Former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, has said that the Southeast zone should be allowed to produce the president of this country in 2023.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the elder statesman, said other zones have produced the president since the return to democratic rule in 1999 except the Southeast, stressing that anybody or zone that tries to deny it that opportunity, is a troublemaker.
What is your view on the state of the nation? Boko Haram is still very active in the Northeast; bandits are running over some Northwest states, while you have kidnapping and other forms of criminality in the Middle Belt and the South?
The situation is so bad that anything can happen. Every aspect of the nation is negative, and there doesn’t seem to be a system and leadership that can reverse the situation because politics itself is now a commercial venture, which means that politicians who could lead and bring about correct change are unable to do so, and that is why a larger majority of the people, everybody believes that whatever he ought to do to serve his interest, he should do it.
How do we arrest the situation?
We arrest it by changing the social, economic and political system that brought about this situation and the leadership produced by the system because both the system and leadership are based on self interest first, then public interest, second or even incidental. In a situation like this, you can’t expect welfare of the people; you can’t expect peace, you can’t expect anything that is good from the country because people are made to believe that it is their survival first than any other thing.
What is before us is the composition of the leadership of the National Assembly, how do you want it to be?
I don’t think it is the primary issue before us now. The primary issue is a government that can perform, that can ensure the welfare and security of the people, while you have transparent election leading to a legitimate government. The moment you have that, then you will have peace; you have democracy and then development. But, as long as money power, particularly stolen money power is the deciding factor in politics and election, then you can’t avoid having what we have now.
Still on the NASS, the composition of its principal officers is tearing APC apart as it did in 2015. How do you think the ruling party should handle this issue?
There is nowhere APC will run away from the crisis because it is part and parcel of the system that brought about this situation. The party will be swallowed by the same system that it contributed to institute through participating in money politics.
What type of leadership do you expect from the National Assembly?
That is secondary. What kind of leadership do we expect in the country, which is the most important thing. If we have the right leadership in the whole country, then we will have the right leadership in all the institutions in the country, including the National Assembly.
Do you see Buhari’s second term better than his first term given all these problems in the country?
It can even be worse. Everybody is worried about what next, and the president has been talking about the Next Level; he has been talking about inclusive government. It is the president talking, not just anybody; but somebody who is the commander in chief of the armed forces, he is the chief security officer, who is the controller of the finances of the country, so he has the moral responsibility to lead the country and make the country work. We are talking about the president of a country with enormous power, he is talking about the next level, we saw the past level, and we have our opinion about it. He is raising our hope by saying the Next Level, he thought he is saying something, which we expect, and we will be happy about it. But since he said it, can he see anything concrete to show that we are approaching the next level in which case, better situation. We should by this time know exactly what that next level is, the quality of that next level. As at now, we don’t know. We only have the words, ‘Next Level’. He talks about inclusive government, yes; inclusive government will be very good for the country, but is it a mere word like democracy. Up till now, he has not said what he meant by inclusive government, whether it brings a better situation than what we have now.
The question is, why should a president raise the hope of people after so long? We have not seen anything that inspires the confidence of the people. This is a situation we are. What is this next level, is it next disaster or less happiness? What does that inclusive government mean? Has it national character, has it a human character. Why should the president say something without anybody knowing what he meant and without anybody being encouraged to expect something better? It is really vexatious.
When the president talked about Next Level, he meant after his swearing on May 29, when his second term begins
We should by now expect what next level constitutes because we only have some people appointed to positions. He shouldn’t have been talking about next level; he should have waited until he announces, for instance his cabinet, if that is the important thing. While announcing his cabinet, he should say, this is the next level, which will constitute so, so and so.
An issue that is burning is the issue of which zone should produce the president in 2023. Some argue that because of equity, power should go to the South, but some oppose that, saying it remains in the North. What is your view on this?
In the first place, the North, the Southwest should allow the Southeast the opportunity to produce the president in 2023. We have talked about rotation and we have talked about sense of belonging, and we have talked about four basic zones – the North, the Southwest, the Southeast and the South-South. The presidency has gone to the North so many times, it has gone to the Southwest once and it has also gone to the South-South once. So, it remains the Southeast. Why can’t that zone also have this opportunity so that they can have a sense of belonging, and for the country to have peace?
It is just equitable and non-negotiable.
Why will somebody say it must come from the North again, or from the Southwest or the South-South? Those holding this position are troublemakers; they are not fair and just. However, we will not make the mistake we made in 1999, 2007,2011, etc, because the Southwest, the North and the South-South were donating anybody on the basis of rotation; anybody from the North, anybody from the Southwest and anybody from the South-South.
This time, it should not be like before. Nigeria, as a whole by whatever means shall select from the Southeast the best. It is not just the Southeast donating anybody like other zones have done in the past. This time, as it rotates to the Southeast, Nigerians should collectively decide, which person from that zone is best suited to be the president, it is not just for the Southeast alone to decide and donate to the country like the North, the Southwest and South-South have done before.
It is for all of us including the Southeast to put our heads together and bring someone equivalent of Zik of Africa from the Southeast and the country will be okay with that. But, if because of this rotation, you just bring anybody from the Southeast, it will be no better than what we have had from the North, from the Southwest and from the South-South, and we may end up with what we have been having or worse.
What is your advice to Buhari, as he prepares for second term?
I will ask him to do four things from May 29. I want him to take concrete steps, which can convince every Nigerian that we are going to have free, fair and transparent election leading to a legitimate government in the future.
Secondly, he should make sure that it is the voter who decides the fate of a political party or in electing a candidate. Thirdly, he should still take that the social, economic and political system controlling all investments in the country and the political leadership produced by this system is both based on public interest first. Fourthly, is bringing about the leading role of the state in the economy, to ensure peace, equality, justice, democracy, dignity of the human person and progressive and even development of the whole country. It is very difficult to do that, but definitely, it easier than allowing the level of insecurity, the level of poverty, etc in this country.