP and were given sheets of paper to go and make announcements and abuse those, who criticised the SIP. If this time around they are the ones that are criticising SIP, it shows that something has happened. However, let me state here that some of the people either in the House of Representatives, or in the senate don’t know what they are talking about; they are only prepared to acknowledge good or bad based on their interests. I also need to stress that the current SIP is a failure, and that the issue of members of the National Assembly being accommodated is another matter completely.
In all of these what is the way forward?
I wish I knew. If I knew, perhaps, I would not be lying down in my house in Kano. May be I would be the President, but because I am not, I can only pass comments, and the comment is by and large what has been commented upon by other well-meaning Nigerians; not members of the National Assembly. Those ones have no moral right because when it happened before they kept their mouths shut.
The Wife of the President also condemned the programme. What would you say to that?
Well, if the first lady passes comment the way I am passing, it is well and good, but I will certainly be more concerned if people that are recognised by the constitution come out and make some of these statements because it is within their rights to do so. The position of the First Lady is still a controversial one until it is properly recognised by the constitution… if a comment is right, it must be deemed to be right, if it is wrong it is deemed to be wrong. On the current issue, I believe the first lady has every right to pass a comment like any other Nigerian. I don’t know if the minister or members of the National Assembly, or the former implementers, who were guilty of working with Prof. Osinbajo admit, or refuse to admit or respect the comments of the first lady.
Culled from The Guardian
Restructuring is inevitable, its best for Zamfara, the North says Hamidu
Restructuring is inevitable, its best for Zamfara, the North says Hamidu
APC aspirant in 2018 primary in Zamfara State Alhaji Muhammad Sagir Hamidu in this interview with our reporter said restructuring is inevitable for Nigeria to survive
Do you subscribe to restructuring is the way to go?
Restructuring is inevitable because it is glaring that the center can no longer hold. Every person is talking about his tribe, his religion, he is talking about his region. Even within a state they are talking about local Government. Last week some people came to me to say I should come and lead the agitation for my local Government to produce the next Governor. Every frontline has been reduced to the barest decimal point. So the people that are enjoying power now and do not care that history is beaming searchlight on them, that should they not take the courage to address this issues there are consequences whether we like it or not. We have the laws, the regulations all lying fallow. When it comes to true federalism, what is it that people are asking for? Please give us some latitude to explore our resources, to govern our state according to our ability.
Is that not the fear, the anti restructing are nursing, that when we structure, resource control will set in and those without oil are jittery about?
I can tell you that there is no state that God has not endowed with natural resources, under the ground. Some may not have natural resources or oil but they are endowed with human resources. That is something. Look at the Suez canal, they had no water there but they made canals and you can see the size of the ship that is passing through there. It is time for us to sit down and forget about any imaginary fear and face the reality. It is inevitable. Take for instance, my state Zanfara has no business with poverty, illiteracy, unemployment if the laws allow us to tap our resources. We would be one of the richest States, but when we are integrated into a system that was designed not to work according to the tenets of federalism, we are now being tagged as the most backward state and we are looking. We are still carrying on and we are doing nothing about it, why? How can Zanfara State join other States rejecting restructuring that would have enabled us to access our resources that is one of the most valuable resources, Gold? What business do we have to reject and refuse to embrace resource control or true federalism. Our State has not been able to pay even the N18, 000 minimum wage, they are paying N6000. The Governor till today has not been able to implement the N18, 000 not to talk of the N30,000 how do we expect us to operate on the same frequency with Kaduna, Lagos and the rest? No matter how the Governor tries, he cannot raise internally generated revenue. There is just nothing he can do. Will he tax unemployed people, who do not have what to eat? Where are the businesses that you can tax? No industry, no nothing. That is why when they wake up they change clothes, they are heading to Government House or commissioners office to loiter around and become nuisance. We only don’t want to face the reality. There is a lot to restructure. We need a leader who will make us to forget where we come from, what religion we practice. We need the leadership that would be looking for the next economic opportunity, that they can come up with and we all need to rush for it and harness it rather than emphasizing on religion, ethnicity and region. How has that help us? It is a good thing that we are heterogeneous as we are. It is beauty in itself to share differences culturally. Regionally, you travel from one region to the other it is beautiful to see how God has made us to appreciate one another and then to use that to be our brothers’ keepers towards building a viral nation. That is what I think. As far as we are going, the way I see it, with the democracy we are operating with over bloated Government, high cost of governance must be addressed. All these things, I appreciate what the president is doing, even though I would not say I am happy but I appreciate him. That is the bitter truth.
