NIGERIA’S BREAK-UP INEVITABLE –OKUROUNMU Blasts Ahmadu Ali, Useni, Dalhatu over comments on 2014 Confab, restructuring ‘North dragging nigeria backwards’
Some Northern leaders to the 2014 National Conference who publicly disowned the confab report in Abuja last week have been described as liars and unpatriotic elements.
Taking a swipe at the delegates led by Senators Ahmadu Ali, Jeremiah Useni and Alhaji Bashiru Dalhatu, Senator Femi Okurounmu, a delegate to the confab and chairman of the committee that laid the framework for the conference debunked all the allegations made by the northern leaders.
“Why do these unpatriotic leaders disown the report three years after approving it? I suspect these northern leaders have a hidden agenda, but I urge southerners to resist them,” he declared. Okurounmu also spoke on other national issues in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS.
How do you react to the rejection of the 2014 National Confab Report by the Northern leaders over the claim that the conference was not only skewed in favour of the South, but also that it was anti-North?
I’m not shocked by the outburst of these Northern leaders. But one thing I want to emphasise here is that these so-called Northern leaders including Ahmadu Ali, Bashiru Dalhatu, Khairat Gwadabe and others who were part of the conference and whose this statement was credited to are all liars. Have they been sleeping all these past three years, and are now just waking up to realize that the conference was anti-North? Were they not part and parcel of the conference, where every decision taken was by consensus. Were they not part of the team that presented the report to former President Goodluck Jonathan, and even showered encomiums then on Jonathan for putting up the confab they are now rejecting?
These people, Ali, Useni and other northern leaders are all liars. They are acting like spoilt brats. Nigerians especially Southerners should be very vigilant about this new position of the North concerning the confab report. These leaders are acting out a script, and they are now rejecting the report , which they initially endorsed and accepted, because one of them, General Muhammadu Buhari is now Nigeria’s President, and they also know from day one that Buhari had never hidden his objection to the confab.
It is a big shame that men and women who are supposed to be elder statesmen and who were party to all the decisions taken at that conference can now turned back three years after to disown the confab report, because of parochial interests.
All decisions taken at that conference were by consensus, and then no northern delegate expressed any objection to any decision taken. It amazes me that it is now three years after, that these northerners are now complaining – I suspect a hidden agenda somewhere, and this is why I call on Nigerians especially Southerners to be very vigilant.
One unique thing about that conference is that for the first time, and unlike in the past, the North didn’t have its way. All decisions arrived at on any issue was by consensus, and then the North didn’t complain or object. No geo-political zone had its own way throughout the duration of that confab.
It is very unfortunate that the Northerners believe that they were born to rule Nigeria. It is also very unfortunate that Northerners have that mentality. It is nothing but a crazy mentality. The Northerners’ new claims by Ahmadu Ali, Jeremiah Useni, Bashiru Dalhatu and others is not true. They are spreading falsehood – they are coming out now to sell all sort of things about the conference, so that their kinsman, President Buhari, who has openly expressed his opposition to the confab report would now have an excuse for not implementing that confab report. This is why I said earlier that the north seemed to have a hidden agenda and that other Nigerians especially the Southerners should be very vigilant.
Northern leaders have never been honest on issues concerning the development and growth of Nigeria. North has always been very selfish, and leaders from the region are not only dishonest, but also a big disappointment to this nation.
These Northern leaders, Ali, Useni and others further accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of being partisan …
(Cuts in) … The northern leaders were not happy with Jonathan for daring to convene that conference. The North, that is the core North , except for the people of the Middle-Belt, South South, South East, and South West never wanted the conference and they openly expressed their opposition to its convocation. That is why they were not happy with Jonathan. The North wanted the lopsided status quo to remain. They want to continue to dominate and lord it over other regions, but this is not possible. It is time the North realized that the party is over, nobody or group is ready anymore to take rubbish from them any longer.
North has always been the obstacle to Nigeria’s development and growth. It is very unfortunate that Northern leaders have always been very selfish and this grew worse with the military intervention, starting with late General Murtala Muhammed, Buhari, and others, these Northern leaders always put the interests of the North over that of other regions. The various constitutions put up by these Northern leaders weighed heavily in favour of the North – the way these selfish and unpatriotic Northern leaders crafted the constitutions, other regions are supposed to be slaves to the North.
The Northern leaders never want one Nigeria in which equity and justice will prevail, but they want one Nigeria only in which the North will be the master.
