Leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and second republic Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa disagrees with the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II that the North’s 13th century interpretation of Islam and its culture are responsible for the poverty and backwardness raving the region. In this interview with IBRAHEEM MUSA, the fiery politician took on the political class and argued that its members are the problem of the north
Recently, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II ruffled feathers by attributing the North’s poverty to its culture and its 13th century interpretation of Islam. Do you subscribe to the emir’s view?
It’s very difficult to say that the statement is correct or wrong. But when you take into account the fact that he is a leader in Nigeria, in every sense of the word, he ought to have exercised more care and caution in making this categorical statement. Historically, what he said is untrue but superficially, it is true.
It is untrue because he linked the backwardness of the North to Islam, which is wrong. Islam as a religion and as a culture is not backwards. It is only materialists that regard what he said as true. What he should know is that in every society, going by history, at anytime, there is a socio-economic, political and cultural system that controls all developments.
That system, may be Islamic, Christian, idealistic or secular. That system also creates a particular leadership suitable to it. In the context of Nigeria, there is a system controlling all development in the country. That system is not Islamic, that system is not Christian, that system is not secular.
That system is capitalist. And because it is capitalist, it is based on self interest first, public interest second or even incidental. It is this capitalist system that is controlling all developments in this country.
And the backwardness or progressiveness of Nigeria cannot be linked to Islam or Christianity.
The Emir said that it is only in the Muslim North that there are so many children that are out of school. Don’t you agree with him that the North’s own interpretation of Islam may be the source of its poverty and backwardness?
I agree with the fact that we have so many children who are out of school but that has nothing to do with Islam. It has to do with the misrepresentation of Islam. If you represent Islam correctly, it is not based on self interest. It is based on the belief in God and the service of humanity. If you understand Islam, it reflects the best form of progress known to mankind. Apart from Marxism, Socialism and Leninsm, all other systems are based on material progress unlike Islam.
The issue of Almajiris is a huge problem in the North, what steps do you advise the political leaders to take in order to curb it?
The issue is not about political leaders who are not guided by anything of value. The political leaders of today are parasites and opportunists. You can’t expect them to deal with any problem positively. They can only contribute to the degeneration of society! These leaders, with very few exceptions, are committed to the system of self interest first, public interest second or even incidental. The leaders are not leaders; they are impostors. And they cannot create any better society. They are not even worthy of being called leaders, call them thieves and the evidence is everywhere.
But if you are to advise them, what will you tell the leaders regarding the almajiri issue?
I can’t advise leaders generally in an interview like this. I can only advise individuals in an interview like this. If I were to address leaders, I will base my advice on a global and humanistic view of the situation. In other words, I will take the level of exploitation, oppression and marginalization in this country into account and the suffering of the people and lack of progress of the society and government.
I will take all these into account. I will also take into consideration, the history of the struggle of mankind, particularly the struggles of peoples and nations since the 18th century, since the beginning of the industrial revolution. I will say that the solution of the problems of Nigeria today, is socialist reconstruction of the country, starting with the leading role of the state in the economy, to ensure peace, equality, justice and progressive even development. That is the solution.
Of course there are various ways of ensuring this but that is fundamentally the solution.
When you were governor of Kaduna State in the second republic, how did you deal with the problem?
First of all, we tried to let the people know that a new era had arrived. This new era was based on the freedom of the people subject to social discipline. We tried to make people understand that progress is inevitable. Society cannot achieve peace and development without progress. We identified the greatest inhibition to the freedom and rights of the people. We believed that education is basic to social progress
The reality of the situation in the north was that it was at least 40% backwards compared to the south. And that was a hindrance to peace, progress and development. We tried to solve that problem by emulating Oyo State, which was the most developed part of Nigeria at that time. And we aimed at bridging the gap in educational development with Oyo State within 26 years.
That was our target and the first thing that we did was to make education free at every level within the old Kaduna State.
Then we said that there must be a secondary school within five miles radius in any part of the state, except highly forested and desert areas where they were no people. And the next thing we did was to establish 100 secondary schools throughout the old Kaduna State. We planned to establish industries as a means of providing employment. We planned to develop agriculture to a very high extent and we did it in various ways. All these measures were aimed at dealing with this issue of almajiri and developing the state. For example, we undertook the responsibility of establishing a small scale industry in all the then 14 local governments.
