Jokolo to Jonathan: Don't commit political suicide

2014-10-26
THE SUN Newspaper- Kenny Ashaka


Last week, in the first part of this interview, former Emir of Gwandu, Major Al-Mustapha Jokolo (rtd), a former aide-de-camp to former head of State, General Muhammad Buhari x-rayed the pitiable situation of the Ni­gerian Armed Forces and expressed strong reservation about the way the finances of the armed services had been handled resulting in the rot that caused extensive demoralization of the troops, poor discipline and deep de­cline in welfare. In the second and con­cluding apart of the interview, he offers insights into the politics of 2015, and makes some categorical declarations.

Excerpts…

As one of the strong voices in the North, it would not be out of place to ask you some political questions, even though your area of specialization is security. The Igbo have been crying of margin­alization. The South-west has held the number one office at the cen­tre for eight years and so there is no clamour from that axis. The South-south now has it. The North was there for many years. Is there now any justification for not talk­ing of Igbo Presidency? Don’t you then see the clamour for a north­ern Presidency as overheating the polity?

You are again trying to put me in a fix. I have told you before that the South- south should be given that chance be­cause of the reasons I enumerated; that they never had it before; that they our al­lies or friends and fought the war on our side. They suffered too as we did.

If Jonathan emerged as the man from the South-south, goodluck to him. I do not care whoever takes it from the South-south. All I am saying is that the South-south should be given that chance because we now have six geo-political zones. Each one of them has tasted it. I am concerned about this more than Boko Haram because this is the biggest dilem­ma we have in Nigeria now.

Really?

Yeah. Because if we don’t address it properly, we may end up with what hap­pened to other countries. Soviet Union disintegrated. Yugoslavia disintegrated. Other countries are disintegrating now and not coming back. If Nigeria should disintegrate as a result of one office like that of the President, is it fair for any­body? Look at the implication for all of us; whether Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, majority, minority, we are all going to pay for it. If this position forces us to disintegrate, nobody in the North will find it easy going without seaport or oil. We cannot find it easy. Let’s not pretend because even if we have farms, even ag­riculture, generally, we have passed the stage of using hoes to farm.

We need tractors and how do we oil those tractors? We don’t have oil here in the North and we have no spare parts. Who are the traders in spare parts? Who are the electricians? The Igbo. So if there are none within our midst, on and on, we don’t have that knowledge. Even where few of us do, how are we going to sur­vive without these things? On the other hand, look at the Igbo themselves. Can they survive without the North? They need space. They are a highly intelli­gent race. That was what happened in Germany. They discovered they were in an enclosure. That was why they started waging wars.

The Igbo with their active nature can­not be contained in the South-eastern states. So they need to expand to get space. And they have no space there. So how are they going to survive without space? Never mind food. You can import food from anywhere. Saudi Arabia has no food. So they can buy from anywhere. That’s no problem. But they cannot get space. So what are they going to do? If they have no space, they are going to move over like they did before and try to capture South-south. They are not going to allow the South-south to remain on their own. They had one region before.

They had ACB. They used the money from that bank and acquired choice ar­eas in Rivers State and then there was war. The Rivers people fought against the Igbo and after the war, they said the property the Igbo acquired were aban­doned property even though the Igbo owned the land. They bought the land with loans they got from their bank. In­terestingly, David Mark as a Major was the one who was the Chairman of the abandoned property thing. So you find that we all need each other. How many towns or villages can you go to in the North where you do not have Igbo? And in spite of all that has happened from before the war – there were crises where you had people killing each other. And then after the war you still have these cri­ses where you have people killing each other here and there. So the Igbo need space. We have space but we have no oil and seaport. We have no technology, but they have. So, we need each other. For the Yoruba, they too have the same prob­lem. We are so intermingled that we do not even know who is a northerner and who is a Yoruba man. Go to Ibadan, you have a whole area that is northern. Go to Lagos and anywhere else, likewise here in the North. We have produced children between the Igbo and the northerners and the Yoruba. So, how are we going to start, what are we going to do? Now, let’s look at other countries.

How is Niger going to feel if the North is in trouble? Their apron string is tied to the northern economy. If they have oil, they still have to sell it to the North to break even. They don’t have people to buy the oil that is coming there. So, we all need each other. Look at a small country like Ivory Coast and what happened with the effect of refugees. Nationals of Niger are refugees in Nigeria at the moment. If we now break up, where will we run to as refugees? So, we need each other.

People are also saying that the issues before Nigeria today tran­scend the fact that the president is from the South-south, like you have been advocating. The indica­tion is that people are more con­cerned with employment, food, shelter and all the good things of life, and that it doesn’t matter who can do this for them. Why are you concerned about this primordial idea of a South-south presidency?

Because we have not developed like America where you have the President of America with his son in California as Governor, another son in Texas or the wife of a President who is from Arkansas to be a Senator representing New York. India and Pakistan (mind you India and Pakistan are now nuclear powers.) still have these primitive things that we have now in Nigeria. You cannot run away from that. It is part of us.

