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Alhaji Abdulkarim Daiyabu was a former national chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and was also at a time the president of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry , Mines and Agriculture. A septuagenarian, he reminisces over the sizzling second and third republic politics, the military interregnum and the dawn of the current democratic dispensation. He insists that crude oil is owned by the Federal Government and demands the immediate relocation of the people of Niger Delta. He is also the president of the Movement for Justice in Nigeria, MOJIN. He spoke to CHIDI OBINECHE in Kano.
Let’s talk about 2019.Quite a number of people including the incumbent president, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido, Ahmed Makarfi and a host of others are jostling for the presidential seat already. Who amongst them fits the bill?
Let me be frank with you. I want to express my disgust with the media before we delve into 2019 politics. I wonder why most of you ran away from me despite my immense contributions to the restoration of democracy during the Babangida, late Abacha and Abdulsalami’s military interregnum. You, including the foreign media relied on me solely then to get the authentic news. I was severally detained by Abacha , twice here in Kano and the third one at the headquarters of the SSS(DSS) in Abuja.
What were your offences?
Nothing. Because I called a spade a spade. I squealed about them to the media. People were afraid of talking, but not me. They used their power thinking they would silence me. They felt they were too strong to be challenged and I told them they were liars. They were only clever by half. Today, I am still alive. Most of them who are in power today were in hiding. They could not talk.
When it came to 1998, I was released from detention in Abuja. I was only released after the death of Abacha. I had the opportunity of meeting with two great guys- Olasupo Shonibare,I guess you know him, and the late Dr Chudi Nwike, a former deputy governor of Anambra state. We had a long meeting in Lagos up to 4 o’clock in the morning. We discussed what will become of Nigeria, how do we bring ourselves together, how do we continue the struggle? If you will recall, I was with the late Obafemi Awolowo in UPN. That is why I am very different here in the north. And this belies the fact that Alhaji Maitama Sule, who is my first cousin, was prominent in NPN. His mother was my mother’s senior sister. Shonibare knows him very well, because when he came to Kano I had to take him to him. We were in league with the late Mallam Inua Dutse, the former Federal Commissioner for Agriculture. He was among those elite in the north who brought us together to consider what will become of us after the death of Mallam Aminu Kano in 1983. He re- emphasized that Shehu Shagari only became president not by the votes he won but by ultra legal measures. Awolowo had more votes than Shagari, but Shagari’s votes had more national spread. That was the syndrome of 2/3 majority which Richard Akinjide took to court and won.
Are you saying Shagari’s regime was illegal?
No, they won the election by spread. But Awolowo won in terms of bulk votes.
Just before you continue, the Talakawa politics made popular by Aminu Kano here in the north appears dead. Why?
Before Aminu Kano died, his disciples who were governors of Kano and Kaduna states, late Abubakar Rimi, and Balarabe Musa started going to Lagos to attend meetings of the 9 Progressive governors which was a brainchild of Awolowo. The northern elite were opposed to their attendance of the meeting. Even the GNPP (Great Nigeria Peoples Party) governors in Borno and old Gongola states then were also attending the meeting. The northern elite were scared that with the development, if Awolowo became president, were these the people that would be representing the north? That was the death knell in the talakawa politics of the north. It was not the wish of Aminu Kano for them to attend that meeting. They brought a division in the vision of the late mall am. They defied him and went ahead. That is why nobody is talking about them now. I will give you a paper which I delivered sometime ago where I talked about Aminu Kano and his disciples. It is written in Hausa. You can get someone to interpret it for you. They invited me because I am very independent, politically, economically and otherwise. I have been a president of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Mines. The Chamber was very influential in producing political leaders in the north then. It was only in my second term as president that Aminu Kano died. We worked together in synergy and common understanding. He involved me in the problem he had with people who deserted him for a long time. I was the one interfacing and dealing with them in the Chamber with his cooperation. Most of them were his age mates, quite older than me. But all the same, I tried. By the time we succeeded, after only a few months, he died. We then came up with this idea of collaborating with everybody. It was the late Gen Shehu Yar’Adua who galvanized all the northern political elite and brought them here in Kano. We had Dr Sule Kumo, Dr Datti Ahmed. We had some district heads, though most of them are dead now. There were also remnants of the old NEPU/ PRP (Northern Elements Progressive Union/ Peoples Redemption Party) faithful of Aminu Kano. They also brought me in.
