NORTHERN LEADERS CREATED ALMAJIRAI -ABUBAKAR TSAV
Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, a former Lagos State Police Commissioner, is an unrepentant critic of government policies as well as northern establishment. In this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, he takes a swipe on the northern political leaders, insisting that they are the cause of the problems the country is facing at the moment.
'Let us face the fact. The north has had the opportunity to rule this country under the successive military and civilian administrations. But with all the opportunity they had, they failed to transform the north. They were preoccupied with their personal interest. So, they are the people who created this Almajiri problem today. Excerpts:
Would you say the government is doing enough to handle the state of insecurity in the country?
I don't think the government is winning the war against insecurity as it is claiming because even a few days back, I was told that some suspected Boko Harram members went to the house of a retired Police Inspector General and shot him. In the far north, incidence of insecurity is prevailing very seriously. Yet government has not done anything to address it.
And the problem boils down to the same issue that the police have not been doing their job very well. It's not as if we don't have competent police officers, we have them. But the issue which is militating against proper performance of the police is lack of supervision. The police are not being properly supervised. I'm sure this thing will not be achieved in one day but as time goes on, may be, it will be achieved. For the police to get on well in terms of crime prevention, they must have maintained good cordial relationship with members of the public because it is only when that relationship is good that members of the public can come willingly to give information to the police. But what is happening now is that even when you give information to the police, as soon as the police get the accused person, they will expose the informant.
And the law requires that you do not expose the source of your information. That is why people are scared to give information to the police, especially as far as the case of this Boko Harram is concerned. The moment you give information and they know you are the person who gave the information, they will trail and kill you. So, I don't think the government will be right to say that it is winning the war against insecurity. Although for quite sometimes now, we have not had this case of bomb blast within Abuja and other places but in the far north like in Maiduguri, Yobe, Gombe and Kano, these things are still happening. It's like a cult.
How would you assess government's fight against corruption in the country?
It's very unfortunate that corruption has come to stay in this country because everywhere is infested with corruption. In the case of Ibori for instance, the police tried to prosecute him and we have these women who came out naked to protest against that. When the police wanted to arrest him again, there was a large protest. But the same person went to Britain and was convicted. So, I am just thinking that perhaps in future, we will advise the EFCC to pack all their cases to London for prosecution because in this country we will not find justice due to too much interference both from government and from politicians.
The government doesn't give people who are investigating such cases any free hand. Sometimes, perhaps you investigate a case very well, then from nowhere, the Attorney General of the Federation shows up and says the man should not be prosecuted because the case is of national interest and all what not. So, that is why corruption is growing in leaps and bounds in this country. Look at the revelation we are now receiving from this Police Pension probe. It's very startling but in the end, I know nothing will happen to them. Look at the case of this power probe in the House; nothing happened. Those who were indicted in the probe became governors.
This case between Oteh and Hembe, maybe very soon it will die down and nothing will be heard about it. What about cases we have in court? We have a case against Obasanjo's daughter, nobody is hearing anything about it. So, it is government that is encouraging corruption in this country. And we should not sit and expect angels to come from heaven and help us to fight corruption because the government is not serious. May be they want to, but don't have the political will to fight corruption. It's very unfortunate indeed.
I think what is encouraging corruption in this country is that when you hold public office, you have a lot of fans. But by the time you get out of that office, nobody remembers you; nobody draws close to you. So, people are trying to make as much money as possible when they are in service so that they can have something to fallback on. But that again is not the solution because when you indulge in corruption, you are destroying the country and your children and other relations will be victims of corruption in future.
So, I think government should try and wage a serious war against corruption. When I suggested that they should enact a law proscribing death sentence for all corrupt politicians, there was this argument that the punishment was too severe and so on. But if you give them life sentence, their political party may urge their governors or the head of state to give them amnesty and once they get that, they become stronger. This is because we worship and exalt corruption in this country, we celebrate corrupt officers and it is very unfortunate. Other countries like China, if you are involved in corruption, they will just kill you. I think we should try to imbibe that culture.
How would you assess the administration of President Jonathan?
By our constitution, the primary objective of government is to provide security for the people and also enhance the wellbeing of the people. In these two areas, President Jonathan has not faired well because people are still jobless in this country. There is also high level of insecurity in this country. We have become prisoners in our own homes. Every house you go, you now find high fences and burglary proofs everywhere because we are no longer safe. School leavers have no job and when you have no job to do, you become a ready tool for criminality. You have young men becoming thugs and others planning armed robbery and other serious offences.
You have young men who have become paid assassins and the rest of them. So, it's insecurity and joblessness that is causing most of our problems in this country. In these two areas, Jonathan has failed. And no matter how much you criticize him, he does not care. He's becoming a Pharaoh and he does not care how serous you criticize him. All he knows is that he is the President and he will continue to be the President until his tenure elapses because nobody will think about impeaching him. If you go to countries like America, the President cannot accept gift from anybody no matter who he is. If you accept it, you accept it at the risk of your job. But here, a company which is vying for job, donates a church to you and you gladly went and started telling the whole world with reckless abandon that this company donated church to you.
