Adamu Maina Waziri is a former Minister for Police Affairs and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart. The Yobe State born politician in this interview with Ochiaka Ugwu spoke on his governorship ambition, Boko Haram insurgency and other sundry issues. Excerpts;
The Boko Haram insurgents have taken over a sizeable number of our territory, what do you think should be done to curtail the incursion?
As somebody from one of the frontline states that is suffering insurgency, I find your question a bit callous in the sense that every village, hamlet within the territory call Nigeria is Nigeria. My state is one of the states that have been suffering insurgency for the last 36 months. We expected sympathy and action, sympathy from fellow Nigerians and actions from federal authorities. Because countries that have been invaded, whose border posts have been taken over by external aggression react immediately. They don’t wait for a sizeable part like 20, 000 square metres before national awareness is created to demand action. Having said so let me say there is universal paradigm about insurgency, rebellion or crisis. The world over when things like this happen, leaders put on their thinking cap. While dealing with the immediate problem which is lake of stability, security of lives and property, they also try to find out what are the causations. Why is it happening in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe and not in Cross River, Akwa-Ibom or in the middle belt that are contiguous states? I want to say with all sense of responsibility that these states have suffered very bad leadership from 1999 to date. This bad leadership is empirically supported by the statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), World Bank, Central Bank. They show these states and the North East generally as the backwater of Nigeria economy. It also shows that these states have endemic poverty, pervasive illiteracy, and lack of infrastructure all arising from bad governance.
So, there can never be a military solution to this problem unless the aspect of leadership is also tackled. Even when the Niger Delta insurgency was on, substantial reasons for it were economic and efforts were made to deal with economy indicators in the Niger Delta. Infrastructural development, youth employment and efforts by the current leadership of the states to reduce corruption and run inclusive governments will be the only issue that will sustain any resolution. There are also issues that will accelerate resolution of the problems.
Coming specifically to my state, I just came back from Yobe 48 hours ago. I have been a lone voice saying that successive governments from 1999 to date have nothing to show vis-a-vi s other neighbouring states. These days, we fly from Abuja to Dutse and then drive to Yobe. Jigawa State was created the same time with Yobe. I gave empirical example by saying there is a building called Jigawa State television in Dutse, but there is no similar building in the whole of Yobe State. When Yobe and Jigawa were created, the two states’ capital Damaturu and Dutse were villages, but if you go to Dutse today you will see effect of leadership of the last seven years. Gombe state was created about five years after Yobe, but if you go there, all indices of development are there. Gombe is much better off than Yobe. So there must be effort by the leadership in Yobe and neighbouring states to improve on delivering dividends of democracy. It should also have ripple effect on all other states in Nigeria. If people find leadership position as goldmine where resources of the states are appropriated by few people, there will be a day of reckoning. So the nation must rise in unison to ensure that democracy which gives birth to elected leadership elects good leaders. So that the lives of the people will be improved through massive infrastructure development, where people will see that their common patrimony is channelled to an area that will add value to their lives. Let me conclude by saying in other parts of the world that it has happened, they say illiteracy and poverty are the major driving force. We need a government that will devolve resources to create educational awareness and give them a source of sustainable employment. I am not for full scale military resolution of the conflict, because it is ironical that Nigerian soldier who is trained to suppress external aggression are being used to fight fellow citizens. That undermines military moral and doctrine. It even makes one wonder how they will fight external aggressor owing to the fact that their mind are being conditioned on internal aggressor.
Are you saying that the problem has not overwhelmed the country as held by many?
We don’t need to mobilise only when it ruins Nigeria. What I am saying is that the causative reasons for insurgency is nationwide or is affecting substantial part of this country because of bad leadership. This bad leadership creates poverty which is increasing by the day. Youth are becoming hopeless and helpless and they are pride of any nation. There is high level of illiteracy; in some states only probably 10 boys or girls out of 100 go to school. All these are building grounds for social upheavals. Leadership in Nigeria at the three tiers of government must wake to their responsibilities. First to stem the spread of insurgency two, to build on what they are doing to interdict the spread of insurgency to other part of the country, three existing government should deploy resources in these frontline states to deal with the problem. Unless these three issues are taken seriously there will be no stop to the spread of insurgency.
