By Bashir Adefaka
Alhaji Munir Ja’afar, mni, OFR, is the Crown Prince of Zauzzau Emirate (Yariman Zauzzau) and District Head of Anwa in Zaria, Kaduna State. He had earlier been commissioner at various ministries in Kaduna State; Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA); Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZ) and he’s chairman and director, boards of many companies.
He spoke with Saturday Vanguard at his palace in Zaria, recently on Kaduna peace and reconciliation process and some national issues. Excerpts:
Could you let us into the brain behind the peace and reconciliation that you just concluded across Kaduna State?
Well, for too long, we have had a lot of crises in the state and the Judicial Commission of Enquiry that was set up following the last post-presidential election crisis recommended that we should form a state peace and reconciliation committee to reconcile the people of the state against future problem like religious, ethnic or political crisis.
That was why the governor set up the committee and I happened to be a member. We went around the state and spoke with the people. Going by the progress we have made so far, we hope by the grace of God that we won’t have any crisis of such magnitude in Kaduna State in future, be it political, religious or ethnic.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently launched Al-Majiri Education System in the North here. What prospects do you see of this and what are the things you think the government should put in place to avoid collapse of the system?
I think this is just the beginning and we pray that it is going to succeed and be sustained. What we need to do collectively and individually is to make sure that we assist all those in need so as to avoid a situation where children roam about the streets in the name of Al-majiris. The responsibility first of all lies on their parents and the relations. And I think maybe the Northern governors should put heads together, look seriously at the situation and then come out with their report and recommendations or a law that would stop people from releasing their children to these malams who take them out of their places in the name of Al-majiris or in the guise of trying to acquire education.
Northern leaders are being blamed for not taking drastic action against the menace of Boko Haram. What is your take on that?
Well, I think blaming the Northern leaders this way is wrong. The cause of this insecurity in the country cannot be laid on the door of the Northern leaders. Because I know individually and collectively that we have tried all we can to ensure that there is peace and security. The greatest problem that is the cause of the insecurity is lack of justice, equity and fairness.
If the leaders of the country can be just, equitable and fair in their distribution of resources and amenities, I’m sure things like this wouldn’t be happening. In a situation where we have a lot of people that have completed their education roaming the streets doing nothing, what do you expect? An idle hand they say is a devil’s workshop. Whereas somebody who is half-educated, but because he has opportunity and has joined political party, gets to power and within a short period of time, his condition has changed and he doesn’t think of how to improve the situation of the people, things like this cause the kind of problems we are having.
The President is passionate about his pursuance of national transformation. What do you think he can do to achieve this and not fail like some of his predecessors who claimed to do the same but couldn’t achieve anything?
First and foremost, he has to have the fear of God at heart in the way he administers the country and then he should treat Nigeria as his own (primary) constituency. In a situation where he treats the Niger Delta as his only constituency, I don’t think it will augur well with the unity, peace and stability of this country.
Once you are a leader, you should know that a leader has to embrace everybody, take everybody as his own person and take the whole country as his own. But where such leader says because he is from one part and he is going to take only that part as his own at the expense of others, automatically, he will not succeed.
So for President Jonathan to succeed in his national transformation programme, he should have the fear of God.
There is one issue that sounds like mere noise-making at the moment, which may explode into another version of national crisis in future: the issue of who becomes the President after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The Igbos are saying it is their turn and the Hausas are laying claim to the same rights. As a Northern leader, how should things go to avoid bad situation as a result of this?
I think all these crises in which we find ourselves in the country are caused by the politicians and this is how they start it. What we the people of Nigeria want is somebody who is just, fair and who has the fear of God at heart to be our President.
That is the fundamental principle that many of our leaders in this country have lacked that is causing problems for the country and the people.
Like I said, justice always comes with peace and injustice brings the opposite. If we observe the fundamental principles of justice, fairness and equity, the issue of who becomes the next President of the country will not be a problem.
Again, we want a leader who will make the difference from what we have always had; a leader who will not discriminate and that is just what I can tell you.