Senator Joseph Kennedy Waku means different things to different people. While government sees him as a turn in the flesh, the Tiv People of Benue State see him as a warrior fighting for his people. In this exclusive interview with RUTH CHOJI, the seasoned, controversial politician opens up on several topical issues
Are you worried about the state of the nation with regards to insecurity in the north?
Am I worried about the state of the nation? I am not just worried, I am disturbed; I am not just disturbed, I am disgusted.
Who are you disgusted with? Is it the government or the Boko Haram?
The north happens to be a battle ground. It cannot be said that, it is a program initiated, financed by the north.
Are you saying that somebody from another part of the country is behind the insurgency in the north?
I am seriously accusing the federal government of Nigeria of conniving to disintegrate the entire north in pursuit of its political agenda to totally bring disenchantment to the north and create some mechanism that will render the region completely ineffective. As a result of that, they want to find their way either by secession or economically crumbling the north in its entirety.
Therefore the north has a problem and it’s time for north to stand out, to investigate and find out if this is our making or somebody else fueling these crises and if so, what can we do to stop it. If it done by the northern people then, we must find out what are their grievances; come out, let’s talk about it.
Therefore it is something the north itself cannot relax about it because; the north itself cannot go to bed with their eyes closed. It is imperative for every northerner to stand up firmly because war is at their door. We can no longer pretend that there is no war, this is war. Let’s not even look at the root cause yet; let’s nip it before finding out the cause of the war before it gets out of hand.
You said the federal government is conniving; who they are conniving with?
I am accusing the federal government of ineptitude, for not acting promptly as it should. The federal government has all the mechanism, both private investigators, official investigators, private information gathering mechanism and so on.
These governments are in a position to come up with solutions; it is in charge of investigating which route these things are coming in from; who is responsible for fueling it.
But the Boko Haram has come out to say that, they want to Islamize the north, so why are you blaming the federal government.
I have every reason to blame the government. Is it today that poverty started in the north? Why must it be now? There has always been poverty in the north all along, since the Saduana died. Our leaders ignored us; northern leaders ignored empowering their people.
The north has no business being poor, it is our political leaders. Forget about what Babangida, Gowon did, what about now? Why can’t they amend the situation when Babangida and company failed in the past?
But do you think an increase in revenue sharing formula will eradicate poverty in the north as it is being advocated by northern governors.
It cannot. We don’t have any problem with our revenue sharing formula. Why are we talking about oil now? In 1914, it was the north that was feeding the federal government and at that time it was manual farming, not even mechanized farming. When northern leaders begin to stop competing on who gets more than whom in terms of stealing public funds, the north will be great.
The only quarrel I have with Boko Haram is their indiscriminating bombing of churches which has made people to talk about religion; it is not religion. The north should wake up, we have more to gain if we take away personal aggrandizement else sooner or later, northern youths will turn against us.
What is the way out of the logjam?
You don’t give such advices on the pages of news papers.
But will you subscribe to a sovereign National Conference.
I have no objection to that. The SNC is an academic exercise; it will take nobody anywhere. As corrupt as the National Assembly might look to be, there is some elements of people representation there. So submit your program to them and insist that justice is done.
When you say as corrupt as the National Assembly might seem to be, are you saying that, there is no corruption there?
There have been accusations of corruption and as a citizen; there can be no smoke without fire. But I intend to agree that there is corruption in the National Assembly, Even the way they came in is corrupt. I told David Mark that he is a prisoner of conscience; somebody who has never won elections becomes the senate president?
Why won’t there be any corruption in the senate? There are only few that were voted there and all this was caused by Obasanjo. Today, they have driven corruption into the judiciary, the system is heading toward state of anarchy that Mr. President ought to stamp his feet down.
Are you comfortable with the way Mr President is handling the security situation?
No, I am not because Mr. President cannot handle the security situation in the country alone, but the buck stops at his desk. If you appoint the Nationals Security Adviser and he sits in that office and expects everything to be taken to him, then he should be sacked…
So you are happy with the sacking of the NSA and defense minister?
Certainly, he is the most incompetent security adviser Nigeria has ever produced.
But some Nigerians are beginning to see the president as weak and unable to handle the ills bedeviling the nation. What do you think of him?
The president is not weak. It is just that he has not prepared himself for this work, therefore he doesn’t know it. He has no idea. Weakeness is when somebody knows it but to take a decision is difficult. But in this case, he doesn’t know the job at all. He was conscripted and he wasn’t prepared for it.
How can a president travel when there is chaos in his nation? Kaduna is one of the most important economic states in this country. How can it be engulfed in crises and then you fly to Brazil? How can he come and be challenging the National Assembly when they make important comment on the state of the nation? That minster should have relinquished his office by now. Even if heads of governments are on vacation and something of that magnitude happened, they abandone it and rush home.
Would you support amnesty for the Boko Haram?
Do you know them? Who are they? That is why the northern leaders must come out and get to the root of the crises. We must find out if somebody wants to destabilise our homes or we were doing it ourselves.
But do you harbor fear that the crises can lead to disintegration of the nation?
If it is the wish of people that we disintegrate then we do it. What is the big deal there? Why are we hiding away from reality? What is happening is enough to make people angry. The Niger/Delta got up one morning and made advert of their secession and none among them was arrested.
Who knows whether they are training their people for possible disintegration? No section of this country should take the other for granted because they feel that, when they leave, they have oil; the south should go and drink their oil, the west their cocoa.
Igbo’s started attacking me that I did not allocate food for them, what will they eat? The north is not a parasite as the southerners think. Our problem is just management of resources and leadership. We can manage ourselves if Nigeria disintegrates.
Let me tell you, people keep saying that if this country disintegrates, what will happen? Something will happen. I will remain in Nigeria, it is those who don’t want to be in Nigeria that will go.
Oil is perishable; if technology that they are creating now comes earlier, then the oil might last ten-fifteen years. But agriculture has come to remain forever. It is just that our leaders in the north are not leaders but looters.
The government of northern Nigeria is run by radio; they should stop running government like that, the north has no business being a poor region, and it is the will of leadership.
Going back to Benue State, were you surprised by the Supreme Court ruling which upheld governor Suswan’s elections?
There was no judgment; they didn’t try the case. I talked about corruption earlier; the corruption has entered the Supreme Court. It is a shame that we don’t know where we are heading to.
The Supreme Court order that he case taken back to Benue State to be retry by its merit, Gabriel Suswan and PDP set up a new panel; they went to court to raise a motion that, time was no longer there, the case should be thrown out. The lower tribunal went ahead and they are carrying out the directives of the Supreme Court and will hear the case by its merits.
Gabrial Suswan and the PDP were not satisfied, they went to appeal court and lost, they came to Supreme Court which also dismisses their appeal. Then we went back and then they made this announcement comparing it with the case in Maiduguri, forgetting that this scenario is different. Some of us are afraid of where this county is heading to.