What is it that the president is doing?
Reckless political appointment anyhow. It takes courage to do that. You just hear politicians talking about appointments left, right and center. At the federal level you don’t hear that so much. As politicians the reward of hard work in government is to have something doing. For some of us that understand, there must be a starting point to sacrifice if we want to make things happen. What is happening should teach us to know that politics should not be a profession, primary source of your income or for making money.
Are you advocating for the national assembly to be on part time?
Of course, do you know how much can be saved from there? A lot and if what is spent on them on yearly bases is allocated to primary health centers, in 10 years every local Government or village can have comprehensive medical center. It is a very serious work that we have to do.
How do you see the agitation for a return to national Government?
Let me tell you, I have looked at this democracy, multi party presidential system of Government and I have come to the conclusion, don’t get me wrong, I am not a pessimist, I am only saying things the way I understand them. That as long as we pretend to practice multi party democracy in name, that we have different parties but with the same characteristics, as long as we continue to practice this presidential system of Government that emphasizes more on party or political appointment patronage that is leading us to over bloated cabinet, the democracy will continue to be fragile. It is not that the presidential system of Government per say is not a good one. It is good for our country given its tenets or principle, but at the outset we failed to set the perimeters right. We started with fanfair, emphasis not on governance but on appointments and you know what appointments come with, money. Two things that should happen, either we have reduced size of governance, that will come with reduced cost of Governance. Cost of governance is our albatross, infact cost of Governance and corruption are intertwined, they are at par, corruption will take away the money. Cost of Governance might seem legitimate but the government can do without some positions. So the money for such position is wasted and that is why you see despite trillions of Naira budget there is no consequential effect on the citizenry or improvement in the general well being of the country. So what I see in all of these is we should take advantage of this call for restructuring. We should take this call seriously on true federalism because so many things are wrong. If we cannot sit down to address them genuinely, honestly for the next generation they will address it themselves because it is inevitable.
Don’t you think we should start by looking at our leadership recruitment process, the electoral law, what should be done since the process is wrong and the effect is telling on us?
I like the way you said it, that for the leadership recruitment to be normal, you first need normal people to get to that. Don’t forget INEC don’t recruit political leadership. Where does leadership recruitment start from? It starts from the homes where their character is built, the kind of opportunity you have, to have food, education, the kind of mentorship you come across on your way to maturity and the kind of normal people you come across and the environment that you find yourself, all these things come to play for a quality leader to emerge. If we are looking for a leader remember 70% of our leaders are emergency. How many in the national Assembly, have you ever come across a conscious and deliberate policy of the national assembly, bringing the Nigerian youths, identifying them from different sources who can be potential good legislators? To begin to inspire them arising from a legislative academy for the recruitment of future legislators, do they have it, you have thugs when you go there. But go to conservative party in the UK and the liberal they have academy for mentorship for building future members of parliament who are showcased at every convention. In their own convention you will see one of such young people coming up to address the gathering at least to show what they made of, do we have that here?
We don’t have all those things, and so it is left to individuals who say they have leadership, academy, leadership training. Bu as a nation, we have huge deficit of quality leadership. The day I was shocked was when President Buhari won election in 2015 and we were in the house where he was. I was standing near Buba Galadinma. He was asking somebody where is so so person, he said you see now, I asked him to come and contest election and he refused to come and we went to the market and picked somebody, see the person has won election now.I cannot believe it. We must say things the way they are and that is why we are not getting good results in whatever we are doing, if we continue along this line.
What would you say about the local Government that is being strangulated by the Governors?
