A former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, says his recipe for an enduring Nigerian nation is for the country to be re-arranged along the old six regional states format. He, however, warns against any wholesale acceptance of the 2014 National Conference convened by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that confab was convened for the “continuity agenda” of the ex-president. Excerpts:
Many Nigerians condemned a Hausa voice message which was claimed to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s message to Nigeria to mark eid-alfitr Muslim festivity. What is your take on this?
That is not right in a country like Nigeria, a country with multi-ethnic groups. Are you saying the president doesn’t understand English again? How can a president address his people in Hausa language alone? Even if such will be done, he should also give the message in English which the whole country understands. I don’t blame people criticising the President. They have every right to do so. Nigeria is not a Hausa country. It is a country for other tribes too.
Stakeholders in Nigerian politics, including statesmen, have be calling for immediate restructuring of the country. As an elder statesman, how would you like to see the restructuring done?
Well, by principle, I support the restructuring of the country. In fact, restructuring of the country is very essential, to the efficiency of the federating units. But let me tell you; we don’t want restructuring based on ethnicity. We don’t want restructuring that will bring about confederation. We want restructuring that will bring about a balance between the capable central government and viable federating units. We want to return to the original arrangement in the past, so that you can have federating units that are economically viable and that are capable of being guided by the federation.
In other words, we want a restructuring that will bring about a stronger federation and capable federating units. And what will bring about this, is political debate. We want to return to the original arrangement with economic policy whereby the states will play the leading role in the economy, to ensure peace, equality, justice, the gift of the human passion, and progressive development of the whole country.
But a report said some lawmakers in the country were clamouring for restructuring based on the geo-political zone arrangement. Will this help the situation as you just analysed?
This is what we are saying; the restructuring should be based on returning the country to the original arrangements. In this case, I mean a return to the six regions in the federation. A reflection of the six federating units which are the North West, North East, North Central, South West and others. We should return to the six zones which would be the federation units. With this, all the existing states in the country will be sustained.
Some people believe that the major problem Nigeria is having has nothing to do with restructuring but with selfish politicians. What are your views about this?
To be sincere with ourselves in this country, we need restructuring in every sector of this country. In politics, we need a serious and sincere restructuring. Political restructuring must be taken as important here because without it, all other things achieved will be destroyed under a short while. You see, the most important thing is that, we return to the original arrangements. Also, we want a restructuring in the economy with the government playing the leading role and not the private sector leading. That is a better restructuring. We want a political, economic and social restructuring, whereby different groups in Nigeria can reconcile themselves and bring out peaceful, united and progressive Nigeria. This is important.
The restructuring should be based on returning the country to the original arrangements. In this case, I mean a return to the six regions in the federation. A reflection of the six federating units which are the North West, North East, North Central, South West and others
A South-West leader recently said the major problem with Nigeria was in the current constitution in use, adding that the constitution was drafted to favour the North. How will you react to this?
What I will say is that let’s restructure politically, economically and socially. The most important thing that can help us avoid these regional fights and others is restructuring.
There is another agitation that the 2014 National Conference report should be quickly implemented for the country not to break. Do you support this?
No. what I support is that, if this government is serious about the implementation of national conference report, let the government collect all the reports of all the conferences ever held in this country. These conferences’ reports are not too many and I believe that they are in the archives. After this, we can convene a new advisory conference with all the reports and bring out something reasonable to move the country forward. This time, we can all sit together and discuss things that can benefit Nigeria in terms of peace, unity and progress. We cannot just implement reports of the conferences done by Obasanjo, Jonathan respectively. These are not real and genuine national conferences. They were done for the purpose of promoting their selfish interests of continuity in office.
Do you mean you are not confident in the 2014 national conference report as per solving Nigeria’s problems?
Yes, the conference cannot solve the problem of this country, because it was not sincerely done. Of course, I am not having doubts in my mind that there will be one or two things that are good, but majority of issues discussed there was not with sincerity. A new conference in which reports of all the conferences done in the past will be merged together to move the country forward will only help us in this country. If this is done, we will be able to find out the real problem of this country and the solution to it. But implementing the last conference alone will only amount to a disaster because the conference was done in favour of Jonathan’s wish to continue in office. A new conference to bring about the review of Nigeria in particular, to bring about the unity and the quality performances of our people in every respect, is what we need. Not just conference the one that will help to appease some sets of people or ethnic nationalities.
In response to the quit notice given to the Igbo living in the north by the northern youths, southern leaders recently converged in Lagos and requested for the arrest of the youth leaders. What’s your position on this?
You see, if people from the South-West bring out their own issue in the matter at this time, there will only be commotion in the country. The youths of the South-East and the North are making trouble and you are now encouraging more trouble by supporting one, instead of calming them down. That is not good enough. They should be looking at how to ensure unity in the country and bring about a better Nigeria. I will advise them to have a rethink and do the right thing that will help this country as a nation.
Recently, Senate President Bukola Saraki was discharged and acquitted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a verdict that has become controversial. Which side of the divide do you belong to?
Well, to me, the issue is a comedy of error, against the fight against corrupion in this c o u n t r y. And there is also what I call ‘power play’ in the issue because it is clearly surprising that in a government where the constitution clearly states the functions of the executive, legislature and judiciary as three separate arms of government which have to work together in the interest of the count r y , such a t h i n g as this c o u l d happen. To me, a competent court will not acquit the senate president, and for the Federal Government to have appealed against the case, it is either the case was a sincere one or there was power play between the executive arm and legislature. But we should not be hasty in our conclusion; we should observe the situation very well and see what will become of the case in the end.