If you look at Igbo, no matter intelli­gence and level of exposure, they are still governed by their tradition. They still have to go back home to get married and go through those rites. They are tradi­tion-oriented people. If somebody dies, you spend more money on his death than on his life because it is the tradition. Here in the North, if somebody dies we weep, but then you don’t even know where his grave is. You just dig his grave, say prayers and put him inside there and for­get about him. But in Igbo land, you will have a tombstone and other things. So we are governed by tradition. We are all slaves to this tradition. You cannot throw it away overnight.

Everybody feels the same, no matter how you are. I am trying to make you see one thing. When you interview me, you do not expect me to say I am a north­erner or a Muslim. I am, but that does not mean that I am not aware of what my religion taught me, which is to speak the truth even against yourself and your parents because I answer to God not to people here in the North. Since I know that why should I worry whether it pains somebody in the North or South? I don’t give a damn.

Do you see religion or ethnic­ity determining the winner of the 2015 Presidential election?

It depends again on the candidates. The way it has been in this country, any time parties present a Christian candidate, the Christians believe that he is their own. If you put a Muslim candidate, they feel he is their own. And many people look at the facts on its face value. We had lead­ers, for example like Obasanjo. He was a Yoruba leader but not a Yoruba speaker. We forced Obasanjo down the throat of the Yoruba just like Shagari was not a northern leader. Obasanjo forced him down our throats. Shagari said he wanted to go into the National Assembly as a Senator. He never told anybody that he was interested in the presidency. So you cannot blame the Yoruba for whatever atrocities Obasanjo committed because they didn’t own him. They didn’t vote for him.

In fact, everybody knew Yoruba to be in their own enclave, from Action Group to UPN to SDP and whatever. It was only during Obasanjo that they came out and because Obasanjo knew that he needed them, he played them. He made them support him and he slashed them. That’s the fact, but then they realized it and when he came the second time they said no, go your way. Then they went back to their enclave. Now, they are trying to come out and make friends with part of the North here.

Now, religious aspect is going to come. If you look at the candidates from the North, they are three: Buhari, Atiku and Kwankwaso. They are all Muslims, Hausa/Fulani, I believe. Now the choice of running mate is important. When Bu­hari tried to bring Pastor Tunde Bakare, he ran foul of the Yoruba people because predominantly the Yoruba are Muslims. And now you brought somebody they considered an apostate. The Yoruba peo­ple didn’t regard him as a Christian. They regarded him as an apostate because he was a Muslim. If he had brought a Chris­tian, it would have been better for them. They would have known he is a Chris­tian. But this guy is not a Christian. He was a Muslim and he was considered an apostate and the people there are sensi­tive to their religion. They are predomi­nantly Muslim and if you bring an apos­tate to them and you say you are going to run with him, they will hands-off and leave you alone.

So, religion will play a role because predominantly South-south and South- east are Christians and they gave their block votes to Jonathan. And I believe one thing: the North here, if they get it right, they will definitely get bloc votes because of religious aspect.

That is why I will ask you this next question. How critical is the northern factor in determining the 2015 presidential election?

Again it depends on the incumbency of Jonathan and the magnitude of conve­nience between the North and the South- west. We would like to live long enough to see how it is going to be. Jonathan can make in-roads in the North strongly if he chooses a correct vice president. Two, if he soft-pedals because he has to show that he is not pro-his own area alone. And he should stop giving us the impres­sion that a clique is controlling him. If the northerners see it that way, then they will fight him. But if he is broad-minded and open, then he has a good chance be­cause he has some of these governors supporting him and here in the North, we are obedient people because, mostly, we are Muslims and there is no division in Islam. When leaders tell you where to go, we will resign our fate to the will of God. So be it. The leaders answer to God and that is what is going to happen. If Jonathan is capable of slackening the control that people from his area have on him, people like Edwin Clark – every northerner feels bad because of the kind of statements he makes. How can they be telling us that they feed the North? Who is Edwin Clark to feed the North? Is it because you are stealing the oil that you that you are insulting us with that? We have been surviving without anything like oil. We were prosperous without it and we will be prosperous by the grace of God. That’s insulting. And you have Asa­ri-Dokubo who does not even know what he is doing. At one time, he is insulting Jonathan. At another time he says he is a Mujahideen; he will do Jihad. He has been insulting the North and Muslims. The other person is Femi Fani-Kayode. Only God knows the kind of politics he is playing. Jonathan must take note that before him Umaru Yar’Adua, who pre­ceded him was caged by the cabal that comprised his wife, Turai, Aliero, Abba Ruma and Tanimu, his special adviser on economy. They didn’t even allow anybody access to him and they were ex­ploiting him. And we are now suffering because of Umaru’s weakness in gov­ernance. That is why when they said he wanted to be governor in Katsina, his el­der brother who was a mature politician and an intelligent fellow, opposed Umaru being governor of Katsina. Who exactly was going to be the governor? Umaru or Turai? And that became the truth. She ended up running Katsina and maybe Nigeria too. The cabal insulted the vice president and everybody around. Now, they are hiding. You don’t even hear of them anymore. This is the kind of problem they have created for us – this Frankenstein problem. Now Jonathan should be wary of that because he was the creation of Obasanjo’s tenure elon­gation. Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan were in Obasanjo’s Plan B. Plan A was for him to continue as President. Plan B: install Umaru Yar’Adua by fixing a sick man and an inexperienced Jonathan. The circumstances of Alamieyeseigha’s removal were questionable. They even burnt his house down. Now, if he can remove that shackle and be a true Nige­rian and be God-fearing and not a slave to everybody, including his wife, he may have a good chance. He is now playing good politics by putting his wife at bay.