Let me start with the Local Government. If I will have the opportunity, I will drive a campaign that power, more resources must reside with the local Government, let us bring down the weight of the federal Government and the State Government to the local level, that is the beginning of it. Let s devolve power to the local level and when we do that, believe me that is when you begin to see local Government taking charge of education, health, census, that is where everybody will be known, all the local roads, everything will happen, will ho down to the villages and inec they have that power which Governor will go to muscle them. You can muscle them and as a Governor you will have less to do because you have your own area of responsibility. The way it is today, do you know that most of these Governors at the end of the month some don’t have even N200,000, 000 remaining for them to do any work and they can not come out and tell anyone that there is no money and they think if they do that it will reduce their status, because they are not connecting truthfully with the people they govern and so they are looking for how to gather the money left, right and center and so they go into unholy arrangements with with the local Government, they will sign the cheques for them and claim all sorts of projects. It is a hole lot of mess.which we are also failing to address squarely. President Buhari is trying to see that it happens. I think, the day Buhari says it will happen, it will happen. All these problems we talk about can because governance at that level is absent. So let us devolve power to the local Government. I am an advocate for that.
What will you do differently if given the opportunity to lead Zanfara vis-a-vis Nigeria?
What I will do differently, first as a leader, you have all the ideas in the world, if you don’t have resources, there is nothing you can do. So the first thing is to build the capacity to be self reliant. Look at what you have and transform them into values. There are a lot of dormant things lying fallow that have not been explored, you must generate income to be able to actualize any idea that you have. It is certain that money coming from the federation account cannot develope a state. So what I will do differently is to see how to create wealth within using any legitimate perimeter in anything available to generate income. Secondly, thank God that we are in the area of technology based knowledge. Anything you touch about technology has the potential of generating income and employment. From where I come from it is an agrarian state the potentials for food, agro allied industries and employment. Concentrate on that and see how you can bring about transformation. People are showcasing agriculture in desert areas we are only semi arid desert, we can do a lot and there is a lot of good will that you can mobilize and to make sure that you operate a manageable size of Government by avoiding the colossal waste in managing public officers. We have to address it. It is only in Nigeria that we waste so much money in managing public officers’ comfort. You have to reorient your people because you have to inculcate some values into them. You have to tell somebody, they have 10 cars, 20, we parade them ask the person, of what economic value are those fleet of cars? Nothing but they are only taking away from you, he does not need 10 cars lying in the compound. We need to reorient ourselves. We must also be free from corruption, corruption has gone so deep, that it has become part and parcel of our way of life, if it doesn’t go our it is a problem, so we have to do something about it, it is easy to fight corruption.
What is the fate of the APC after it lost out in the 2019 Governorship and other elections, is there any headway?
Yes and no, yes if what we have claimed to have done is anything to go by, what we need now even in the country at large, are leaders who are prepared for leadership, well equipped in terms of first, connection with the people knowing the aspirations of the people you want to lead and on your own part to have the requisite of a good leader: good education, character, experience in any background, exposure and courage to take decisions and implement them. For me I see the need to first of all work on that and as we move on every day we sensitive the people, we keep talking to them on the kind of leadership they need and at the appropriate time we would be able.to.make pronouncement as to what direction to follow.
What is the hope for the APC at the national level being made up of strange bed fellows with Buhari as the thing holding it together and in 2023 when he cannot contest with the myriads of issues confronting the party at the moment?
I have my fears, because as you can see, we are not running ideology based politics. Anyone can wake up over night and swap, and a full recognition is accorded him, better recognition at that over and above the original members of the party. This is strange to me. With that kind of mindset, I don’t see how the center can continue to hold beyond 2023. I for one, I am an advocate of returning to party politics based on ideology, if you believe in something pursue it, if there is any problem in the party that you belonged you work through it and correct it, you don’t start jumping to another one that is strange to you because you don’t belong there. So I have my reservation about all these anomalies.
Recently senator Dino Melaye refferred to the APC as an NGO and not a political party, he said it has no board of trustees, no NEC leadership and that the party is even going against its own constitution and that of Nigeria, what do you have to say to that?
That is the same thing we are saying, Senator Melaye was once a strong member of the so called NGO he is talking about and if you look at the PDP itself there is no difference, they are one and the same, the only difference is the name. Don’t be surprise before 2023, this same Melaye will come back to the APC. If that is the only thing that will guarantee him a seat or an appointment because I don’t see PDP making any headway in 2023 and you know the average Nigerian politician does not stand for anything other than public office and what does public office represents? To make money, that is why we are shameless. Changing parties like changing clothes, everyday you come out of your house you put on different clothes that is what is happening.
The major issue at the moment is insecurity and Zamfara State has had a fair share of the problem, politics is at the center of it all, do you think we would be able to overcome it?
