With the level of hate speeches and exchanges among youths in the social media, there are dark clouds hovering over the country and if not checked, Nigeria is doomed. In this interview, Muhammad Baba Kachalla, who is currently aspiring for the governorship seat of Borno State on the platform of the Alliance for Social Democrats, made the assertion and expressed fears on the future of the country. In this interview, he spoke on several issues with WILLY EYA.
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With the primaries of the various political parties over, what are your projections ahead of next year’s general elections?
As it relates to me, you know I am running for the gubernatorial election in Borno State. In Borno here, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not performed as expected by the people who voted them in. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also in disarray because it is factionalised and the incumbent APC governor is funding both factions. Therefore, for my party, Alliance for Social Democrats, I see an opportunity and victory ahead of the 2019 general elections. We are positioning ourselves from the disorganisation of the PDP and also taking viable advantages from the misrule of the APC in Borno State.
Many think that President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are more prominently positioned to compete for the presidential election next year. How do you weigh their chances in 2019 poll?
The average psychology of the voter is always with the winning team or the perceived winning team. As it is, President Buhari is the incumbent and Atiku is the one challenging him. In our own economy, everything depends on government’s expenditure. People want some sort of government’s patronage and out of fear of not being excluded by the incumbent government, they always want to identify with the incumbent administration whether it is good for them or not. And based on that, the disposition of the generality of the voters appear to favour the incumbent. However, politics have always been fluid and anything can happen.
As usual with Nigerian elections, tension is already building up again ahead of 2019 poll. How do you feel about the development?
It is up to the Nigerian voters to see through the build up and observe the rules of the game. Violence is of no use to the voters. They should know that while they go out to perpetrate the violence, the children of the politicians are in far-flung countries in Europe, America and others. While their children are there, you are here fighting for the entrenchment of your oppressors. It is up to the Nigerian voters to look through the façade. They should know that no life is worth being wasted for the person operating them.
The 2019 general elections seem to be tearing the North apart contrary to the impression that the region used to speak with one voice. Would you say it is because the two frontline candidates are from the region?
The idea of a monolithic North lingered on and on until after the region was thorn into pieces or states. For instance, the North became 19 states. With the state structure as the federating units, you would have realised that a monolithic North subsists only in the imagination of Northerners. However, because of the commonality of culture, even when you are from different states, you can also relate with one another across different states of the North as Northerners. So, the idea of a monolithic North only exists in the psyche, and remembered with a sense of nostalgia and that is what people relate to, and say the North is no longer united. How can it be? The North has been turned into little bits and pieces of states and each of those 19 states have independent legislatures that make laws at the state levels. Then when the North used to be monolithic, there was a Northern House of Assembly. Today, there are 19 Northern state assemblies.
With events in Nigeria today especially ahead of next year’s general elections, what are your fears for Nigeria?
As an adult who is well over 60, when I open up the social media and see the hate–related exchanges among youths in the North and the South, and between Christian and Muslim youths, I see doom on the horizon.
Prominent retired generals have ganged up against President Buhari and openly supporting Atiku Abubakar; is there no more the culture of esprit de corps in the Army?
Like I told you, I am preoccupied with the state level elections and I am running for the governorship election in Borno State. If you ask Borno related questions, it will be more like it than dwelling on the national.
Are you suggesting that the cloud may lead to a break up?
The beauty of looking at a thing in an exhibition is that to each person, there is a difference in the appreciation of a work of arts. If we all look at the setting sun, we will definitely disagree on the colours of the setting sun.
With the controversy trailing the recent gubernatorial elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ekiti and Osun states, do you think 2019 will be free and fair?
I would rather be an optimist than a pessimist. I wish for the best in this country. I pray there will be a peaceful election in 2019. As a key actor and participant at the state level, I will not want to promote violence or to work against peace in the state. I will also urge my fellow contestants to do the same. I believe that if my fellow contestants do what I am doing, there will be a peaceful election in Borno State. If this attitude is circulated across all the 36 states of the federation, we will have a peaceful election across the country.
