NIGERIA'S PROBLEMS CAN BE TRACED TO GREED, POOR LEADERSHIP - TANKO
Dr Yunusa Tanko is the immediate past secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and also the former Vice Presidential Candidate of the party in the 2011 general election. He also served as the former Secretary of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). In this exclusive interview with SEFIU AYANBIMPE, Dr Tanko bares his mind on the just concluded NCP seventh National Convention and traces insecurity and poverty in the country to greed and poor leadership.
You were recently elected as the Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the just concluded 7th national convention of the party held in Osogbo, What is your plan for the upliftment of the party?
The new administration of the party would constitute a shadow ministerial post where well articulated leaders of the party would man ministry of works, education, youth development and unemployment, housing and agriculture. These shadow ministers would respond to issues by the government led the minister to provide alternative responses to the government of the day, giving the Nigerian public an alternative view on how the country is being run.
The party intends to reach out to women and physically challenged persons to ask them to contest under the banner of NCP free of charge, giving them the opportunity to be voted for, in that way, their wishes and aspirations are ensured. We would also reach out to professional bodies like NBA, NMA, Okada Riders Associations, ANAN, ICAN and market men and women.
As an active participant in the political struggle and development of the country, I want you to look at the evolution of democracy in Nigeria since 1999.
As an activist who joined hands with others to fight for enthronement of democracy in 1994 before we dabbled into politics, actually we believe that democracy is the best form of government that could only triumph in this part of the world and eventually, we were
able to succeed. Unfortunately, we were not registered by that time until 2003 when we registered as a political party. Our party is the political party that struggled till the Supreme Court before we got registered and we thank God today, a lot of the people have been benefiting from the struggle in which we seriously engaged.
In the last 13 years, the dividends of democracy have not really gone down to the downtrodden people of the country. I want to differ on this particular matter, those who are really for democracy are not in power which make them not to be able to deliver the Nigerian people from the shackles of poverty because since May 1999 till date, Nigerians have been wallowing in abject poverty which they do not have business with.
I want you to assess the tenure of president Good luck Jonathan as an elected president of Nigeria.
President Jonathan, as I told you, that we of Save Nigeria Group (SNG) as field Marshall with Pastor Bakare as our leader was on the street to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at a point in time, President Jonathan could not say whether he would succeed President Yar'Adua or not. In fact, the total system was almost collapsed, but we came into the street to defend democracy and today, to God be the glory, President Jonathan was the benefactor of that struggle by the Nigerian people because we stood firm that the constitution
should be defended when President Yar'Adua was sick and incapacitated to act and the constitution said that the next should take over.
It could have been in our opinion that the President should listen to the voice of the people, I want you to believe me that we are cowed and turned to the enemy of government now. What we are doing and saying is that the interests of the people should be paramount in the agenda of the president and we are only giving constructive criticism to the president in the area that will affect the interests of Nigerian people but as at today, when the president decided to increase pump price of petroleum known as subsidy regime, we said it was fraud and eventually being vindicated again, the president increased the tariff of electricity.
We have been saying that until he provides service to Nigerian people, how can you increase the tariff, we are talking about the corruption discovered on the subsidy regime, this phantom killing of the wealth of Nigerian people and particular set of people have been found wanton yet, none of them has been prosecuted even though Mr President has shown interest that the government will prosecute them.
I want Mr President to draw a battle line to show Nigeria that I have this particular knife and I can cut it for the interests of the Nigerian people. This is what the Nigerian people are asking for, they are asking for are good roads, jobs, electricity, schools, health and so on as enshrined in section 2 of the 1999 constitution in 2011. Until when the president has been able to uphold it and provide those particular things, I will say, yes, he may be trying to achieve that but a dog would not know if there is a party at a venue until when it eats a bone on the ground. Nigerian people still want to see if their votes can translate into good governance with dividends.
Let's come to the issue of insecurity that is pervading the country, particularly the Northern part of the country where lives and property were lost. What do you think the nation can do to stop the insurgency?
It is very unfortunate that we can experience such a thing in Nigeria where there will be incessant bombings every now and then. The issue of bombing started from the Niger Delta where our people are wallowing in abject poverty which forced them to take arms by ensuring that they will not continue to be in that situation, emerging the area where almost a totality of resources are coming from the national treasury and yet the people are still living in that place where they can farm or fish again for means of livelihood.
Let me tell you the issue of insecurity is not only about the North alone but about the country, some of our people in south western Nigeria live under bridges and some are living in the house that is unspeakable of human beings and you want them to be silent about it. I will just make an instance that between 2009 and 2011, trillions of naira have been siphoned under the guise of fuel subsidy by a few individuals and let me make an analogy now, if we share that amount of money like five million naira to every Nigerian, they will steal enough for them to steal and the poverty level of the people of the country will be reduced drastically, by the time you calculate the total amount of money, you will see that every Nigerian will be comfortable including people in the Niger Delta with their Northern counterparts and the rest of the country.
What I am saying in essence is that economically, the money will go to every individual, if you are a plumber, bricklayer and so on, the money will go directly to the purse of the people, therefore, the Nigerian citizens would be the first to defend their country by providing security and be the security to defend their property but when the nation found itself in the hands of a few trying to milk this country dry, that is the reason why we found ourselves in this situation.
See where greed has taken Nigeria to. Some of our youths have become robbers, kidnappers, bombers and even the ladies become prostitutes as some of them are going to school and their parents cannot afford to provide for them. We need to challenge the government to look inward on what they are doing and how few carted away the resources of the nation which triggered all kinds of uprisings.
Citizens, particularly the youths, are hearing that millions of naira were given to one person, even at a particular time the leaders did not spend naira again, they were spending dollars, of course, they will react. But if government shows purposeful leadership and if there is trust in a few people that lead, they should ensure that they provide above the expectations for the people and when you fail to do this, you should expect these problems and I am challenging the government to make sure that Nigerian people are comfortable.