Posted by News Express | 25 December 2021 | 1,068 times
Former Chief Executive of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf, has said that the Federal Government’s declaration of bandits as terrorists was just a mere political move, insisting it would not change anything.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the professor of haematology-oncology and bone marrow transplantation, and an associate of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, said the North has resigned itself to fate. He stated that nothing good would come out of the country until after President Buhari’s exit in 2023.
You didn’t attend the meeting President Buhari had with some Northern leaders on the state of insecurity in the region? Why didn’t you?
Meeting him is meaningless. You just have a meeting with him and nothing happens and no action taken. That is all.
Are you saying the meetings he has with Northern governors and traditional rulers are of no effect?
This is not the first time, the second time or the third that he was meeting with them and what has been the outcome? Nothing. Everybody knows the solution to this security problems. He the solution. We don’t have to meet him. People voted for him to do things and save us in this country. So, people don’t have to meet him and this is the million times people have met with him and he has met severally with security chiefs and nothing happened.
People are tired. This is the honest truth; this is the mood of the nation and the mood of the North. People are tired and nothing good is going to come out of this government until 2023. Our prayer is that we get to 2023 and then we get a leadership that is going to fix this country and get it right. This is the honest mood of the country.
But we have to survive before 2023?
It is only prayers; it is only the involvement of the elders that will calm people down. People are on edge. The North, it is like a volcano waiting to erupt. The two groups of people keeping people calm are the leaders that have been with the people, not the politicians; then the traditional rulers and the clerics. They are the ones holding the region and telling the people to keep praying that things are going to be okay. I cannot speak for the South-East, South-West and the South-South because I’m not there and I don’t know their culture, but I’m here in the North. If the clerics and the traditional rulers are quiet or go to mosques to preach terrible things, this nation will go up in flames. Instead we are calling people to be prayerful, to be hopeful, to be calm and maintain the peace and let’s see things go.
The other day, Sheikh Gumi, your associate, said he had severed ties with the bandits. He was said to be preaching to them to repent. What is the implication?
Now, they have declared the bandits terrorists just for political reasons. So, what is going to change? All these times, you have called Boko Haram terrorists, and they are still fighting you in the last 13 years. Nothing has changed. It is all politics. The honest truth is that whatever you are going to do and you are not going to do it sincerely, it is not going to work. So, you have declared them terrorists and if I go and meet with them, you will say, I was in bed with terrorists. So, Gumi said, go and finish with the terrorists, then come back and when you are ready for talk, then we will talk. The implication is that it is just political. Are these people terrorists, yes; are they criminals, yes; are they killing our people, yes. All this Abuja pronouncement, you run to court to get a piece of paper to declare them terrorists, instead of going back home and engage stakeholders locally, traditional rulers, clerics, community leaders, business people and everybody involved to see how you can bring this thing to a halt locally, you are there busy in Abuja running from one court to the other to declare them terrorists.
Now, you have declared them terrorists, they are still there, go and catch them. I’m very glad that they declared them terrorists because I don’t want anybody using this as an excuse that we couldn’t defeat them because we didn’t declare them terrorists. Now, you have declared them terrorists, go inside the bush and catch them. You are saying, IPOB terrorists, Boko Haram terrorist, this one terrorist and that one terrorist; go and catch them, kill them or prosecute them instead of staying in Abuja and talking nonsense.
This is the problem, it is all political. Because they say IPOB is terrorist, and why have you not declared this one terrorist? Ok, we have declared them terrorists, let them enjoy life. Boko Haram in the beginning, IPOB in the middle and bandits in the behind, Oya, go and fight all your terrorists if you can. You stay in Abuja and talk nonsense You have declared them terrorists, ok, let’s stay back until you finish your military operation; you would soon come back to dialoguing. War, war, war, you would always come back to the table.
For sometimes now, the North has been hard on Buhari. Arewa youth and others even came out with a near no-confidence vote on the president. If these were coming from the South, it would be looked at from another angle?