It is unfortunate that politics was introduced into purely security matter that affects lives and property and it is no other person than the Governor because he was looking for something to hold onto, you know when you don’t have any agenda or anything to hold onto, you begin to look elsewhere which he has been doing, that is why he decided to introduce primitive politics into it. He told some lies which he couldn’t substantiate, I don’t know either because he is a Governor they couldn’t hold him to it to really say what he meant that he knows the people behind the insecurity and that he will expose them. Heaven will not fall, nobody is stronger than this country, nobody is above the law and we are looking for those who are sponsoring the insecurity and he is yet to mention them and he lied against us that N50m was given, a Governor should be beyond such trash. That some of us were happy with the kidnap of the school children and all that, how? Are we no longer parents with children? Today if Zamfara is a no go area, how do we get back to our families, so how can we be happy about the insecurity going on there. He is seeing the effort that the Federal Government is making with more deployment of security personnel, equipments, money and measures taken against the no fly-zone, illegal mining of which he is a principal suspect. So we are not happy that our State is insecured.
The fact that amnesty is being granted to such criminals, what becomes of the psyche of the children kidnapped, when you turn around to give amnesty to their tormentors?
For me, I don’t subscribe to using money to settle a problem that does not require money. In this case we are talking about criminals who on a daily bases take away lives of innocent people, they kidnap, terrorise, destroy properties. They don’t even spare animals and then you call them to negotiate and they make money demands and vehicles and because you are the contractor supplying the vehicles and you are in a hurry also to part with the money in the name of security, you also subscribed to that type of settlement. How do you expect those criminals to stop? Because the source of their funding, food supply and logistics for movement comes from you the Governors. How do you expect them to stop? Anytime they are broke or their logistics is going down they go on rampage and inflict more harm. What we are seeing now is that some of these Governors have found another profound means of making money and when General Buratai was saying that it will take 20 years to end this insurgency. I don’t think the country in general took note of his comments. Nobody took him on, to brake down what made him to think that for 20 years we would be insecured and unsafe. 20 years, he spoke before the Senate in the national assembly that should have interrogated him to break down how we would be unsafe for twenty more years and we just took the statement for granted. When you sit down to do the elementary thinking it is not far fetched. Yes, the military, the security agents profit from the insurgency whether we like it or not.
What do you mean by Governors have found another means of making money?
Yes now, because whatever they negotiate, whatever they say they spent on security is not questionable and so nobody will ask them to account for it and whoever calls for accountability they will now throw up the magnitude of kidnapping here and there, attacks here and there. The moment you want to interrogate them further they give a tag that you are supporting the bandits. That you have no right to question the modalities of their approach to solving the problem. You will be blackmailed and then you begin to see arrests. Somebody called me and said they should have come to arrest me that the Governor reported that I am one of them, that is a callous assumption. I don’t have police, they carry security and all that.
If you look at the value chain of the profiteers, the arm supply, the people that supply the food, the people that manage the IDPs, the people that will suggest palliative to the IDPS, those that will do the supplies of the essentials, purchase of the security equipments, the allowances, you know, everyday security forces are on alert. So when you go down the ladder you will see that we have a big problem on our hands. Come to think of it, if we had done the needful ab initio, we are now talking of spending billions, even trillions on security equipments, servicing the personnel, that money should have gone into education, into industry, infrastructure. If we had educated our younger ones they would have not been available for these criminalities. They can be sophisticated cyber criminals because they are educated, that one is easier to manage. When you hear the US saying they spend so much money on military and all that, of course it is for science and technology, modern war armament, research, but what do you see in our clime? There is discussion now on how to make more money available for the purchase of equipment, where will that take us? Where is that type of money?Tell me, you want to buy more sophisticated equipment and more money to service security personnel to fight insecurity yet you have not addressed the fundamental issue, you are not talking about what made them to be bandits, to be criminals in the first place. Did you ask them whether it was by choice they wanted to be bandits, to be killing people. No you didn’t. So you are busy pumping money there and they are multiplying and their number is more than your own. Everyday they are hungry, no hope in life. If it is easy to be deploying trillions as in the COVID-19 parliatives, see how money was coming. If we had declared emergency on education or youth unemployment and deploy same money as an emergency for two or three to five years to make sure that there is a comprehensive program that will identify our youths, those that are educated to university level or tertiary level a program well pursued, not the ones that we have on newspapers and television and open offices that even the people managing the program are not even trained but emergency recruits to make it as a serious national policy that we want to ensure that our youths are engaged, those that have passed through tertiary institutions that are unemployed. They are there in millions. Those that are barely literate what type of engagement do you have for them? Those that have no formal education but have native intelligence how do you engage them. It is not about announcing policies or programs, for instance we have the NDE which should have been a veritable tool for that kind of engagement. Is it functioning except in name? There are many of them. The CBN is here and there, take the statistics, does the CBN actually address the real purpose, are the people meant to benefit the ones benefitting? What happens on the field is different from the constructed grammar presented to the leadership that all is well. A lot is not well, things are not reaching the appropriate targets. That is why you see that no sector of the Nigerian economy today is in stable condition.
