…Speaks on agitations for Biafra and Arewa Youths’ quit notice to Igbos.
…Makarfi spoke before the Supreme Court ruled him authentic chairman of PDP
In this Interview with Ben Agande in Kaduna, former governor of Kaduna state and one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi speaks on the face off between the senate and the executive arms of government, the quit notice given by Arewa youths that Igbos should leave the north and his assessment of the performance of the APC government.
What is your reaction to the recent trends in the country especially with the threat of secession by the south east and the quit notice issued by Northern youths to the Igbos living in the north to leave by October this year?
There are all kinds of agitations in the country. I think we will not be doing justice to the entire situation when we will bring it to the threat of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Arewa youths. Even before then there had been agitations from different parts of the country. We should be sincere in dealing with these matters and looking at them comprehensively.
The issue of political agitations, the criminal aspects of some of the Fulani herdsmen and those who may be assuming the identity of Fulani herdsmen to wreak havoc should be dealt with. Criminals seize opportunities. Once you create opportunities, those with criminal minds will seize them.
That should not take out the fact that there are criminal elements amongst the Fulani herdsmen that have been wreaking havoc throughout the length and breadth of this country. We also need to deal with the issues in the Niger Delta. We need to continue to deal with the issues in the north east. You see, we have a lot of issues in this country and it will be wrong to continue to think that it is just the problem of IPOB and Arewa youths. Arewa Youths is just a name who might have come from one or two states but because of the name, people assume that they are relevant. We should avoid propelling an issue to make it larger than life instead of minimizing the problem.
In reporting such issues, journalists should not call it what it is and not giving it an identity that it is not thereby escalating issues. Those who do not know but may read or hear such things will view them from what they read or heard and it may not be to the scale that is being painted. There may be reaction and counter reactions and before you know it, we will be creating serious problems in the country. We must avoid this.
What worried some people was the seeming silence of political leaders in the south east before now and the open support given by Professor Ango Abdullahi and a few others to the Arewa youths (cuts in)
You said a few others. What is the population of the north? When did the issue of Arewa youths happen and for how long has the IPOB agitation been going on? Unfair reportage and reaction creates a country reaction that is not good for this country. I am absolutely sure that the overwhelming majority of the people in the north were not in support of the statement of the Arewa youths when it was issued.
The constituted authorities, the state governor, Nasir El Rufai and the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum reacted immediately. When they reacted, the rest of the country should have let the matter stop at that point and even commended them and also commented on things that are happening at their own back yard. But the reaction from the constituted authorities was completely ignored and emphasis was placed on the statement from the Arewa youths as if there was no reaction from constituted authorities.
People will react naturally to say if leaders have risen to condemn the statement as soon as it was made yet the other ones have been going on for so long and people are carrying on as if one was right and only the other one was wrong. That created a wrong impression. Let me give you an instance; if your son and another person’s son were fighting and you arrived at the scene at the same time and without investigation, you pulled out your son and started scolding him that why should he be fighting, you expect the other parent to scold his own child or take him away. But when he leaves his own child and joins you in scolding your own, how will you react? That was the mistake that was made. It is good that leaders from all over the country have woken up and have seen the dangers in allowing these things to escalate and are reacting in a manner that we should all have reacted long ago. We should rather commend the leaders in the north for condemning the statement of the Arewa youths. If we had done this long ago, we should not have gotten to where we are.
Agitations have always been going on in this country but there seems to be an escalation with the coming in of this government. What is this government not doing right?
It is a government that has been unsettled right from day one. The Peoples Democratic Party government had glimpses of problems with the legislature which were resolved within a very reasonable time. Since this government came into office, it has virtually been at logger heads with the national assembly. That does not create conducive atmosphere within the All Progressive Congress.
As a party, we were having all kinds of meetings without fear of anything. As it is now, the All Progressive Congress is even afraid of having its national executive council meeting because of what the outcome could be. It is a party of strange bed fellows and when you have that kind of situation, the outcome is what we are having now. Nigeria should take note.
But the APC claims that they are reaping from the years of bad governance of the PDP.
Excuses, upon excuses. They should know that they are no longer in opposition now. People elected them because they thought they would do better. If the people did not think they would do better than the PDP, we would have won. Having been given that confidence, they should not say that ‘oh we did not know it was going to be that tough. Governance under whatever circumstance is not easy.
As a former senator, what is your view on the ongoing face off between the senate and the executive arm of government over the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission?
It has been seriously over politicized, which is quite unfortunate. The statements coming out from both parties are not helpful. Everybody knows that the senate has the powers to confirm certain appointments, whether as provided by the constitution or any other act of the national assembly. That is not in doubt. But we know that even if the confirmation is done, the president can change his mind and still not make that appointment.
The power of the senate stops at confirming and not insisting that when it confirms, the appointment must be made. The executive has the flexibility of powers that maybe only through legal processes that can be clarified. These are some of the excesses in the executive powers that can be looked at and maybe through legislation, streamlined so that there is no confusion down the line. Both sides should realize their powers and the limit of their powers.
No matter the power the executive or the legislature has, a synergy between the two is what produces result. I expect both arms of government to calm down and see how they can work together for the good of this country.
With what is happening, do you think Ibrahim Magu will still enjoy the confidence of Nigerians to carry on with the job?
There will be varied opinions on this because of the over politicization. If I were in the senate, the time the president resubmitted his name for the second time, I would have confirmed him. That is my personal view. I don’t know the politics hat is going on between the senate and the executive but we are injuring the institution, we are ridiculing the executive, we are ridiculing the legislature and at the end of the day, it is the country that will suffer. We need to calm down, we need to allow reasons to prevail and move ahead.
Looking at the trend of what is going on in this government, what should Nigerians expect?
Change. Nigerians are going to change The Change. As I mentioned earlier, a political party that is afraid to hold an in house National Executive Committee meeting, how can you give it the opportunity to lead the country? It may be PDP, it may not be PDP. Nigerians will change APC in 2019. Of course we have our problems in the Peoples Democratic Party but we still meet. By the time we resolve our problem, we will come together stronger. We will continue to work for PDP.
Whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement we will abide by it. That is the highest court in the land. You can only appeal to God. As a leader I can say this is what I want to do but it is not guaranteed that everybody will follow me because people must have formed their position already.
Including forming the Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance?
PDP did not form that party. We have been saying this but people do not want to listen because they have made up their mind to believe what they want to believe. Of course some members of the PDP are principal actors in its formation but it was not an official project of the PDP