Balarabe Musa Blasts Buhari In An Interview

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Balarabe Musa

Balarabe Musa

 

The first civilian governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over his handling of affairs in Nigeria since he took over the reins of power.

He spoke to National Daily in an interview recently baring his mind on various national issues. Read the interview below:

The general elections have come and gone, what is your perception of the current state of the nation? 

Well, first and foremost, it has been mixed feelings since after the elections. Yes, it was good we had the elections otherwise the story would have been different. Nigeria would have been in a terrible situation if the elections did not hold. What saved us was President Goodluck Jonathan who conceded defeat and congratulated Buhari, the winner.  But then, the rest of the issues which is the state of the nation are still negative in all respects.

Nothing has changed; things still remained the same in this country. The 2015 election does not have any promise to Nigerians. If you are one of those Nigerians that rely on wishful thinking, you can say the election has some promises for you but I don’t think so. Take for example the inaugural statement of President Muhammadu Buhari, he said he has not promised to do anything.

His speech was too ritualistic, the same words we have been hearing from past leaders, be it civilian or military. His statement was not qualitative enough to convince Nigerians that something different has come. He said in his speech  “I will improve on education,” So what? Past leaders have told us that before but did they improve the education in the country? The question is how are you going to improve on education? Nigerians need specific road map and targets; I mean qualitative targets like declaring that education from primary to tertiary level is now free not a blanket speech that holds nothing for anybody. I very much doubt it.

Your wish for this country has always been free, fair and credible elections, how will you describe the 2015 general elections?

This is the ridiculous thing that happened and that is why I remain critical. The 2015 elections were actually peaceful if you compare it with other elections yet we recorded deaths and other social disorders. Nigerians expected worst things than what happened in the 2011 general elections but it didn’t happen because nobody cared about the elections. Only very few Nigerians cared and participated.

Out of 70 million registered voters, only 28 million cared to go and vote; and out of the 28 million only 15 million voted for the President; 55 million never cared to go and vote. The level of apathy was very high. It shows that the people did not even care for the elections. Informed Nigerians, especially the media, didn’t take that into account in assessing the real situation but that was what happened.

How do you claim free, fair and transparent elections in a situation when out of 70 million registered voters only 15 million actually voted for the President, yet, you claim this is free, fair and transparent election? There was also the deciding role of money power that took place during the elections. It was money power that decided who won the elections.

If you said money played a major role, one would have expected the incumbent to be at an advantage as a sitting President. How did it happen?

Both parties displayed money power during the elections. Both PDP and APC used unimaginable sum of money during the elections. I stand to be corrected; it may interest you that APC used more money than PDP. It was their money that decided the winner. The only thing, I believe and I know it has been proven to be so, is that PDP for strategic reasons decided to withdraw from power and let APC take over and grapple with the problems in the country because PDP has failed woefully to tackle the problems.

One of the reasons they decided to let go power was because they know that if PDP had won the elections, Nigeria’s situation today would have been different. That was why instead of venturing into the looming danger, PDP preferred to wait and fight another day. They are already talking of returning in 2019.

When taken into account, the fundamental reality, APC did not really defeat PDP in the 2015 elections. PDP tactically withdrew and merely allowed APC to take over. PDP knows that if they had returned, there would have been massive violence in all the northern states.

Remember what happened in the North during the campaign for 2011 elections. The media is not really educating the people on the true situation of things. Remember the incidents after the 2011 Presidential elections, particularly, in the North West, North East and some parts of North Central, PDP leaders were attacked openly and their property destroyed in large scale.

There was an inquiry by the Federal Government and at the end, PDP leaders throughout the North were compensated heavily by the Federal Government after those who were involved in the anarchy were arrested and investigated. The Federal Government knew who were responsible in organizing that 2011 post-Presidential election violence but nothing happened to those that were arrested, instead they were paid heavy compensation by the PDP government.

PDP government couldn’t take any action against the organizers of that violence because they were preparing to hand over power in 2015. They knew that and some of us knew it too.

Before the 2015 elections, it was reported that the group you led split over who to support, Jonathan or Buhari, how did you manage that?

No, there was no split. We had National Executive Committee meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and decided through voting. 26 states voted in favour of the PDP at the Presidency while other voted for APC for the presidency. We also agreed that states’ leaders should decide on whom they will support in their respective states.

Now that Buhari is in charge, do you think he can solve the problems of this country?
No! I don’t think so. No single person can do it in Nigeria without a revolution. It is not just Buhari but anybody. Even I cannot handle the situation without a revolution. When I say a revolution I mean fundamental change. For instance, you have to change the social, economic and political systems controlling all developments in this country and the leadership produced by the system.

