Nigerians need genuine SNC or prepare for revolution -Debo Adeniran

Debo Adeniran is the Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL. In this interview with GBOYEGA ADEOYE, the human rights activist and social commentator spoke on national issues ranging from the security situation in the country, the seemingly incompetence of government to curtail it to lack of a vibrant opposition party to challenge the status quo. Excerpts:

What is your assessment of the problems of insurgency in North-East of the country?

What is happening recently is a clear indication that military presence in that zone is no longer of any effect. Honestly it is disheartening that up till now, the insurgents have been operating, seemingly unperturbed in recent time. Don’t forget that these states where the insurgents operate have been under state of emergency over time, and you will agree with me that we have been hearing of the activities of the local vigilante taking their destinies into their own hands by challenging the sect and on accessions winning the battle. So, it is a situation where we see clearly that the state of emergency cannot prevent the infiltration of the insurgents and we can also see that the victims have no confidence in the military hence their forming vigilance groups to save their souls.

Now, President Goodluck Jonathan has finally declared to run for a second time. But to many, this is coming at a time Nigerians are mourning the recent bomb attack in Potiskum, Yobe State, coupled with the unsavoury security situation in the nation as a whole. What is your take on this?

There are dialectical implications to such thing. I mean, the declaration to rerun by the president when there is a national calamity that bothers on security which falls under the primary responsibility of government. Morally, as Africans, we believe there should not be celebration when people are mourning. By this I mean that we have to make whatever we are doing low key to show concern for the bereaved. Even this applies to the religious people, particularly, the Christians. In the other way round, we have the essentialists who believe that what has happened has happened and life has to go on; after all, canceling the event would not reverse the situation.

But in all of these, my own take in a situation we have in our hands, when you have irreversible destruction of lives and property and the victims are defenseless and have no way to defend themselves as a result of negligence of the state. I see what is happening as a way of fast tracking Nigeria into a state of anarchy. The ceremony that held in Abuja points at the insensibility of government to the plight of the people because it is the role of government to protect lives and property.

The stance of the government of the day that it is the opposition that is causing violence across the country is further descent to the abyss of anomy because even at that, they should be able to curtail it. By leaving the so called opposition to hold sway while Nigerians are dying in droves is a pointer to a systemic failure. The Army is set up to safeguard territorial integrity and the President is the head of the Armed Forces. So, now that it is crystal clear that the Boko Haram insurgents are gaining upper hands over our Army, then government must just own up to its inability to deliver on its responsibilities.

But we are hearing that these insurgents have more sophisticated weapons than our military men?

That is to tell you that something very fundamental is wrong somewhere. How can terrorists who buy their ammunition behind closed doors have more weapons than a government that buys its own openly and legitimately? How do you explain that a Boko Haram terrorist who trains secretly would outwit a regular Army that trains in the open both locally and internationally? We no longer can deny that the insurgents are steps higher than our Army today. Before, they attack and take cover but what we see today is that they capture a city, hoist their flag and even rename the town under their control.

So, not to deviate from your question, the declaration of Mr. President supposed to have been low keyed or without any ceremony at all. Many politicians before him have picked their nomination forms without making noise about it. Dancing and making merry for picking nomination form to recontest as president when things are obviously going wrong in the country means to me that he does not care about what is happening to Nigerians.

I am sure that ceremony wouldn’t have taken that form if he (the president) lost his children in the Yola bomb blast. You should also remember that there was an helicopter crash a day before where we lost resources even if there was no life lost. That alone is for the president to make the rally low key.

But why is it that almost each time the president wants to do something significant, there is always a national calamity?

Whichever way we look at it, there have been precedents to show that the president would do otherwise when he is genuinely concerned about issues. Remember when the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, lost his younger brother, the president put off the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which is far more crucial than picking up nomination forms because it is in the FEC meeting that issues that affect the entire nation are discussed. So, I stand on my point that what happened was a sign of moral bankruptcy on the part of the ruling party and the president himself. I see the declaration as a sign of political exuberance on the part of government.

So, what is your own suggestion on how the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents could be curbed?

As the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, the president, to me, has not taken adequate measures to curb their incursion into Nigeria’s territory. I think there are some people who speak with the terrorists. And you know that initially they were not taking over territories but were only demanding for some specific ways to lead their lives. So, we need to ask ourselves: What really led to this? How do they get the people they use for their operations? If it is because of the palpable poverty in the region where they have been operating and their low level of education, these can be tackled. Also, I don’t know why government keep fraternising with our neighbouring country when you don’t even know if it is through them the terrorists get their ammunitions and power. Fraternising with them when you ought to take decisive steps is step in the wrong direction. By now we are supposed to have known the source through which they get their ammunition. How do they get the food they eat and all that? As far as I am concerned, I think what the president ought to do at this juncture, is to resign because it is obvious that government now engages in lies when it is obvious that the insurgents are having upper hands.

What is the way forward from here?

I think we should go for a genuine, people-oriented Sovereign National Conference ( SNC) and probably invite Boko Haram so that they come and tell us what they really want.

But do you see the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), making any difference?

I don’t really see a vibrant opposition in the APC. They make more noise than providing alternative strategy that can bring us out of the problem. The problem is that those in politics who are known combatant soldiers, like Olusegun Obasanjo, who is no longer talking, Buhari and even David Mark, who should have shed their current civilian toga and moved to action are not doing so, probably because the system is not encouraging them. To me, there is a way you can make impact even when not in power. When you ask these people in opposition, what they tell you is that they are not the one in power.

What are the chances of APC and the PDP in Lagos State?

One cannot predict accurately until they finally present their candidates. To me, they both have experienced aspirants and people who have distinguished themselves in their various businesses. Aspirants like Jimi Agbaje and Musiliu Obanikoro fall into the category in the PDP while the APC has the likes of Dr. Leke Pitan, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon among others. So, as far as Lagos State is concerned, there are hordes of quality candidates. It now depends on whom the parties settle for as candidates. That will largely determine where the pendulum would swing because governance is all about the people. They are the one that will determine who should lead them. And from the feelers I am getting, it is like the roles are determined, more than ever before, to ensure that their wish counts this time.

SOURCE: National Mirror


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