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Power shift to the North is deceptive – Bamanga Tukur

You were among those inaugurated last week into the Presidential Advisory Council by Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan. Part of your task includes the provision of…

You were among those inaugurated last week into the Presidential Advisory Council by Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan. Part of your task includes the provision of good governance in virtually the major sectors of the economy such as power, infrastructure, security, among others. Coming from the private sector, can you give us the rundown of what your new tasks are all about?

I believe the acting president has seen the need to do what he has done. Because, otherwise, there wouldn’t be any need to appoint the Presidential Advisory Council simply because he has got an array of ministers and an array of parastatals normally involved in policy formulation and execution. There are also policy- evolving bodies like the National Assembly. So, the framework is really there. The programme, we believe, is also there, but the execution of that programme; whether in the body polity, the executive or even the private sector is the actual problem. This framework that is housing these elements, is it really working properly? If it is really working, I don’t think there is need for the advisory body.  I think the advisory body is to rekindle the necessity and guide the economy for the benefit of the governed.

Today, we can say one thing. First of all, we have a democracy. Democracy should have a platform to really grow from. That means, party politics and associations, with their various programmes and policies as what is needed to be done. Do we have today, political parties in Nigeria that are really coming with their ideologies and beliefs clearly spelt out to the electorates and allow the electorates the opportunity of buying the philosophy of the parties? I don’t think we have it here.

Fundamentally, we have never had one single election that all of us believe and agree to be free, fair and democratic. Let’s say that the biggest political party is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP as a party today, has it an ideology which the majority who they claim to belong to it are consulted and permitted to really hold free and fair elections and make their choices right from the villages, local, state, central governments and even the chairman of their party without imposition? We have a long way to go.

Until and unless we all agree that this democracy we are shouting about, we must have it in reality. If we are to have it in reality, the question of imposing a candidate and determining what association that candidates belong to must be completely set aside.  The day you decide individually or as a group that you will subvert the willingness of an individual to select or vote his own representatives, from that point you fail and you should forget it.

Is there any difference developmentally from the military era to the current civilian administration?


Military administration is a dictatorship by all definitions. So, let’s not even start talking about it. The civilian administration is a departure from the military administration. You are in a newspaper. I believe that your sources of information are so wide and varied. I am sure you know that today, elections in Nigeria and most African countries are not elections but selections. And therefore, if you based your government on selections, you already have compromised good governance. This is because, good governance simply means some kind of consensus, where people believe and agree to have representatives to represent them. But if you don’t have that, would you really call it a democracy? No, that is selection. Tell me one state in Nigeria where election was held without any petition. Tell me one local government where people went willingly and selected the person they want. We need political education in the first place. We need sharing of political space for each other, to understand that we may not think or believe the same, but we have to try and build a consensus on how to do what we think can promote the common good for all of us.

Africa has been your constituency in terms of development, but why is it that Nigeria, the supposed giant of Africa, is now being over taken by certain African countries in virtually every facet of development? What is exactly happening?  


That is correct. This is because we refused to call a spade a spade. We keep on calling it an instrument of digging. The day, for example, you subvert even the elections of the leadership of your party because some people have got what they call hidden interest or agenda, from there you are finished. And because you feel you are not representing anybody, you are representing yourself and whatever selfish interest you have is the only one you now promote by the time you are in power or anybody you gave that power to.   

So, you can subvert the people by imposing anybody on them, but I can assure you that you can never get their willingness and cooperation to move towards a goal set up to move us forward.

You mentioned that Nigeria is big. We have both natural and human resources. But why is Nigeria suffering from power outage? Why do we have petroleum and suffer long queues?  Are you not surprised? Why is all this?

There was a time we sat down and produced what we called “Vision 2010” and it was the most auditable policy blueprint that Nigeria will ever hope to have. And 2010 has come and passed, but have we achieved what we wanted to achieve? We have not. I was in London when the Big Bell heralded the arrival of 1st January, 2010; I took my pen just by my bed side and wrote 1-01-2010 and kept it down. I then said to myself, Bamanga, if I pass out now, it will be said that I passed out in 2010 not 2009.

If we had that programme, the question of power outage would have been history; the question of long queues would have been history by now. Why didn’t we do it? It was subverted. We didn’t protest. We allowed it to go. That is why we will continue with the ailments we have been suffering from.

The problems seem to revolve around the leaders and the elites and you are one of them. Why is it making it difficult to have a transition of development? 

