What do you make of the cycle of dastardly killings that has held sway in the country especially in the northeast, worsening insecurity in the country and heightening fears and tension in the citizens
The government has made a significant achievement in the fight against terrorism in the northeast region. I will say that in handling insecurity issue there is a significant improvement, although we are not there yet. Without mincing words I will say that the security situation has improved, when I said the security situation has improved, I said so in the sense that the insurgents are no longer occupying territories and hoisting their flag. Before now, many Nigerians are fully aware that a lot of local governments in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa were under the firm control and influence of the insurgents. But now there is no town that is under the occupation of the terrorists, I am talking from the fact on ground, this I know because I am from Adamawa state. In fact, my local government, Madagali, being contiguous with Sambisa Forest is no longer under the control of insurgents, the displaced persons are returning to their communities, because there is peace now. We are not yet there; it is not yet Uhuru there are some attacks on soft targets, from time to time in the affected states. People are beginning to return to the areas that were under the control of the terrorists, areas like Bama, Gwosa in Borno state and Madagali, my local government. People are beginning to return because the military have liberated the areas. To me and people from the north east, sincerely speaking the situation has significantly improved, though we are not yet there, there have been attacks on soft targets, like the recent suicide bombing in Maiduguri , that does not detract from the fact that the security situation has improved.
What is your reaction to the spate of attacks on soft targets and mass abduction of school girls, such as Chibok school girls in 2014, and most recently, Dapchi school girls. There are allegations of compromise on the part of security agencies, which have turned the terrorism fight into a big and thriving business
Well that is their own opinion. There was abduction of Chibok girls, uptil now some of them have not been seen. There was abduction of Dapchi girls from that region. Like I said there must have been lapses on the part of security personnel as oversight or dereliction of duty on the part of security men. As I said we are not yet there, there are soft targets and secondary schools are soft targets and if adequate security is not provided. So whether some people are using it as a business, I cannot say categorically that it is now a business because I don’t have any proof of that. I only deal with facts. But I know as a fact that secondary schools are soft targets and are susceptible to attacks by the insurgents when they see opportunity of doing so. That is my own observation.
You will recall that the abduction of the Chibok girls was under a different regime and a new government used it as a campaign promise that it will not happen again. But the abduction of over 110 Dapchi school girls took almost the same pattern while the new government is in the saddle. Is this a resurgence of insurgency?
(Cuts in) This is the problem I have with you journalists. You sit down in Abuja and ask irritating questions. Insurgents are enemies of Nigeria state, we must join hands to fight insurgents it does not matter who is the head of state. Insurgency started under President Yar’adua. And we must all come together to support whoever is the head of state to defeat the insurgents, we should not politicise it. It is not about party. It is not about APC, PDP, APGA. It is not about GoodLuck Jonathan. It is not about President Buhari. It is about our Nigeria state. And all hands must be on deck to see to it that they are defeated. We should put politics aside.
Let me correct an impression that you have made. The media is doing greater work in this regard than any group. The media is more patriotic I wish to state than any group of Nigeria. From hindsight the politicians of which you are one are politicising security issue and almost all issues. The politicians are busy creating divisions over the fight against terrorism in the north east. You have underscored the point that all hands must be on deck, I am sure that your message has gone to the politicians, but will the politicians agree.
Moving forward, this government came on board and gave a timeline when it will defeat Boko Haram but from what the public is seeing…
Let me cut in here, you see when you are outside the challenge you will not know what it takes to handle the challenge but when you are inside the challenge then you will appreciate the enormity of the task. Insurgents everywhere in the world operate in cells and no government will come and say with mathematical precession that it will end insurgents in a matter of days, week or month. In Afghanistan is there, in Somalia is there, in Kenya is there we know it, the governments all over the world are trying to contain it. That is why I said let us not politicize it. No leader will like his citizens being killed. No leader will be happy to his children being kidnapped. No president will be happy when the insurgents are unleashing terror on his citizens. The issue is we must change our attitude. Whoever that is the president needs our prayer and support and we must give him our prayer and support. That is my take. Our leaders must get our support as Nigerians whether you are in opposition see that insurgency is completely routed out. What is even worse is that while we are facing Boko Haram in the north east, another terror is rising up. You have cattle rustling unleashing terror in Zamfara, you have herders unleashing terror in the middle belt. You have kidnaper unleashing terror on the citizens. This is not the creation of an individual. It is the creation of the society. People should commend our military for doing what they are doing. But instead of commending them for their sacrifices some people are criticizing them for protecting us. Those of us that have fallen in the hands of the insurgents, our mothers, our sisters, our fathers have been kidnapped. You are just talking about Chibok girls or Dapchi girls, more than 10 000 girls have been abducted. People are not talking about them. Thousands of girls have been abducted.
What do you think is the way to end this problem?
All Nigerians must see it as their problem. You should not sit in Rivers and see it as north east problem. That was what pissed me off to the extent that I left PDP. Fayose and Nwike came up publicly and condemned the application by President Buhari for One Billion Dollars to fight insurgency in the north east. That was the last straw that broke the Carmel’s back. I left the PDP. So unless and until we see Nigeria problem as state problem we cannot get it right. There is none of these issues forming part of the challenges today that is not claiming lives and property. Economically, our economy is retarded. Socially, our social life is dead. Education has collapsed especially in the north east. And when the education system has collapsed you can imagine what will follow. In the north east, it will take the north east more than 50 years to recover the lost ground. Our children are out of school since 2009. They are in IDPs camps. The collateral damages are better imagined than seen. Unwanted pregnancies are there, diseases, squalor in the IDP camps that is what we are seeing and people are politicising the issue that is what irritates me, it gets me angry. People just sit down in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt they don’t know what our people are passing through.
With the state of insecurity in the country what is your worse fear about 2019
I have no fear. Nigeria has witnessed worse problems than the ones we are passing through now. We fought a civil war we came out if became stronger and united, June 12 1993 they predicted that Nigeria was going to break up, we came out it a united country. In 2015, the West predicted that Nigeria will disintegrate we came out of it. So, my own is that all hands must be on deck. Nigeria belongs to all of us irrespective of where you are coming from.