Hon. Kaka Kyari Gujbawu represents Maiduguri federal constituency in the House of Representatives. A staunch member of the PDP, Kyari spoke with select journalists on the defection of 37 PDP members of the House to APC, ex-president Obasanjo’s letter to President Jonathan, insurgency in Borno and other national issues.
What is your take on the recent decision by 37 members of the peoples democratic party (PDP) in House of Representatives members to decamp to the APC
Let me make it abundantly clear that I remain a PDP member today and forever. It is unfortunate that my colleagues had to decamp to the rival All progressive Congress (APC); it was a process that commenced quite a long time ago.
It would have been worse than this but the act of statesmanship exhibited by President Goodluck Jonathan and some of our very good friends that reduced the number. Yes, it happened under Bamanga Tukur, yes it happened under President Jonathan, but don’t forget that the PDP as a party is just 14 years old. And from the blues they came and took over the leadership just about two-three years ago.
So there was a lot of anger and displeasure that were building up and got imploded during this period. So I don’t believe in the blame game. Of course when we lose anything as a human being, we would regret it because they are our friends and colleagues. I am sure they are not happy they decamped to the APC. We regret the loss of material things not to talk of our fellow lawmakers.
Like I told a friend elsewhere, in a relationship, it is normal to quarrel, fight, separate and it could even lead to divorce and even after divorce, we can reconcile our differences. You can see that the forces that bind us together far exceed what divides us and we have come a long way as PDP members.
Believe you me wherever they are today, they won’t be as happy as they were when they were in the PDP because that is the House they built and it enabled people like us to come in develop our political career. I assure you that you would see most of them coming back into the PDP which is their natural place before 2015 polls.
When they were crossing over to the APC, I was one of those that stood up to renew our loyalty to the PDP, to express our passion for the PDP and we were shouting and hailing PDP because the party is still alive, and it remains the strongest party not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
It was agonising to see our members decamp but that is democracy for you and as human everything is dynamic. But let me make this abundantly clear. Just as today you saw the other side of the divide clapping, happy that they got some of our colleagues to their side, soon I am very sure we would be the ones that would laugh and he who laughs last, laughs best.
Because as I am talking to you, a lot of members of the so-called APC are discontented, totally displeased with the way the APC is being run. Don’t forget that PDP is the only party in Nigeria that is not owned by person or a few persons. It is not a sole proprietorship company or corporate outfit. But if you look at the APC, two or five proprietors came together and they dictate to everybody. You don’t find that in the PDP.
What do you make of assertions by the national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega that elections may not hold in the troubled states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe if the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency group persist?
You see we should not politicise security issues. Even as I will not want to join issues with my very good friend Governor Kashim Shettima, I am compelled to do so for the sake of the nation that I am part of and for the sake of the constituency that I represent at the National Assembly.
What Jega said was very clear. He said if the status quo, what is obtains today as per the security situation continues unabated, there is nothing he can do about holding elections there. We are in a state of emergency and I am from Borno State. Today, there is no Borno indigene that would tell you that he can traverse the twenty seven local government areas of Borno State without the fear of being kidnapped or get killed; not even fifty percent of Borno State.
That is the situation today and it is a fact. A lot of our brothers and friends are being kidnapped as I am talking, they are being killed as I am talking and then how do you think of going to conduct election in that place? Do you want to expose the poor people simply because you want to remain in office? I don’t want that to happen.
As my president, Goodluck Jonathan would always say, I don’t wish for a single drop of blood to shed to remain in office and I align myself with that. I don’t wish a single blood of any Borno person or in particular a Maiduguri person to be shed by Boko Haram so that elections should be held for me to continue in office.
But there are those who think that the assertion is politically motivated?
I tend to get passionate when the issue of my constituency is being politicised. I know of very close friends who are like brothers to me that have been killed by Boko Haram. My immediate elder brother was kidnapped. It was by God’s grace that we got him back. Every household in Borno, particularly in Maiduguri has one story or the other to tell about such things and you politicise that?