The discussion was what next to do now that Aminu Kano had died and these people were always going to meet with Awolowo in Lagos. If per chance Awolowo became president, are these the people that will represent the north? They wrote to Awolowo giving a 17- point agenda, and followed up with a meeting with him. There was a consensus that if he agreed with the conditions given, the entire north will go with him to form a government. That was in 1983, after the death of Aminu Kano. Among the 17- point conditions was that he should agree to establish an Islamic bank in Nigeria. Secondly, he should allow us to produce his deputy for him. Thirdly, all his structures from the Action Group,( AG), UPN should be demolished to pave way for us to establish a new structure that will be all encompassing and bring up candidates that will represent us at all levels. Awolowo had the demand document with him for some weeks. When he was ready for an answer, he invited us and under the leadership of Mallam Inua Dutse we proceeded to meet him. We were about 7. Awolowo received us warmly and lodged us at Airport Hotel, Lagos. Chief Lateef Jakande, together with other UPN governors were at the meeting. In his response to our demands, Awolowo said he was excited about the Islamic Bank after wide global consultations and crosschecking of it in places where it is practised. He said it was a noble idea and that he would go with it. This was a man who was a federal commissioner of finance for 9 years under Gen Gowon. He mandated Mallam Aliu Makama Misau to introduce us and speak on our behalf. He agreed that we established our own structures, which we did. At the same time, I was nominated to represent our party for Kano senatorial district. The election turned out to be the dirtiest and most fraudulent in the history of the country till date. Even Awolowo could not win in his house and ward much less his supporters. Awolowo again invited us to Abeokuta in Ogun state. More than a million people attended the meeting from across the country. Many were outside but could hear the proceedings from the loud speakers strategically positioned. Sitting by Awolowo’s right was Aliu Makama Misau, his left was Lateef Jakande, and the next was my humble self. Ebenezer Babatope and his team stormed the venue wearing khaki dresses that looked like NYSC uniform and brought all the detailed reports of the elections.
What was the meeting intended to achieve?
We wanted to expose the rigging that brought Shagari back to power. We wanted to shame them.
Don’t you think that the meeting may have stampeded the military to stage the coup that took place barely a month or two afterwards?
Wait for me. Don’t be in a hurry. When Babatope came with his team, explaining to the minutest details and urging action to right the wrong, there was dead silence in the hall. After keeping silent for a while, Awolowo blurted out that he knew that nobody could win his area much more his house and ward. But any attempt by us now to make people see reason with us will attract the military to stage a comeback to power. He said the worst of civilian government is better than the best of military government. He said if Shagari was not satisfied with the 4 years he had been in office, let him continue. Ask Chief Jakande about this. Three months after Shagari had been sworn- in, the military staged a comeback and trapped us with Muhammadu Buhari who came thinking he would get the support to do the right thing.
Did he not get the support to work?
Did he? If he did, why was he toppled after 20 months?
But he was accused of running a solitary government?
He had his own goals while those who brought him in had theirs. They trapped the masses with him and when they saw a growing alienation with the masses which they programmed, they pushed him out and took over. Babangida took over and it was what Babangida did that put Nigeria into the mess it is today.
Are you sure about what you’re saying that Babangida is the catalyst of Nigeria’s woes today?
He is the architect of our problems today and you cannot tell me who his father is, who his mother is? Or where he was born? I challenge you to tell me. He is the only one who has been in power for more than 8 years but his real origin remains a mystery. So if your origin is not clear, who is your father? Who is your mother? Is the military your father? Is the military your mother? This is the danger. That is why I have spent the better part of my years challenging him and I will continue to challenge him. He knows that no one has challenged him more than I have done over the years. He was the first Head of State who started allocating oil blocs to himself. Let him come and tell me that I am a liar. He allocated oil blocs to his cronies. Today oil blocs and the entire economy are in the hands of the looters of government treasury. That is why nobody can rule the country without their consent. That is why Buhari is suffering today despite being surrounded by his nephews and other relations.
Why did Buhari surround himself with his nephews and relations? Is it the same fear of Babangida?
I don’t know. That question is left for him to answer.
Don’t you think this accusation of nepotism will affect his re-election in 2019?