What is your reaction to Jonathan's pronouncement on his alleged first tenure in office?
That pronouncement has a lot of interpretation because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The man has started enjoying the benefits of his office and so, it is very indicative that he wants to contest again. If he says he is in his first term, the next thing one should expect is that when he finishes his first term, he would go for second term. That is what is in his mind.
Would you support him if he declares interest for second term?
Yes, I can support him if he changes his ways and now convinces us all that he can be president of Nigeria and not the president of his people. What we want in Nigeria is development. We want jobs for our children; we want development of our infrastructure; we want our money to have value. But if he condescends so low and becomes only the president of his own area, then, I think he can't rule this country. But if he convinces everybody that he is president of Nigeria and he is fair to everybody no matter where the person comes from, then I think we will accept him because all we want is peace and development. After all, life is not permanent, one day we will die and go.
How do you think the problem of Boko Haram can be resolved?
What I don't like about this Boko Harram is this issue of taking government to ransom; trying to threaten or blackmail government. It's not done. If you have anything against government, there are laid down procedures; there are civilized ways that you can talk to government. When you come and start bombing and killing innocent people, and you start making the police endangered specie; following the police everywhere to kill them; killing worshippers who are in church, it's not good. So, there are many way of looking at this issue of holding dialogue with them.
We initially started with the Niger-Delta militants who sat on the same table with Yar'Adua and they gave government conditions and government met with the conditions. Thereafter, we had little peace. But some of them have gone back again and started harassing oil workers in their region. So, if they did that to the Niger-Delta militants, why can't they do it to Boko Harram people? But in the case of Boko Harram, their demands are terrible. How can they say they want to Islamize the whole the whole country? People should be allowed to practice the religion of their choice.
If God Almighty in His wisdom had wanted all of us to belong to one religion, He would have so decreed that all of us should belong to the same religion. But God has given us the liberty to worship what we want to want to worship and on the last day, we shall account for our actions while on earth. You cannot force somebody to do your own religion. Let them allow people to do whatever they want to do. On the last day we will account for our actions. So, their demands as far as I am concerned are unreasonable and their mode of operation is also bad. Why would they just be killing innocent people on the road or in their place of worship?
And their action is not only directed against Christians, it's against any person they want. They have killed so many Muslims and Christians. But unfortunately, what is happening is that some narrow-minded religious bigots are trying to reduce the whole thing into something between the Christians and the Muslims, which should not be. I think we should sympathize with ourselves and look for ways to solve this thing. If dialogue with them would ease the situation, let it be. But again, how can you go and sit to dialogue with people who have gone out to be killing people?
If they have anything against government, they should attack government and stop attacking our own people. If they have a case against corrupt leaders, they know people who are corrupt in this country; they know where they live; attack them and not ordinary people; not innocent okada man who is riding his motorcycle to look for his daily food. Not a Christian or Muslim who has gone to worship his God in church or Mosque. It's really very bad. And these northern elders who are talking about negotiation, if they know who these Boko Harram people are, they should advise them to drop this idea because it's unislamic; it's against the rules of God Almighty for you to kill innocent souls.
What is your take on the northern agitation for the 2015 presidency?
Let us face the fact, the north has had the opportunity to rule this country be it under the military or under the civilian administration. But the problems we now have in the north are caused by our rulers because they had the opportunity to transform the north and but they did not. They were preoccupied with their personal interest. And they are the people who created this Almajiri problem today. Nobody is willing to assist the other person except that person is from your family. The Holy Quran says that every year, you must give Zaakat to the poor and needy, but these people give Zaakat to their own relations, their own in-laws and so on which is against the law of God.
So, the problem of this country is created by northern leaders. I think we should be civilized enough to outlive this regional rulership in this country. We should think about the best person to rule this country. If this man is from Bakassi and he is good to rule us, why not? If he is from any other part of this country even from Coma Hills and we believe that he has the leadership quality and is not a religious bigot, let us have him. If we say we must insist on regional rulership, then we in the middle-belt will also agitate because we have not had a shot at the Presidency in the past. If that is the case, we too we want it. But I think we should live beyond that, let the interest of the country be paramount in our hearts. Let us not think about regional presidency and the rest of them.
How do you see the advice by the US that Nigeria government should create a Northern Ministry?
I think it's a very good idea because they created Ministry of Niger-Delta to look into the issue of under-development in those areas. The north too wants that ministry to look after the Almajiris, establish school for them, create jobs for them, develop the vast agricultural potentials of the north and create mental and academic awareness for our people. I think we deserve it.