Whether we like it or not Nigeria will break up one day
–Bauchi State CAN Chairman, Rev Joshua Maina warns
The state of the nation is that we have a bleeding nation. We have a disoriented and corrupt nation. The summary is that Nigeria has lost her glory and that is the state of the nation, and Nigerians are responsible for that.
What do you mean?
If you look at it from the divine point of view, geographically, Nigeria has been blessed with abundant natural resources more than most nations of the world and we have annual rainfall beyond human imagination. We till and plant in our land with rainfall. We reap our harvest under rainfall. Quite a lot of countries around the world are not experiencing this, even countries that are exporting food and other agricultural products do not depend on rainfall for their survival.
Corruption has eaten into the fabric of the nation; from the spiritual sector down to the economic sector and to the political sector, corruption is leading the country. Forget about the story we have at the government corridor. No regime will like to say it has failed. All regimes are saying they are doing their best.
There are killings in Southern Kaduna, banditry in the North-West, terrorism in the North-East and so many other places.
What do you think is the problem?
It is politics, a game of power. If there is anything, the second one is economic, but the leading game for all the insecurity is power. Who has ever been prosecuted as a sponsor of Boko Haram? Anybody who knows warfare will know that if you are killing an enemy, you don’t just go running after his foot soldiers. You consider his supply route and cut off his supply chain, and then, you starve him of ammunition.
Our customs men have seized containers of weapons and displayed them. Who has come out to tell us those behind all these things?
We have a reckless nation where somebody will wake up with billions of naira, go and purchase weapons outside the country and bring them into Nigeria.
Do you think service chiefs should go?
Personally, I feel that since they can’t perform, they should go.Why are they still there if they cannot offer solutions to the security challenges facing the country?
The President in his independence speech said that it was senseless that Nigeria should be selling fuel lower than Saudi Arabia. What is your reaction to that statement?
Mr President has the right to compare Nigeria to other countries, but there’s a saying that goes that the easiest way to destroy your joy is to start comparing yourself with others. Saudi Arabia is governed by purely Arabs. How many nationals; how many ethnic groups does Saudi Arabia have? The predominant ethnic group in Saudi Arabia are the Arabs. The President ought not, in any way, have compared Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.
Do you believe those who say that corruption is on the increase now than ever before?
Corruption had been institutionalised. When you have somebody, who cannot produce N10,000 in a month collecting over N50m a month, what has he done to earn that? We have institutionalised corruption under the guise of allowances for National Assembly members. The issue of individuals owning oil wells is corruption. Our inability to refine our crude oil but instead take it outside the country to refine and give the contract to somebody to bring it back to Nigeria and we are paying fuel subsidy is corruption.
Our lawmakers, under normal circumstances, are supposed to be on a part- time basis.
How many bills have they sponsored?
And these bills, how many of them are relevant to the individual Nigerian? Or is it just sponsoring a bill?
The bills must be relevant to the daily progress of every Nigerian.
With all of these problems, will you say Nigeria is stinking?
When you go out and people know that you are a Nigerian, they call you Boko Haram. They screen your passport in an extraordinary way. They put their eyes on you from departure from the airport up to your hotel accommodation. It shows that you are not normal and the simple reason is because you are a Nigerian. Nigeria is stinking around the world and that is why Nigerians are running and leaving the shores of this country.
There has been an increase sexual and gender-based violence, as minors are being raped in Bauchi State Are you worried about this development?
If you have cancer on your leg and it bursts open and flies begin to hover around, do you blame the flies?
In a decayed society, a lawless society, where ethics and virtues have eroded, this is a symptom of a decayed society. Some of these rape cases you see are carried out for ritual purposes. Politics is around. Killings will follow rape and people will begin to disappear. These are symptoms of our decayed system. Inasmuch as I am worried about it, we need to revive our ethical standards and our law enforcement agencies should be up and doing. Unfortunately, even kidnapping, they will tell you that some law enforcement agents have a hand in it, so it is not only rape, but also ritual killings, suicide bombing and kidnapping. They are all signs of a corrupt society. If the government is serious, if we even have a government in place, these are the issues they will put their eyes on.
Some people have been predicting the breakup of Nigeria and the unity of the country is being threatened. What do you think about this?
Nigeria, based on reality and whether we like it or not, will one day break. Where is Yugoslavia today?
Why won’t Nigeria break up? Who is the prophet who would tell you that he met with God and God told him that Nigeria must remain one? His god must be Lord Luggard.
Do you see any hope for Nigeria?
Truly speaking, I have not seen any hope. We have lost the whole system. We hate speaking the truth to one another and love telling ourselves lies. If you speak the truth, you are arrested and so, if you are dealing with your subjects, they have to tell you lies. Once a country is run on lies, there will be an end to that country.
What is the way forward for Nigeria?
We should come back to reality. Some people are clamouring for true federalism. There are certain systems that are corrupt. If I must give you an example, oil wells must be owned by the government and not individuals. I am not envious of the people who own oil wells. I don’t even know them. In fact, I don’t care because it will not in a way help me. I have never benefited from any of them.
Secondly, if we are running a federal system, let us go for true federalism and let use the states as federating units. Bauchi should be able to maintain all the resources in Bauchi. The gold in Toro should be controlled by the signature of the Senator Bala Mohammed and not someone in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Resources, Abuja, who can give a licence to the Chinese to enter Bauchi at will. Bauchi State should control her resources. Kaduna has abundant resources. She should control her resources. Almost every state in Nigeria has deposits of these natural resources. I’ve not seen one single state that is empty.
God has designed the Nigerian state in a way that each state can survive on her own, but we rejected it. Why did God put these mineral resources there? We cannot tap them. We prefer to call someone from outside to come and give us incentives and carry the riches out. Going by true federalism, we can maintain them.
Despite the abundant natural resources, the government has not stopped borrowing locally and internationally.
Are you not concerned that the future of Nigeria is being mortgaged?
I pity those places Nigeria is borrowing from. You are lending money to somebody, who is about to die; somebody who has cancer. I am talking of Nigeria as a nation, a country that is exhibiting all signs of breakup and you are giving her money. The highest China will begin to do is to maybe begin to seize some of the things it can lay its hands on.
So, those lending money to Nigeria, I say sorry for them, because you are lending to someone whose days are numbered. Things cannot continue going this way.
As a pastor, shouldn’t you give hope?
I am not the one to give hope to Nigeria. It is we Nigerians that will team up and beg God for hope. We cannot be corrupt, moving in sin, in recklessness and in total rebellion to God and expect me to give hope. I will be a prophet of doom, if I refuse to tell the country the truth, seeing disaster and refusing to tell her, but instead tell her that all is well. Nigerians must change their thinking, attituded and behaviour, and in that case, all will be well. All these killings in Southern Kaduna, you think I will like to be in a country where I will see blood being shed at will? I want to be in a country where people will valuelives; where if one person dies, the whole land will stop and mourn.
A first-class chief will be abducted, killed and dumped, and the state still continues with its behaviour. You want me to have hope in that land? It doesn’t make sense. I have feelings. I am a human being and I have conscience and I am created in the image of God. I am supposed to have a sense of justice. These things are missing in Nigeria, so what is our hope? To live today and to be killed tomorrow, whether by a political opponent, abductors kidnapping for ransom, a religious extremist or tribal bigot? This is a country where we have all of these things and we are institutionalising them; so where is the hope?
Source: Punch Newspapers Maina spoke with Armstrong Bakam