In this Interview, Alex Kwapnoe, a former Member representing Sendam, Ex-Plateau Commissioner and an APC Gubernatorial aspirant during the 2015 general elections, speaks about the democracy, the incessant killings and failure of Security as well as how Nigeria has fared since the return of democracy in 1999.
Generally how would you say our democracy has fared since the advent of this dispensation 19 years ago?
Well, truly democracy is preferable to authoritarian rule as dictated by military dictatorship and Nigeria, when we started almost twenty years ago, every right thinking Nigeria believed then that by now, we would have been better off. But apparently, we have not learnt from the past. Mistakes of the past are being repeated on a daily basis and that is stalling our progress in other spheres of our lives. Consequently, we have lost control. It appears what we have of the moment is a political situation in which we are control by our passion or religion or ethnicity not by the rule of law, therefore, for me, we have performed 40 percent. But I thought we should have seen an example to Africa considering that even as of the time of military interregnum we were able to help installed democratic institution in South Africa and other climes across the world. So, we have more work to do.
What would be your take on the security situation in the country vis-à-vis the incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen?
My take is that killing anywhere by anybody is wrong. It is God that gives life and only he can take it. God did not give authority to anybody to take another person’s life. I believe that all the books of religion in the world fault the situation in which people arbitrarily kill one another. To that extend, I am not comfortable and I believe all Nigerian are not comfortable or in support of the killings going on. However, it is also as a result of our failure to run government. What mean is that, you have the police that is poorly trained, poorly armed and poorly remunerated Forty or fifty thousand.
Here also, is a policeman who is expected to protect lives yet his monthly take home pay is 40 or 50 thousand naira, and all I have enumerated. What do you expect from this police man? He tries as much as possible to survive. So, may likely abandon his responsibility because there is lack of motivation. We have similar situation in the armed forces, in the customs and other paramilitary. We don’t reprimand those who abandon the responsibility willfully. We are supposed to have introduced the law of quality and the law against willful negligence. By that I meant no man should be a policeman or security personnel without proper training. Most importantly be well remunerated. For instance, if we are paying new entrance to NNPC 4 million naira, only can’t we do that to the police and other security personnel? So, you can see that having neglecting that, we have concentrated on politics and politicians because the take home pay of politicians is outrageous. Instead of concentrating on empowering our security personnel to protect lives and property, we are only concentrating on taking care of politicians. So, until we come to that reality and change our attitude and mentality, certainly we are doomed.
Are you saying those in charge of security have compromised?
Whether you called it compromise or whatever, what I know is that by this indoctrinated nation by their training, they are not fit to carry out their responsibility taking into account recent happenings. For instance, thousands of people were killed in Plateau State some years ago. In Dogo Nahawa almost a thousand were killed in one night and as I am talking to you this afternoon, no single prosecution has been done, nobody has been caught. Incidentally, that happened when we had a Christian president. So, these things have been going on for quite sometimes, whether it is a led by a Christian or a Muslim, we have failed woefully to re-organized and re-elegized our security system.
Are you in support of the call by the National Assembly for the Dismissal of Security Chiefs?
I go a step further than that. I call for the removal of the National Assembly itself…………cuts
But it’s the symbol of democracy?
I say, I call for the removal of symbol of democracy. We have to start all over. We have to address the question of Nigeria itself completely.
Do we need a two term president? I say no. we don’t. What we need now is a collegiate system of government where we have six geo-political zones and six presidents; each one serving one term of six years. Then we also need a single or unicameral parliament. We don’t need bi-camera parliament. We don’t need, senate, House of Reps; it is all rubbish. We have to address the whole question of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
If we want to practice true federalism, let’s go ahead are do it but as it is now what system are we practicing? Unitary or federalism? What are we really practicing? We are practicing nothing. As far as I am concerned, the system we are practicing “self-governance; everyone for themselves. Everyone has he or for own generator. Everybody is expected to protect this own lives. Everybody is expected to carter for themselves and people are engaged in doing whatever they want. So, we have to address the whole question of the entity called Nigeria not just the security apparatus. Yes, you can say the security apparatus has failed, so also the whole system; governance, the constitution; everything has collapse. This is the reality.
Probably it is for this reason that pundits have observed that the life of the ordinary Nigerian who ought to be enjoying the dividends of democracy now is at its lowest web. Do you also share in this view?
I am in this government. I don’t want to speak on this because I would be hailing myself but if you take outside the context that I am in the APC, I would say that nowhere in the world have people make progress without sacrifice. The concept of no pain no gain suffices here. What do I mean by that? We had a situation; a bad past which I really, wouldn’t want to mention have because everybody know, it was thieving galore and we have almost taken to bankruptcy. I believe that every same person is aware of what happened in the recent past. The looting, the stealing, the illegal use of guns and ammunitions, the oppression of the poor by the mighty. But today, I hail this government for instance, that we are able to increase our farmers league, that today, we are consuming our local rice is a plus to this administration. Nothing can be more than this. That in the recent past, every measure of rice we consumed was imported is shameful taking into account the abundant blessings God has bestowed on this country which include fertile land and people with peaceful disposition. A land in which even if you spit your saliva on it, turns to fertilizer yet we could not feed ourselves. So, in that regard, this government has done extremely well. I have also seen reasonably improvement in electricity supply and distribution. Which I reside in Jos we used to stay up to six months without a blink of light, but today, we even complain if supply is disrupted for a day. Again, that is another great achievement of the Buhari administration. I have also notice that the kind of reckless spending that characterized the previous government has been curtailed. Today, everybody, including government officials live within their means. I am not saying we have achieved all, but gradually, we getting there.
In just few weeks from today, your party, the APC is expected to have its national convention, what is your anticipation of the exercise?
My expectation is to see that my party allows democracy to thrive. I am very pleased with the position of Mr. President who said that we must respect the tenets of constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the constitution of our party. I believe that nobody will deviate from that and if that is the case, then it’s a step in the right direction and I think it will help the party to grow; it would also help democracy to grow and that in itself, will help in the growth of the society.
Do you see the APC retaining power in 2019 and may be claiming more states that it did in 2015?
When APC was not in government, it won elections not to take of now that it is the ruling party. I appreciate the performance of president Buhari most especially in the transparent handling of affairs in the country, I have every confident that APC would still be in government in 2019 because in horizon, I can’t see any competent challenged because most of them who came from other parties are clearly looters and I see no ability, no capacity in them to change the tide of governance as it is. No one has shown the ability to lead at this very moment. May be some other people who are better would come up but at the moment, there is none.
You have seen the list of the purported looters. The only thing that is keeping them from going to prison is the slow judicial process otherwise, they should have all been in prison by now. Are these kind of people you thrice can challenge Buhari and that Nigerians can trust? I don’t thrice so, I believe the APC is on course and set for another four years of governance come 2019.