Abu King Shuluwa is the deputy chairman, Elders Forum of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State. He speaks with ADELOWO OLADIPO on the need to restructure Nigeria.
NIGERIA is 56. Would you say the dream of founding fathers (nationalists) has not been in vain?
Indeed, with what is happening in the country today, I am quite sure that the founding fathers of Nigeria will be crying in their graves. It is an understatement to say the labour of the nationalists has been in vain because everything they struggled to build has been destroyed by the present crop of politicians.
The Sardauna, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikwe were leaders who sacrificed their time in building a nation that could have rubbed shoulders with powerful nations in the world. They rendered selfless services; they abhorred corruption; they were respected within and outside the country, notwithstanding that there tribes and tongues differ, yet, they believed in one nation.
During their time, the country was well structured and these people believed in developmental competition that is why you see their respective regions on the path of progress which actually earned them respect, they believed in the progress of the people they served, they were not rulers but leaders who preferred to put smiles of the people they served.
In your view, is Nigeria progressing or is it otherwise?
The problem with us, I mean in the current generation, is that we select leaders based on parochial sentiment. We elect those who do not have the interest of the nation at heart, not even in their states. That is the reason I said our founding fathers would be crying in their graves seeing how the present generation has bastardised their legacy and made their labour to come to nothing.
The present crop of leaders has wasted our resources, military and civilian. They are fortunate to come on board when the country was in oil boom. But how did we channel the huge profit made from the boom? We should not forget that the founding fathers did not have enough resources at their disposals and yet they were good managersof resources considering what they did during their period.
But what do we have today? Selfish leaders, greedy and ungodly people who do not mind whether the people they are asked to serve get what they ought to get or not. Look around you and point out to me what we can show for the oil boom that we had. There are bad roads everywhere. The road from Makurdi to Gboko was constructed during the Yakubu Gowon regime and that is what we still use today. Is it the education sector that has not been bastardised or our hospital that has turned to mere consulting clinics Instead of building on the structures put in place by the past leaders, the present leaders have rather destroyed the legacy of left behind by our former leaders.
What the present leaders are concerned about is how to enrich themselves and impoverished the masses. How many houses did past leaders, the like of Awolowo, Zik, Balewa and Bello have in their lifetime? Don’t let us go too far, the Aper Aku of the late 70s and his colleagues across the country, how many properties did they own? Akus tried to build on the legacy of the nationalists; they were not concerned about personal wealth. For instance, in Benue, within four years, Aku built state secretariat, Taraku Mills, Benue burnt bricks, breweries, and host of others. But what did the successive administrations do with all these developmental infrastructure? They are all comatose today. They did not revive them nor add to them. I know many of them who did not own a house before becoming governor. But today, they have houses all over the world.
How can the country get out of these?
Nigeria needs restructuring in a manner that will not divide the country. For instance, consider the number of governors across the states of federation; see the number of them that have ruled and imagine how they plundered their respective states at the expense of the masses. So for me, we should quickly revert to regionalism. Let us have six regions according to the geopolitical zone of the country. Secondly, let President Buhari establish a special court to try those who looted funds and for quick dispensation of justice. Let me emphasise that, if possible, whoever that is found guilty should be given capital punishment. Yes! Kill all those looters and confiscate their properties. This will surely serve as deterrent to others. [Jerry] Rawlings did it in Ghana, we must salvage this country.