No, you people don’t know the North, especially Katsina. The North is the greatest critic of this president because we have a lot more at stake than anywhere, especially in Katsina. He is our son; we gave him 1.2 million votes, while Lagos gave him only 600,000. Katsina gave him twice what Lagos gave him. What do we have to show for it in Katsina when our son is in the Villa? It is death and destruction. Before the coming of this president, we never knew what IDP looked like. Never, IDP is something in the North-East. Now our son is in the villa, we gave him 1.2 million votes. One third of my state, that is 13 local governments out of 24, is under siege by bandits. We never knew what IDP was like, but now the capital city of Katsina is filled with IDPs from those 13 local governments. Look for our history, Katsina people are not known to be quiet; we are militants from way back.
When we criticise this president, we do it for two reasons: He is one of us, we are not proud of what he is doing, and he is not representing us. We have nothing to show in Katsina, nothing. No infrastructure; all you are seeing are deaths and destruction. Are we going to keep quiet? The youths are saying, why should we vote for anybody come 2023 because ‘we voted our son, and this is what he brought to us.’ Who is going to fix Katsina if Buhari doesn’t? Is it Tinubu or Rochas Okorocha or who? How can anybody care about Katsina if the president, our son that we voted for doesn’t care about his state? This is the president that doesn’t care about his people of Katsina. It is on repeatedly, as bandits burnt 43 persons to death in Sokoto, the president didn’t say anything, but instead he hopped in his plane and went to Lagos for Bisi Akande’s book launch. The degree of insensitivity is so shocking that whatever he does doesn’t shock us anymore. We are just praying that we get to 2023 in peace and our people will go and choose the right person. Buhari has been a disaster for us in the last six years.
When you were giving him 1.2 million votes, didn’t you know that he was not going to perform, or you didn’t envisage what was coming to happen to Nigeria and Katsina in particular?
Buhari has been packaged very well; it was a very good packaging, but he has always been seen to be the saint and the victim of the pious person since he was overthrown in 1985.He was overthrown because he stood for the right thing against corruption. That has been the myth that has been packaged around him – that he is incorruptible, he cares for the people. People who voted him feasted on the goodwill that he was going to do the right thing, but he squandered that goodwill and I wrote in my paper, entitled: “Never in the history of our nation have things been this bad.” I’m old enough to know 13 administrations in this country, from Gen Gowon (retd) 1966, to the current President Buhari, none of these 13 administrations came with this much goodwill and this much hope and much expectation, but he has squandered those expectations for several reasons. One, he came with this messianic aura that he was the messiah coming to save this nation. There is endemic corruption, there is bad governance, there is insensitivity, there is arrogance of power, there is nepotism, and there is intellectual laziness and many more.
Could it be the president’s handlers are misleading or mishandling him?
We didn’t elect any General, we didn’t elect Garba Shehu, we didn’t elect Femi Adesina or the chief of staff or any handler. We elected President Muhammadu Buhari and Pastor Yemi Osinbajo on a ticket. They must take responsibility and so should not give us any excuse, just like they can’t give God Almighty any excuse for their failure. A leader surrounds himself with people; they didn’t surround him. We should not accept any stupid excuse, we voted President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, we didn’t vote for any general or any adviser, so they need to do the right thing. Anybody working under the president is at his pleasure. This excuse is not tenable. Leaders must be responsible, they came for our votes and we gave to them. We are saying the president is not performing and he is not going to tell us it this man or that man, and God will hold him responsible.
There was a list of those sponsoring Boko Haram, but the Presidency said it was not in a hurry to try them. What do you say to this?
The whole thing is a joke and this is what really irritates me. And you ask, who is responsible, who is running this government? They are killing people, blood is flowing in the North, in the East, everywhere and you are just there talking big grammar. When I was growing up, the Generals at that time didn’t know how to speak English, but they were real soldiers. Now Generals just give you high grammar, but no action, and the citizens do not question and the National Assembly is there doing nothing, but rubber stamping this government’s irresponsibility.