Ninety nine percent of the Boko Haram insurgents that have so far been arrested are Kanuri from Borno State. What has the PDP or President Goodluck got to do with that? For God’s sake we should rise up against certain primordial sentiments, not just for the purposes of ephemeral purposes like to remain in office.
The Boko Haram saga is not the conventional kind of battle that we all know. So for you to hold the government responsible over an issue that has not come to a zero level is unfair. We should be objective. I knew that certain people were against the proclamation of the state of emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa by Mr President some 8 or 9 months ago thinking that it has some political undertones.
I had a strong misunderstanding with some of my good friends on the other side of the political divide. A lot of us still say that the civilian JTF who collaborate with the proper JTF has brought almost 80 percent peace to Maiduguri that was then known as the hub of the Boko Haram insurgents.
What brought about this active collaboration that it would take an unarmed civilian to go and arrest a well-armed Boko Haram member and the law supports it? It is because of the state of emergency. What do I mean by that? If not for the state of emergency, these guys are sophisticated; they could go to the court of law to halt the activities of the civilian JTF because they can argue that under our existing laws, no civilian is empowered to go and arrest them and the court would give the verdict in that order.
It takes a sagacious leader like Jonathan who knows that this crisis is unusual that requires an unusual approach. For him to do that, he had to suspend the laws to proclaim the state of emergency. This problem to a large extent is a civilian issue. A Hausa proverb says you require the support of the son of the soil to reap the full benefit of any town you go to. If you must do well in an alien land, you need an indigene of the area for you to be successful.
So for the military to succeed within the very heart of the city of Maiduguri, they need the cooperation of the civilian. I speak the mind of almost all Maiduguri indigenes that it is almost like a miracle that in Maiduguri today, we can gather to celebrate either a wedding ceremony or naming ceremony.
Just about four weeks ago, former president Babangida was in Maiduguri for a wedding. Four weeks ago, believe you me, he would not have honoured the invitation in Ndimi’s house if not for the state of emergency.
So if you say that the president is not doing well, you are not being fair to him. We must acknowledge that the fact that all the crises have not been solved is not the fault of Jonathan because it didn’t start with him. He inherited them. Tackling terrorism is a huge challenge across the world. Even the United States with their level of sophistication is still learning the art of counter terrorism talk less of a country like Nigeria.
What happens if the tenure of all elective office holders expires assuming elections do not hold in the states under emergency rule?
I don’t want to say anything on this; I am a lawmaker, I am not an interpreter of the law. The constitution as extant now has not foreseen a situation like this in certain parts of the country. But it has foreseen such a scenario for the whole nation. There is a provision that if elections are not held due to unforeseen circumstances, the tenure of office holders can be extended by six months just like the state of emergency. If elections are eventually held, it is okay. Else, the tenure is extended by another six months. So the issue of the military taking over the offices or vacancies existing does not arise. Now assuming God forbids that the security situation remains unabated in my area till when elections are due to hold, is there a lacuna? certainly there is. But certainly when we reach the bridge, we would definitely cross it.
What is the update on the idea of recommending the civilian JTF to President Jonathan for national award?
I am more convinced than ever before that we are going to make the recommendation because that is the desire of my people and I think they deserve it because even the president acknowledged the fact that they are the new heroes of Nigeria.
What is the essence of the national award? It is all about recognition of our heroes. So the president has already made the proclamation and it is already a policy and we await the execution of that policy statement.
What do make of former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim in his letter that President Jonathan has a responsibility to respect his commitment to serve a single term of four years in office?
In 2003, going down memory lane, Obasanjo said he was arm-twisted to sign an agreement to serve only one term so his second-in-command, Abubakar Atiku could warm up to succeed him. There was an agreement that was duly signed yet Obasanjo served two terms and he even wanted to change the constitution to continue a third term.
In this case, we are yet to see an agreement that was signed by Goodluck to serve only a term in office. The constitution still allows him not just to continue but to come and seek for a second term. After presenting his score cards to Nigerians, it is left for Nigerians who have the franchise to decide to give him another chance or not. I think Nigerians should be allowed to decide Jonathan fate on this matter and not an Obasanjo.