The Northern leaders are taking other Nigerians for granted. They are taking the rest of Nigeria as fools, and that’s why they can wake up three years after and start saying all sortS of rubbish about 2014 confab. This is very ridiculous and insulting. The South should resist any attempt by the North to lord it over others, more so, these Northern leaders are being emboldened, since they now have one of their own, Muhammadu Buhari, as the President, and not only that everybody also know that Buhari himself is a sectional leader, who has always danced to the tune of his own people. But enough is enough, the South should resist any attempt to oppress by these Northerners, who are over-spoilt and pampered.
What is your advice to President Muhammadu Buhari over these northern leaders’ suggestion that the confab report ne jettisoned?
Unfortunately President Buhari has not helped matters himself. His actions, behaviour and deeds so far portray him as being a northern president. But the earlier he realizes that he is President of Nigeria the better.
If the present situation of the North’s dominance is not checked, and Nigerians get fed up, only God knows what will happen. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, which can explode anytime. If the North continues with this attitude of lording it over others, or believing that they are the masters over others, anything can happen.
What are those things in the confab report that the North claims are anti-North? Restructuring, state police creation, and fiscal federalism are some of the things recommended by the confab.
Why is the North opposing restructuring? They are opposing restructuring, because they wanted the status quo to remain. We call ourselves a federal nation, yet the military foisted unitary system on us to favour the North, and this is why you produce oil in the Niger-Delta, but you now take the money or proceeds to develop Abuja and the North. Under a federal structure, this would not have been possible.
Each component unit is expected to be self-sustaining, you develop the resources in your region to develop your region, but only pay tax to the central government – this was how it was at the beginning in the First Republic until the military leaders from the North through military intervention changed the whole arrangement to favour the North, and that’s why we are having the problems we are having today. If each region is being allowed to harness its own resources to develop its own region as federalism or federal constitution stipulates, we won’t be in this problem we are facing. This is why some of these states have become so lazy they all depend on monthly oil allocation – it is a big shame. It is even an irony that while oil wealth and money is being used to develop some parts of the country, the region where the oil wealth is being got has been neglected over the years. Where is justice in this?
But let the North realize this, without restructuring, Nigeria will not have peace. Without restructuring, Nigeria will remain an Animal Farm where some animals are equal than others. Again, let me emphasise this, very soon, people will get tired of talking. You get tired of talking when people the message is intended for are pretending to be deaf. After you get tired of talking, anything can now happen.
Look at the recent injustice that happened in Ile-Ife in Osun State. There was a crisis, and two parties were involved. But in their usual mentality, the security agencies which are being led by Northerners arrested only Yorubas, leaving out their kinsmen who were also party to the crisis. Is that not a clear case of injustice?
But thank God, Afenifere and other Yoruba leaders cried out against the injustice and now 16 out of 21 are being released on unconditional bail. We will not relent until others are released.
This was why some of us cried out that time when Buhari was making his appointments which were lopsided. He appointed Northerners as Inspector-General of Police, Director-General of SSS, and also the Minister of Interior, Dambazau is also a Northerner.
The Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim is another big disappointment. When he unjustly arrested the Ile-Ife 21 and left out his own kinsmen, the Hausas, and was taken up on it, he said, crime has no tribal coloration. Okay, fine, but why has the IG not ordered the arrest of even a single Hausa or those Fulani herdsmen that are killing innocent people all over the country, including Kaduna, Benue, Enugu and other states? The IG is clearly biased, but he should realize that he is not the IG of the Hausa-Fulani, but that of Nigeria.
It is equally unfortunate that President Buhari believed that Fulani are destined to rule Nigeria. But Nigerians are wiser now, and things have changed. Before he got to power, Buhari and his ally, Bola Tinubu, used change mantra to deceive Nigerians, but now Nigerians have seen through the deceit, and now are prepared to fight against injustice in the country. This country belongs to no particular ethnic group. Every group, and individual have equal rights, and as long as some people think they can oppress others and get away with it, there will continue to be resistance.
Recently, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria was quoted as saying that Britain would do everything to prevent a break up of Nigeria, and some eminent Nigerians have been reacting. In your own view, do you think it is possible for Nigeria to break up?
It is possible for Nigeria to break up, we can’t continue this way and expect people to remain silent. As long as we don’t have equity, fairness and justice in the polity, if Nigeria wants to break, let it be so.
Forget whatever the British High Commissioner was quoted as saying. It’s even these British that are the architects of Nigeria’s problems. The British caused most of our problems.
On the eve of independence in 1959, the British colonialists rigged the pre-independence election to hand over power to a Northern political party, the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC, and since then the North has been oppressing other parts of the country, especially the South.