What should be done appropriately?
You see, first we need to seriously reorient our minds. The way we are going, with the kind of mindset we have and nothing to change it we will will not get anywhere. Our mindset must change. Reorientation is key.
That brings us back to leadership?
The leadership must redefine our value system, what should be the acceptable behaviour. It is a must. What will be the yardstick for me as a Nigerian when I wake, I should know what is the acceptable behaviour for me to my country and then you have leadership that you are looking up to with zeal and patriotism and because you know there is a caring leadership that is there for you, protective one, you too will play your own part as a citizen. Even our educational system does not teach patriotism or national values being passed onto the students. So where is the source of building a patriotic citizen. The school system is one but what you find as of today in homes, the discussion among the parents is about religion, at work place also it is about that. Yesterday I went to a government organization and I was talking to somebody from the south, another one from the north started expressing anger why I was there talking, I had different things to do. He said, you don’t know the southerners, you have to be very careful. This is exactly the problem.
Our mistakes cost APC Zamfara governorship seat – Sagir Hamidu
Our mistakes cost APC Zamfara governorship seat – Sagir Hamidu
Alhaji Sagir Hamidu was an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in the 2019 election in Zamfara State, who was part of the recent reconciliation talks. He speaks from an aggrieved point of view on the ongoing membership registration by his party, power shift and the situation in his home state, among other issues
You were part of the reconciliation process brokered by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) between factions in Zamfara State, how frank were the talks, and do you think this would stand the test of time?
Alhaji Muhammad Sagir Hamidu: During the 2019 general elections, particularly the state and national assemblies and gubernatorial elections in Zamfara State, there was a regime of impunity arising from the former governor’s decision to name his candidates to all the elective offices in the state. Eight of us came together and decided that we must resist that imposition and impunity which we carried out religiously. We succeeded in truncating that imposition. But whether we are happy with the consequences, that is a different thing. We lost all the positions in Zamfara State to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). By default, we installed a wrong government. Over the years now we have seen gross ineptitude, recklessness, corruption and lies of the PDP government. We felt we should come together to rescue the state having realized our mistakes. We are all ready to make amends to become true democrats, to uphold the tenets of democracy to forgive each other. We have common interests, we have our party and what it stands for. We also felt that there is no need to remain divided as we are approaching the 2023 elections. So, when we are ready to come together, the interim national chairman called for that reconciliation which though belated, but we are happy it happened and the reconciliation took place. After that we went home to reconcile, we went to Kaduna to reconcile and there was another round of reconciliation with the vice president. In all there is this air of willingness for us all to come together and work as true party men and women to reclaim our mandate of the state in 2023.
What did you mean when you said you made a mistake in 2019?
For Yari’s inability to see beyond one candidate out of eight and to stick to his gun that it must either be his candidate or no one, that was his undoing. On our part, we also refused to see a reason or to toe a reconciliatory path and to act as statesmen.
Your party suffered because of your group’s decision to stop Yari at all cost, what about that?
We are not proud of it. We all felt bad about it both ways; one, by implication and by default, we installed a bad government for the people, and for us a party we lost all the offices. We lost all power to implement our party manifesto that will impact on the lives of the people. That is not something to be proud of.
What is your reaction to the ongoing membership registration and revalidation by your party that has been characterized with criticisms and creating more factions in more states?