From one base to another, self-interest first; to one base on public interest first. You have to bring about that change. You have to change the economic system. In the system now, public interest has been relegated to third. To change it effectively, we have to bring the leadership of the state in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice and dignity of the human person and progressing even development in the whole country. Is Buhari prepared for that? Can you effect such change without a revolution? We have a situation where the rich and powerful that are so mindless, selfish and so entrenched that they will oppose everything to bring about this leadership of the state in the economy.

Take for instance, the present controversy at the National Assembly where members are demanding wardrobe allowance amounting to N9 billion. Wardrobe allowance means clothing allowance for each senator will have over N21 million while House of Representatives will have over N17 million. When you have leaders like this, produced by a system based on self-interest, how can you change the reality without a revolution because those who are enriching themselves will resist any change and it can be violent. The change we want must be revolutionary in nature. So, the way it is now, Buhari has no answer to Nigeria’s problems.

APC promised Nigerians that they have come to fight and eradicate corruption. Do you think APC can achieve this?

How can you fight corruption with corrupt leadership? It is not possible. You cannot do it because you are also corrupt. They are not free from being corrupt. About 80 per cent of APC and PDP leaders are all before the three anti-corruption agencies, ICPC, EFCC and Code of Conduct. So, you can see that they cannot fight corruption because they are corrupt.
Are you saying that the present APC leadership is corrupt?

Was PDP leadership corrupt? The answer is yes, it was; and 70 to 80 per cent of the APC leadership now came from the PDP. Invariably, what we have today is not APC but PDP one (1) and PDP two (2). Now, APC has the majority in the Senate yet they couldn’t elect APC Senate President without the support of PDP. So, it is clear that they have now started working together.

The APC which defeated PDP yesterday is today working with the PDP and rely on PDP to perform, what do you expect. Nothing will change without a fundamental change and a fundamental change in this case means revolution, I hope when it comes, it will be peaceful.
With this outrageous demand of wardrobe allowance, Nigerians can organise themselves in such a way that National Assembly after they have passed the law or at the process of passing the law, Nigerians can act within their constitutional right to remove such bad government.

Many people don’t know how this mindless corrupt system came to be in Nigeria. After the election in 1979, that is the Second Republic, members of the National Assembly led by Joseph Wayas, who was the Senate President then, demanded the right to fix their own remunerations. Shehu Shagari, who was the President then, saw the danger in it and he told them that he was against it but the senators insisted.

So, when we had the National Economic Council meeting which was made up of state governors, vice president etc., after the meeting, President Shagari came to us and said he needed our help. He told us that he called for a dinner and the senators refused to attend because they were angry with him because he refused to allow them to fix their remuneration. So, that is why he needed our help and we told him that we have no alternative but to help him because if he allows them at the federal level, members of the state House of Assembly will do same to us.

In spite of the sharp difference between the parties, especially the NPN and the UPN, we came together for our own common interest to support the President.  A committee of governors was formed to advise the President. At the end, we recommended maximum remuneration for all public officers both politicians and civil servants. We submitted our recommendations to the President which he presented at a press conference but that did not go down well with the National Assembly members as they came up with war against the President and the governors. They threatened to remove the President.

They were callous and vicious. At the end, President Shagari allowed them to decide their own remuneration and that was what opened the floodgate of corruption in Nigeria today.
I don’t know whether Buhari was aware of this history because he was not a politician but he needs to be aware of this as a leader. Now, is he going to allow himself to suffer the consequences Shagari suffered as a result of failure to contain the greed of the members of the National Assembly? We are not just talking the holistic of their remuneration which is up to 10 items but we are only talking about one item.

Now, should Buhari allow it after knowing that the root of the NPN problem where he could not perform was because he could not restrain the National Assembly from demanding and getting what they wanted?

Barely one month now, President Buhari has not been able to form the Federal Executive Council, what do you think is responsible to this?

Nobody can be comfortable with the level of arrangement so far, particularly, when I can see the kind of coordination in a negative sense between the center and the state, just as the president could not constitute his federal executive council, so also the states have not. That means there is a conspiracy otherwise it will not happen like this. It is disappointing, particularly, at the federal level. Buhari is not new in this position.

He was military Head of State. Before even being sworn in, he should have known who to appoint as ministers and also announced them within two days after inauguration but this has not happened. Why it has not happened I don’t know but I pray it is not the beginning of incompetence.

What is the implication of the delay in executive appointments?

The danger in this is that foreign countries will not do business with him, knowing that he has no team. Then, those that decide to deal with him will be taking risk and they know it. Secondly, the country will be doubting its direction because even in Nigeria, businessmen will be interested in the ministers they are going to be dealing with but they don’t know. The delay has shown that something is wrong with the leadership.

The revered politician had earlier predicted that the mass defection of members of the PDP to the APC may end up turning Nigeria into a one party state.

 

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