Chief Frank Ovie Kokori is a former General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) who led his men to ground the autocratic government of the late General Sani Abacha in the wake of the inglorious annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late business mogul, Chief Moshood Abiola. He spoke exclusively to EBENEZER ADUROKIYA on what governors in the country should do to secure their people as constitutionally required more.
What’s your view about the last Tuesday resolutions by the 17 governors of southern Nigeria on the state of the nation?
They own this country like I said. The governors have the whole power more than the National Assembly. Who is President Muhammadu Buhari? Buhari is just an ordinary person. The National Assembly can impeach him and the people in the National Assembly are controlled by their governors. So, what are they saying? Every small thing, it is Buhari. What is their job? The whole problem of this country is on the head of the governors and the National Assembly. They should leave the poor man alone. Buhari is tired, so they should leave him. He does not even know what is happening in the country. And you have young governors, well-educated governors, they are very strong, they are active and you are talking about a man that is aged. Buhari is not strong. He has health challenges and the governors are just shouting, messing up themselves.
They can control everything, they can restructure the country. Through them, the National Assembly can pass any bill and then restructure the country. So, if the southern governors say they are taking up the resolutions (they are all fine resolutions), they should get serious and pursue it.
My blame goes to the governors and the National Assembly and not the president. We are all tired of Buhari. So, they should leave him alone. It is now they are waking up from their slumber and talking. They should pursue the resolution and not go to sleep.
They talk of insecurity; is it Buhari that armed the Fulani? Don’t the governors know how to arm their vigilantes? Do they have to go and buy AK47? Don’t they have youths and vigilantes? Do vigilantes know how to buy their guns? So, you protect yourself; every human being is free to protect himself. So, why are they calling the president? In a small remote village, if there’s an attack, you call the president. Why?
But is it not because the governors are not in charge of the security apparatus of the country? I read that they’ve removed the security details of some governors in South-East and South-South over attacks on security formations. How about that?
Don’t mind them; they always lie like that. How can you say all the security details were removed? The governors have their security and sometimes the security personnel are too many. You see one governor with more than 50 security people. What is he doing with them? So, they will just remove some of them from there and when they do that, they will just be shouting. What are you doing with 50 or 100 security people, all staying with you when the whole country is not protected? You can’t remove security personnel from governors. Forget about that; it doesn’t happen in this country.
What do you think is the way out of the insecurity in the country particularly in the South-East where those boys are beginning to burn police stations?
Those bandits are just mad. Those things are being done by IPOB people and they are stupid to fight the police. You don’t fight the police because if you do, there will be anarchy in the country. The police are misbehaving, yes! But that doesn’t mean you should go fight and kill them. If all of them leave their stations, who are you going to complain to over issues?
But security details are also reportedly killing IPOB members. Does that mean they shouldn’t defend themselves?
They must defend themselves. They are the people who are supposed to catch bandits; that’s their job. But what I’m saying is about the governors. If the governors or local government chairmen could arm the vigilantes and take care of them, they know their bush, forest and surroundings more than a Fulani man who will come from Chad, Senegal or Sokoto. So, the governors are not doing their part. Those youths can protect the community; it’s just that the governors don’t use their security funds properly.
In life, you fight gun with gun. When Mao Tse-tung started his revolution, he said:
“We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun, it is necessary to take up gun.” Finish! Who is a Fulani man from Chad who now understands the forest more than an Ondo man? And the governors will just be shouting. What are they using their N500 million, N1 billion or so security votes to do? They will go and hide it and be shouting “Buhari, Buhari.” Buhari will come and save them in their own village, in their own state? Just get your vigilantes and arm them. License the gun for them. You can’t send a vigilante without a gun to go to the bush. Who armed the Fulani? Are they having licence even? Then you cry everyday, Fulani will come from Chad, Senegal to come and take your land.
Are you saying the governors should arm the vigilance groups in their various states to defend their states?
