Professor Patrick Muboghare is a former Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in Delta state and currently a lecturer at the Delta State University, Abraka. In this interview with Sunday Apah, he spoke on the Fulani herdsmen menace, the need for Nigeria to practise true federalism and other issues. Excerpts:
Recently there was a group from the South East known as Independent People of Biafra, IPOB who were agitating for independence but were later branded by the presidency as terrorists, what is your comment on this?
If those who wanted to leave India were tagged terrorists, there will be no Pakistan and Bangladesh. There used to be a Soviet Union known as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, they split, each went its own way, there you have Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. So what is the big deal about Nigeria Unity is not negotiable, who told you that, I will never believe in that, you want me to remain united with you so that you take over my property and land for your herdsmen. Declaring IPOB a terrorist organization was a joke and clownish.
Its clownish to say so, these people were never armed but security agencies claimed to have seen them with arms, which was not true. I am seeing Fulani herdsmen on daily basis with arms here in Uwherun and yet they are not been declared a terrorist organization. Fulani herdsmen have occupied territory in Uwherun, nobody declared them a terrorist organization, why IPOB, did IPOB occupied anybody’s territory. They are operating within the South East and why should the Igbo man be happy when herdsmen will come to Enugu and raped their women, kill their men, burn down churches, houses and occupies the place. You are calling them terrorists so that they cannot protect their people, sometimes I find it difficult to fight on the Nigerian side and it is immoral for me to even do so because Nigeria does not consider Uwherun people as Nigerians.
IPOB has done nothing wrong because it is a movement and not a terrorist organization. A court threw away charges of terrorism against IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu, I know we are under a military regime whether by election or not. Don’t forget, when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was a president of this country, it took him many presentations before the National Assembly for the movement of troops to dismantle Boko Haram but in this regime he just went to the South East without discussion with the National Assembly and declared them a terrorist organization, the world is laughing at us. Very soon they will call Uwherun people terrorist so that the Fulani people can take over all the villages, of cause there are few villages left unconquered in Uwherun. IPOB is not a terrorist group, it is a freedom fighting group, they want referendum, give it to them.
If they fail or succeed, it’s their luck, many countries have split peacefully. Nnamdi Azikiwe says, if we cannot split peacefully, we shall split in crises. Nigeria will split, we cannot continue like this for too long because there is a group that believes its Nigeria, and that same group believes that the other ones are our slaves and footstools, I reject that because I was not born a slave, at my age I will not be a slave, my children were not born slaves. We cannot be slaves to anybody. Some boys from my village are working here in my farm, it’s the same tale of woe, oga what are you people doing, you have abandoned us, not that we stole their money or refused to help them to go to school, at least we pay school fees for our children. Avwon Primary School no longer operates, yet Jonathan was building schools for Amajiris in the north.
You said the APC led government is not practicing true democracy but leading as if we are in a military regime. Now that 2019 is at the corner, do you see the PDP which is the only viable opposition party to the APC returning to power come 2019?
There is little they can do for now because if the military can overran the South East in peace, when there are no elections, of cause they will overrun the place during elections and that will be the beginning of anarchy. But they will do it and drive more people into the bush and the more you drive people into the bush, you will have more terrorists. So when you have ‘terrorists’ in the South East, South South, South West and Middle Belt what will be next, those states that Gideon Okah ostracized from Nigeria in 1990 will be left as Nigeria, others will go their own way.
I still want to read what was in Gideon Okah’s mind when he ostracized those states. When you look at Nigeria critically, they are the states that make it impossible for us to develop to our full potentials. It is unfortunate that Sukuk, the Islamic bond with Sharia policy, Nigeria took a loan from it and it is being operated with Sharia policy, I, from Uwherun is now part of Sharia, that is the implication because he had boasted that he will not rest until Sharia is practiced in the whole of Nigeria and those of us from the south are just following that Sukuk is good, ‘our mumu don do’. It is only the southerner who will rationalize, we are the one to use fine English to explain OIC that it doesn’t makes us Muslims. Of cause to us it will never matter, we don’t reason. Because we rejected Sharia, they brought Sukuk in disguise for us to accept Sharia. The future of democracy in Nigeria is very bleak. The oligarchy is deliberately instigating the crises in Nigeria and I won’t be surprise if it is a way of handing over power to some yam heads.
Do you believe in restructuring of the country, as it is been clamored for by some persons?
What are we restructuring; it is either true federalism or nothing. We are just beating around the bush with issue of restructuring, let us go back to the 1960, 1963 constitutions with regional powers, you can call it state powers if you want or Mid-West powers. We had our own power prior to this useless coup of January 15 1966 and the equally stupid counter coup of July 29, they put us into this. We have never recovered and can never recover if we continue pretending like this. How can you have a company operating in Delta state, corporate tax goes to Abuja, then my governor goes to Abuja to kneel down to say give us small, how can we ever progress like that.
So those who actually have nothing to offer gets the lion share of Nigerians wealth, those who are working, who have the wealth are the ones begging. So restructuring is not the issue, what we need is true federalism as it was in the beginning, so shall it be, now and forever. We have gone beyond restructuring, what we want now is true federalism. If you like make an Uwherun man President of Nigeria under this dispensation; he will achieve nothing for the south. People say Jonathan was weak that he was not able to do anything for the south, Obasanjo was president for eight year, as brutish as he was, he could not construct a road from Lagos to Ibadan, even resurfacing, he could not. They hedged him in, they tied his hands and legs. Obasanjo couldn’t perform, he was not able to tar a road to Otta, they tied him, he could not do anything. The same Obasanjo has the temerity to say when Jonathan was there he could not do anything for the south south. What did Obasanjo did for the south west with all his military background, absolutely nothing. So anybody you put there, even if it is Tinubu, they will tie him down.
Politics – Independent Nigeria