I don’t know. Only God knows the minds of the people and what will happen tomorrow. In fact, they wanted him dead but he is still alive. So who knows what will happen? So, as I was telling you, after Babangida had tampered with everything, politically, economically, socially, he became a dictator of the first order. He even suspended the ruling Armed Forces Ruling Council, AFRC and put himself up as the sole leader of Nigeria. He wanted to make a god of himself. God forbid. He denied all the relevant politicians to participate in politics using the subterfuge of new breed. He cancelled the freest and fairest election. He did whatever he wanted to do. He created problems here and there. You can remember what happened in Zango- Kataf? Chief Justice Karibu Whyte sentenced General Zamani Lekwot to death for his role in the Zango- Kataf crises but Babangida freed him. Zamani Lekwot is still alive.
But later reports had it that justice was miscarried in that case and that was why it was reviewed?
Look my friend; Justice Karibu Whyte is a respected jurist and did due diligence in the case before him. Why should Babangida intervene? Why should he use his power to do injustice? I don’t know if God has forgiven him. Have you forgotten how your colleague was killed through a parcel bomb? I don’t need to mention his name. All the structures that would have done this country well were destroyed by Babangida. The Defence industries in Kaduna which was started by the late Premier Ahmadu Bello to manufacture war arsenals, submarines, airplanes and so on, at the same time Brazil and India launched theirs too, was turned to furniture making outfit by the almighty Babangida. What of the Nigeria Airways? During the second republic, Lateef Jakande initiated a plan to start an underground train, but he was denied the opportunity to do that.
It was not Babangida that stopped Jakande from doing the underground train
Whoever. I am chronicling the causes of our problems. What kind of country are we living in.? In the end, we piled pressures on Babangida to vacate office. He still had the effrontery to bring somebody who was never a politician, a public office holder elected or appointed to be the head of state. Who authorized him to introduce an interim government?
He did that to calm nerves after the June 12 annulment crisis
Who created the June 12 crisis in the first place? Was he not the one?
He has denied it severally.
Tell that to the birds. After he annulled the election, Chief MKO Abiola was detained. His wife was killed.
Let us peep into 2019. What do you see?
Well, I don’t know what the future looks like. I don’t expect what is happening now to happen.
What is happening now?
Many things are going wrong. If you can understand, by the time we were tired of the PDP government right from Obasanjo to Jonathan and things started to manifest openly, if we had continued with that in 2015, no one knows where we will be today. The government was in disarray. People were creating empires for themselves using security agents- the police, army, DSS, NIA, Customs, Immigration, etc. We were here in Kano on a Friday in the mosque when they came in and killed 280 people in one hour. The Boko Haram insurgents did that. What type of government would condone that? And you know what happened in Damaturu?. Governments everywhere are established for the welfare and security of the people. Anything short of that is an invitation to the people to take their own destiny in their hands.
In essence, you expect Buhari to win the 2019 polls? Is that your prognosis?
I know that when Chief Obasanjo was brought out from prison and made president by Babangida and Abdulsalami, I was the national chairman of Alliance for Democracy, AD. The initial calculation was that Olu Falae would be the presidential candidate with the late Umaru Shinkaffi as his vice. Olu Falae went to the electoral tribunal to challenge the results of the election alleging that it was rigged. He said at the Tribunal that Obasanjo must not be sworn –in because he was a member of a secret cult. It was not hidden and was widely reported.
Being a member of a secret cult, is it prohibited in our constitution?
Whatever it is, but we ended up with Boko Haram.
Now that you are mentioning Boko Haram, there is so much bloodshed in the country today. Is there any correlation between them?
That is the root cause. If you look deeply, you will see what I am telling you. It may take some time, but that is the truth. That is the root cause of what we are seeing today and all those mobs running around are disciples of Obasanjo. They have committed serious offences and are subject to blackmail. Buhari is all alone. The people he surrounded himself with are neither politicians nor public servants.
But Buhari has been accused of dividing the country more than ever before?
I don’t understand you. No. He had to bring all politicians together. I think people are underrating the damages done to this country. He couldn’t have trusted the people he is trusting now. When he became head of state in 1984, he found out that there was no money in the treasury. He was advised to bring in Indians to participate in agriculture. I was then the president of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. Some students from Bayero University, here in Kano approached me and queried the rationale in ceding 80% equity participation to Indians on agriculture. I launched an investigation and came up with a report that said that already, commerce was in the hands of foreigners, industry in the hands of foreigners, agriculture in the hands of foreigners, mines in the hands of foreigners. There was nothing left for Nigerians. Immediately they saw the report, they established a study group on industries and agriculture and Chief Chris Ogunbanjo was the head. He was the biggest industrialist in this country. I was a member of the team. Lema Jubril was one of us. Late Rasheed Badamosi was there. We were the only two from the north. There were other academics from the east. It was called Study Group on Industrial Policy. When we took the report to Buhari one evening, he said that before accepting the report he knew everything contained in it because our secretariat was feeding him with daily reports unofficially. He assured us that he will implement everything in the report to the letter. Two weeks later, they staged a coup and removed him.
