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NORTH'S AGENDA IS SELFISH — HANANIYA

By NBF News
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Former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Major General Anthony Haladu Hananiya (retd), has said that northern agenda is a selfish one, adding that the proponents pursue such agenda only when it suits them.

Hananiya, while commenting on the issue of a consensus candidate being championed by Mallam Adamu Ciroma, told Saturday Sun in Abuja: 'That is based on selfishness. And I don't know how they can arrive at a consensus. There may be consensus in their own way of thinking, but will it ever happen? I believe that ordinary Nigerians know what Adamu Ciroma and his group are fighting for.

'You see, the issue is that you must be honest in what you are saying and what you do. There are quite a lot of them who, when the chips are down, only fight for themselves and their kith and kin. So, when you are talking about North, there are some issues that affect the North and yet, they will not talk about them, except when the issues affect them. For instance, there was a time they appointed some service chiefs from Kogi and the rest of them. I think during the Obasanjo's term and they said they were not northerners.

And you begin to wonder what qualifies somebody to be a northerner if somebody from Kogi is not a northerner and somebody from Adamawa is not a northerner. Then, what qualifies one to be a northerner? Really, we need to seriously tell these people that they should stop deceiving the common man.'

He said that President Goodluck Jonathan is a divine leader brought by God, insisting that there is no reason he should not be supported.

It is almost four years now since you  left office. How has life been?

As you have seen, I am doing fine. You know life is full of ups and downs and we thank God that we are still alive, by the grace of God. We are trying to keep ourselves busy by doing one thing or the other.

But you have been silent for quite sometime now.
What accounts for that?
Well, there is no cause for me not to be silent because there has to be a reason I should be vocal. I don't see any reason I should be vocal, most especially that I am not seriously a politician.

But many things have happened in the polity, which somebody of your status need to make input

Like what?
There are many developmental plans in the nation, which you can still contribute your own quota.

But it is only when your views are required that you come out to express your views; otherwise, there is no reason you should just jump out because you want popularity and you go and make a press statement.

Most retired military officers have gone into partisan politics and contested elective offices. Which is General Hananiya contesting for in 2011?

None.
Why?
I am not contesting for any elective office. Yes, everybody is a politician. I am sure you are a politician. So, I am a politician, in a way since I want to determine who rules me and who rules my family and the rest of them. That is why one has to be in politics to ensure that one participate in politics to elect a leaders that one believes will lead one aright and bring development to one's local government, state or the nation.

It is being rumoured that retired Generals are with President Goodluck Jonathan. Being a retired General, are you with him?

I don't know whether retired Generals are with President Goodluck Jonathan. I know that there are quite a number of them and I am also one of the retired Generals. Yes, I am actively in support of President Goodluck Jonathan because I believe he is a divine leader brought by God and there is no reason he should not be supported. So, I am also involved in this Congress for Equality and Change. I am a member, representing my state. As you can see, we are actively supporting him and we are making efforts to ensure that we educate our people on good qualities of Jonathan and why he should be supported. So, I am for him.

What is your personal comment on the much talked-about zoning formula being popularise by your own kith and kin, the northerners?

Zoning, to me, is a non-issue because it is not in the constitution and there are some people who talk of zoning based on selfish reasons. For example, if zoning is accepted in the country, why is zoning not practised in my state, Adamawa, where the party constitution says that the governor and the chairman of the party should not come from the same area? But it is not the case in Adamawa. You find that Admiral Nyako (retd) and Kugama hail from the same ward and not just only the same local government. You see, some of them are hypocrites. They deceive people that they are for zoning and yet, they don't practise it in their own states.

Zoning, to me, really, shouldn't be an issue; more so that at this particular time, Jonathan and Yar'Adua were on the same ticket and it is not Jonathan that killed Yar'Adua. It was an act of God and since Jonathan ran on the same ticket with Yar'Adua, there is no reason Jonathan should not continue where Yar'Adua stopped.

I have been reading a lot of statements in the papers, where some people are saying North should have two terms because the South-West had two terms. Even in the zoning formula in the PDP, there is nowhere it is said that you should have two terms. So, why are they clamouring for zoning at this particular time, that it should go to the North? I don't believe in that type of thing.

In that case, how do you see the presidential ambition of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), Atiku Abubakar, General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Bukola Saraki?

Well, it is their personal decision. The constitution gives them the right to vie for any office, but left for me, if I were to advise them, I would have told them not to contest, especially Babangida. He has been in government for eight years. He has been the head of this country for eight years. So, what has he forgotten in the Villa that he wants to go back there. As for others, really, I don't know. I said everybody has his personal ambition and I believe the constitution does not stop them from contesting. So, they should go ahead and they are also members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They can go ahead and contest but they shouldn't bring a lacuna that, hey, it is the turn of the northerners because as people who are actively involved, I have also indicated that when Obasanjo contested, there were some people in the North that contested. So, how can you now come and claim that because Jonathan is there, nobody else should contest that post, except northerners?

