Why the North is poor – Bawa | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why the North is poor – Bawa

Posted: Apr 3, 2015 at 3:29 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The former Military Administrator of Ekiti and Gombe State, Col Mohammed Inuwa Bawa (rtd), is a known face in the political scheme of the country as he has continued even after retirement to participate actively in politics as a way of contributing his own quota to the growth and stability of the country. In this interview with SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, JULIET OYOYO, he speaks on political issues connected with the elections. Excerpts…

Many have wondered about the participation of retired military personnel in politics at present; why have they not left politics to politicians?

Col Mohammed Inuwa Bawa (rtd)

Col Mohammed Inuwa Bawa (rtd)

It does not necessarily mean so. Let me take you a little bit back. You see, every politician from the Armed Forces went through a lot of leadership training. We are trained to be leaders because that is the only way you can lead your troops into battle and come out successfully. So, that leadership quality is already entrenched in every military officer. I am talking about the Army, Navy and Air Force. Then again, we are Nigerians and there is nobody that is born to be a politician as even the people in politics that you are talking about are equally professionals from different endeavours. Some are Engineers, Doctors, Architects, Bankers, and Pastors, and so on. So, why discriminate against us and against the military? We are also true patriotic Nigerians. The President is said to be a degree holder and a former lecturer. Why didn’t he remain in the university instead of choosing to come and be President of Nigeria? You cannot prevent anybody from aspiring for the leadership of this country if such a person meets the criteria. And, like I said, every military officer that went through the rudiments of the military has been trained to be a leader. To us, leadership is a very easy thing though there are differences, we have learnt to cope.

When you say, “we have learnt to cope”, is it that you were compelled to practise democracy?

No! as a Nigerian who has served his fatherland through the military and having retired, I have every rights to aspire for elective position. Do you want me to just go and sit down doing nothing when I have the quality to come and change things that affects my country? I cannot just go and sleep while things are not going right. I should be concerned about the way things are being done in my country. We are not trained like that and that is why some of us are involved in the politics of today where we hope to bring about positive change to this country. That is the crux of the matter.

Would you then say that former military officers would make good leaders in a democratic setting?

Well, it depends on individuals and the institutions. If the Three Arms of the Government have been up and doing, there is no president that can bulldoze his way, because there are checks and balances by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Also, put into consideration that the Judiciary is also there too. If these people are true to their callings, there will be nothing like any President bulldozing his way. The issue is that of sentiments, monitoring and corruption. The problem is that you have the wrong persons in the right places. Some of the people in the National Assembly simply because they have the money to be there not because they are competent or qualified to be there or that they know what they are supposed to do there. So, with such people there, you will find out that any President would want to bulldoze his way just like you said Obasanjo did. But, I don’t think that Obasanjo really did bulldoze his way per se, though there are one or two instances where the military in him came out and that was in a positive way because I remember in Jos where there were all these upheavals. The man went there and said things the way they ought to have been said. And then, the problems were solved. So, we need somebody who knows his onions and then of course we need the other arms of the government to be up and doing. That is how it should be. Simple!

You were once a leader during the military dispensation some years back before the return of democracy in 1999, as a governor on two separate occasions who presided over the affairs of two states, I will want you to assess President Jonathan with the eyes of someone who has been in a leadership position also.

I have already assessed Jonathan. I have said so in the first place that, to me, my own personal assessment of him, I agree he is somebody one can say is simple but he is not prepared for the leadership of this country. The country is so complex and for somebody who has that kind of nonchalant attitude and with that kind of attitude, people around him were able to take advantage of him and that is why so many things went wrong. If truly he was somebody that aspired and got to where he was through aspirations and through a lot of thinking of how to actualize his purposes, many things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. These are the circumstances that threw Jonathan to Nigeria. You will find out that it was very fortuitous. Look at him; a Deputy Governor and the Governor was impeached and he became the Governor and somehow, Obasanjo brought him as the Vice President and then, through another miracle, the President died and we invoked the doctrine of necessity and he became the President. You can see that he didn’t do those by his own thinking. Leadership was thrust upon him. He wasn’t ready for that and that is why people have been taking advantage of him. Probably, he should have been in that University lecturing. Nigeria is so very complex that we need somebody with more than attitude than personality to do this. Honestly speaking. That is why you will find out that people like Edwin Clarke has a firm grip on him. It is the same reason those ex-militants will come out and say whatever they like and we hear nothing from him. These are the issues we are talking about.

Before now, some Northern leaders have come out to say that they wanted a Northerner, irrespective of the party that he belongs – not minding if such a person was good or bad – to emerge as president. Is this what is coming out to play presently?

I have not seen or heard that but if it is true, then it is very wrong. The issue is, we keep on hammering on this rotation of power to give people a sense of belonging. I am not an advocate of power change or, sharing. I believe that the most competent person, no matter which part of the country he comes from, to lead us if it will lead to peace, tranquility, progress, prosperity and genuine development of the whole Nigerians. That is my own way of judging and I don’t know about those Northern elders. I am sorry to say it but, it is very difficult now to pin-point that these are people speaking on behalf of the North, from which angle; I don’t know. That is my own personal view anyway. But, I believe that Nigeria should be lead by somebody who is competent and who has the love of this country at heart, no matter from where he comes. So, all these issues of the North, the South, Islam and Christianity are all diversionary. It is just to make people fight each other and that is why we have lost a lot of lives. I believe that this thing should be de-emphasized completely.

Most people from the Southern parts, before now, had thought the North was well-developed but going through some of the states, it is observed that even though the north had been in power for quite some time, there is so much poverty amongst the people. And they seem to be blaming their leaders for not empowering them all this while. Do you share this view?

I agree with you quite alright on this issue raised. I reside in Jos and I am from Kebbi state and I do drive from Jos to Kebbi which is quite a long distance. You can see the poor state of the Federal roads; it will make you cry. The level of poverty, even in my village is terrible. The issue is that, there are a lot of things that come into play when you talk about the Northern leaders failing to develop. I know, I was quite young then as a young boy (I was still in secondary school then), the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello; we can never have a leader like him in the North again. He developed the North the way it should be. All these things that we are now enjoying are the handiwork of the late Premier; Ahmadu BelloUniversity, ABU, New Nigerian Newspapers, NNN, and so many other things. And, not only that, even the leadership that came up after him was the product of his hard work.  After some time, these people (Northern leaders) derailed from the philosophy of the late premier and that is why we have a lot of problems and poverty in the North.