South East Has Been Marginalized Since After the Civil War – Senator Shehu Sari

By Madonna Nwani

Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna State in the 8th Assembly does not mince words when it comes to issues of national concern. In this interview on Head to Head, Silverbird television, he gave an insight in the current unrest across the country and his antidote on how to end the melee. 

EXCERPTS

Q Why is it that IPOB was proscribed and called a terrorist organization, while it is so difficult for the government of the day to so declare the herdsmen as terrorists. Is it because the president is a northerner and a Fulani man, so is protecting his own?

A: We should avoid stigmatization and profiling. Not every Fulani man is a bandit or a herdsmen or even a terrorist. It is just an insignificant few that have decided to pick up arms, violate the law and try to destablise our country. The Fulanis too, have become victims of these barbarism. 

  1. Why is so difficult for government to fish-out those insignificant few and give them proper nomenclature …

A: I think you should be able to ask Lai Mohamed or Adesina why they are not able to do that because if I see them I will be able to ask them. 

Q: Most of the appointment of this government tended to favour people from the North. When you take a look at security agencies in Nigeria, over 80% of their appointment key positions are for the people of northern origin. Here lies the questioning of the federal character? That is why the issue of restructuring and true federalism comes in. That creates room for people to begin to give ethnic colouration to our challenges in this country. What’s’ your take on this. 

A: Nigeria politician who aspired for public office and has succeeded, don’t see himself as a servant of the people. He sees himself as a conqueror. One that has waged a war, conquered; that he is an emperor, that he would only identify with people that are from his clan, religious identity or ethnic affiliation or something like that. And that doesn’t only happen at federal level. At state level also, we find governors tilting or bending towards their own narrow ethnic or religious group, as opposed to people from other local governments. But the danger of it in the national scale is the destabilizing effect of it; that is nepotism. It is a fact. This government has preferred to dispense its appointments to people from northern part of Nigeria. But resulting from that mentality, this government in a product of a party that basically came into office by votes from the north and south western part of Nigeria. So they shared positions to these two sides in most respect; unfortunately, the southwest is being seen to be the second option after the north is been considered if this is a federation if it’s a country and we think it belongs to us, then appointments into public office must be done in such a way that it reflects the national character if you have one person in porter and to him, the country begins and ends from his own region. Nationally the people who are marginalized or eliminated from other parts would not feel they belongs to that country, or that government belongs to them Gio

Q: Given agitation from various parts of the country for self determination and also taking a look at various appointments and what have you, the body language of this government, government seem to be fuelling the cry or cessation for Nigeria to break up rather than trying to keep the country together. 

A: First of all, I am borne one who is 100% opposed to the breaking of this country. But if you are unwanted by a family, can you stay in that family? You cannot stay in a family that you are not wanted. 

In our own case here we should solve our problem within the context of Nigeria federation. It Igbos and Yoruba’s and the minorities are marginalized, we should all come together and put our house in order within the context of Nigeria.

Q: That is if Nigeria remains …..?

A: Nigeria will remain 

Q: But people are scared … How can we get out of this?

A: I represented Kaduna and I live in Kaduna right now, I can’t move a kilometer outside of Kaduna without setting into the hands of band. You cannot travel to Kaduna by road, because of gear of kidnappers. You can’t go by air because of you have to move from the outskirt of the city to the airport and on that route, you are most likely to fall into the levels of kidnappers. When a government fails, you change the government, you don’t destroy a government.

So if Buhari fails, there will be time for you to vote for someone who is either from the south or from the north. Then we will change it. If this government fails and it is failing, what Nigerians ought to do is to think of alternative.

By this I mean, we’re supposed to rally behind a good leader that can rescue Nigeria. But if w are moving towards 2023, and some parts of the country are not interested in election, they are only interested in cessation, those who interested in election will still produce the leader.

Q: I know there is a part of the country that is saying this is their time to produce the president in 2023; the south East. It is one part of the country that has never produce a president in this country. Would you think it’s time for the south East to have it?    

A: As far as I’m concerned justice and fairness demands that the leadership of this country circulates to all geo-political zones. And the south-East is one zone that has been marginalized since after the civil war. So, as far as I’m concerned, squarely and adequately and rightly, the position is the south should take over the leadership of this country. But what you need to understand is that there are a lot of the south East or the south west or the south-south should produce the next leader for the southern part of Nigeria as a whole, the two major political parties have to agree that “we have resolved to zone the presidency to thus needs to this part of the country. The other thing that needs to be done is; how is it going to go back to southern part of Nigeria. Is it partial recommendation that power should rotate to the southern part of Nigeria. All parts of Nigeria to come together. The south East-Igbo’s, Yoruba’s-Southwest and south-south to synergies action and say this is the person we want, this is where we want power to go. If they didn’t do that, the north will produce a leader to face the divided south.

Q: That means, the north will play a divide and rule same. So it’s not too east for these groups of the southern region to agree on one candidates; so the north is waiting to say I’m also interested.

A: The south-west is APC, most of the governors the south-south is PDP; south East mostly PDP except two that are APC. If you look a t it lets go by their party.  So it will  be difficult for you to say that the governor of Ondo state and that of Rivers state will ever agree on an issue; So, it has to do with the two parties, irrespective of idealistically speaking, the party for power to go there. So, any of the parties should agree that power should go to south. If you have one candidate from Kano, Sokoto or Adamawa, another candidate from Lagos, or Cross River State, there will be a divided south; the north is most, likely to invite when it comes to election with other parts of Nigeria.

Q: You used to be friends of Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai. When did the irreconcilable difference between you creep in.

A: First of all I’m done with that as far as the government is concerned . I’m no more in office, he is in office and I made my case very well that the people of Kaduna made the mistake of electing him as the governor. I will allow them to settle the affairs of the which I mind my own business. 

But when I’m in office, when he says ‘A’ I will say ‘B’; when he says “I” I will say “D” because I don’t believe in what he is doing. He is simply destroying our state. At a point he said he was in support of negotiation with bandits. But at the last moment he said that he was not going to pay a ransome to bandits.

Most times he gets himself into trouble by setting involved in things that doesn’t concern him or if it concerns him, he doesn’t have the where whithal or capacity or the authority to be there.

The security of the country is basically, for now, a federal affair. It is the federal government that owns the police; that owns the army, they own the immigration service and everything, but every time he acts as if he owns everything.   

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