So, when are they going to unmask them, a day after 2023? We have a government that is not responsible to its people and generals that keep talking long grammar. People are not interested in long grammar; we want peace in our land.
How will this whole problem end?
It will end when the people start asking the real questions and protesting, and saying this is not acceptable. This is a democracy and not a military rule, and people are given the opportunity every four years to change a government that is not performing like this one. How can APC come back to ask people for their votes? On what basis? They came on fighting corruption, insecurity and economy, but corruption is thriving more than ever before. Insecurity, the land is soaked with blood and the economy has gone down. You want to increase taxes, you want to remove fuel subsidy. All you are interested in is to make the lives of people more difficult. This is what this government has essentially done in eight years.
Are we sure of getting a better one than what we have now?
The responsibility is ours as citizens. Whoever that wants to be the president must come and meet us and we would ask him questions. In the North, we are going to ask him how he is going to make the region safe; the North is poorer, less secure, there is more corruption. Before this government came, every Northerner will tell you, we were not happy and we don’t want anybody from either the military or from the government to come and tell us any propaganda. They have failed us and they are failing us, but I don’t know what it is in other regions.
In 2015, you could have a million Northerners on the ticket, but Buhari was the choice of the people because they trusted him. If an Igbo man wants to be the president, he shouldn’t stay in Abuja or in Enugu, he should come and meet the people and tell them why they should vote for him. The North had voted overwhelmingly for Yoruba people before, Abiola and Obasanjo.
The North is very clear of what it wants. Politically, it is more aware of the other regions. We made a wrong choice in Buhari, as he didn’t deliver.
So, you think the North made a wrong choice in Buhari?
Politics all over the world is like that. People will trust a politician and he would not perform and that is why voters kick them out at the next election after one term. This is politics, if you don’t do well the people will reject you. So, we got it wrong, Buhari must go and another person must come in. He will be left with the cruel judgement of history and God Almighty.
Do you mean that his performance will mar APC’s chances in 2023?
I’m just asking anybody, APC or what, let them come and tell us why we should vote for them in 2023. Give us the reason the North should vote for you. We gave you a chance for eight years and this is where you have taken us. Why should we vote for you?
The security men and the government claim that they don’t know where the bandits are but Gumi and you were going everywhere in the forests meeting with the bandits. Isn’t there a contradiction?
The government, the security forces, the villagers, everybody knows where these bandits are. Is it not the Whiteman that went recently and visited them in Zamfara? BBC, VOA and other journalists have gone to the forest to meet these people. It is not a secret, the military knows, the politicians know, everybody knows; they are not hiding. Everybody knows where they are, and I said it in my paper. The military cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of where this nation is. This military is our military and this president more than any president has given them all they asked for and the NASS has given them all they asked for and all the governors in the frontline states have given them all they asked for, but we are not seeing commensurate results in the battle field. The military is not doing the two things we ask from it: One, to protect the population and secondly, engage the bandits. They are not doing any of these two. This is not acceptable.
We go to the forest and we don’t see a single soldier in the forest and we come back to Abuja to hear them say that ‘we are giving the war to them.’ We should stop this propaganda and do the right thing. We don’t need Tucano. All these fighter jets you spent about N600 million, we don’t need them to fight banditry; all you need is to have more soldiers on the ground.
The money you spent to buy these jets is enough to have about 200,000 troops and that is more than enough. We need more soldiers on the ground. The continued flourishing of banditry and Boko Haram is a clear reflection of failure of intelligence.
How can 300 motorcycles with three bandits on each come into a village and invade the place, and the security forces don’t have intelligence, while bandits have more intelligence than them? How can a bunch of rag tag untrained bandits defeat the Nigeria Armed Forces that brought peace in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo and fought the civil war? Is it not shameful that rag tag bandits defeated the army? It is not acceptable; it is tragic. The army needs to sit up and the president should hold them accountable. (Saturday Sun)
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