former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, speaks on the state of the nation, in this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU
What is your position on the hate speech and social media regulation bills that are undergoing legislative process at the National Assembly?
The direction of the bills is harsh; it is a tendency towards fascism. It is intended to cage Nigerians so that they will not have freedom of speech and enjoy their fundamental human rights. It is sad that this is the way the state can go. These bills should not be passed. It is against freedom of speech. It is against the fundamental human rights.
Do you think the Federal Government has fared well in the war against insurgency?
We have the wrong type of government, government that is based on money power. That is why these things happen. In this case, the Federal Government, particular during the First Republic, did not have the opportunity to use power to bring about the situation we are facing now. Now the government has all the money it requires to buy arms and yet people are not having security and freedom; that should not be allowed.
Does the government need to acquire more arms and provide employment for people to reduce insecurity?
We do not need more arms. What we need is reasons to convince people to cooperate with us to have peace and national unity. We do not need arms for that.
How can our human rights record be improved upon?
It is by making sure that we comply with the provisions of our constitution for fundamental human rights.
How do we improve on our economy?
First of all, we have to abandon this madness, this adventure, this scheme of privatisation. It will take us nowhere. Public interest must be put first before self-interest. It means that the socio-economic and political system controls all development in this country and the political system inevitably produced by this system must be changed. At the moment, the system is based on self-interest; public interest is secondary or even incidental. We have to change the system by whatever means to one based on public interest. And we can do this only if we take into account the experiences of other countries in the world, bringing about socialist reconstruction of Nigeria, starting with the leading role of the state in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of human person and progressive development. This is possible again as I said only if we can have free, fair and transparent election leading to a legitimate government. It means an election in which the electorate decide the fate of a political party and in electing candidates.
In your view, which of the geopolitical zones in the country should the two main political parties (APC and PDP) pick their presidential candidates for the 2023 general elections?
There should be a system to provide blending, inclusiveness and justice for everybody. For that reason, I support the presidency going to the South-East. We know that democracy is about politics of number. I agree that it is on number but the number must be based on justice. What is the use of number which is not based on justice? What is the use of majority and that the vote is coming from the North, when the North will not do justice to other Nigerians?
Do you have confidence that the Igbo people can take up the leadership of this country and do well?
Yes! They definitely can do well. I always give example of the Great Zik of Africa (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe). Look at what he did to Nigeria. There is no Nigerian that has ever demonstrated his love for the unity of Nigeria than the late Dr. Azikiwe. What he did, nobody in Nigeria went to that extent. I will mention in particular two things: He is the first person to realise that Nigerians should unite and things must be done to bring about the unity of Nigeria. He is the first person to appoint the first Emir of Enugu in an Igbo state. He did not appoint that person from Igbo, he went to Kano and brought an Hausa-Fulani Muslim who lived in Enugu and said that he should be treated well and he made him the first Emir in Enugu. He is Umaru Alkali. It is there in the history. And when during the party politics of 1960s, because of the number of the people in the north, he made sure that the National Secretary of the NCNC was from Bauchi. He (the secretary) was a Hausa Fulani. Is there anyone from the North, South-West, South-South that has demonstrated such a level of commitment to the unity of Nigeria? Is there anybody that has demonstrated something more than that? We have of course the case of Dennis Osadebe (a former premier of the now defunct Mid-Western Region of Nigeria, which now comprises Edo and Delta states.) Osadebe also showed great commitment to the unity of Nigeria. Before the 1960 coup, after the Aburi Accord, Osadebe was the one who took a stand for one united Nigeria and made the north to be committed to one united Nigeria. The history is there, we know about it, we were mature enough to know about it. And there is the equivalent of Zik of Africa and Osadebe in every part of Nigeria. There is in the north, there is in the South-West, South-East and everywhere. The question is: do we Nigerians have conscience and belief in the equality of everybody in the world? Let us make effort to find the equivalent of these two great people. They are there in every party of Nigeria. Let us look for them. They may not be seen today as it is difficult because of money politics. But let us work hard. If we work hard, we will find the equivalent of these two great people and we will have peace, national unity, progress and even development of the country.
As politicians begin permutations ahead of the 2023 elections, what would be your advice to them?
They should listen and abide by all that I have just said and make sure that those things are implemented in Nigeria. If we do those, we do not need to waste time on restructuring, zoning, rotation and all these sorts of things because the dignity of the human person is assured, and equal development of the country is assured.
Do you think the judiciary and legislature are playing their roles the way they should in the present government?
They are part and parcel of the negative system. Yes! The deciding factor in Nigerian politics and Nigerian affairs is money power and selfish interest. Public interest is secondary. That is the problem we have. The judiciary with all other public institutions fall in line with this system of selfish interest.
Do you mean the judiciary and legislature arms of government are not playing their role well?
Yes, they are really are not doing so, because they make it easy for the tyrant to survive.
What do you think is the way forward for Nigeria as a country, in order to become great and be the true giant of Africa?
There is the need for social reconstruction of Nigeria, starting with the role of the state in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of the human person, progressive and even development of the whole country. This is possible only through a free, fair and transparent election, leading to legitimate government at every level. I’m of talking of a situation when we have an electoral system where the electorate decide the fate of a political party, and their votes count. Period! That is what we need. We need to make every sacrifice to have it and if we are not able to do it; then we are not equal to anybody in the world and we are not equal to other people in other parts of the world because other people in the world did it and brought about liberation, freedom and progress to their country. We can see the Americans, the British, the Germans, the Chinese, and the French; they did not just sit down and wait for it to happen to them. They did not wait to bring about the situation we now have, they worked hard. They made sacrifices. And we can! I can tell you, if we use the resources of Nigeria, both human and material, if we use them properly and in an organised way, then Nigeria can be the most advanced country in the world within 20 years. We have all the resources.
There has been a sustained call for the restructuring of Nigeria. Do you still believe that the country should be restructured?
Restructuring is not the most important thing. The most important things are peace, national unity and progress. If you restructure the country, as the most important thing people are talking about, it is to return to the regional arrangement whereby you have capable regions that can carry out their constitutional responsibility with the proper guidance of the central government. That is the proper restructuring and it is needed. But a restructuring that requires weaker centre and stronger region is not desirable because that is what led us to the trouble we have before. Whatever restructuring we have, the centre must be capable of co-ordinating in the national interest. For instance, in the case of revenue allocation, at the moment, the federal government takes more than 50 per cent of the total generated revenue. This is not good for development. The federal government should get not more than 35 to 40 per cent, 60 per cent must go to the states and the local government. Now that is the desirable restructuring. It is not restructuring from North to South or from North to South-East or South-West. No! That is not the restructuring we require. We require a restructuring which will make Nigeria more efficient and capable of comparing itself with other nations of the world.