Nigeria govt should do more work than talk, says Yerima Shettima
Bold and courageous, the National President, Arewa Consultative Youth Forum (ACYF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, is not known to parry questions especially one that borders on critical national issues. In this illuminating interview , he gave the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress knocks on its reaction to Transparency International (T.I) report, the abduction of 110 students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State and advice by the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Buhari not to seek re-election among others.
Transparency International (T.I) recently passed a damning verdict that Nigeria is still worse on corruption. How would you react to the report?
I was amazed when I look at the response coming from the government angle that the Transparency International in its report never meant well for the country. Today this government has the guts to look at the T.I on the face to accuse it of bias. But sometime before the 2015 election this government as then opposition enjoyed the report. They propagated the report, made it a huge story then but now that they are at the receiving end they are accusing T.I of bias. You and I know that on corruption this government has not done enough. I am yet to see any big shot convicted of corruption.
You cannot look at your perceived opposition and you embarrass and rough-handle them while your perceived friends and those in your party are treated as saints. What we are witnessing to me is selective justice. Those that were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that wrecked the country because they are now in the APC they have become born-again; you say their sins have been forgiven. I find it difficult to reconcile this position. That is not the way to go and you cannot win the anti-corruption battle that way.
We are not truly fighting corruption but the propaganda is much. If you criticise the government you see them coming after you, inviting you at the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) or the DSS office or by the State Security Service (SSS) or Police etc.
The fear of being hounded are even making those in the opposition like in the PDP not to criticise the government again or even to indicate interest to run for office. That development is bad. With this development we can’t have a vibrant opposition and this poses great danger to our fledgling democracy. I think this government needs to do more work than talk.
From the kidnap of Chibok Girls’ to another abduction of 110 students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. How do you feel?
In my view, I think we failed to look at the issue critically and technically and it’s so sad and so unfortunate that we never learnt our lessons; we never learn from history. If we say the Chibok Girl’s abduction was alien to us that of Dapchi could not have happened if we had taken proper measures.
It means to an extent somehow, somewhere things are not done properly. It is a clear indication that our security is under serious threat. What we are witnessing is a national embarrassment. It is clearly a demonstration of incompetence.
If it were to be the time of President Jonathan, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would say he is a failure and his government clueless. Now, what do we say to the APC government? Do we say they are naïve too?
It is a sad development. A demonstration of government that is not serious when it comes to action. It is an indication of a people that do not attach great importance to the life of citizens.
If we know what life is in terms of value in other developed nations one soul is a serious issue and now we are witnessing hundreds and thousands of souls being wasted. It is a serious thing that needs more than a cosmetic approach.
What is happening is an indication that this government has no programmes because some of the loopholes are things that should have been addressed by this government before now?
Some of us were jubilant and happy believing that the coming of the new government will offer in lots of positive changes at least on insecurity because that is the primary responsibility of any responsible government.
You must protect lives and property first, then other things like social welfare, infrastructure development will follow; but security is key to overall development.
Inability to protect the citizens show or is a reflection of failure of leadership. It shows to a large extent that there is absence of government or insensitive government in power.
If there is no government then what are they governing? On whose interest are they occupying those offices at the level of federal government to that of states and down to the local governments?
With the loss of lives in parts of the country, with the hunger in the land. It is indeed a serious issue that we are facing and government must rise up to this challenge.
When the government entered into the arrangement of negotiating with terrorists some of us kicked against it and said that it was not the right thing to do because we felt the action would encourage terrorism and embolden them the more.
When you negotiate with them behind doors you are indirectly telling them that they are powerful, even stronger than you are. It’s a sign of weakness, that you cannot contend them and it becomes a business for them.
For you to address it, it will become very difficult. By the time you begin swapping and giving them money behind the scene, releasing their Commanders for whatever reason you lose the battle because what you are doing is a clear indication of being defeated.
From what I was thought in school I know that government is one of the strongest institutions anywhere in the world. In fact some people do say that after God then you have government; but it is a reverse case in the Nigerian situation.
I don’t see why a particular group of people, militia or terrorists will hold a country to ransom, on its knee and the country will be looking for a negotiation option which for me is a sign of weakness.
Here it is the government seeking, begging to negotiate with the same people that are supposed to be eliminated or you convict them and jail them.
When you agree to pay them tax payers’ money behind the scene what do you expect them to do? Stop their business? No you are thinking the impossible.
From statistics each policeman is saddled with the responsibility of protecting over 40 lives, how can that be possible when over 70 percent are following those in power, in government houses, for VIP’S and other super rich individuals?.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo said President Buhari should not contest in 2019. What is your take on the advice?
Obasanjo himself is a calamity for Nigeria but on this issue I stand with him. He spoke the minds of majority of Nigerians. Obasanjo has been known to have written letters of this sort in the past and you cannot say his letters are not weighty in terms of the issues he always raised. You cannot ignore Obasanjo’s letters because he also speaks as an insider. He has been there both as a military President and a civilian President, so you cannot say he does not know what he is saying.
A responsible government needs to listen very well just like the verdict of the Transparency International and act on the issues raised rather than quarreling with the facts, insulting or abusing the messenger. Let government act on the message which informed audience know is the truth. Because you want to make progress all that government needs to do is to retrace their steps, know where they are wrong and correct their mistake. After all mistake is an object of correction and it is great maturity to accept your mistake instead of parading ignorance in action. Look at the issues raised and technically address them.
Recently there was the Northern States security summit where security issues affecting the zone was discussed.
We have always had different such security summit; my worry is on implementation of recommendation. It’s good to brainstorm but we have always had failure of implementation. That should be the major concern.