Let us look at leadership in Nigeria. A school of thought insists that the north has dominated power since 1960. Is it true?
It is not true. We are having or had military power much more than any kind of power. From military government to military everything, and by running a military government you put aside the constitution. You do anything you like. How many years did Gowon spend? How many years did Babangida spend? How many years did Abacha spend?
You are the president of the Movement for Justice in Nigeria, MOJIN. How best can justice be done at the leadership cadre to achieve national stability?
We have to face the reality and call a spade a spade. When Shagari was toppled and Buhari emerged, he came with Tunde Idiagbon who from every perspective was from the North and a Muslim and had integrity. MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe were all Muslims and they won election together. Today, why do you say there should not be a Muslim – Muslim ticket? Some of our past leaders were not even from Nigeria. I don’t know. If someone ruled this country and you don’t know where he was born or grew up, then there is a problem.
Just before we round up, I want you to look at the indivisibility of Nigeria. Some groups in the South East want to break away.
There are killings by herdsmen all over. What is your view on secession?
Secession or no secession, they must go through the path of the constitution. Like I told you, we have been carried away by military mentality. Anything we do, we must be careful. This is my house. If I dig a well or hole and get kerosene, petrol or any mineral resources, to whom does it belong? Does it belong to me or government? Of course, government. That is the problem of the constitution. Public interest super cedes individual interest. If you go to the Emir’s palace today and dig a hole, and instead of water you get petrol, it is no longer an Emir’s palace. It is for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Emir’s palace should be relocated elsewhere. The Emir should be compensated. When we started getting oil in a certain area, all the government should have done was to determine those to be affected and relocate them elsewhere. They should have been compensated adequately to continue with their lives elsewhere. If they are fishermen you take them to other riverine areas and even provide them with fish ponds. If they are farmers you take them to areas where they can get farmlands to farm.
Is it too late to do it now? For instance can the people of Bayelsa be relocated?
Yes. They should be relocated. Even if it means building houses for them. You declare the area a ‘ federal government oil producing area’. That would have solved the problem of agitation in the South –South and South East. Now, they allowed it, and they are still there. You only give money to some of the individuals for appeasement. That was the problem of the government of Ibrahim Babangida. He chose certain people to represent them there and he gave them money. And they keep thinking the oil is their own. How can it be their own? Look at how the governors are running the states. I keep telling you that these governors are thieves and looters of public treasuries. I am recommending that the revolution should start with the judiciary, and then the lawmakers. Look at how they pay themselves N13.5m every month. Yearly, they are making N290m including constituency projects.
What shape do you want your proposed revolution to take?
We can create it. All those that are being suspected of stealing our commonwealth should be brought out to the public to face a Public Judicial Commission of Inquiry. So if the judgment is execution, so be it. Buhari should lead the fight in this direction. If it were Tunde Idiagbon, it could have been different. Pastor Osinbajo is heading the Economic Team but cannot even remember the Study Group on Industrial Policy headed by Chris Ogunbanjo. There is so much indiscipline in this government. Buhari would order the Inspector General of Police, IGP to relocate to Benue and he disobeyed him and went elsewhere. Nothing happened to him.
Where do we go from here?
Is it not incompetence on the part of the president?
No. You can call it anything, I don’t know. We have seen a situation where an IGP was arrested, handcuffed, dragged on the floor into a Black Maria and taken to court. We have seen a judge arrested, humiliated and taken to court. We have started and MOJIN will intensify the campaign. When we started Alliance for Democracy, we were thinking of merging with the PDP, and we discovered it was the brainchild of Babangida. In APP then, we saw the hands of Sani Abacha elements. So I, late Bola Ige, and Ezeife, representing the North, West and East sat down together in Abuja to fashion a fresh party and to remind ourselves that we were victims of the military government. The initial name proposed was United Party for National Salvation, UPNS. It was later changed to Alliance for Democracy, AD. When I started to resist it, Shonibare cautioned me jocularly saying, ‘be patient. AD is Abdulkarim Daiyabu.’ Today, I am not contesting for any office. I am only contesting for justice.