From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
President of Yoruba Community in Benue State, Aare Adeyemi Apanpa has said both President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have failed Nigerians.
Apanpa, a Chartered Accountant by profession said the APC and the President do not have the capacity to govern this country and urged Nigerians to look beyond party in 2023 and vote for individuals who have the capacity to take the country out of the woods.
He also spoke on other salient national issues in this interview.
What’s your take on the ban on open grazing by the Southern governors?
The open grazing issue has been of importance to so many of us. Is it even safe for people to be roaming round the bushes everyday? I think the Southern governors have done the right thing by banning open grazing in their states. I expect the governors to also look for alternatives for those who want to continue rearing cattle and other animals in their states by ensuring provision of ranches. But personally, I support the stance of the Southern governors on the ban placed on open grazing.
Do you think this can solve the incessant farmer/herders clashes as well as high level insecurity currently plaguing the country?
Yes, very well. Recently, the President was on air, talking about reopening of grazing routes of 1950s. But if you look at it, what was the population of Nigeria at that time and what’s our population today? Which areas were people living then and where are we living now? Are the routes he is talking about still there? The answer is no. I think while the farmers remain in their farms, the cattle herders need also to put their cattle in ranches. We should realise that the land in the South is not enough for farming, talk more of providing some part of it for grazing. So, in order to curb this incessant killing and crises, I think people have been suggesting ranching which is the best global practice. If you travel out of this country, you would discover that Nigeria doesn’t have enough cows compared to some countries of the world like Brazil, USA, Argentina and so on. None of these countries is talking about cattle routes again, why then should Nigeria be talking about such thing in the 21st century? It is ranching that all these countries are practising, so, our government should begin to think along that line. Fortunately, the Kano State governor has come up to say that Kano has enough land for herders. I think the Federal Government should rather concentrate on developing that so that the farmers can have enough land to farm and produce food for the Nigerian populace. We need to feed our nation especially now that the population keeps growing. How then do you feed the population if the farmers cannot go to farm? If this incessant attack is allowed to fester, another problem beyond the present crisis will come up and that is the problem of starvation, abject poverty and famine.
What’s your take on the adoption of rotational presidency by Southern governors?
I support the decision of the Southern governors that the presidency between the North and the South should be rotated. By 2023, the presidency would have been in the North for eight years. It is only fair that it be allowed to move to the South also in 2023 for another eight years so that all of us can have a sense of belonging to the country called Nigeria. After eight years in the South, the South also should agree that it should move to the North. So, I support that position that the presidency in 2023 should be zoned by all the parties to the Southern part of the country.
So, what’s now the fate of the South easterners on this? The Igbo are agitating for the presidency because since 1999, the Igbo have never had a shot at the presidency…
No, the Igbo have had a shot at the presidency during Azikiwe and Maj. Gen. Aguyi Ironsi but they haven’t had a shot since the modern democracy of 1999. Frankly speaking, I as a person will support that the presidency should go to the South East in 2023. It should go to an Igbo man so that the people too can have a sense of belonging in this country called Nigeria. And you’ll be surprised that an Igbo presidency may spring pleasant surprise in the end. So, I support that the Presidency should be zoned to the South East.
Do you think that if the presidency is zoned to the South East, it can also stop the Biafran agitation?
Very well, because if you look at the Biafran agitation, one of the reasons is because they felt that they have not been fairly treated especially by not allowing them have a shot at the presidency at all. And most of these people calling for Biafra nation are youths and not the elite. The youth are tired of the exclusion of their region from the Nigerian equation and that is why they have continued to agitate for the Biafran nation. That is why they are using all these tactics; IPOB and the rest of them. I believe that by the time an Igbo man becomes the president of Nigeria, most of these agitations will ease away.
Just recently, the IPOB freedom fighter, Kanu was arrested by the Nigerian Government and brought back to Nigeria to be tried. What’s your take about his re-arrest?
I think government should be very careful in handling this issue vis a vis what is happening in the Northern part of the country where you have the bandits, Boko Haram and Fulani herders, and none of them has been arrested even though they have been saying all sorts of things. See what happened to the Benue State governor not too long ago and none of them has been arrested. So, I’m expecting that the government would have to handle the Kanu issue carefully because that’s not the only part of Nigeria where there is unrest. Every day in the North, you hear of bandits abducting school children and so on and none of them has been arrested. This is very dangerous. And you see how Gumi has publicly come out to tell government to negotiate with bandits. My opinion is that government must handle this matter carefully.
What is your opinion on the raid on Sunday Igboho’s Ibadan residence by the DSS?
Yes, just like the Kanu issue, government will also have to be very careful about the Sunday Igboho’s issue too. Sunday Igboho granted a lot of interviews and complained when his people were being killed by the Fulani who raided everywhere in his village and burnt everywhere. Do you expect them to fold their hands? The man came out and complained but nobody listened to him until it degenerated to this. I don’t support the DSS going to his house in the dead of the night. They could have invited him and see how they can resolve this matter. Two wrongs cannot make a right. I think government needs to be very careful in the way it is handling this Sunday Igboho issue.
The manner they are currently handling the matter; killing people and displaying arms and all that, I don’t think that is the solution to it. Igboho has not taken up arms but he has just been going round to say enough is enough. And the Southern governors are also saying enough is enough with this herdsmen killing.
What’s your take on Gumi’s opinion that the Federal Government should negotiate with bandits to bring these attacks to a stop?
Gumi is a funny character to me. Are these people he is asking the Federal Government to negotiate with organized? Do they have formation, do they have leadership? Are you saying you know them and government cannot round them up? Bandits are faceless human beings. You have bandits in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger. Are you saying that all of these bandits have only one Commander? The answer is no. So, who are you going to negotiate with? It happened in Zamfara when some people came out and government negotiated with them and they went back. In Katsina, they came out and they went back. So, who are you negotiating with? In this aspect, I think I support Governor El-Rufai who said government should face the bandits and wipe them out instead of negotiating with them. I don’t support Gumi’s opinion that government should negotiate with bandits.
What’s your reaction to the recent abduction of some secondary school students in Kaduna State?
It has to do with what I was telling you about Gumi and the government. Personally, I would blame governor El-Rufai on one hand because there is division in Kaduna. There is Southern and Northern Kaduna and somehow on religious basis. We have the Christians in the Southern part and the Muslims in the Northern part of the state. And since El-Rufai came in, his body language has not gone out to douse tension in these areas. It’s either they are kidnapping children in schools or they are attacking Southern Kaduna to the extent that he had to close some schools. Now, what’s the future of these children? If schools were closed down during his own time, would he ever become a quantity surveyor talk less of becoming a governor? So, as the governor, I think El-Rufai has more to do to bring peace to Kaduna. And this is happening in his state every day. He has to find a lasting solution to this as soon as possible too.
Looking at the issue of insecurity that has been plaguing this country in the last few years, do you think President Buhari has the capacity to lead Nigeria?
To be frank with you, the man has no capacity. He has failed and all of us have to learn from his failure. In 2015 when they were campaigning against Jonathan, they were not careful. They started this crisis then with their utterances. Buhari, Tinubu and the rest of them started this crisis then and they thought that Jonathan was not going to hand over power to them. Surprisingly, God used Jonathan and he handed over. So, they couldn’t manage the success. Their inability to manage that success is what we are seeing all over now. And I can say that both the President and the party (APC) are not capable of governing this country. The government has failed Nigeria woefully. They came with the change mantra but we never knew it was change to nonsense. Today, nothing is working in this country.
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