Six months after the change of government with President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) at the helm of affairs, Nigerians are licking their wounds arising from hardship. In this exclusive interview with VICTOR JIBRIN, the first Executive Governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa blamed whatever the pains people are suffering from, on their inability to read and analyze what they were rooting for while supporting the change mantra.
What is your reaction to the state of the nation as at today?
Well, the state of the nation has always been negative for a long time, even longer than the 16 years of this republic. The negative state of the nation started right from 1966 when the military took over. Since then, it has been going on negatively up till today and we have not seen any solution.
But Nigerians were hoping that things would be better under the leadership of President Buhari?
People didn’t know the fact. Some of them were deceiving themselves. We were not dealing with an unknown entity. We were dealing with a known entity and a known situation.
You gave a nod to the coming to be of this government?
I didn’t. The PRP did not support APC for the presidency. The PRP supported PDP on the ground that those of them – PDP and APC were not qualitative choice of the people. There was no choice between APC and PDP but if you have to choose between two negatives, it is better to choose an incompetent government than a fascist government because a fascist government will not even give you a chance to reason with it and that is why we preferred the continuation of the PDP government. We didn’t like it but we had to choose it and we made it quite clear in our meeting in Uyo where 32 states were represented. Out of the 32 PRP state chapters, 26 supported the idea of voting for the PDP in spite of our misgiving than the APC. The reason being it is safer to contend with an incompetent government than to contend with a fascist government. An incompetent government will give you chance to ague but a fascist government will not give you chance to ague at all. Out of 32 PRP state chapters, 26 voted to support the PDP and 6 voted to support the APC and since then, after the 2015 election, we are now contending with supporting the PDP to strengthen a credible opposition. We don’t like it, we don’t think that it is a qualitative choice between the PDP and APC but under our circumstances, you have to choose and at time you have to. It is more patriotic to choose than to remain neutral.
Are you not worried that the happenings are capable of setting the hands of clock back democratically in the country?
It has already, because we are not seeing any improvement. We are seeing series of steps backward, half a step forward. That is what we are seeing now in Nigeria. Every state of the nation is negative. Every state of the nation in the past is far better more than it was six months ago. The president himself has admitted that the country is broke.
In that case, how will you react to that statement when the same person was said to have earlier told Nigerians that the money recovered from looters was enough for him to take care of situations in Nigeria financially for the four years mandate only to turn round and cry out in a far away country – India that Nigeria is broke?
Have informed Nigerians taken him on, on that? In any other country, informed and patriotic indigenes would put the president to task over that statement but in Nigeria, they just dismissed it as one of the political gimmicks. Right from the time that statement was made, informed Nigerians, particularly the media should have taken him to task to explain – from who did you collect this money? That cannot be secret. From whom did you collect this money and how much is the total amount collected so far, where has it been accounted for and what project has it been earmarked for? Has he submitted a supplementary budget to the national assembly so that that amount of recovered money can be accommodated in the budget? Unfortunately, all these questions were not asked by Nigerians.
In spite of your effort to educate Nigerians before the election, majority of Nigerian people have made their choice and that is APC …
What is that choice? Out of 70 million registered voters in Nigeria, only 28 million cared to vote at all and out of those 28 million, only 15 million voted for the president which means, in effect, this is a minority president who out of 70 million, only 15 million voted for him. So, he is a minority president.
But he defeated the incumbent president.
That is democratic. He has actually been elected to become the president of Nigeria. He has the mandate of Nigerians quite all right. There is no doubt about it but it is a minority mandate. It is a mandate which is not really a satisfactory mandate because out of 70million only 15million voted for him. Is that not the fact of the case? It is the fact of the case. Worse still, only 28million out of 70million cared to vote. That has a lot of implication over the mandate and even capability and the issue of inspiring public support. It is a limited mandate. And in any case, the situation of the country has been brought about by the system and leadership controlling every development in the country. Until you change qualitatively, the system and the leadership, you cannot avoid the continuing negative state of the nation. This government of APC is continuing with the neocolonialist capitalist system which has throughout history has brought stagnation and even worse. If we don’t abandon this, we are going to suffer the same thing. Our development has been kept behind by the system and political leadership since 1960. If we had not continued with this system, particularly from the second republic – a system based on self interest first, public interest second as oppose to a system based on public interest first, enlightened interest second. Unless we make that change we will continue going backward. We must change from a system based on self interest first; public interest second as I said to a system based public interest first, enlightened interest second. If we make that change we will see qualitative development in the country. Even our own history has proved that. For example, from the colonial times up to the second republic, the system was based on public interest first, enlightened self interest second and we registered some progress more than what we registered from the second republic to date. Throughout the colonial time and the first republic, the principle was public interest first, enlightened self interest second. Then we didn’t see this level of corruption, stealing and criminal waste of public resources because during that time, whoever stole even a kobo of public fund was investigated, prosecuted and punished in an exemplary manner but from the second republic up till today, you can say virtually all the leaders are thieves. We know there are some exceptions, there is bound to be some exception. This is the will of God but generally, I can say from second republic to-date all the leaders have been and they will continue to be thieves, stealing, oppressing and exploitation with impunity.
Buhari promised to bring that to a stop.
I don’t want to be personal. I will like to talk about the system and the leadership.
But it is one of the campaign promises.
We have collected 81 campaign promises and I doubt if there is only and even one that has been fulfilled or given us the encouragement that it will be fulfilled. There is no encouragement. All we see is promises and further promises and body language.
What do you tell Nigerians who effected the change and have turned round now to grumble. Virtually anywhere you go, people are grumbling.
You were promised a change by this government and the party. I am now talking to Nigerians. We were not critical enough to assess the change promised to us whether it is qualitative or mere change. It turned out to be a mere change and not qualitative change. If we really want qualitative change, we have to go to the root of the problem and the root of the problem is the socio economic and political system controlling all developments in the country and the political leadership inevitably produced by the system. If we want qualitative change, we have to change the system and the leadership. This system and the leadership can be called neocolonialist capitalist system and throughout history, this colonialist system has never produced national development. And if we are to succeed, the only realistic change is to bring about social state construction of Nigeria starting with the leading role of the state in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of the human person and progressive even development throughout the country. If we can make this change by any means, we will receive rapid development and Nigeria will be able to occupy its position not only as the twentieth developed country within the next nine years as some people says but one of the five most developed countries within the next ten years. As long as we change the system from neocolonialist capitalist system to a socialist system we will see the achievement and become the fifth most developed country in the world within ten years. We have all the resources for that and history is on our side.