President Tinubu guilty of same mistakes Buhari made – Sani, ADP national chairman

The National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Yabaji Sani, has warned that the relocation of agencies under the Ministries of Finance and Aviation from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to Lagos State, might trigger regional crisis in the country.

Sani, a former chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), in this interview, said that the government should be ingenious enough to come up with ideas to create wealth rather than relocating agencies already domiciled in Abuja. The 2023 ADP presidential candidate, however, claimed that President Bola Tinubu might not be aware of the consequences the changes will bring.

In addition, he condemned the clamor for the suspension of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), as a result of kidnapping of corps members, saying that the reason for the establishment of the scheme was still important. Excerpt:

Insecurity is upon us especially in the FCT that should be the safest place. How do we address this problem?

This is a democracy and democracy presuppose the government of the people, by the people for the people and it is a constitutional democracy. I think Section 14 or something like that of our constitution says that the responsibility of the government is to provide security and welfare. That is number one. So, when you look at the build up to where we are today, you cannot pretend to say that everybody is not happy. Yes, after every context, there is supposed to be a winner and a loser. And under democracy, it is expected that because the government belongs to all efforts must be made by the government to assuage whatever the fears are or appease whatever the grievances of the other contestants may be. Because it is all of us, the loser and the winner. That is what democracy says. But there must be a government. So, the issue now is one:  We have had cases of security challenges in the FCT even before now, we have had jailbreaks and things like that before this time. It is not as if what is happening now started today. There is a buildup. But the conflagration you are talking about perhaps may have been increased because of some of the dynamics that are in the system today.

What are these dynamics?

As I said earlier, this is a democracy. We just had a contest. Some people are not happy, some are happy. It is normal. But it’s expected. I do not know, how much the government is doing. But it is to find a way to appease, persuade, appeal, convince the other side that all is not lost. The country belongs to all of us and let us work together. For instance, I was listening to a television interview today and somebody said the attacks here in Abuja was because Wike is the one here and it’s like a spillover of the rivers’ crisis that is now being re-enacted or played in the FCT. That is what I gathered from what the person was saying. So, you can now see what I am saying that the dynamics are there. It may be true; it may not be true. But if you look at what politics is all about, the stakes are very high. And if not approached in a manner that will make them feel part and parcel of what is happening, it can go to every length to do something. So, that is the point I am making. The true situation in the FCT in particular, has worsened. And the Minister of FCT is not helping the situation. I listened to what he said on the television today. Instead of saying things that will douse tension, it appears as if he is not really in tune with the reality of the situation. He is supposed to play a father figure because God has put him there as the minister. The minister is the president as far as the FCT is concerned. So, you are supposed to play the role of the president of what the president would have done. But if he is making some utterances that it is politicians, then he should discuss with politicians. You are not talking to politicians; you are talking to Nigerians and citizens of the FCT. What you say to them may be different from what you say outside. So,

government of the day should engage more in reconciliatory moves that will bring people together. Let them feel part and parcel of what is happening. Do not let them feel like you do not care and that I can go hell, or you say, ‘you can go and do whatever you like.’ You see, even the mere appointment of Wike itself, to me, it is toxic. I have always said it. It is toxic because it is like saying that, yes, we are rewarding you for what you did in your party, which perhaps may have also been responsible for our victory. How do you now expect the other side to take it? Look at the utterances he is making. It does not tally with the kind of approach that I am saying because that is the reality of the situation. We cannot run away from it. The earlier the government realizes it the better. Otherwise, the people that are aggrieved rightly or wrongly, they do not feel happy. They are not supposed to feel happy. And the government is supposed to realize that. Let us engage politics of reconciliation so that we can have peace. Because you brought crisis in FCT. As far as FCT is concerned, it did not start with this government. Only that it has been heightened. You brought in some dynamics that are not in line with what is expected of the government that is in power.

Another issue that is generating mixed reactions is the relocation of some agencies under the Ministries of Aviation and Finance from Abuja to Lagos State. Is the fuss necessary?

As I have said, the government of the day is going out of the act of governance. It is going against the grains of what is expected. It is not now that you will say you want to implement a sectional agenda. It is a wrong timing. And it is enough to create some of the crises we are talking about. That is enough. Wike element bringing Rivers State crisis to add more fuel to the crisis we have in FCT. It is not the right thing to do. Like you rightly said, trying to move, if you like, the hope of the economy of this country from the center of the country to a section of the country is an invitation for crisis. Because the country, like I told you from the beginning, is a democracy. Democracy presupposes that it is the government of the people, for the people and by the people. And everybody believes that they have right to whatever you think Nigeria has which is for Nigeria. Why I said they are going the wrong way is that our economy is big that you do not need to move anything. You do not need to move the economy of the country from the center to a section of the country. What you need to do is to think out of the box. Thank God you have a state like Lagos that can create a new wave of economic activities. You do not need to touch anybody from here. 