The concept of registration should not have any element of restrictions. It should be open to anybody. The moment you want people to register, or you noticed that in your previous registration there are discrepancies or you don’t have proper records, nothing should stop you from authenticating your records. You have a timeframe within which you want to register members, make it known, publicise it. When it is done, you close for that moment, subsequently you do it again. You close because we are going for a convention, if you have the required number that you need for your delegates, excos from the wards to the national levels, then you can close and open later. The most important thing is how do you register people and make it authentic. It does not matter which faction one may belong to. Let whoever wants to register do so. But when you restrict registration to 100 members per polling unit, of course you are inviting trouble. It has become restrictive and subject to manipulation. Don’t forget that there are politicians who still believe they must control delegates before they can make it, once that is the mindset, you can be sure that there will be a crisis all the time. That is what is likely to happen with the membership registration.
What measures should the APC take especially with those scheming to control the party?
There is little the party can do because of so many factors. There are some laws that emphasise the use of money, so it takes people of goodwill who are genuinely interested in deepening democracy to fight it out. That is why the drive to have as many members as possible is important. There is a need to moibilise members to make them realise that the survival of the party remains with them and not on the government or any individual. Once you succeed in making people realise that the survival of the party is in their hands, then we will begin to see positive outcomes.
Do you think that President Muhmmadu Buhari was preaching the other day when he was talking from the bottom-up?
Yes. But not many cared to listen to him, because that is not what the majority of politicians want to hear. But that is actually what he means. I strongly believe in that.
The agitation for power shift is mostly from the south west and south east, and the north is quiet on this too. What is your take on this?
Under multi party, as long as democracy is a game of numbers, as long as democracy is about fusion of contending interests, the question of power being agitated for or harassing other people to seek power at all cost or threats does not arise. No laws bar any region or any person from aspiring to be anything. If that is the case, build bridges, reach out, understand your differences and align them with the interest of others that you want to work together with and get what you want. I for one don’t believe in power rotation, I believe in the best and we have the best everywhere. Everybody has an opportunity to participate to throw himself up for the office of the president of Nigeria. I don’t believe that a Hausa man must be president before I realise my potential to become whoever I want to be. I don’t believe that a Yoruba man can truncate my future, even within the practice of federalism that we are, there are so many settings that protect my interest. I think we dwell more on imaginary fears. Afterall, Obasanjo had eight years, nothing changed my life for the worse, my religion did not change, my being Hausa/Fulani did not change. They have the right to ask for it, they also have the right to reach out, they have the right to participate in joining the most popular party which is the APC. you don’t belong, and you say you must get the highest office, I mean, I don’t think it is correct.
How did Matawalle get it wrong in dealing with the situation in the state, especially the most challenging insecurity?
I don’t want to dwell so much on the security situation in the state because of its sensitive nature. The federal government is doing its own best by mobilising more troops both air and land personnel and resources, and they are making tremendous progress there. His own style of negotiation with the bandits is neither here nor there. It is something others have done before which did not work. You say you have negotiated with bandits, they have surrendered so-so amounts of weapons and then the next hour you hear that they have struck somewhere. In actual governance, there is much to be desired. If you go to the state, apart from social media projects that were being executed and commissioned, you will not see anything in terms of projects going on. The government has not done anything. He does not stay in the state to protect the common man, to see how he can mobilise the resources and people to generate income within the state. The state is burdened by debts from the previous governor and the one he too is accumulating at a speed faster than light. And when money is collected, the first thing you hear is they have bought 200 cars, nothing pertaining to the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the state If he wants to do projects, he will be busy renovating public buildings spending huge amounts of money.
‘Why I am passionate about bridging communication gap by Moji Danisa
‘Why I am passionate about bridging communication gap by Moji Danisa
In this interview, veteran broadcaster, MOJI DANISA, commonly known as ‘Queen of the Tabloid Journalism’ for her riveting insights into the lives of socialites and celebrities back in the days, with Chuks NZEH, she speaks on her mission to bridge the gap between the common man and policies of government with “Break It Down” a weekly television program that x-rays contemporary issues.
Tell us about ‘Break It Down?’
“Break It Down’ is a 30-minute show on television which is focused on development policies, and projects. It falls under governance actually, we are looking at non-governmental organizations and because we are already on air, we look out for people in government, ministries departments and agencies, Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGS), amongst others. So we want to bring policies and other issues closer to the people, simplifying the issues, that is what we say, that is our pay off.
