Sunday, June 25, 2017

Let Igbo Leaders Disown Biafra Campaigners To Show Sincerity To Nigeria's Unity-Kwankwaso

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A former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, is troubled about the state of the nation that has seen some Igbo separatist elements campaigning for Biafra and some northern youths issuing quit notice to South-Easterners resident in the North, just like many other statesmen across Nigeria.

In this interview, Kwankwaso addresses the agitations emanating from some sections of the country.

The nation has been on edge as a result of the agitation for secession by some Igbo groups and the quit notice by some northern youth groups. What is your take on the situation?

As far as I’m concerned, the unity and development of this country is key and, therefore, we will continue to stand by it for fairness and justice. I call on all my friends in all the states and local governments to join hands and ensure that   there is peace in the country. Peace can only come when things are handled the way they should. The issue of education is very critical across the country, the issue of food security, the issue of health, and the issue of protection of lives and property must be looked into. On the whole, Nigerians, I believe, are good people.   Of course, there are few people on the opposite side, they are very few in terms of percentage.   That’s why we have the security agencies, that’s why we have leaders across the country and that is why we have to use our resources to ensure that nobody raises his fingers to destroy the unity of this country. What are you saying to the Igbo who say they are marginalised and want to quit Nigeria?

My understanding of the situation is that the people agitating in the South-East feel that they are better if they are given independence as Biafrans. All what they are saying, going by what we read in the newspapers, is the need for more appointments, more development and so on.  If you look at appointments, you are just talking of a link, a very small aspect of a very big chain. To me, for one part of the country to be talking of secession because of appointments, is going too far, and   soon people start agitation for many reasons. May be this is what they are saying and something else may be in their minds.  For those of us who have been in politics for some time  – at least 25 years – and going by my personal experience across the country and beyond, you see, some people may start agitation because of their own personal interest.   Some of them are politicians who want to start politicking and everybody has gotten his way of starting it. Before 1992, when I was a civil servant, I started politics through self-help, group activities and that was how I galvanised my constituency and local government. As I’m studying the body language, I wouldn’t be surprised, if the young man (Nnamdi Kanu) who is making this agitation, decides to contest election in the next political dispensation – that’s how so many of them started, they mobilise and, at the end of the day, they become heroes and champions and they will start championing their personal interest.   If you look at it, it is only the locals in the South-East that are giving him a lot of support on the surface, and those who are outside the country.   Most of  those who are in Nigeria, today, especially millions of Igbo, my friends who are here in the North, I can assure you, none of them will ever support anything called division. When I was in Kano, I worked very hard to promote the unity of the country. Now, if you go to Kano, there is a particular layout – ‘new Enugu’, which is not far away from the airport – it is more beautiful than any part of Enugu State. They are living happily and most of them are doing good businesses. We love them in Kano as they are very hard working people. The South-East leaders should come out to condemn the agitation by these Igbo young men for  Biafra; maybe because they are afraid of the young men or because of possible attacks, they kept quiet. So what should they have done or what should they do? To keep quiet will not help anybody and that’s not the way to go. The way to go is for the elders to come out and say the right thing at the right time. The young men in the North, I don’t know them, but I think the ultimatum they gave,   I don’t know and I’m not sure whether it is right from their hearts. But one of these things that the other people are saying is that the people here (North) are sick and tired of all these agitations. People want to make progress, people want to move forward but with all these calls and so on, they are just dragging them backward. Therefore, in their own opinion, they gave the ultimatum for peace to reign. I don’t believe that the people  of the North are interested in allowing the Igbo to leave the North. Because the general belief in the North is that we are better together, as long as we have peace and as long as we work together as family in the general interest of our people.

This is why I have to    thank the Federal Government, particularly the Acting President for calling the meetings with leaders in the North and, of course, those of the Igbo, even though the issue is not just between  northerners and easterners, it has to do with every part of the country. The agitation is not only geared towards the North, it includes the South-West, if you listen to what they are saying. There is need for parents, politicians, journalists and all others to put their hands on deck to make sure there is peace in the country. I don’t think the northern youths will go on the streets, if the ultimatum they give expires because of the way they spoke, but miscreants may want to take the opportunity to do things that probably was not what was designed by the northern youths.

What do you think political institutions, especially the parties, should be doing to resolve the matter? 

The advantage of strong political parties cannot be over-emphasized. The implication is that whenever you have strong political parties on the ground, consisting of Muslims, Christians and people from every zone of this country, issues like this would have been discussed at  the party level. You will find out that friendship and brotherhood are being built and nobody will be in a hurry to abuse anybody who is a friend in that political party and, by extension, it means you have peace in the country. Unfortunately, what we have now, our parties are being weakened and they cannot function well, the APC especially is not well supported, meaning, its not well funded. There is need for all of us who are elected under it to make our contributions in line with the party’s rules and regulations.  Every source of funding must be explored by the party itself. We need to be proactive, but up till now, I can’t remember when we had a very serious meeting. In that situation, you allow individual groups, leaders, youths and others to take over the party. Also, the opposition, for whatever reason, is divided; the party is in court for a very long time and it’s like they have irreconcilable differences. This will not help the system because we need an opposition party. We need to be challenged; without it, everybody will just go to bed and sleep. Under this circumstance, we are bound to witness what is happening now. Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has insisted that the northern youths that issued the quit notice must be arrested. Do you subscribe to this? You see when you hear things like this; the first thing to do is to invite them if you know them. Sit them down and discuss with them… You need to dialogue with them, but that is not to say that somebody who decided to do something that is not in line with the law will not be asked to defend himself. There is need to have caution on both sides, and dialogue.


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