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Birma Dauda, a former minister of education in the Abacha regime, who also is a two-time presidential aspirant, has said that Nigerians must appreciate security agents who hazard their lives in the fight against various forms of insurgencies in the country rather than speak ill of them. He also spoke to ZEBULON AGOMUO, Editor, on his expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, the development in Kano, and that he has no high hopes on whatever the incoming administration in his home state of Adamawa would do since he is not a member of the party (PDP) that won the governorship election there. Excerpts:
What are your expectations from the newly elected governor in your state from May 29?
To be quite honest with you; the party that won in my state is the PDP, which is going to form a new government in my state. I am a member of the APC; I have worked for it; I have put a lot into it and I did not expect APC was going to lose; it has lost; I have not invested any hope in what the PDP is going to do; therefore; really; it would be very early for me to say this is what I expect they will do; or they will not do. What I believe I should do is to cross my fingers and wait; when they are inaugurated– I know who the elected governor is, then I will know who the crew members are. Eventually, when the crew members emerge; and I see the people they put in; I will then draw my conclusions. But again, you should know that they are people from Adamawa State, they are not from the outer space. And since I have been in politics for a very long time, there is virtually no old hand that I do not know. May be, there would be some new hands that I do not know; so, by showing up of the old hands, I would be able to say, ‘O, this is what I think would happen and this is what I expect’. But for now, since I am not a member of their party; since I am not an elder in that party; it will be too hasty to say this is what I expect they will do or what I expect they will not do. At any rate, they come from Adamawa and they must be people who are socialised into Adamawa politics. I hope they will do well and I wish them all the best.
As a member of the APC, and also a friend of the President; what are your expectations from his second term in office beginning from May 29?
At the federal level, I know Buhari has won, he will be sworn in on the 29th of May. From the time I met Buhari when we contested in 2003 and when we contested in 2007 I have always been with him. I worked and voted for him the last election. I do not know what his mindset is. Mark you, from the time he became President on 29th of May 2015, I met him only once and I met him at the airport. We have not met anywhere; we have not socialised anywhere.
Nigeria is my only country and I hope the best emerges for Nigeria and whatever were the constraints the last time, he would overcome them. Good a thing; some of these constraints have been removed. I believe he is not going to have a hostile Senate; I believe the House of Representatives will be reflective of the views of the APC. Since it is my party; I hope he is going to do very well and I wish the best is going to come out of it this time around.
You are talking about his people, meaning those he will choose to work with. Have you ever considered offering yourself to work with him in any capacity?
No, no, no. You know, once elected, it is now left for the President to choose who to work with or who not work with; he has not invited me, I will not go and barge in to say I want to do this, I want to do that! This is because from my point of view now; any involvement in government will be helping the government and I do not believe that I will go and beg to be invited. If they invite me, I will go, but if they do not invite me; I will not go and offer myself. That’s my stand on this.
The insecurity across the country is giving many people, including the government of the day, a serious concern. How worried are you about this dangerous development?
The level of insecurity is alarming; not only there is armed robbery; there is kidnapping and there is insurgency all over the place. We don’t want to cast aspersion on any group of people; but I think collectively we must work towards bringing back harmony into Nigeria. Political and ethnic actors have failed the system. I believe people should know that you can start a fire thinking it is going to consume somebody else; if you don’t take time, it is likely to consume you. So, people who are fueling these fires should know that they can be the ultimate victims of the fires they are fueling. So, I think people should come to their senses and all of us should come together towards dousing this fire, otherwise, it will consume us individually and collectively. But we must all work towards making sure it does not do that.
How satisfied are you with the efforts being put in by relevant security agencies at arresting the ugly situation?
To be quite honest, they are doing quite much more than they are called to do. Mark you; we have a pre-colonial mentality, in that, we don’t have enough police; we don’t have enough soldiers. Our soldiers are now called to do police duties, which is very, very strange and we still think they are magicians. They are not magicians; they are human beings like you and me. They have their wives; they have their children and they have their parents and we deploy them into most difficult places; we ask them to put their lives on the line and in the process of putting their lives on the line, we do not show them enough appreciation which is unfortunate. They are deployed on the field and they are putting their lives on the line and what we are expected to do is to appreciate them, not to denigrate them; not to tell them that they are not doing enough. If you see the condition under which they work; you will pity them. They put their lives for our sake and the least we should do is to appreciate them; keep on saying the right things to them so that the line of duty they have chosen, they will at least be comfortable. We should not condemn them and we should not go about saying nasty things about them. They are doing their best.
What is your take on the development in Kano?
See, life is evolutionary. When I grew up, I saw there was only one emir in Kano, and in various places. But the society is moving and changing. Today, part of Kano which is now Jigawa, is no longer part of Kano. And Jigawa has about four to five first class emirs. So, if the people of Kano now say that this is what they want; I come from Adamawa; what right do I now have to pontificate to the people of Kano on what they should do? I know I schooled in Kano between 1962 and 1963 when I went to do my HSC (higher secondary certificate); but the people of Kano have chosen what they want. They have a House of Assembly; they went to the House of Assembly and they decided; it is wrong for me sitting in Adamawa to say that what people have done in Kano is right or wrong. It is their choice. All we need to do now is to watch out and see if their choice is wise choice and may God bless the choice they have taken. If it is reversed, that is the system; if it fails that is the system. You know the government in Kano is an APC government and I am an APC member. It is not for me to stay in Adamawa and condemn what the APC government has done in Kano. It is my party; all I can do is to wish them well.
The economic situation of the country seems not favourable to many Nigerians at the moment. There are cries and complaints all over the place. What is your take on this?
I am hoping that the economy will improve. Mark you; I am from rural area in Adamawa State. I noticed that more people have gone to the farm than they used to do. More people are farming tomatoes; potatoes, rice and maize; and they are getting more money as a result of their involvement in the field. Before, we in the rural areas behaved very irresponsibly in that we have got fertile land, congenial climate, water but we preferred not to farm. We preferred to fold our hands and wait for people from Thailand; Vietnam and Japan to produce rice and we then buy the rice and eat. Now, generally speaking, we are eating rice which we grow; we are eating corn which we grow. Therefore, some of the problems we see today have to do with some people who are accustomed to importation; who rely on imported food materials. Today, I see a lot of agricultural activities around me and I hope all over the place, people will imbibe agriculture, because God has given every single state land. If you are talking about the north; you should also talk of Ebonyi, Cross River, Akwa Ibom. These are all places which are endowed with land, water and congenial climate. What I think is, if there is a change in the government from the economic point of view; we should embrace the direction of the government, engage in productive labour and engage in honest labour so that we do not involve ourselves in dubious businesses. If we are patient, in the next two or three years, we should be out of the woods.