How do you see the issue of a consensus candidate being championed by Mallam Adamu Ciroma?

That is based on selfishness. And I don't know how they can arrive at a consensus. There may be consensus in their own way of thinking, but will it ever happen? I believe that ordinary Nigerians will know what Adamu Ciroma and his group are fighting for.

You see, the issue is that you must be honest in what you are saying and what you do. There are quite a lot of them that, when the chips are down, they only fight for themselves and their kith and kin. So, when you are talking about North, there are some issues that affect the North and yet, they will not talk about them, except when the issues affect them.

For instance, there was a time they appointed some service chiefs from Kogi and the rest of them. I think during the Obasanjo's term and they said they were not northerners. And you begin to wonder what qualifies somebody to be a northerner if somebody from Kogi is not a northerner and somebody from Adamawa is not a northerner. Then, what qualifies one to be a northerner? Really, we need to seriously tell these people that they should stop deceiving the common man.

What is your take on Mallam Ciroma's call that President Jonathan should resign?

I think that is uncalled for. On what grounds is Jonathan going to resign? Because he made a statement? The president of this country has more information at hand than any other person and he made his statement because of the facts he had at that material time. So, for someone to call for his resignation, just because of his statement on the bomb blast,  I think it is uncalled for. And, in fact, it should be condemned. It shouldn't even come from somebody like Adamu Ciroma at all.

How would you assess the present state of the nation? Are we moving forward, backward or stagnant?

I believe that this nation is moving forward. We have not been stagnant. I am 68 years old now and I knew when Nigeria gained independence in 1960 and up till date, I know there have been a lot of developments. But sadly, there is this new surge of kidnapping, raping, armed robbery and the rest of them. I think there is insecurity generally in the country and government should take time to ensure that it addresses this issue of insecurity because if you cannot go to your village without protection, then I don't see why the government should be there. But every government at every level must make sure that there is security of lives and property of ordinary Nigerians.

Do you think there will be free, fair and credible elections?

That is our prayer and that is the prayer of everybody. With the appointment of Attahiru Jega and some of the commissioners, I believe that they have no option than to make sure that they conduct free, credible and fair elections for their own good and the good of all Nigerians. I honestly hope there will be free, fair and credible elections.

The politicians also have to play a role. They have a very serious role to play. Some of them go to Babalawos (native doctors), go to secret cults and the rest of them to seek for spiritual intervention for them to achieve their aim. I spoke about security. If they can even bring some of these Babalawos and all these Mallams that they go and consult and let them be on the table together and reveal some of these people who are going to them, to seek for either to kidnap this or to kill this or do whatever to win election at all cost, I think this country will be better for it. But a lot of people that we have today, some of them go to these people I talked about trying to eliminate others, just because they want political positions. I think it is wrong. So, we should, as a nation, put our heads together and ensure that we do the right thing, so that there will be free, fair and credible elections where somebody who stood for election and wins will be given the opportunity to represent his people and not to go and rig.

In the absence of a free, fair and credible elections in 2011, some people believe that there maybe no Nigeria in 2011. Do you believe this would happen?

I don't think that there is one individual that brought Nigeria together. It is God who brought Nigeria together. For somebody to declare that there will be no Nigeria, I think he is being naïve and I believe that the head of such should be examined because God is the one that brought Nigeria together. We fought the civil war to bring this country together and there is no reason and there is nothing that will divide this country if we can bring all our problems to table and dialogue. There is nothing that is very difficult for us to resolve through dialogue. So, I don't subscribe to that idea that there will be no Nigeria.

At 50, would you say we have done enough?
Of course, we have. We could have done much better than what we have achieved and that was why I said in every segment of the society, we have done very well. Our main problem is indiscipline and inconsistency in the policies of government from time to time but Nigeria has done very well and we had cause to celebrate the 50th anniversary, which we did. The citizens of this country know that we have done very well. Nigeria has progressed. We have not been stagnant at all. But as I said, taking the resources that this country has and compare it with the development, I think there is much more to be done, otherwise, if we get rid of corruption in our system and do the right thing, we would achieve much development in Nigeria.

What then is the way forward for us as a nation
The way forward is for us to unite as a nation and as a people and ensure that at every facet of our interaction with people, we must try and get rid of this godfatherism, corruption and indiscipline so that we will be able to move forward, forget our religious and tribal differences and forge ahead as a nation. There is no nation that does not have all these divides, but they forget about some of these things and come together when it comes to national issues. So, we should be very nationalistic in our outlook.

Where do you see Nigeria in 10 years time?
Only God knows where Nigeria will be in 10 years' time. You know there is this Vision 202020 programme where we say by 2020, Nigeria will be a developed nation. It is my prayer that we reach that stage in life.