North Can Produce President in 2015
Makurdi — Former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State and social crusader, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav in Makurdi speaks about the possibility of a northern presidency in 2015, the perceived indiscipline in the Police among other issues. Excerpts:
Do you think the north can reclaim the presidency in 2015?
I read in the newspapers recently that General Yakubu Gowon and General Theophilus Danjuma said they would prefer a northern presidency of Christian extraction. I think if we are strictly trying to be impartial and we want to be fair to everybody, we shouldn’t care whoever is made president so long as that person can perform well. We should be more concerned with ensuring that who gets there can and will perform. The presidency of Jonathan, being a minority man could have been ideal for this country but they have personalized the whole thing. Chief Edwin Clarke who was not known or ever heard before now has come to be the man dictating who and who should rule this country. Also, Asari Dokubo has come to threaten that if Jonathan does not win in 2015, there will be trouble as though there is no trouble in this country now. I don’t know how many votes each of them has that they would insist that Jonathan must be President in 2015.
So, they are the people trying to spoil the issue for the president. Again, what is happening in Rivers State today, we think that the president and his wife are the ones causing the whole problem, especially the wife. If you are the president of the country and you want peace in the country, you must not personalise your interest. You must not allow your spouse to cause trouble in a place all because she comes from the area, so she must dictate to the governor of that area. If she thinks she can be a better governor, why can’t she contest and become the governor of Rivers State instead of saying she comes from that area and she knows better than the man and therefore, Amaechi must follow her. We have had so many First Ladies in this country and none of them has interfered the way this woman is interfering. In fact, she has gone out to be the politician and that is not good.
Will Nigeria have a northern president in 2015?
If the north is united and speak with one voice, they would get what they want, it can produce the president especially with the abysmal performance of Jonathan. Jonathan has not performed well. The primary objective of a president is to provide security and well being to the people. Jonathan has failed in this regard. There have been mass killings here and there. Also, Jonathan has appointed only people from his area and given them juicy contracts. People who committed grievous acts of terrorism against the country are the people who are now being guarded by soldiers. You find these ex militants now being guarded by uniformed soldiers. Since Tompolo was appointed to be in charge of Marine Security, we discovered that more crude oil is being stolen daily. So, what is he doing there? Or are they doing this because they want to discredit Amaechi?
If you are in a position to advise Jonathan on 2015, what would that advice be?
Right from day one, I wrote a personal letter to Jonathan when he wanted to contest election in 2010. I said he should be satisfied with the position he held when President Yar’adua died and not contest. His staff replied my letter and thanked me and said he would do the wish of the people. All these people who are now supporting Jonathan will turn their backs against him when he is no longer there. So, if I were him, I would not contest in 2015.
Do you think the newly formed All Progressives Party (APC) can give the PDP a good fight in 2015?
It depends, but you know in our society, we have the same politicians. If there is no leadership tussle, if everything is transparent and they sell their programmes to the people and the people find that they are a better choice, they may vote for them. And of course, the PDP too will not stand with its arms folded. They will also try to do what they can do to win. Don’t forget that the PDP is in power, they control the security forces, they have the money and they have everything to their advantage. So, except if steps are taken to avoid rigging; unless we ensure that everybody’s vote counts, without that, the situation may be very difficult. But if there is no leadership tussle and if the APC comes out with a clear manifesto and if people are convinced, the APC may be able to give the PDP a good fight. However, in this country, people don’t follow good manifesto but the naira. People who give money are the people we vote for.
As former top security personnel, how would you access the war against terrorism in some northern states under the declaration of state of emergency?
So far, I think we have relative peace. I read in the papers that Borno state had Durbar this year after about four years of not celebrating it. They couldn’t have had that Durbar without relative peace in the area. But I think that the peace we are talking about in those areas is contributed by these civilian JTF. Because, from the beginning, soldiers came and were just killing people indiscriminately. And the unfortunate thing is that members of Boko Haram have no mark of identity. They don’t wear uniforms; they had no mark to identify them. So, what was happening in those areas then was that as soon as there was any problem in any area, the soldiers would just cordon off such area and any young man they see there would be arrested, trailed or even killed. So, the situation was a sort of massacre. But now that civilian JTF has come in to assist them, the situation is becoming better. For the first time, certain people have been declared wanted. Like before the civilian JTF came in, nobody knew that the Chairman of the LPP in the area was involved in this insurgency. Although, we heard rumors and stories from people that the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherrif was involved. But nobody actually laid hand on him. We also heard that he was winning and dining with the federal government and that they knew where he was. They said he was the one who established Boko Haram. But with the Civilian JTF in place now, they are also looking for him. It’s a very good development. If the federal government had acted from the beginning, the Boko Haram menace wouldn’t have gone to the level it went.
Do you foresee any hope for peace in this country soon?
I think there is hope because the situation is not as hostile as it used to be when it first started before the declaration of state of emergency. Now, at least, Borno State Government can hold Durbar during the Sallah. It’s a good development and people are gradually coming back to the areas to continue with their businesses. But the damage done to the areas would take a very long time before the people will actually recover. It may take up to 20 years or more.
Talking of the level of damage that had been done to the north as a result of Boko Haram activities, do you think there can be election in some parts of the north in 2015?
Honestly, we don’t know but things are coming back to normal. There could be elections. But again, the security may be used to intimidate the electorate and keep them away from voting. And they have many ways to do it. They can do that by snatching ballot boxes or with guns to ensure that they cannot defend their votes. In the process of preventing attempt to rig, there may be commotion in the country because people are now more conscious of protecting their votes and everybody wants to come in by all means. They want to come in not because they want to serve but because they want to come in to steal because people in the National Assembly are receiving fat salaries and allowances. So, everybody wants to come in and make money. That is our major problem.
Having been a major advocate for the release of Major Al-Mustapha, how would you react to his recent release from prison?
I’m happy and satisfied with the Nigerian legal system though some people are complaining that Al-Mustapha shouldn’t have been released. But I tell them that if the same people supported the judgment of the High Court that condemned him to death, why are they criticizing the judgment that set him free? We are just being unrealistic and we are not being honest to ourselves. If something happens to me and people rejoice and if I overcome that thing and people come to me, it means that people don’t really appreciate the legal system in this country. I think instead of condemning the Appeal Court judgment, those who are complaining should rather go on appeal. But as a layman, I feel it was very unreasonable to leave the man who confessed killing Abiola’s wife and then go ahead and arrest another person. Sergeant Rogers did the act, he pulled the trigger and so, should have been the first accused person. But instead, everybody concentrated on Al-Mustapha as if he is the devil that must be finished. But God Almighty said no, it’s not yet his time to die and that is why he was finally released. If I were Al-Mustapha, what I would do now is to leave this country, go back to school, attain high academic laurels, come back and become a radical. But my fear is that people may deceive him to go another way or if he has political ambition, the opposition would use that against him.