Engr. Yabagi Sani, National Chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP) in this interview with JOY ANIGBOGU, spoke on the role of youths in national development, recent activities of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and other issues. Excerpts:
We believe that for youths to bounce back to reckoning, they need the backings and support of governments. They have to be educated, employed and empowered socially, politically and financially.
Unfortunately the leadership cadre in Nigeria is filled with aged politicians who think nation building is their exclusive preserve and as such youth should not be given a chance. Perhaps, their stand explains why though youths are said to be leaders of tomorrow, that future never comes.
The national youth summit is another testimony to the pride of place ADP has for young men and women as well as persons living with disability who by the ADP compulsory and constitutional provisions, must occupy 25 percent of Party Executive and all other elective and appointive positions from the National, State, Local Government down to the unit level.
Hence our decision to hold this Youth Summit, the first of its kind in the history of our Party, with the theme: “Building Bridges Amongst Youth Across Continents” and the reason we have invited one of the youngest members of the British Conservative Party with a rising profile from the United Kingdom, “Mr. Jaymey Mclvor” as our Guest Speaker.
How can you describe the recent activities of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) abroad, attack of Ekweremadu in Germany and their attempt to meet with Mr. President in Japan?
The IPOB activity can be viewed from both political and economical angles. When people start thinking that they are not part and parcel of what should belong to them, there is problem. If the unemployment level is not as high as it is I don’t think people would want to leave the country, because they have seen that nothing is happening that would give them confidence, that is why what happened in Japan took place in the first place. I think that the political aspect of it is what the president should be able to solve but also my message to the South East is that if they want to have leadership of the country, they should exhibit discipline and maturity. Today we are talking about power shift and the South-East says power should return to them. It is a political issue that the South-East at this time should understand that what happened in Japan gave them a bad name. Would Mr. President hand over power to his enemies if he has to make that choice? The reality is that Nigeria as we have today would go beyond where we are when power at national level ceases to be an issue based on merit.
What is your view about the opinion in some quarters that Mr. President is treating Fulani herders with kid’s gloves?
Being a former head of State, I cannot see any reason why he cannot take effective measures to handle the issue of Fulani herdsmen, banditry, kidnapping and what have you. If the president cannot take care of the security and welfare of the people, what is the use of the government if it cannot tackle the issue of security and welfare of the people? Whatever it is that is standing between the president and these issues. I think that by now he should have been able to jettison those things.
As a political party, we are for all-inclusiveness. We believe in justice and fair play. We allow democracy to have its way because when you allow democracy to have its way then you can begin to talk about good governance. The reality we have today in terms of deciding who gets what, I think the South-East people should do better if they begin to act with maturity and sense of responsibility. What is four years in the life of a nation? If in four years’ time you are going to have the opportunity to rule the country, wait until it comes to you, then do what you like with it. When you start to act not only in the country but outside the country, giving the country a bad name, the consequences may be huge when you need the support of other regions. People would begin to ask if they share the sentiments of one Nigeria. I know that in Nigeria if care is not taken, because the impression that the South-East may likely want to consider seceding, Yoruba may take the next presidency, in spite of the fact that they have just finished. If you see that the South-East cannot be controlled with what IPOB is doing, then why do you want to give power to those who cannot control their erring members?
What if the South-East region refutes the allegation that IPOB represents it?
A question was asked as to why President failed to control the Fulani herdsmen because they believe that Buhari is a Fulani man and should be able to take care of them. Similarly people can start inferring that South-East should be able to take care of IPOB. Just as you can say that Buhari has failed because you think that he possesses other avenues he can explore aside being the president to solve this problem. We can also say that for reasons best known to the South-East people, they are treating IPOB with kids gloves. We saw the case of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), former President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered they be shot at sight, but we saw some governors of the South-West using them, till today. It will do the South-East good to tackle the issue of IPOB, just like Buhari should call Fulani herdsmen to order.
El-Rufai has said that the North will not handover power in 2023. What is your view?
He was probably speaking for All Progressives Congress (APC) not ADP.
What do you think about the speculation in some quarters that Buhari is planning to handover to Tinubu?
It is not exclusive right of APC to present the next president. Nigerians should decide who would emerge and not APC. The APC would bring its candidate and others too would bring theirs and Nigeria would decide who the next president would be. Awakening the consciousness of the people and making sure that the electoral laws are amended to give level playing ground, ensuring that power is held accountable. Nigerians should speak out. The important thing is that the press must be alive to the need to change the scenario. It should be in the vanguard. Systems that are more entrenched than Nigeria did it. We had Obama as president of United Sates of America. We also have Trump, which is more revolutionary. It means that change is possible.
Don’t you think that it was unfair for the president to have asked the Governors of Taraba and Benue States to answer questions to the killings in Taraba, when we know that governors are not in control of the military and police?
They are the security chiefs in their States. Administratively, the commissioner of police is under the governor but functionally he is under the Inspector General of Police (IGP) which means that they are supposed to explore the administrative relationship between the commissioner of police and the governors to ensure that some of those things happening are checked. The commissioner of police and other agencies in that State sit in a security meeting every week. If the President asked the governors to account, he was right because the governors are heads of the security meetings that they hold in their States.