By Yinka Ajayi
Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, says the economy has been going from bad to worse since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office almost nine months ago. “You must have the political will and sincerity to do justice to everybody”, the veteran politician tells the President in this interview, saying he (Buhari) requires more than integrity or credibility to administer Nigeria.
What is your take on the state of the economy?
The economy is still in a very bad state and not close to getting better as the APC promised during the campaigns.
And to make matters worse, the government wants to borrow to fund the 2016 budget. This administration seems to have forgotten what we went through concerning our past debt burden.
Do you agree with analysts who want the diversification of the economy as a way out of the current challenges?
Yes! Government should pay attention to diversification that would generate huge wealth rather than borrowing! That is the viable alternative.
We are aware of our history regarding the careless borrowing of the past. Secondly, we have this disturbing level of corruption, whatever we borrow, more than half of it is stolen.
Do you see Mr. President delivering on his campaign promises?
Running a government, particularly at this period, requires more than integrity or credibility. You must have the political will and sincerity to do justice to everybody. But our current system of capitalism thrives on self interest while general interest is secondary. There is need to change the system. If we don’t, we will continue to be in stagnation and it could lead to the worst situation ever recorded in our nation’s history.
Is the President on the right track on his anti-corruption fight?
It is obvious that this government is targetting select individuals who served in Jonathan’s administration. We are all aware that this country was wrecked by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and those now in the All Progressives Congress, APC. We also know that 70% of the leaders in the APC were in the PDP before they jumped ship, and that they participated in bringing down this economy, destroying the name of the PDP in the process. If really you are fighting corruption, you must not look at only one of the two sets of politicians. As things stand presently, record shows that only those who served under the PDP administration of former President Jonathan are being targetted in the anti-corruption war. However, corruption has been going on in Nigeria ever since the military seized power in 1966. Government should go back to 1966. to effectively fight this war That is not too long ago. The records are there. The anti-corruption war should not target President Jonathan’s administration alone!
Many people will disagree with you on your claim that the anti-corruption war is targetting only PDP people on the grounds that an associate of the President, Jafaru Isa, was arrested by the EFCC. Isa was, infact, said to have refunded some money and may be prosecuted?
That is only one person! We have a backlog of untouched corrupt people. Many of those serving in the current government have been accused of corruption. Every political party after the First Republic participated in corruption. In the First Republic, corruption was practically nil; this disturbingly level of corruption started from the inception of military rule in 1966. It is so bad that no government since then can be exempted and no former leader, except Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon and Murtala Muhammed, were alleged not to be involved in corruption.
What then is the way forward?
We need to change the system that produces leadership in this country that is primarily based on self interest while public interest is secondary. This is the cause of the high level of corruption.
The change come through democratic means or revolution.
You are aware that some Igbo are agitating for Biafra?
Well, the government provoked them! When this government appointed its kitchen cabinet, was there anyone to represent the interest of the South-East there? Detaining Nnamdi Kanu, the arrow head of the agitation, is not in the best interest of our dear country. President Buhari, being the father of the country, should try to reconcile with the South-East, the same way the late President Umaru Yar‘Adua reconciled with the Niger-Delta militants.
But prominent Igbo leaders have disowned the agitating youths.
That is the major reason he should reconcile with them because there is a disconnect between these agitating youths and their leaders. They have been provoked with the exemption of the region from his kitchen cabinet!
He is the leader of the country. They are not like Boko Haram that you can’t identify. You simply work with them. He should call them for peace talks and they will respond.
Out of the 20 million registered voters, only 15 million voted for him. Should he then ignore the five million that didn’t vote for him? There should be a culture of fairness in governance.
What is your message for the President?
He has the people’s mandate to rule this country, he should make use of that mandate fairly and with justice. Secondly, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and, therefore, the chief security officer of Nigeria. He is the financial controller of the country, so he can do a lot. The President of Nigeria is what the Yoruba in the South-West refer to as Oga patapata! And in Hausa, they say Sariki yanka (highest king in the land). He should be able to compel everybody to march along. With this, the marginalisation mentality of the Igbo will be corrected and result in peaceful Nigeria. Buhari should run a government of national unity in which other political parties will be involved according to their relevance.
The Igbo should be given all their entitlements in representation, according to federal character and as enshrined in the Constitution. If the marginalisation of the Igbo in the kitchen cabinet of the President had happened to the North in the event that a southerner is the head of government, where would Nigeria be? So why is it happening to Ndigbo that are part and parcel of Nigeria? That is why I feel it is a mistake that should be corrected immediately, and things will be favourable to Nigeria and the President. The fact that a great number of Igbo had abandoned Biafra and called for one Nigeria, is a call for peace. I think Buhari should embrace it and make amends.