Here again, we failed to work together. We are divided. People tend to believe that we will be like cigarettes and they will move like that. Even cattle, that is animals, allow one of the biggest of them to be in front. But Nigerians would not want that. The moment they see you going, they pull you back with all sorts of reasons.  Why do we celebrate the late Sheikh Usmanu Ibn Fodio? It was because he established an effective system of administration throughout the provinces of the North. Why do we celebrate the late Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe. It ws because we accepted him as our leader. Why do we celebrate the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It was because we accepted them as leaders. From there on, we refused to accept anybody to be our leader. We undermined anybody who wanted to show, in one way or the other, ability to lead us to prosperity. People would start asking who is he? Why should he lead us? So, that trend must stop if we want good leaders. A good leader emerges. There are processes of emergence. If you subvert those processes of emergence, the leaders will not emerge.


With this backlog of problems, how does your advisory committee intend to achieve its onerous task of entrenching good governance alternative, policy formulation and execution, corruption eradication among others?  


Now that the leadership has said what it wants, we will remind them that it is not that all these things are not there. It is very simple: stop rigging elections, stop imposing leaders, stop corruption, stop being unfair to your citizenry and make sure that their human rights are really protected. That is what we are going to tell them. We would say if that is what you want: you must do these. If you do it, everything will take shape. We are not going to tell Acting President Goodluck Jonathan anything new that he doesn’t know. But we are going to tell him all that he already knows. What we are going to tell him is that: is he ready to make them work from where they are now through experience, knowledge, age and through being patriotic? Finally, believe me, there will be no single word or sentence that will be in our report that we will submit to the acting president that he doesn’t know. But he can take the bull by the horns as acting president and remove any obstacles hindering the process from going through.

What are your feelings over the leadership crisis precipitated by the ill-health of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua?

I felt despondent. You know how the media can make and unmake. The media can convince people to say something is grey whereas it is white. They can convince you to agree that there is more grey in that thing than the white.  This is what is happening here in Nigeria. There are people who are wealthy, influential and capable of accessing the seat of power and say their point of view and listen to and take cognisance of the leadership. But do they do that?

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has made it clear that the North, the biggest and the most impoverished region in the country will retain the Presidency in 2011. What do you think the elites should do to produce a capable candidate?  


Let me tell you, it is only when the small chicks are growing that the mother covers them with its wings but when they come of age, they move on their own. Why are we not agreeing to give jobs to who the job wants, not to those who want the job? That is the problem. Leadership should emerge. After 50 years of independence, to me, I don’t like to see North, South, East and what have you. I would like to see competitiveness. I would like to see that you give the job to whoever can do it better.  Tell me, if you take a Northerner and give him, what difference will it make to the impoverished Northerners we are talking about. Will it make any changes in their lives?

In the beginning, why Sardauna made a difference was because of the disparity between North and South and he established institutions like Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Northern Nigeria Development Company (NNDC); Bank of the North and so on. We don’t need anything more than that. From there, we grow. I want to compete on the world stage. We can compete.

It is a competition. So, why should I be protected by giving me power? It is a complete deceit, I can assure you. After 50 years of independence, we don’t need power shift. The majority will not agree with me because they don’t know; but if they know, it is in the Northern interest to allow the North to compete. Even mothers after breast feeding the baby, they give it the bottle and say go. People need to be educated.

Take for instance, the local government councils. We have chairmen who only know how to steal half of the money allocated to their councils. They can’t even provide good slaughter slabs for their people not to talk of something reasonable. They are all from our areas. Is it not better to get an Igbo man, for instance, from Abia as your local government chairman if he would have your children go to school and have a dispensary?  This is a myth, there is no difference whatsoever.     

How do we get out of this doldrums?

I can recall very well, immediately after independence. If as a public servant, you wear a watch that is believed to be above your income, your permanent secretary will ask you how you came about it. Just a watch!   Today, you see a clerk coming to office with the latest model of a jeep and you don’t ask him. We don’t need to be reactive, we have to be proactive. He should be asked whether his salary can afford him that car. If he is doing business, then how much tax did he pay? That is why most of them can’t sleep well in their houses.  They are afraid that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will follow them.

Also, there is this Vision 20:2020. What has your advisory council got to do with it?

I don’t understand it (Vision 20:2020). What I understood before was Vision 2010. I participated in it; I knew it was good. It was delivered but never implemented. It is still gathering dust in the shelves.  Even now, there is nothing you can say whether 20:2020, 20: 2030 or 20:2040.     

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