You still don’t share the fact that it looks like religious war
Well, I don’t believe in religious war because I just told you I am coming back from Yobe. The last public incident which happened about four days ago where Muslims in a procession were bombed, all the victims were Muslims. When you have this issue of insurgency, you have this issue of insecurity, is only after people have been maimed that you find out who is a Christian or Muslim. Insurgency has no distinguishing capability. Anybody, anytime, anywhere can be a victim.
If you are elected governor of Yobe, would you want to see this kind of thing happen?
Let me confess that after my unsuccessful attempt in 2011, I wanted to bid good bye to governorship contest, but insurgency has changed my mind. I have a passion for my state and public service. I feel am indebted to public to give some more of what they invested on me. I got a reputation garnered over the period of time and I know I will be an instrument of returning peace in my state. This is because most democratic leadership is substantially guided by public perception. People know what I can do in my state. What the leadership is doing in my state will give way the day I will be sworn in because everybody know it will be unacceptable. But in the absence of people like me it is being perpetuated.
Sir, you would want to tell us some of these things?
Yes, there is massive corruption. There are many square pegs in round hole in leadership position. The leadership from the last 16 years has been produced by APC government. They have lost steam to provide proper leadership meaning business is going on as usual. If they are re-elected, it will be business as usual. In developed societies, leadership change so that you can compare and contrast on performance. No society improves without good leadership. The measure for democratic leadership is practical and not theoretical. How many schools and hospitals have you built? How many towns and villages have you developed? How many kilometres of road have you been able to construct? How many youth have you provided with employment? If you build hospital and make it functional you will automatically see a drop in infant mortality. We have the highest infant mortality. Only about 30 percent of the population have access to drinking water. When the last NECO result was released, we scored .0004 percent the least in the country. So it is not just opposition statement, they are measurable issues you can see and use and assess the leadership. Unfortunately, the illiteracy rate in my state is about 70 percent. Seven out of 10 cannot read and write. It shows that majority of them don’t know their right. Therefore, if you have incumbent leadership that is bedevilled with this element, what they do is that they perpetuate this. Let me give an example, in 2007, during the tenure of the late Senator Mamman Ali, to tackle education he initiated a project to build a standard boarding primary school in the each of 17 councils of the state that will accommodate 1000 pupils each. It was his death in March 2008 that halted the project that has gone up to 70 percent completion. It is now six years after his death; the current governor who was his deputy has left the project to die. If completed, the project would have transformed education in the state.
You have aspired before and you are aspiring now, are you sure that the hurdles that worked against you will not be there given the fact that Dr. Yerima Ngama has vowed to clinch the PDP ticket?
Well, let me answer your question by introverting it, can you also say that because there is another candidate, Adamu Waziri will win?
Just because his antecedent as a former Minister of Finance and the popularity he is enjoying among the PDP members may work in his favour
Well, I was minister in 2007 and a cabinet minister in 2010. So if being a minister is the yardstick I should have no opponent. But the issue is that, is there any law which says if you have aspired before and fail, another aspiration will also lead to failure. If I have been aspiring before, have I not built a reputation and structure to overcome a newcomer who only joined the party in November 2010? or are you saying because somebody was minister of finance, he is liquid enough to deal with me who was a minister four years ago. These are aspect of leadership and part of problems we have in this country.
That money bags can overrun the political system. I want to recall that in 1983 the late Chief MKO Abiola probably the richest Nigerian then wanted to aspire for presidency but did not make it. If an ex minister of finance can be the solution how about the state government that has within the last four years received over N400 billion and has not been able to deliver on physical project of N200 billion. People like us only go to sell our reputation and allow the people to make their choice.