We said that the state government should devote at least N2 million every year for this project. In some cases, we established industries that were more than N2 million, for instance Daura Tannery required N32 million.
That was special. Zaria Pharmaceutical Industry and Ikara Food Processing each required more than N14 million. If it were today, we will be talking of N1 billion for Daura Tannery, N700 million for Zaria Pharmaceutical and the same amount for Ikara Food Processing. We also established three major industries in the southern part of the state. One was the Wood Industry between Sanga and Jemaa local governments. We established a confectionary in Kafanchan, we established a ginger factory at Kachia. If the government had continued, I think Kaduna State would have been the most industrialized state in Africa.
The Federal Government launched an Economic Growth and Recovery Plan last week. Have you read it? What is your opinion about the plan?
I haven’t seen, I haven’t read it and I don’t even care to read it because I consider it no different from previous political deceits! So, I didn’t find it worthwhile to read it.
But at least you should have read it so that you can give constructive criticisms…
Why waste my time!? I can devote time only when critical people like you journalists point out something to me, then I can take it on. Why should I talk to those people who can’t even listen? At that gathering, they wont even listen to the truth.
Let me give you an example. We have been saying that if northern leaders are sincere and they know what is good for the north, they should put up a demand which is greater than any other demand in the country, that will give the north equal opportunity with the rest of Nigeria.
Instead of wasting time on political power and other issues, northern leaders should demand from the Federal Government and Nigeria, free and compulsory primary and secondary education, up till post secondary education.
If you do that, you will deal with the 40-year educational gap between the north and the south and establish the basis for peace, progress and even development throughout the country. But northern leaders who are the victims of this state of affairs, won’t do so. At a national forum when I raised this issue, one of the governors in one of the most backwards northern states, said that the government can’t afford that.
I told him that, look, let’s be reasonable. It’s a question of every section of the country making its own demands according to its concerns. Oil producing states are talking about resource control. Some geo-political zones like the South- West and south east which have no oil, talk about power shift.
They say that the north has dominated power for so long and they want power shift from the north to the south. Both those asking for resource control and those asking for power shift are Nigerians and they have the right to do so. But what is the north demanding!? The north should ask for something which is even greater that power shift and resource control: ask for free and compulsory primary and secondary education and post secondary education.
This demand that you are asking the north to make is in All Progressives Congress(APC) manifesto….
(Cuts in) Don’t deceive me! What is APC!?
But the APC virtually controls the whole north apart from Taraba and Gombe states, so the governments are in a better position to implement this policy that you are proposing.
Forget about that historical accident and political low consciousness! Are the governors putting this APC manifesto in practice? Secondly, states cannot bring this about, it’s the Federal G overnment that can do so because it has the resources for free and compulsory primary and secondary education throughout the federation.
We should insist that the Federal Government should undertake this. When I advocated this, I added a proviso; that the government should stand up against this disabling corruption, stealing and wasting of resources like previous leaders did.
Until 1970, nobody could steal a kobo of public funds and get away with it, without being investigated, prosecuted and punished according to the law in an exemplary manner. And we achieved some progress. For example, in spite of the backwardness and the lack of strategic thinking by previous leaders, at least they were not thieves!
They used the resources available to achieve something. But today, we are led by thieves throughout.
But at least the stealing has somehow stopped…
(Cuts in) Please don’t deceive me! Has the stealing stopped, when it is still going on and the government is doing nothing about it? There are thieves that have stolen billions running around freely. Did you see them in 1970? Or during the colonial times and the first and second republics?
People are saying that the executive branch of government has been doing it part by arresting these so called thieves but it is our cumbersome judicial process that has not prosecuted them yet.
When we are talking about government, we are talking about the wholesome. We are not talking about just one arm. We had the executive, the legislature and the judiciary working amicable before, but today they are not working.
Take the case of the confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
It’s a very bad case and it shows poor level of political leadership. Take the time of the Sardauna, Zik, Awolowo and Osadebe. If such a problem had arisen, and the Premier wanted the confirmation of someone, and the confirming authority which is the parliament refused.
First, he will sit down with the legislators in one way or the other. If that becomes impossible, he will withdraw the candidate and send another one because he is not the only suitable candidate. He will ask the person who was rejected whether the allegation against him was true or not. His response will decide the next step of the executive.
