Professor Sambo Wali Junaidu is a delegate at the ongoing national conference, an elder statesman and a lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto. He spoke to Journalists in Sokoto on range of national issues currently canvassed at the conference, among others. Raji Bello was there. Excerpts.
A delegate at the ongoing national conference recently canvassed for the disintegration of Nigeria. Is the North in support of this idea?
I believe each and every Nigerian is free to express himself and the Lamido of Adamawa has given his opinion and is entitled to it. But I beg to defer from his own opinion. I think I am also entitled to hold my own view. I don’t believe that the disintegration of Nigeria would be interesting to all of us. We are witnesses to what is happening in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine, especially in Crimea. There is no development without peace and without peace you cannot even practice your religion. I think we should take a cue from that and try not to disintegrate but to cement the oneness of Nigeria and also remain a united country for generations yet unborn. This is my candid view.
Some Northern leaders alleged that the Federal Government is behind the wanton killings in the North. What is your take on that?
On the allegation that the government is behind this senseless killings and as a lecturer in the university, I don’t normally submit to claims and counter claims until I have an evidence before me beyond reasonable doubt that the government is behind this issue . I don’t believe that a responsible government will sponsor killings of its citizens. You should realize that these insurgents kill both Muslims and Christians. So, I don’t believe that government is behind these killings in order to perpetuate itself in power. I will be very unwilling to say that the government is doing this for its own self grandizement. My view is that something has gone wrong and that something must be done to rectify the situation because if you look at this, we have been living together for over a century.
I remember that the late Premier of Northern region, late Sir Ahmadu Bello, had in his cabinet prominent Christians like Mathew Buba and they all contributed to the development of this country, irrespective of the language they speak, the place they were born and irrespective of religion. So, if the late Sardauna and Tafawa Balewa could promote tolerance and understanding at that age, why can’t we work together in this 21st century for the progress of this nation? I don’t believe government is behind the insurgency unless proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Do you think the national conference is desirable in view of the provocative statements and opposition in some quarters?
This conference in one way is desirable because people are selected on their own merit rather than election or the ability to convince people. People are put together to discuss the problems of the nation. But on the other hand, I see it as a duplication of the work of the National Assembly. lf the House of Representatives and Senate cannot solve the problems of Nigeria having been there for several years, how do you think a three month tenure of a conference will be able to bring about a solution? So in my own feeling and in another way, the amount to be spent on this conference should be channeled in developing other areas on human development such as building hospitals, primary and secondary schools. We have been selected and for us, this is an opportunity for people like myself who are not politics oriented to have the advantage to serve and there are many useful members of the public who will not have to contest election in order to serve the nation.
So, this way the Federal Government has thought very carefully that there are people that if you give them a job as a councillor or local government chairman, they may not contest for it but everybody within the community know that, that person is capable of delivering the goods. But the truth of the matter is that democracy does not allow that. It believes very strongly in somebody being elected to represent a community and that person may not be the best person for the job but because he has money and economic power, he will be able to get whatever he wants. But my only apprehension is the amount of money that will be spent on this conference.
Are you in support of the notion that resolutions of the national conference should be subjected to referendum?
I believe that the resolutions of the national conference should be given to the National Assembly so that we will be blending democracy on the terms of merit. I am a member of the Economic and Investment Committee. Although, before I left Abuja I filled a form for the administrators to change me to Social Sector Committee where I feel I will be more relevant. I opted for the Social Sector Committee which deals with education and health. I think I will be more relevant in the field of education.