O yes! They just have to do that. You can’t face an armed man with bare hands. The youths are ready to protect their land; take care of the youths and they will protect their land. You don’t go and hide your security votes. You go and enjoy your security votes and you don’t take care of these things, then you start shouting at Buhari. The governor in Bayelsa will shout “Buhari,” the one in Bauchi will shout; for what? And you can’t even see the man Buhari. And you are the Chief Executive Officer of a state. The whole money passes through you, but you spend it the way you like with your wife, family and your caucus and leave all the youths who are jobless. You can’t train them properly. They should be trained on how to use weapons. You arm them, license and audit the ammunition.
The youths that should be recruited, should be selected by the communities; each community knows the bad boys and the good boys. You take care of the country. If I’m a governor, you can’t come and do all these rubbish in my state. Because I will call the youths, organise them properly and they will take care of the state. Because these boys are ready to protect their land, but nobody is helping them. How can somebody from Senegal kill farmers, kill women who go to farms, rape them and do all sorts of things to them in your own community? What do they know? Yes, they have AK47. Why not get the AK47 also? Who bought the AK47 for him? Is it Buhari that bought it for him? He knows how to get his AK47. So, the chief security officers, the vigilantes and the youths should know how to get their AK47. The governors should just supply the logistics, that is all.
But some weeks ago in Oyo State, some members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and some Amotekun operatives arrested some Fulani that were suspected to be involved in kidnapping and grazing their animals on people’s farms and when the case got to the police station, the police went to arrest the OPC folks and detained them for arresting the Fulani guys. Don’t you think all these have to do with the constitution and the structure?
We have read all those things. Do the Fulani arrest people in their farms or take them to the police station? They don’t. So, if a lawless man comes to your state and takes over your forest, then you do lawless things to him. It will be illegality versus illegality. In my days in the union, there were procedures for termination of appointments. If a management just woke up and terminated 50 or 100 of my staff, I knew how to deal with him. I would just call the branch executive and shut down that factory or company and take over it; that’s all. They will just be at the gate and if the chief executive is coming, they will just tell him to go back to his house. So, if they run to me and start complaining that I’m doing illegal things, I will tell them that they started it. Illegality versus illegality is illegality.
Don’t you see it as a call for chaos and anarchy when governors begin to arm their youths in their states?
No, there’s nothing lawless in protecting your people. Why should you not protect your people? What are you elected there for if you cannot protect your people? I think the Benue State governor has started it now; he said he would arm his youths. That is what they should have done. Who armed the Fulani men? Did they take excuse from anybody? Those stupid people who are fighting the police in the South-East are not supposed to fight the police and their infrastructure. The police have their weak points yes, but leave them, don’t kill them; let them do the best they can do in the circumstance. They go to the highway and harass innocent people, motorists, but they can’t do anything to kidnappers and bandits that do all those bad things. But that doesn’t mean you should go and kill them.
What’s your take on the call by elder statesman, Albert Clarke that Buhari should hand over power to the military for four years to stabilise the country?
We should repair the country and not give it back to the military. Do you know what we suffered at the hands of the military? They destroyed the country. You can’t talk if not they will just lock you up. They kill you but you can’t go to court, you can’t go anywhere to state your rights. They don’t obey judges, they don’t do anything. Clarke’s statement was rather unfortunate. It appears old age is telling on him.
Do you think there’s still hope for Nigeria?
The hope is that the National Assembly should wake up.
Would you say they should take the option of impeaching the president as being championed by some people?
They can impeach him. Am I the person to impeach him? It’s in the constitution how to impeach him. If the National Assembly is satisfied and the Chief Justice is satisfied and they go through the process, they can impeach him. You don’t just impeach a president anyhow. There are procedures and the APC is in control of the National Assembly and you know the kind of people we have there. They are all Buhari’s boys, so you can’t impeach him. But the governors I know can because the governors have so much, control over the people who are in the National Assembly. Every governor of every state has control over his people there. So, I’m happy that the governors have started waking up. We want Nigeria to be one. Northerners, southerners should all live together but equity and justice must be there. And this is what Buhari is not doing. Buhari is nepotistic to the core. But he doesn’t even know what is happening in the country and the so-called cabal will be shouting “Presidency” and signs anything on presidency. They will write anything and say it’s the Presidency. Buhari has some problems; he has health challenges, too. People like [former President Olusegun Obasanjo] are just blessed health-wise.
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