The executive can insist on continuing nominating him. But it can choose to withdraw his candidature and nominate another person if it is not satisfied with his explanation. But has this been done?
Where will you put the blame, is it on the Department of State Security (DSS) that sent security report against Ibrahim Magu or the senate that rejected him based on the report?
Under which arm of government is the DSS? The executive. Who appointed the head of DSS? The president!
So, there seem to be lack of coordination in the presidency…
Not lack of coordination but sheer incompetence! As I told you, this couldn’t have happened under the founding fathers, in spite of their weaknesses. They would have found ways and means of not allowing the matter to reach this stage. What we are seeing today is the worst relationship between the executive and the legislature that we have ever had in the history of Nigeria.
And it is completely unnecessary. The president should have given in to the wishes of the legislature because they have given their reasons why they rejected Magu. And he needs to work with them. Why not agree for peace to reign. There should be an equally good person like Magu or even better.
People are saying that the president is insisting on Magu because he knows the history of most of these high profile cases. That if he brings a new person, the Chairman will spend close to two years studying files before he settles down, by which time the tenure of this administration would have lapsed. Do you agree with this argument?
Who knows whether or not he was part of it himself? I’m just putting this in theory. So what is this argument of him knowing the history of cases.? The worst people in Nigeria are the people who know better! The dictators, the terrorists and the big thieves in Nigeria are the most educated, the most experienced but when they are in positions, they do what they like.
Secondly, let me tell you what a Chairman of EFCC once told me. I told him that although they are doing something, but people are not inspired, Before I could say more, he told me one of his experiences. He said that he came across a serious case of fraud involving someone who was very high up in government. It became a fundamental and a national issue.
So, he wanted to discuss the issue with the then president and he booked an appointment to see him. He waited for hours to see the president. In the end, when the president came out, he as together with the person that he wanted to discuss with the president about. They came out chatting in a friendly manner. So, he held his peace and didn’t raise the issue with the president.
On another occassion, a common friend had arranged a meeting with one EFCC Chairman, so that I will advise him on what I felt, instead of taking on the commission in the media. I told the Chairman to be careful with the people who appointed him to the position because they will be the first to disappoint him. Two months later, he was removed.
Who was that sir?
No, I will not tell you. Now, if we are not a society led by thieves, why should an EFCC Chairman come out publicly and say that he is afraid of his life because he was doing his work? This has happened in Nigeria! I will not give you the name. Check your archives and find out.
What is the position of the judiciary in this fight against corruption? First of all, the judiciary in every aspect of public institution is part and parcel of this corruption. Because the socio-economic and cultural system that is controlling all development is based on self interest. So, it is inevitable to find this anomaly.
The last time we spoke, you said that several political parties have been courting your Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), are there prospects of an alliance in 2019?
It is we that are courting them. It is we who are saying that since PRP has been priced out of the political competition and we want to remain and we have reason to remain, we have to open up and bring in more people into the party.
This will reinforce the forces of liberation and social progress. And the best way to do it, is to deal with this problem of resources and intellectual capacity. And you can’t deal with these problems without opening up. So, we will allow everyone to come in, we can sift later. We have a plan for a convention where leaders will be elected in a free, fair and democratic election.
At the moment now, we have established three important organs. First of all, an organ for the registration of new members. We have also established an organ that will ensure that there is a free and fair election, leading to a executives at the ward, local government and state levels, up to the national level. This convention has to hold two years before the 2019 election, one year six months or at least one year before the next general elections.
Is it true that some APC senators and exgovernors are planning to defect to your party?
I don’t know that. What I know is that we have contacted so many of them. We are encouraging them to come and join the PRP. This process is still going on.
I saw Senator Shehu Sani here when I came, is he trying to defect to PRP?
Comrade Shehu Sani had always been in the PRP from his youth; since he was a student in Kaduna Polytechnic he has been connected with the PRP. He has never contested election on the platform of the PRP because each time he wanted to do so, PRP was not registered. So, he went to another party. So, our relationship continues even though he is in another party.
So, is he likely to come back?
It’s up to him. All I know is that he is an APC senator. He is doing his work as an APC member but that doesn’t stop us from remembering history.