For the past 57 years of independence, the North has been oppressing other geo-political zones. But for how long will this injustice last, and for how long will other Nigerians continue to tolerate the north’s dominance and oppression? One thing I know for sure now is that many Nigerians are tired of this British-forced marriage of different entities and nations called Nigeria, and this is why some are clamouring for self determination. Again, as long as we fail to restructure, the possibility of Nigeria breaking up is a reality.
It is not even compulsory that we must remain as one nation, especially if one region is bent on keeping others backward. We need to return to a true practice of federalism, as it was in the First Republic. The North is dragging Nigeria backward. The current unitary system we are practising which the Northern military leaders foisted on Nigeria is dragging us backward. We should return to true federalism as enshrined in our independence constitution.
How would you assess the last two years of APC government?
Nothing to write home about. Nothing has changed. It is unfortunate that APC leaders have used change slogan to deceive Nigerians. It is sad that today millions of Nigerians are hungry and angry. They are wallowing in abject poverty.
But do I say Nigerians deserved what they are now passing through? In 2015 before that presidential election, I warned Nigerians not to vote for Buhari and APC. I formed a group, Yoruba Progressives, we warned Nigerians that they will regret voting APC into power.
We even specifically warned Yoruba people, reminding them about the history of Ilorin in Kwara State, how Fulanis treacherously took over Ilorin from Yorubas and installed an Emir in Ilorin – they deposed and killed the Yoruba traditional ruler who used to be in control of Ilorin, a Yoruba town.
One thing you must know about Fulanis is that they are always interested in having power, and they will enter into alliance with anybody in order to get that power, but the moment they get that political power, they become another thing, even ditching their allies through whom they get power.
In 2015, Bola Tinubu was the person that deceived Yorubas, the South West, to vote for Buhari, but we warned the people. What eventually happened? All our predictions about Buhari not being a true national leader, and being a pro-North element, are they not coming to pass? All the hardship we predicted will come with Buhari in power, are they not coming to pass?
The betrayal and ill treatment of Tinubu by Buhari and some of his aides as we predicted, has it not come to pass? But for Tinubu, I have no pity for him. He deserves whatever he got from Buhari and Buhari’s aides. Tinubu is a betrayer, because of his own personal ambition he entered into an alliance blindly with Buhari. Tinubu then wanted to become either Vice-President or Senate President, and as a result of his own personal ambition campaigned vigorously for Buhari, but it is good that he is paying a price for a betrayal of his own people today.
If it were to be in a developed country, Tinubu would have paid a high price for betraying and misleading Yoruba people. If Buhari or anybody close to Buhari now wants to humiliate Tinubu, I have no sympathy for him, he deserves whatever he gets from them.
Imagine, Tinubu, who was at the forefront of the calls for convocation of national conference, suddenly went against it, because Buhari is against that 2015 national confab. That’s an act of betrayal. Tinubu abandoned personal principles for personal interests.
On 2019, some groups and individuals are already urging Buhari to run for a second term, but, in view of his state of health, what is your advice to the President?
I have no advice for Buhari. Tinubu should go and advise him.
Those advising him to run, are they genuine patriots? These are all criminals parading themselves to be politicians. These are enemies of Nigeria, they are only interested in self-aggrandisement and amassing ill-gotten wealth.
Already, they have looted state funds, which they wanted to use for 2019 elections, and that’s some of the money being discovered here and there, billions of naira and other foreign denominations and for the man they are urging to run for a second term, the question you ask or people will ask is this, what has he done to justify second term? But I won’t be surprised if he decides to run and also wins, because Nigerians have been pauperized to the extent that many have become idiots, and these criminals parading themselves to be politicians will use money to have their way.
But some Nigerians are saying that President Buhari deserves kudos over the fight against corruption?
Is Buhari truly fighting corruption? A man surrounded by officials and key aides that have been accused of corrupt practices, his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and others have been accused of corruption and corrupt practices, yet they are still wining and dining with Buhari. Is that how to fight corruption? Instead of ordering the investigation of these people, because they are his allies, he turned the other eye, and that’s why people say Buhari’s war against corruption is selective.
Just like Obasanjo’s era, Olusegun Obasanjo’s government is one of the most corrupt governments in the history of Nigeria, but you see some people praising him for fighting corruption.
Obasanjo within eight years in power between 1999 and 2007 amassed stupendous wealth becoming a billionaire. Even his so-called Presidential Library he built with billions of naira he extorted money to put up that structure, but imagine some Nigerians are still praising Obasanjo for fighting corruption – what an insult.