A former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in this exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, explained how the promoters of the #EndSARS protest wanted to use it to effect regime change. According to the septuagenarian, the Kaduna meeting of the northern elders, comprising governors, traditional rulers, among others, was convened because “we see some machinations against northern interest in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Nigeria passed through a trying moment recently with the #EndSARS protest and the floodgate of discussions that trailed it in different parts of the country. What is your take on the entire scenario?
Some prominent Nigerians have made claims to that effect, just about a month or six weeks after their prophesy of doom became manifest with the EndSARS protests. We believe that from the little information we got when the protests were taking place, the actual timing was not what the young people really wanted.
At some points, some people, somewhere who had ulterior motives against the government wanted to use the labour strike against the government to foment trouble and destabilise the country. Fortunately, the negotiation between labour and the government was successful, leading to labour calling off their intended strike.
Government handled this situation very well. But the issue of police was a bit hasty because it has affected the morale of the police. See what happened in America, the demonstration about ‘Black Lives Matter;’ see what they did. Despite the pressure about police brutality, the president of the number one democracy in the world came openly and said he would not do anything against the police.
Who are those behind it?
We do not want to start mentioning individual names at the moment. If it comes to that, we will. I love this country more than I love any individual, and it is a primary duty that we protect the integrity of our sovereignty as a nation and protect our leadership. I am under oath to do so, and I will do so as long as I breathe.
What do you think prompted the Kaduna meeting of northern leaders?
We saw some machinations against northern interest in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. One of us is the president today. And you will never see this kind of nonsense when a non-northerner is there. I am sorry and regret to say this, but that is the reality and the truth.
Take the statistics of what has been happening in our government since the advent of the Fourth Republic. Who are the occupants of the most strategic positions?
When I was the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, we invited them many times as the situation demanded.
We have the Afenifere and no one has quarrelled about it, so why is having a northern meeting causing raised eyebrows? We have the Ohaneze Ndigbo in the East; they meet. They even have someone from the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who was making broadcasts like he was the head of government. We must stand up and call this bluff, for heaven’s sake. Whatever you hear me say, I say so because I do not want the solidarity, loyalty and state of patriotism that drive us northerners to be lost. This is because once we lose it, Nigeria goes. I believe that very strongly.
In reacting to the position taken by the North at the Kaduna meeting, Afenifere said the region was fixated on holding on to power, what is your take on that?
If we believe in democracy, then there is no question that the North is fixated. If you believe in democracy you know it is one man, one vote; a government of the people, for the people and by the people. There is nowhere that says you should nominate somebody based on federal character for elective offices. No, we will, as far as we profess to have a democratic system of government, while we are holding elections, have interest in it leadership for as long as democracy remains the institution through which our leadership is determined.
To many, the agitations for restructuring and others are part of the scheming for 2023. Where do you think should produce the next president after Buhari?
Let me take care of today first. I am not the man who saw tomorrow. If and when we get to the bridge, we will decide how to cross it. For now, my position is not what happens in 2023, my concern is to protect this government and work for its stability to ensure that it is able to deliver 2023.
This idea of sitting in your house and thinking you can just dictate to the country is archaic. This is democracy, contemporary governance that you must and discuss. Tell us what you want and we also tell you what we want, how it is possible for you to attain your goal and we can tell you how it is difficult or how we can attain the goals. In the end, we would have mutuality and agreement at some points.
Some people think it is by misusing the media that they can attain their goals; it is not. We have gone beyond that, decades ago. May God spare our lives to see 2023. The sun will rise when it has to. We cannot hurry it.
Should the president come from the North or South come 2023?
It is not for me to say that; we are in a democracy. Let democracy produce the president on merit.
What does the constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) say about zoning?
As far as I am concerned, that should be the choice of the party. It is not in the Nigerian constitution. My oath of office is to protect and preserve the Nigerian constitution. It is left for the party to decide what it wants. The party can decide to take the presidency to wherever it wants, provided they can deliver. So it is not for me at this point in time to start dictating where it goes. I am listening, my eyes are open, I hope and pray they would remain open to what is happening around the country to relate with people, hear the voice of the people and there is no bombarding and intimidating anybody.
You have been defending the president for a very long time; the impression is that the northern political class has narrowly escaped this ‘mutiny’ planned through the labour strike and EndSARS…
Yes, I have been a defender of the president and would continue to do so. But our fault is that we are too trusting. The average northerner is too trusting and submissive to constituted authorities. We are not subversive to constituted authorities by nature, tradition and attitude. That is why sometimes we are taken for fools, but we are not foolish. It is a matter of loyalty; we are too loyal to think about sabotaging constituted authorities. We are too loyal to do so because it is not in our character.
How are you planning to avert future plans by those behind the #EndSARS protest?
We cannot discuss our plans on the pages of a newspaper. In fact, if nothing else, this kind of thing makes us plan, whether we want to plan or not, but not to subvert the government. We do not want to achieve our goals by subverting a constituted authority. We will never do it, and if we see it being done, we would do everything possible to help the government overcome it.
What is your take on the agitation for restructuring?
It is nothing. Like I said earlier, people think that because they are so educated, they bombard us with issues on restructuring, just to divert our attention.
Let them come out and tell us what they mean by restructuring; what they want to restructure. They should restructure their minds; that is the point they need to start the restructuring from.
We have a National Assembly, let them come out there and tell us what they want. We have an exercise on constitutional review, a standing committee on constitutional review; put in your case there and let’s see what can be done; whether it is doable or not. Don’t just parade yourselves because you have the propensity of newspaper, radio and television stations. You want to use the money you made out of Nigeria to distort or blackmail the government into submitting for a cause that is not clear.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) issued a statement advising the president to send the report of the 2014 confab to the National Assembly to form part of the constitutional amendment…
That is rubbish. Why didn’t they implement it during their government? It is like a trap, maybe they saw the coming to an end of their regime and they want to create problem for successor administration.