There is this perception that leaders in the North have failed their people and that is why there is high level of poverty in that region of the country. Those who hold this view base their argument on the fact that the North has produced more leaders in the country since the nation’s independence in 1960. Do you agree with that position?
My brother, even though it could be argued that there is more poverty in the North than the Southern part of the country, there is no part of this country including the South that I have not been to. Poverty is a common denominator between the South and the North. All the rural areas of this country are poor. Almost all the citizens living in our rural areas are poor. They all use primitive farm tools. They cultivate with hoes and cutlasses to clear and till the land. If you have been to Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China and Korea, it is not only the leaders in the North that have not done well but the entire leadership of Nigeria that have not done well to propel us into industrialisation. So, when you now minimise your perception along North and South and want to think that Southerners are comfortable and more prosperous, I say no. Southerners are also in poverty. Southerners also engage in violence. Southerners also engage in fraud. Go to Onitsha, Enugu, Lagos, Ibadan and so on. As you try to land in Ibadan, all you see underneath the aircraft are brown and rusted roofing sheets. You see a sea of rustic roofing sheets. Ibadan is in the South and not in the North. There is poverty all over Nigeria my brother. It is not peculiar to the North. If you want to blame the leadership, it will not be fair to minimise it to the North alone.
In the recent past, Borno has become a hotbed of violence; ahead of the general elections, what do you hope to see in the state?
All said and done, the present government has improved the security situation. Before the advent of this government, four of the 27 local governments were not accessible but presently, all the 57 local governments are accessible even though in some, we need security escorts to access. Moving forward toward the 2019 general elections, it is heartwarming to note that the elections are going to be conducted in the Internally Displaced camps. When viewed against the facts that almost all of the IDPs used to be in the state capital, Maiduguri, you would say that there had been improvements of what obtained in the past. So, we are looking forward to a peaceful general elections in 2019.
Would you say that the crisis in Borno is politically motivated?
Everyone sees the crisis in Borno State differently depending on where he stands and where it suits him. If you choose to look at the situation through the prism of politics, then it is political. If you choose to look at it from the tribal and social challenges facing the people, it remains so. Then, there is also the religious angle. After all, the Boko Haram sect promotes the violence on the basis of religion. They have a dogmatic, puritanical claim. So, it depends on what you choose to interpret the situation to be. It could be political, social or religious. Like I said, it all depends on where you are standing and looking at the situation.
How do you feel about the introduction of religion into politics in Nigeria?
There is nothing you do to isolate religion from our politics. When it was touted that a Muslim candidate will pick a Muslim as a running mate, there was an uproar in the Southern part of the country that a Muslim/Muslim ticket would not fly with them. Therefore, he had to choose a Christian vice president. There was never a time that religion was not a factor in our politics. If there is going to be a Southern Christian presidential candidate, the counterpoise will be a Muslim vice president from the North. Isn’t it? So, religion has always been a factor.
Your state, Borno used to be very receptive to both residents and visitors but all that is now in the past; what actually happened?
If most people did not travel to Maiduguri on account of the peaceful disposition of Borno State, you would say the place had always been like that. Most people sent their children to the University of Maiduguri because of the peace that used to obtain in the state capital and the entire Borno State. All that is now in the past. It is up to us as Nigerians to try and solve these problems. When the crisis started in Maiduguri, you would have noticed that major streets were barricaded in Abuja which is about 1000 kilometers from Maiduguri. That is to say that no challenge happens in any part of the country without affecting the other parts. It is not a Maiduguri thing but a Nigerian thing. Therefore, the solution is up to Nigerians. There are dark clouds hovering over the nation.
What do you think is the future of your party, the Alliance for Social Democrats in Nigeria?
We are selling credibility; we are selling transformation and prosperity to the Nigerian people. We are saying, let us come together and challenge the status quo. We are talking about the status quo that has not worked for us for over 50 years. We want to form a government that we can call our own so that our country can attain great heights.
Why did you abandon your former party? Do you think your party has enough structure to make impact in the next election?
Rome was not built in a day. The APC used to have only one governor in Nasarawa State. Today, the APC has about 20 governors and the presidency, and they are calling the shots. So, there is always a beginning. We are taking the bull by the horns.
Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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