Remain where you are and create another wave of economic boom. Unless if you have people that are not thinking or do not have brains that can create new things. And what is government?  Government is an opportunity for you to create things that are not even there before. Because you have the power, you have the allegiance of the people. You have the constitution behind you. You do not have to take from Peter to pay Paul or create unnecessary crisis like what this one is turning out to be. Remember, one of the problems that I think may be true or not is that Abiola, according to people that before the elections there were discussions at that point in time of moving the federal capital back to Lagos State, which, of course, did not sit well with the people in power at that point in time. And definitely, I am sure that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed is not behind some of these things. He is being used because he has lived all his life as an opposition politician, and he knows what democracy means. He knows that democracy is not something you will take for granted because it belongs to all. Whatever you think you have as power, the power only comes from the people not from the seat or presidency or from the governor’s office, no. The power is from the people. So, I believe that Asiwaju will rise to the occasion. Why I am saying this is because he has lived his life or most part of his life in the political arena as an opposition. So, he knows what it means if he tries to do something that does not sit well with the opposition. Because the power is not of the president, but the authority. You need the people to exercise that authority for you to be in power. You do not do things that will antagonize a big chunk of the country. It will only make things to become more problematic for you. And they do not need it. The Southwest does not need this because God has already favored the Southwest by making that place a commercial center of the economy of this country. They do not need this unnecessary creation of tension of saying that I am removing CBN to the West or whatever. NNPCL is being headed by whosoever, so I want to move it. What for God’s sake? What is it that the Southwest cannot get if they really concentrate on creating new wealth? That is what government is about; to create new wealth.

You have the Constitution, isn’t it? You have the people. Create new wealth. You do not have to displace wealth from one place to another because of its political implications, which will result in some of the things that you are now seeing like insecurity. Because if people find that they cannot express themselves or they cannot stop some of the things, they resort to some of these unnecessary activities. So, it is not necessary. It should not happen under a government that is headed by Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It should not because he knows the power of opposition. He knows the damage the opposition can do to a sitting government. He knows. So, he will not want it to happen to his government. And those who are deceiving him, who are on the fringe of the government will think that they know, he knows that it is not like that. So, he should wake up. He should not allow them to destroy his government. I always tell people that the person on the seat today is a blessing to this country, if experience is anything to go by. You cannot buy it with money. He has lived all his life through the system. He knows the in and out of it. So, I am not sure that he is behind most of these things happening.

Are you implying that there is a cabal?

I do not know what you want to call it. But what I think is happening is that if you are a critical observer of the politics of this country, you will understand the fact that the tripod, it is something that I believe anybody who is very fast or who is nationalistic will want to ensure that that tripod is not in any way unbalanced. Because the moment you try to do that you will have a problem. What do I mean by the tripod? The economy of this country can only survive if the balance of the tripod is kept. To try to move it to one leg, you will have a problem with the other two legs and that is why by keeping the hope of the economy in the center as it is not the convenience of it, it is for the intensity of it so that all of us can now aspire to feel that we belong. It is not because I am from the North or you are from the East or he is from the West, therefore, you are discriminated against and the politics of this country too. If what is not meant to keep the balance of this tripod, will also create certain situations in the politics of the nation. Why I always say that Nigeria is lucky to have Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as president is that he knows all these things I am talking about. Before coming to government, he has been in the opposition. It is like a pyramid. The government is just at the top. But look at the base that the government is sitting on. So, you can know that the force and the foundation and the ability to do and undo rests with the base that is why it is critically important that this base is kept balanced. Do not say because you are up there you can do whatever you like. Once this base gets shaky you will not be there. So, two things government must quickly wake up and then do something about is that they must call Wike to order. He is not the governor of Rivers State. He is Mr. President as far as the FCT is concerned. That is the reality of the situation. If they do not get it right, then it is unfortunate. This government too belongs to all Nigerians. It is not only the Southwest. Bola Ahmed Tinubu may come from Southwest, but that does not make the government that of the Southwest. And we have seen this futility of these things when Buhari was there. One of the reasons Buhari did not succeed as it was expected to succeed is because of exactly what is happening today.

