By NBF News
Listen to article

Nigeria of recent has come under international searchlight given the security challenges caused by Islamic fundamentalists, known as Boko Haram. The National Vice-Chairman of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Rasaq Muse, spoke with OLUWOLE FAROTIMI on this and other burning national issues. Excerpts:

The threat from Boko Haram
Boko Haram is a major threat to the nation and if it's not solved, it could escalate to other serious problems because for now, the killings are restricted to the North. Once it starts affecting more people from the South and they start moving down just like they have moved out from Maiduguri, it's going to cause more devastating problems. T

he root cause, has to do with poverty, unemployment, injustice, affluence being displayed in a way that makes a crime-prone person green with envy and, of course the weapon is religion, which they use as a pivot.

What is the solution? I'm happy that the Federal Government has seen that two wrongs don't make a right. By reversing the military option, like I tell my friends, nobody told America before they pulled out of Vietnam. They went into Vietnam because they felt they were a world power and they could walk over them. But at the end of the day, America was confronted with guerilla warfare, and you know it's a warfare where you don't see the enemy and that is the worst war; you can have arsenals of missiles, but you don't know what you target.

So, that is the tactics Boko Haram are using. In the process, innocent lives that they are trying to prevent from being killed, are killed and maimed and you know the military style is when they go to a place, they are trained to destroy. So, they are creating more Boko Haram in the process, because an innocent person who just lost the mother in the military raid for no just cause, would want to take revenge. So the best solution is the idea of 'carrot and stick'.

The government is doing the right thing if they want to dialogue, because we would know their grievances. Although, the Secretary to the Federal Government came out the other day to say they are not going to negotiate with a faceless group, that is just a political statement, they know who to talk to. After all, the leader was killed and people were crying injustice. So, these are people who should be the first point of call to talk to, which could lead to unmasking who the Boko Haram people are. Another solution is intelligence gathering, in fact, we must praise our police services in this country.

The police in a developed society, is not better than us, but two things held them to perform; there are laws that must be obeyed unlike here that you can bend laws. Also, the civilians are ready to help to enforce the law by giving information, although at the same time, it can boomerang and that has been deterring people from giving information.

So, the government should have set up an intelligence network with some overseas trained countries that are still having that kind of experience. Israel, for example, I know they have been surrounded by Arabs who they feel are enemies. But they have been able to survive through intelligence. So, to me, it would be a two-method approach, carrot and stick and then intelligence. But right now, it is unfortunate that Boko Haram has gained an upper hand, despite the fact that the police said they would clamp down on them. So, let the Federal Government start talking. It's not a sign of weakness. When you are fighting an enemy you don't know. The first ideological step is to try and know that enemy.Once you know, it can open up room for dialogue and then get to the root of their grouse.

We are approaching the way forward on two fronts; the first one is to resolve our internal problems. More so after elections, the common problem with most parties is to reconcile those who are aggrieved, those who feel they have been shortchanged and those who feel they were substituted and then, of course, other issues, like where we go next, where we want to be in 2015. First, we do not want a divisive party. So, if we don't want that, how do we go about it. We are already looking into that. T

wo, once beaten, twice shy; we have seen that no single party will be able to defeat the PDP. So, we are working towards 2015, such that the progressives will come together. I believe if we don't derail, CPC will wax stronger and then we can expand our structures across the whole country. Also, we are trying to make sure that the only governor we have excels. Just like Fashola did as the only governor of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN). That will improve our fortune in future elections. We are also trying to make sure that our legislators at the federal and state levels carry our flag in terms of what the manifesto says. That is to say, back policies that have to do with true federalism, support policies that have to do with removal of immunity as well.

The ACN/CPC pact failed because of selfish interest but we won't say because of that we would give up. I know that every reasonable Nigerian was praying that the alliance worked, because that was the change they needed. But God has reasons why it didn't work. But we are going back to the drawing board. But the basic thing is that we must resolve, harmonise our differences, stay focused and that focus is that come 2015, the progressives will take over government.

Proposed 6 years single tenure
I believe my stance will tally with that of the party. That is to say that really the priority now is not fixing the term. To me, the priorities are, true federalism, secondly, removing immunity for anybody in government and then power supply. I believe that if those three things which are focal points are achieved, it would do us a lot of good, because there is a lot of power concentrated at the centre, even at the state level and if those powers are mellowed down and we have true federalism, power supply that will stimulate our productivity and the economy, the country will be better and when the country is okay, its left for the electorate to vote for whoever they want, be it two terms or a single term.

The argument is that the country is spending so much money on elections. I mean if you have to conduct elections every four years, with the amount of money spent in the last one, that money probably could have been used for better things, that's one argument. The other argument is that the governors as soon as they get there, whether they perform or not, their attention is how they will get a second term so that they can retain power for eight years.

Those are the positive reasons for the one term proposition. But at the same time, when you look at it the other way round, if you have one term of five or six years, and you know you are not coming back, it would be business as usual because you won't bother about accountability. So that's why I said that if we have this removal of immunity, whether its two terms or one term, you know that you will be held accountable during your tenure, then it would not be relevant whether it's one term or two terms or even three terms. So for me, I think it's a distraction because in just three months, we are starting to talk about single term, when what we should be talking about is the master plan to ensure that we have steady power supply.

The introduction of true federalism is going to probably help to reduce the problem of insecurity because when you have true federalism, it means we would have state police. Presently, if there is problem, they would have to rely on the Inspector General of Police in Abuja to be able to take a decision. So, if power is decentralized through true federalism, it will improve security.

So, actually, if you look at the pros and cons, to me, I believe that we are copying the American System of government which says two terms of four years each. America has reached a stage where their leaders are accountable, and we are not, if we are able to remove this immunity issue, and with the Freedom of Information Law in place. I think the president and the governors will know that they would be held accountable during their tenure and after their tenure and of course, we would have good governance. And once we have good governance, one term, fifty terms will be irrelevant.

Good governance and single term
No, it's an assumption, which to me, considering historical events may not materialize. If you say single term of six years, a governor that is there and does not intend to deliver, is not going to concentrate on anything and to me. Whether its two terms or one term, I think good leadership if embedded in the individual, will translate to good governance.

Take Fashola for example, within four years, he's been able to do marvel people are saying that even if he wants to have five terms, he can have it. Another reason why people are suspicious is because in Africa, power is absolute ,and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Now, we have seen people that began with good intention, who ever thought about Obasanjo, having ruled this country before as military head of state and from prison to Head of State and having served for eight years will ever contemplate to have tenure elongation. There is absolute power and that power corrupts so much that at the end of the day you are surrounded by sycophants who feel that you are the only person and they will do everything to make you believe you must stay.