Vice President of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Senator Joseph Waku, has said the weakness of the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration is the main reason insecurity in the country has not been nipped in the bud. Waku stated in an interview with Daily Sun in Abuja, saying Nigeria had witnessed the worst of all crises, which was the civil war, but came out of it.
He submitted that “this one too, Nigerians will come out of it. But the fact of the matter is, we have a weak government.” Waku, who represented Benue North/West Senatorial District from 1999 to 2003 in the Senate, also blamed head of the security agencies for the crisis.
“I believe that they want this crisis to continue. Some are living very fat on it. They are feeding on it. So, they don’t want the crisis to end.” Excerpts: What is your position on the insecurity posed to the nation by the Boko Haram sect? No nation and no citizen of any nation will be happy if the security and property of its citizens are not being protected. So, the people living in the nation will not be happy that there is a lot of insecurity in the land.
Therefore, I have the same feeling with many Nigerians that we need peace and tranquility in this country. I hate to say that Nigerians are big pretenders when I watch on the television, particularly, the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Nigerians deceiving Nigerians that all is well; that the foreign business partners want to come and invest.
And I said, who are you deceiving? I am involved in international business and many Nigerians do the same. We have a problem of convincing our partners, foreign partners, to come and invest in this country. That alone, shows clearly that insecurity has deprived many Nigerians of the good things of life and the lives that are being lost and the property of the people in it, are also destroyed. It is not fair to say that all is well. And no normal human being in his normal senses will say that he is not bordered about what is going on.
I am bordered about it if others do not. I am bordered about it because I know the consequences and the danger it imposes to the younger generation and the yet unborn because if there is no security, there will be no stability. And if there is no stability, there will be no development. In your candid assessment, where do you situate the problem? Is it the poverty in the North or…? I hate when one says it is the poverty in the North. It is not only in the north that we have crisis. This country had come across crisis at one time or the other.
This crisis in the north happened recently. Otherwise, there had been crises that cut across the nation and those crises were not in the best interest of our nation to a point that we have gone into a civil war. Can there be any crisis worse than that? Yet, Nigerians came out of it. This one too, Nigerians will come out of it. But the fact of the matter is, we have a weak government. We have a government that is insensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of its people that it claims it is ruling.
And therefore, things of that nature can no longer be. How do we tackle the security problem of this country? I called on the federal government the other time when the Jos crisis happened, when innocent lives were being lost, including members of national and state assemblies. Who else is safe in this country? Nobody! And that was why I called on the United Nations to intervene in what is going on in Nigeria because we have failed.
We need support from other places to tackle this crisis and we shouldn’t be pretending about it. And it is not something that we should not swallow our pride. In as much as we would not want to swallow our pride, our lives, our property and our children, are being daily diminished, destroyed and being killed.
Therefore, we need support from a country that knows how to tackle security issues. And there are so many of them. We can proffer some solutions but will the government listens? Security is not about leadership. Security is not about royalty. It is only in royalty that somebody will sit in his office and begin to expect his subjects to come in.
It has gone beyond that. I will tell you and the federal government is aware that even a cleaner in the United States of America, is part of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). But here, our security operators sit in their offices, wanting you to go there and give them information. It doesn’t happen that way, it cannot happen that way and they will not succeed that way.
So, many people who are talented, with knowledge of security operations that are willing to render services to the federal government, are not given the opportunity, not even to employ them. Why? (Lowered his voice) Are you asking me why? They don’t trust anybody, which I believe that they want this crisis to continue. Some are living very fat on it.
They are feeding on it. So, they don’t want the crisis to end. Are you afraid that the crisis may soon spread to Benue state, your home state? I don’t forecast that. I want the crisis to come to an end in these states that it has happened so far. But suppose it spreads to Benue? If it spreads to Benue, it will still be the same inefficiency of government because they could curtail it, if not totally eradicated.
In that case, why do you think the problem is difficult to solve? Who told you that I said it is difficult to solve? I have always said it is a very simple thing to solve. If the government wakes up one morning and decides that this crisis should finish, it will finish. It is not a difficult thing, I mean, to solve. Are they not human beings? Are they not staying in peoples’ cities? Are they not mingling with people? Maybe you didn’t understand me clearly.
I said in America and Britain, most hotels you go to feed, most staff there are CIAs and security operators, including cleaners on the street and drivers. Why can’t we do it here? Because they wait for people to bring information. It doesn’t work that way. And I told you in the early segment of this interview that it does not work that way and it will not work that way. Why? They do not want to disburse the resources that is meant for security duty operations. The leaders of such security operators sit on it. Also, corruption! So, government is the problem? It is the government. Nobody else, it is the government.
What is the current position of the ACF on the Boko Haram menace? How many times will I speak of the stand of the ACF on the Boko Haram crisis? It is not only the Boko Haram crisis that the ACF is worried about. ACF was worried about the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), worried about Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), worried about the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), worried about the Niger Delta militants; it is worried about any insecurity in this country.
And that is why we keep meeting together with the Afenifere, with the South-South Conference, with the South-East; that is why we have been with the Afenifere and the Ohaneze. We have been doing this inter-meetings to harmonize and bring about peace in this country. So, the ACF is not particularly concerned about Boko Haram, it is generally concerned about insecurity in this country, including Boko Haram.
How about the insinuation that the northern political elite are using the sect to harass the President because a northerner wasn’t given the chance in 2011? I dismiss that as an insult on the north. I dismiss that! At what point in time was Boko Haram? Boko Haram was before Umaru Yar’Adua died. So, how did it become Jonathan’s issue?
But their operations were not as intense as they are now… They were not as intense as they are now maybe because they were in the making. Maybe they were in the making! In their evolution? Yes. Why are you opposed to the idea of designating the entire sect as a terrorist organization rather than individuals because you recently took on the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over the matter. Don’t you think Christians will think you are supporting the sect? Thank you very much.
Even if you have not raised this issue, I would still have brought it up once again. I don’t have to go dancing on the street of Abuja, or Makurdi, of Kaduna, or Gboko or Ibadan before one would know that I am a Christian. What are the norms of Christianity? Peace! And peace! And as a leader, as a religious leader, his utterances and comments should be seen as reconciliatory and not as escalating the crisis. That was why I came in. That is one. Number two, I did not challenge the CAN but Oritsejafor as a person and probably, using the CAN for his selfish ends which I am opposed to because I am a Christian and Christianity is all about peace and not violence.
And as a leader or as a Christian, what he preaches first, is peace and he should lead by example. That is, rather, I am encouraging Christians to imbibe the principles of Christ. Are you saying Oritsejafor is trying to take Christians to the other side? He is trying to take them to the other side. And that is why I am cautioning him. And let me tell you: many Christians in this country have called me to congratulate me. I didn’t say anything negative about Christianity. I advised him to be more of a Christian and moderate in his speech.
As a leader, you must leave a room for tomorrow’s reconciliation or resolution of conflict. You should not be seen as leading the conflict so that when it is time for conflict resolution, your participation in that resolution may not be taken seriously because you are already bias. Are you interested in dialogue with the Boko Haram sect? I am in agreement to dialogue with any aggrieved person that makes himself available. Will you accept to be a middle man between the federal government and the group? I wouldn’t mind! That is if I know them. I wouldn’t mind because I need peace. Are you hopeful that the crisis will be resolved soon? It will be resolved.
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