What could that be?

Sectionalism of policies. The reality is not what somebody is thinking about or making up. We are all living witnesses. Because what normally happens is that people now tend to become turned off. They tend not to eternalize the goal of the government, once they feel that they are being discriminated against. All you hear is: Yes, sir. But nothing is happening. Nothing gets done. You are being up there cannot do anything. Just like we have the unfortunate situation of insecurity that we are having today, the rank and file are saying yes, sir. They will say it is their government why should I kill myself? So, someone like Bola Tinubu should live up to the expectations of the people. People like me have implicit confidence that because of experience, because of where he is coming from, he will do better. Buhari, you could give it to him, if he made such assumptions that resulted the way he did. But Tinubu cannot because he lived his life through it. So, this is why he should not allow those people around him and who may not have the opportunity that he had may not know as much as he knows to draw his government into unnecessarily confusion, which he does not need to. Nobody will take it against him if he creates a new wealth for Lagos to become more buoyant as it is. But do not take away anything from the center because government instrument is there for you to create new wealth and add to what you have made. Do not take away from what you have to your own home. We should begin to now build back Nigeria.

Do you support the suspension of NYSC because of the kidnapping of corps members?

No. I do not think it should be scrapped. And I am not also saying it should be done the way it is being done today. The reason we have NYSC is still fresh, and it is about nation building. It is issue of how we unite our people, how we bring ourselves to know each other better so that we can appreciate one another’s culture; his ways of doing things, his ways of belief. We still need to come closer to each other. It cannot happen on its own. That is why we have a government. That is why I say government is an instrument to create new things that are not there. Make new symbols that will unite people. So, NYSC to me has not outlived its usefulness. Perhaps those who are in charge of the programme today need to look at what areas that time has made to be different from what it used to be before and let us see how it would be. Who says that you cannot use NYSC to solve part of the problems of insecurity? May be if you have to sit down, take a critical look at NYSC itself, perhaps it can also be used to fight insecurity depending on how you structure it and how you organize it because we must build a nation. To build a nation I cannot think of a better strategy for the society that you will inculcate those new thinking and ways of doing things. Because they are coming out from universities, they are still very skeptical of what they are doing. They are inquisitive. They want to know. Some of them want to test something, have some misgivings of what it is all about. Somebody from the East, aside from the issue of NYSC, he may not have the potential of going to the North or West. They have been inter-marriages because of it. It has helped in demolishing some of those unnecessary misgivings and sentiments. I think if there is any programme that we need in this country more is that of NYSC and, perhaps, government should take a second look at it. How do we remodel it to suit the challenge of the situations? It was created because there were challenges, and those challenges are still there. So, if you are having new challenges now improve on it. Be as creative as those who introduced the programme. Let us be more creative. It is not that we will just jettison something. Let us not just move on to another thing. What else do you need? Should we allow the nation to drift apart? No.

The explosion that rocked Oyo State which was as a result of mining activities has exposed our nonchalant attitude in building wealth without recourse to the lives of Nigerians. What can we do to ensure that the situation does not repeat itself?

We are even richer as a mining country than oil. It is just that unfortunately, either because those who are benefiting from disorganisation in that sector are the same people that are managing the sector as far as government is concerned. That is why it was left to deteriorate at the level where we are today. Otherwise, a serious country would have taken a very strong position in organising that sector. But, for instance, look at the oil and gas sector, it is disorganised even as we speak today. what has happened in the oil and gas sector is because it is a sector that has a much more organised international system of operations. And the kind of atrocities that happened in that sector they are perhaps more restricted to the elite. You do not need so much of artisans to get involved. It is more or less restricted to particular areas because of the kind of investments required. But for mining, you do not require the same amount of startup capital and machinery. What I am trying to say is that Nigeria’s economy is run like a community goat because it belongs to everybody, it belongs to nobody.  Unfortunately, when you have a government in power, unfortunately for this country, the majority of the people in government are the ones that are benefiting from the disorganised environment. So, what happens, because there are no laws and order people operating there are more or less criminals. They do not follow the rules or regulations. Criminals can go to any length to do whatever they like. Why? Because there is nobody that is in charge of ensuring that law and order operate in that sector. And because the stakes are high, that is why we see the kind of explosions that are happening. So, it is up to the government to wake up and do the right thing. And the right thing is to ensure that the revenue accruing from that sector goes into the federation not into private pockets as we have it today.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top