Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Hon Kaka Kyari Gujbawu represents Maiduguri Federak Constituency, Borno State, in the House of Representatives. He insisted President Goodluck Jonathan can only be stopped from contesting 2015 election, if there is anybody better than him. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:
What is your take on the extension of emergency rule in Borno State?
Certainly yes! It is an unambiguous answer. But it is a capital YES, because I have been privy to the situation. I have been in the centre of it all since the declaration of the state of emergency in those three states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
Lots of stakeholders from Borno State have been reaching out to me as the person who has the mandate to represent them here on the need for the Commander-in-Chief to increase military activity in the state, and this clamour came from all strata of the community, religious leaders, political leaders and other interest groups. I am talking of political leaders from across all the divides: APC, PDP etc.
The security operatives are far ahead of us in knowing the expediency of increasing military operations. We know how much the Federal Government took from the Federation Account solely for peace to reign. We have seen the increase in personnel, vehicles and of course the
one that has been virtual; that is intelligence gathering. In fact, you can hardly quantify.
In view of this, I think the Federal Government of Nigeria led ably by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been magnanimous to the people of Borno State. It didn’t stop there. I recall that the President, during the Ramadan, he went ahead to graciously donate 300 trucks of assorted grains to the people. I was one of the members of the committee that designed the modalities of the distribution. Every household would have gone with at least, half a bag.
The President also gave N200million to Borno State. He said the money should be used for material purposes for the people. That shows the stuff in which the President is made of. It shows that he is the President of all Nigerians, even if the state is ruled by the opposition he cares not. He uses the structure of the state for the benefit of the people. I think we should be grateful to him for that.
But there are arguments that the President did not give enough.
That was a story attributed to the state governor. I still do not want to believe that. Governor Kashim Shettima is a childhood friend and we were at the same faculty in the University of Maiduguri. He is a very intelligent and smart leader. I just hope the governor was quoted out of context.
What do you say to the huge investments in military personnel and equipment in order to restore peace in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states? What about the lives lost? To equate that to only N200million is wicked and fraudulent. I want to believe that my good friend, Governor Shettima didn’t say that.
There is this issue of whether the President should contest or not, what is your take on that?
I will approach your question from two perspectives. The first is the constitutional perspective, which as a lawmaker I should be very passionate about. From the legal perspective, all of us are aware that the President is serving his first term. The Constitution is unequivocally clear on how many times the President can serve and that is two terms. So, the Constitution gives Jonathan the right to re-contest for the office of the president with the mandate of the people.
We are not saying Jonathan should just continue, it is left for the people to decide. If you feel you have someone better than him, then bring him into the contest. If Jonathan says, look Nigerians have I done well give me your mandate, allow him to talk that talk with the Nigerian people. That is the law.
The second perspective is the political issue, which is the big issue upon which the opponents of Jonathan draw from on him not to contest. If you notice, this clamour is coming from the Northern region which I come from. There is a Hausa proverb that says, “before you go forward look at how far you have gone.”
Nigeria is just over 50 years as an independent nation. Fifty years of political development and political alliances. I can draw the conclusion that, that period was accentuated by strategic political alliances between the South-South and the North.
From the period of 1954/55 the Niger Delta Congress (NDC), went into partnership with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) went into alliance in lieu with the emerging independence government that Nigerians were to enjoy. After the federal elections, the NPC had the upper hand though they didn’t have enough members in the parliament to form a government. You would need to go into alliance with other parties to have the required number to form a government.
The NPC formed alliance with the NDC. It was that alliance that brought into being Chief Festus Okotie- Eboh from Niger-Delta who became the Finance Minister of the late Tafawa Balewa-led government. That was the first alliance between the South-South and the North that proved to be a very effective experiment where the Northerners, my elders, my founding fathers were partners and principal beneficiaries of that alliance.
Without putting blame on either side it was a case of “No Victor No Vanquished” as General Yakubu Gowon would put it. Here I am talking about the Civil War. We have to put history in the right perspective no matter how sore it might be. Besides, I am an Igbo in a way because I am married to an Igbo lady.
During the war, the Nigerian troops were led by officers of Northern extraction, From the books I read about the war written by Nigerian officers that took part, the war was a success and was not prolonged. Not only were the Niger-Delta on the side of Nigerians but were strategically, through the Asaba-Port-Harcourt who were immediate neighbors got the cooperation of both sides and supported Nigeria and who later became the heroes of the Niger-Delta.
Who were the beneficiaries of that one Nigeria?
When I say beneficiaries who were the leaders on top? The Northerners, the Danjumas, the Yakubu Gowons, the Murtala Mohammeds, they were victorious because the Niger-Delta people supported them.