Senator Bima Muhammad Enagi represents Niger South senatorial district in the Senate. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the former director with CBN explains why the controversial Ruga settlements for herdsmen is necessary, among other topical issues.
The suspended Ruga settlement for herdsmen has been controversial. What is your take on this?
The Federal Government knows better and we are all Nigerians. Everybody eats meat. It’s not just the herdsmen but it’s something that everybody should be concerned about. We have been having issues of herdsmen and farmers clashes for some time. We need to improve on security in the country and if we can earmark areas where these cattle can be kept and looked after, it will be better for most of us. I will appeal to Nigerians and all the states that they should cooperate with the Federal Government.
Nigerians are worried that some of these herdsmen have allegedly attacked and killed people in some places across the country. People believe that giving them settlements could further escalate these killings…
No, the Federal Government is there to ensure that laws are respected. It’s unfortunate that, there have been killings in Nigeria in the past and people are allowed to get away with it. This is one of the areas where I’m deeply concerned about. Anybody who takes the laws into his hands and kill Nigerians should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.
The South-East, South-West and some states in the North have come out to resist any plan to establish ruga settlements in their lands. Should this be enforced?
I’m fully aware of the statement made by these zonal leaders and state governments. Yes some places have rejected the idea of Ruga but it’s all in the process of negotiation. Nobody can run away from establishing colonies. If we don’t want them to roam about then, then we must earmark a place for them.
But are you not worried that Nigeria has been divided along ethnic and religious lines since the coming of this administration?
If I tell you that I’m not worried, then I will be lying. I know that, the process of development and uniting a nation is very long. We cannot get it in one day. Most of the countries we refer to in the west as being peaceful states speak with one language. In Britain, they are all English, the same with France where they are all French. You go to Germany, they all speak German. But in Nigeria, we have over 250 languages, so we are doing very well in managing ourselves. When you talk about unity, an average Nigerian wants Nigeria to remain one. Our problem has nothing to do with religion and tribe, it’s corruption and unemployment. I think the present government is doing a lot in that direction. In the next 10 years, the problems will not be there if APC remains in power.
Still on insecurity, some Nigerians have blamed Mr. President for not sacking service chiefs as insecurity persists. What do you think?
I’m of the opinion that, these service chiefs should have been changed long ago. Of course, they have tried but they could have done better. The truth is that, if you leave people on a seat for long and things grew worse, it will be expected that, because the people couldn’t do the job well, they should be sacked. If I were the president, I would have removed them a long time ago. Still that is not for me to decide. The president can decide that by himself because he alone has the power to do that. I think they should be removed and replaced with young officers, digital officers who will want to succeed and carve a niche for themselves.
Some financial experts have said that Nigeria is bankrupt, what is your take on this?
I don’t think Nigeria is bankrupt. I also don’t expect Emir Sanusi to say that Nigeria is bankrupt. The nation is not bankrupt at all…
Yet we borrow money to finance our budgets and do projects…
Borrowing money to do our projects is not bad. Every country takes loan. Even America takes loan. America has debt running into trillion dollars, so there is nothing wrong in borrowing as long as it is for capital expenditure. I think that is fine. Every country does it. Our economy is good and sound but it can be better.
But are you not worried over our current foreign debt profile?
I’m not on top of that but economists have a ratio that if it extends to a particular ration, then it will be enough but right now, it has not gotten to that. From my discussion with some economists, they have assured me that, we are far below that. So there is no tension or anything to be worried about.
Does it bother you that Mr. President is yet to submit list of ministers to the National Assembly?
I’m not worried because in 2015 it took Mr. President six months to nominate ministers…
Is that good for a fragile economy like Nigeria?
No! Of course that is not good. I don’t think he will do that this time around. We should be patient. I learnt that security agents are already working on the nominees. I’m sure he will submit the names to the National Assembly soon.
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