You talked about what you de­scribed as a correct vice president and I am tempted to ask whether you think the current vice presi­dent is not a correct vice presi­dent. The president appears to have endorsed him as his running mate for the 2015 presidential poll?

That is Jonathan’s problem, not mine. But if I were Jonathan, I will tell Namadi to go and win his local government and polling booth first. What is Namadi’s po­sition here in the North? What does he command in the North? Namadi is a li­ability.

Really?

He himself knows it. Why should Na­madi be dressing like an Ijaw man? Is that his dress? Isn’t that hypocrisy? Does it mean that he is loyal to Jonathan by that? Why is he having his own group? The Northern Elders Forum has its own group. Now they have created Northern Elders Council. The Northern Elders Fo­rum is supporting Aliyu Gusau, but the Northern Elders Council is supporting Namadi. So, what is this problem? And he made one Yakassai who cannot go to Kano now and make statement the head of the Northern Elders Council. But ask them: which one of them can deliver his place?

Which member of the Northern Elders Council can go to his place and deliver it to Jonathan or Namadi himself? They are just sucking them dry. They are just like leeches hanging around Abuja, claiming that they are in one council. Which council? Just like nobody nomi­nated the members of the forum, who nominated them? If you want to identify, go to Arewa Consultative Forum. These are people who the northerners identified as their leaders. Anybody can wake up and say I am this and that. But go back home and let’s see what you can do.

As the vice president and the highest northerner in the govern­ment of the country, is Namadi Sambo not the leader of the North?

Namadi cannot even lead his local government and you are here talking of Nigeria. Has he ever won his polling booth? Okay, if he is that good, why is there doubt in his vice presidency? Why did PDP say they only adopted Jonathan and not with anybody else. They even said it is up to Jonathan to pick his run­ning mate. Does that statement mean anything to you? I am sure you are not summun bukum umuyun. You know the meaning of that? ‘Deaf, Dumb and Blind’. So unless somebody is deaf, dumb and blind, if you shave your hair, you don’t have to say my hair is shaven.

What would be the implication on Jonathan’s ambition if he in­sists on Namadi as his running mate?

Well. I don’t know. They can rig them­selves into office. They have the securi­ty. They have the police, military, every­thing. So they can force themselves on the people. But if you want free and fair election, how can you expect Jonathan to bring Namadi on board and win elec­tion? Where? Certainly not in Kaduna! That’s for sure. Then, if you do not win Kaduna, who are you? You were gover­nor of the state. You are from the state and you cannot win your polling booth. Even you know that. Haba why are you asking me this question? What I am say­ing is that if Jonathan plans to commit political suicide, let him run with Na­madi. Unless with Plan-B, rigging and I want to believe that will be impossible with Attahiru Jega as the chairman of INEC.

But I am advising Jonathan to try and win this election fair and square. He should prove himself that he is a leader and we will support him. Get my posi­tion clear. I couldn’t care less who is my president.

All I want is fair play. Right now, ac­cording to Islamic point of view, any­body who comes to tell you that I am the one to lead you, send that man away. So Jonathan has not opened his mouth to say I am the one to lead you. The people are the ones telling him. Islam says it that you do not come to tell people that I am going to lead you. No, you don’t do that. You allow people to choose you and so far it is only Jonathan who has done that.

Take a look at the way politick­ing is going on in the country to­day. Would you say it is different from the normal political situation and do you see parties addressing the real problems of depressed economy, corruption and all the rest?

When have the parties ever addressed those problems? Tell me. I’ll like to give credit to Engr. Kwankwaso because I think so far and maybe Katsina and So­koto governors, these people have ad­dressed the problems of their states. I will give the governor of Kano number one credit in the North. He has addressed the problems of Kano State. He is ad­dressing the infrastructural needs of the people and most especially, he is training his men to get education both at home and outside and that is most important. Look at the infrastructure in Bama, they are in the hands of Boko Haram. But look at what happened to Germany and Japan.

They were obliterated during the Sec­ond World War and now apart from US and China, which country is ahead of Germany and Japan? This is because the mind has not been destroyed. Kwankwa­so, the governors of Sokoto and Katsina States are doing that.

These three governors are doing a very good job. Even the governor of Borno with the problem he is facing now is making good efforts. These are the governors that have impressed me. I sympathise with the governor of Kaduna State because he is just coming on board. The problems he inherited are enough to weigh him down. But I think if he was given an opportunity, he would be able to overcome those things.

 

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