… says Nigeria Needs Restructuring in Tandem with its Population Status – Gabam
Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam, National Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in a recent interview with Seyi Anjorin of The News Chronicle spoke on the June 12 Democracy Day celebration, national restructuring and other salient issues.
How would you assess the President Buhari administration so far?
I always say that President Buhari is one of those leaders I respect a lot. He came from a rich background as he has been a former governor, minister, military head of state and after leaving the military, he joined politics, tried about three to four times for the presidency and he eventually won the presidential election. My expectation from this administration was for the security architecture of the country to be strong and massive, where every Nigerian will feel a sense of protection and lives and property will be secured. Based on his own design and programmes of securing Nigeria and making it viable; when he came in, he inherited the issue of boko haram that had been watered down. We expected by now that anything called boko haram must have fizzled out. What we are seeing today is the depreciation of the security situation of the country, lives are being lost on daily basis in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba and so on, kidnappings and crime seems to be just everywhere including assassinations. I least expected that from Buhari considering his background and record. As far as I am concerned, it is a very alarming situation, I am quite disturbed about this because, there is no way you would have peace of mind, especially when you are on Abuja-Kaduna highway because of the assumption that at any minute you could be killed or kidnapped.
Even though there are arrays of security institutions on that road but then, you still realize that kidnapping goes on unabated and people lose their lives. To me it’s a security failure, the security architecture must be looked into again and this is highly paramount.
He knew the economic situation of the country before he took over, so shifting the blame should not be of a leader. When a leader is coming in, he must have a clear cut of the problems and the solution to the problem. Nigerian economy was somehow very viable before he took over, but it went into recession under his watch, technically they said we are out of recession but we are yet to see any evidence that we are out of recession. Cost of living and feeding is very high, the cost of local rice we are talking about is almost tripling the foreign rice. The cost of fertilizer has not gone down; the average farmer even finds it difficult for himself to farm what he and his family will eat right away not to talk about those that are going into commercial farming. The vibrancy of our market at stock exchange is very bad, those are the indices that you can see that the economy is bad and people hardly get three daily square meals for their families, when you look at the lifestyle of the people, it has shrank, this is a clear indication that the economy is not viable. These are facts on ground and we are talking as a nation that is committed to rebuilding Nigeria.
How would you describe the herdsmen killings and Boko haram insurgency?
Anything that takes the live of another human being, there is no way you can say this is a lesser evil because the two problems have taken away human lives, there is no humanity content in their operations. I do not want to go into the politics of herdsmen; a lot of intelligence work is ongoing to identify who they are. Both of these sects have taken human lives and this is part of security breach. That is, having non state actors challenging state actors and vice versa which is non-conventional warfare, and since it is a non-conventional warfare, the government could have invested heavily and force our security personnel to deal with some of these security challenges.
Non-conventional warfare is a global practice as it is today so Nigeria is not an exception, most of the time, you see non state actors challenging the state. Nigeria would have prepared for this long ago; yes the government has tried to curtail boko haram and we must salute our security agencies for doing their very best and losing their families and lives. They need to be equipped, the government needs to give them every facility and gadget that they need, not just for Nigeria to be secured for also for them to be also secured, that is what a nation is all about; you equip your personnel and give them the needed facility to operate.
What brought back the defunct Social Democratic Party?
Those who believe in the biblical theory of death and resurrection means that once you die and resurrect, you will not die again. This also means that those party that have not died, need to die and resurrect. SDP has died and resurrected and that means it will not die again, that is why we are swimming very strong on top of the bar and we are working diligently to make sure that the platform remains very credible and amiable to the Nigerian people. The platform is committed to advancing the nation’s infrastructure, security apparatus and the robust economy of Nigeria. The social order is founded on social justice and equity as it strengthens the fundamental pillars of democracy of our nationhood, so that it can stand the test of time and that is what we stand for. We also believe in the restructuring of Nigeria, our population when we got independence was about twenty something million but today we are talking about two hundred million, which means naturally, you do not need an intellectual to tell you that you need to expand. Restructuring is about adjustment and expanding and coming in tandem with the reality on ground. Restructuring is inevitable in Nigeria, we believe in devolution of power, ensuring fairness, justice, equity and national security which are fundamental in our nationhood. SDP believes that Nigeria must be secured and united; there is no compromise about the unity of Nigeria. SDP is championing the cause of a generational paradigm shift and that is why 99% of those that are driving the SDP policies and programmes are younger generations and career people that are sound and versatile. Nigerians must know their country, I have been part of SDP since during Abiola’s time, I was there in Lagos during June 12 and I know the lives that were lost and the agony families have gone through.
Would it be right to say that the honour by the President, bestowed on M.K.O. Abiola was to appeal to the political reasoning of the South westerners?
There are a lot of perspectives to that effect; the party disagrees with the honouring of Babagana Kingibe. The man who detained MKO Abiola, Late General Sani Abacha picked Babagana Kingibe as a minister of foreign affairs and internal affairs, in my own opinion he has abandoned the June 12 mandate. The literal meaning of this, which is yet to be proven wrong, is that he is not supposed to be a beneficiary of the honour.
That is part of why the whole award is being seen as political. Secondly, the fact that it took the government more than three years before they could think about it also has a lot of political connotations, perspectives are being developed around the political angle of it, and that is why if you look at the opinion poll of the southwest as a whole, largely, people disagree with the timing of the award, they welcomed the fact that Abiola has been honoured, but the timing and the processes were clearly faulted by Afenifere and other south west leaders. Abiola is a nationalist because for the first time in the history of our country, people voted the president and vice without any religious consideration, these are Nigerians who believe Nigeria should move forward and we believe in that philosophy; Nigeria is one entity irrespective of our divide, we should rest on our divide and count on what will unite us as a nation, we have our challenges and we have to face them.
The Ekiti governorship election is right around the corner, what are the chances of SDP clinching the seat?
The perspective people see the election is because there is a major fight between Fayose and Fayemi and because people are looking for the war of words that are going on between the two; that is why it looks like those are the two people that are vying for that seat and that is far from the truth.
What we are doing as SDP is consolidating our base, talking to people; our candidate has less baggage, he is a very young vibrant man; a successful executive director of a bank who has interfaced with a lot of people, human behaviour as well. What he is doing now is consolidating his base; his relationship with people, reaching out to those that do not know him, campaigning on prosperity of the state, transformation and unity of the state, what advantage can be taken from the geography of the state, these are core objectives and that is what the objectives of our candidate are, we believe strongly that he will win the elections. The internal crisis within the PDP and APC is giving SDP a very big edge and that is why we are confident. The moment they allow Fayemi or Fayose to have their way, the political crisis and divide in Ekiti state will continue.