Senator JKN Waku
In this interview, Senator JKN Waku speaks on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him not to re-contest. He also speaks on the recent killings in Benue State and the federal government handling of the crisis.
By Ben Agande
What is your reaction to the letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo asking President Muhammadu Buhari not to contest in the 2019 Presidential Election?
Obasanjo assumes the position of god in this country. I like some of his qualities. I do not hate him as a person. If you meet Obasajo one on one, you will not want to leave him. He is very humourous. He is primitively humourous, vindictively humourous and sarcastically humourous. These are the qualities I like in him. He is a very strong leader. You can’t take that away from him. But he destroyed democracy in this country. He thinks he is clever but he is not. He destroyed democracy in this country.
That is the man who ruled this country for eight years and yet still wanted a third term. He is writing to somebody, who is just in his third year; a letter asking him not to contest. Allow Nigerians to determine the fate of Buhari.
When did Obasanjo become the oracle of the country to determine our fate? He has the right to advise but not to conclude.
You said Obasanjo is not sincere, yet he established the EFCC and ICPC. How do you reconcile this?
I was involved as a member of the Senate Committee on EFCC, so I know more. He established EFCC, appointed somebody who was kidnapping people in the name of arrest. What kind of democracy is that?
How did he destroy democracy?
During Obasanjo’s regime, there was no free and fair election. How can you pick a prisoner who was accused of murder and was in detention and make him a senator? This person was accused of murdering the number one law officer of the country.
One of the issues Obasanjo raised against Buhari was that he is clannish and tribal in his appointments
I agree with Obasanjo 100%. I have raised that issue too. But Obasanjo did the same thing when he was president. He concentrated all the financial institutions in the country in the West. No single one in the North.
But does that justify what Buhari is doing?
No, I am not supporting Buhari on that. I do not. When Buhari was elected and we visited him, I advised him to concentrate on revamping the country and not to exact vengeance. We in Benue are the worst hit in terms of appointments in the government of Buhari. It is not right concentrating appointments in one geo-political area; one religion; one tribe. It is not done. That is not good.
You are one of the leaders of the North yet the Arewa Consultative Forum to which you belong has remained silent in the face of the killings especially in Benue.
I don’t want to be myopic. In fact, I am disappointed with this question because there was a powerful delegation of ACF which was led by Gen. John Shagaya to Benue. When you attach tribe, or you become partisan in your decisions, you will lose the strength of justice. I am too old to be sentimental on the basis of religion and ethnicity.
What areas do you think Buhari failed and what areas would you say he has done well?
I am still working on that. But the major failure of this government is insecurity. The government has totally failed on that issue of security because the cardinal principle of any government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens.
Benue State cannot even be used as a yardstick of this failure. There is Zamfara, Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba and even Katsina. No government should allow these things to happen.
You have just said that this government has failed in the area of security. Does the President need to contest again against the background of this failure?
He can contest. It is Nigerians that should vote him out; not you and I sitting down and trying to stop him from contesting. Constitutionally, he has the right to contest. Nigerians should determine whether he has done enough to vote him to remain or to vote him out.
If you were his adviser, would you encourage him to re-contest?
If I am his Adviser, I would speak on that basis. For now, I am not so I cannot speak in that capacity.
What aspect of government do you think President Buhari should improve on?
Security. When people are happy, they move freely to transact business without the challenge of insecurity. Every other thing will fall in line. The economy will improve.
Some people have blamed the killings in Benue State on the passage of the Anti-open grazing law. Looking back, do you think the state government should have delayed the passage of the Bill?
It is the best thing that has happened to that state. It is the best thing for our state. When you enact a law and some people feel that it has infringed on their rights, the best thing is to challenge it in court and not for people to take laws into their hands. I am directly a victim. If there was a decisive mechanism on national security by the Federal Government, taking into cognisance, the protection of lives of people, the unfortunate circumstance would not have happened. They gave notice and the government informed the Federal Government but nothing was done.
You are one of the leaders in Benue. Will you be comfortable to campaign for Buhari in 2019 in view of what has happened in your state?
Let us wait till he declares, I will take a decision.
With the seeming failure of the federal security apparatus, what is your opinion about State Police?
Nigeria has a problem. Let me give you a typical example. Ekiti State, is a police state. Whoever the governor hates, he just locks up. But in an ideal situation, state police is the best because they will be more familiar with the terrain. But with political maturity, we will get there.
Are we matured for that now?
Circumstances sometimes force you to be mature. I think we are getting there.
Are you in support of the Federal Government’s Cattle Colony plans?
That is the most stupid and idiotic thought. Very irresponsible thought. What is wrong with ranching? America has one of the biggest land mass in the world, yet you do not see cows on the street.