Dauda Birmah, a former presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and one time Education minister, in this interview said the crises rocking the two major parties in the country have made it difficult to know which of them is party of the present or of the future. He also urged government to intensify surveillance and efforts toward the possible release of remaining Chibok girls.
For a very long time you have been very silent, are you not concerned about what is happening in the country. Which political party are you with now?
Well, we are still watching events as they are unfolding. You don’t just begin to open your mouth because other people are talking. You first of all look at what is happening so that when you open your mouth to talk, you talk with facts. But as it is right now, we do not know which political party is of the future and which is of the past?
How do you mean, Sir?
I should be asking you. Both parties are in crisis. Are you not following what is happening in the parties? Can we say today that the APC is free from crisis or the PDP? Is the PDP not having problem? It is not stable and has not been stable since after the presidential election. So, unless they put their house in order, moving forward will be difficult. Again, can you also say that the APC is intact?
But it is the ruling party?
Yes, it is, but Tinubu comes from Lagos, and Oyegun comes from Edo, how can he ask Oyegun to resign? Oyegun was supplied to the APC by the ANPP, while Tinubu comes from the ACN. So, how can he single-handedly issue an ultimatum to Oyegun to resign without recourse to the rules? That’s an indication that all is not well with the ruling party itself.
What do you think these crises portend or do you foresee any alignment and realignment of forces very soon?
What is going to happen in the future will make people decide where they would want to belong. They should quickly come to their senses and resolve their differences. They will either resolve the crisis in their own interest or they form new parties.
But it appears that many Nigerians are not happy with the government of the day over what is going on in the country at the moment?
We Nigerians are hypocritical. Everybody’s eye is on the government at the centre; why are people not focusing on their state governments? All the stealing going on at the state level is it better at the state level. Don’t you know how these governors live? Nobody would be talking about recession today if things were done properly, even at the state level. But everybody wants to get resources from the centre; everybody is looking to Abuja without looking within him/herself. People are busy talking about restructuring, left to me, we should not be talking about restructuring, but I think they should be talking about devolution of power from the centre to the state. That is the restructuring that will help us in this country.
About 21 of the abducted Chibok girls were said to have been rescued last Thursday; how do you feel about that?
When these girls were kidnapped, some people told us there was nothing like that; even the government at that time said it was not true, it did not happen. How can the people who were not kidnapped return? Terrorists are difficult people to deal with. They are very deadly and to deal with them, a lot of calculations must go into it. Some of the girls must have returned with pregnancies and babies; you know they were shared out among the terrorists, who were sleeping with them and all that. They were rescued when they were being transferred from one place to the other. Chances are that most of the girls had been transferred from one location to the other. Now, what this rescue means is that the international community would see the reality of the abduction and the need to intensify effort to get all the girls back to reunite with their families. I congratulate the Federal Government for stumbling on the girls. It was not actually that government mounted pressure that led to the rescue, but they intercepted the girls as they were being transferred. Who knows where others are now? Government must therefore, increase its efforts at surveillance; intensify the pounding and combing of the Sambisa Forest which led to the rescue of the girls. It appears, the pressure is on the abductors. There must be proper rehabilitation and de-radicalisation programmes for the girls. I am sure by now a lot of debriefing is going on. This is important because we have seen situations where young girls were used as terrorists, to carry bombs and killing people.