Actually it is communications development, that is our catchment area, so that is basically what it is; we break it down in the language that the common man would understand. We discovered that there is a dearth in communication between the government and the governed because government uses technocrats and experts mainly, who are very used to these high sounding languages, jargons, and the common man does not understand what they are saying, what you hear the common man say most times is that “they are doing their thing there.”
If you ask a common man now what is restructuring, he will just be looking at you and might say they want to divide Nigeria, he does not really understand what restructuring is or how it can even benefit him or even the negatives and this is where ‘Break It Down’ comes in to make these technicalities better appreciated by the man on the street.
Besides what you just said, what else inspired or moved you into this?
The programme was conceived in other to ensure that information on policies of government for a better informed audience and society is easily understood by all, because even some of us we do not understand, like sometimes I find myself going to Google to find out some things they speak about, when technocrats come on television to make proposals or speak on policies of government. I want to have an in-depth knowledge of want they are talking about, for instance the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, how does it benefit me? Beyond me how does it benefit the tomato seller in the market, because they are the government, they are the people that vote during elections, they make up the larger percentage of the society, and that should be the yardstick for assessing the average person. So there is this disconnect between the government and the people, that was what actually gave birth to this idea.
You are highly resourceful. So what should we your audience expect to make it better?
For now, we talking to the experts mainly because we are still building the structure, but very soon starting from this quarter we are going to bring the people in, because originally it was designed for the people to call in and ask questions that they do not understand for the guests or resource persons to respond by breaking it down to their understanding, we are going to get there, to actually make the people part of the programme not just the resource persons.
How do you hope to bridge this gap because there are some technocrats who do not understand the language of the grassroots?
You can hardly find a technocrat who did not grow on the streets especially if the person is a Nigerian. They should understand the basic language of every human being, especially those within their environment and if you are a technocrat you should also be a communicator who must learn to deal with a specific audience and that audience is the common man. I bet you, the technocrat even if he is from Harvard because of my expertise as a communicator, interviewing people, I would make that person speak the language the common man understands, and of course there would be guidance.
What is your projection like in five years time?
We would have achieved our specific aim which is to make the people understand better every single policy of government and other critical stakeholders would be brought to the people, so that the people can understand better and that would make people know if the government is doing well or if they are doing poorly.
Unlike when experts say they have passed the PIB, most people do not understand but some pretend they understand. We would have achieved bridging that information gap, then of course, we are going to do seminars workshops, those are in the pipeline.
We are also going to focus on education, building leaders for the future, that is one of the major projects we would embark on in 2021, there is going to be a huge conference where we are going to discover leaders for the future, as we can see there is a dearth in leadership, as we have seen the old people do not want to leave the scene because they think the youths are not ready. So how ready are we to have a successor generation. You saw what happened during the #EndSARS protest, we know the mistakes that the youths made, we know the efforts, we also know the gains they achieved, so let us build solid successors to take over from this generation.
Given the potential of our young people, why do you think they are not coming to the fore in government?
The fact is that there is a vacuum, and that vacuum was left by the generation after the old people, which is my generation, we were the oppressed generation, we were the generation that witnessed military brutality, we are the generation that was silenced for a very long time, we were the generation that was impoverished and made to beg for bread, so we have lost our voice, and so because we had lost our voice, we could not impact on the generation after us, that is exactly where the disconnect came from and this new generation they are just finding their feet. I am so impressed with them; I think it is because most of them have solid education from what I have seen. Forget the fact that we say the Nigerian education is poor, these children are the digital generation there are a lot they learn outside the school curriculum, but they have learnt a lot about leadership and I think that they are ready to take the baton of leadership. For my generation, forget it, we have lost it.
Message to the average Nigerian, especially the youth on what you are doing?
We are engaged in leadership and development, they should just keep learning first, it is very important, the need for self-development, they should develop themselves, their capacity, get involved in leadership trainings, workshops and then try to lead from their different levels, even if it is classroom, almost everybody has an innate leadership potential they should take it one step at a time. They are a very bold generation, for instance if I put my daughter before the president, she is going to tell him her mind without shaking. This is the Generation Next. It is the generation that would build Nigeria, and I just want them to know that we believe so much in them and they should keep it up.
Source: The Abuja Inquirer
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