INTERVIEW: Mob Attacks: Nigerian politicians sitting on time bomb – Former Senator

Senator Ibrahim Ida

Ibrahim Ida represented Katsina State in the Senate between 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. As a civil servant, he rose to the position of permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Economic Affairs office in the Presidency and the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF.

In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he shed light on many issues, especially the recent mob attack against some elected leaders in Northern Nigeria including in Katsina State.

PT: Recently you decamped from the People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress. Was the defeat of the PDP in the 2015 general elections a shock and surprise to you?

Ida: First of all, I will like to say that the defeat of PDP in 2015 was a disaster which was waiting to happen because of so many reasons. Number one, over time, both the party and the government were engrossed in controversies. Two, there was a disconnect between the electorates and the party in one hand, and the electorates and the government on the other hand. Thirdly the PDP leadership tended to ignore the basics signs of leadership crisis. I say this because the party was in power for 16 years and had the illusion that it would last for sixty years, made it feel invincible to think that power of incumbency, the control of resources, the control of the media was enough to tilt the balance.

Unfortunately, they did not reckon with the facts that the opposition as individual parties were weak, that when they came together they were going to be very powerful. Not only did they come together, but they were able to take a slice of some notable leaders from the ruling party, particularly some governors. You should also remember that, by structure, power of the PDP was at the state level. Each and every governor controls the politics of his state.

When the opposition parties merged together, there was massive propaganda. They had media on their side and a serious publicity, which they were able to use with maximum ability. PDP was labelled a corrupt party, the government was also portrayed as incapable of addressing our critical problems and accused of monumental corruption. In fact, about six months to the election, it was obvious that the PDP was in serious trouble because of opposition.

PT: How will you describe the emergence of the Senate leadership under the APC administration?

Ida: Let me tell you this, right from the onset, the APC missed the opportunity. In the past, before the inauguration of the National Assembly, PDP will quickly marshal out who will be who within the party hierarchy and there was a follow up to see that each decision was respected. Unfortunately, the same was not the case with APC in 2015. The president publicly said he was ready to work with whoever emerged as leader. To me, it was a mistake.

PT: Do you mean Saraki’s emergence as the senate president was a political blunder by the president?

Ida: No, but I can say that I wish Buhari had a hand in the emergence of Saraki.

PT: The 2017 Appropriation Bill is still hanging in the National Assembly. Don’t you think this delay can negatively affect the actualisation of campaign promises?

Ida: You see, standards and the processes of passing the budget from 1999 to date is the same; especially the timing, because there was no time budget was brought, passed and president signed it into law within one or two months. What may be the difference may be the intense scrutiny we are seeing now. During our time, it was not subjected to scrutiny, as it is being subjected now. Let us not forget, at one time, it was even reported that the budget was just a formality during PDP. It can be passed and signed into law. But what the government did could be totally different with what was in the budget. That has been the norm during most of the PDP period.

Now, we have a situation where the executive feels that by law, it is obliged to implement only what the budget has provided. Now I have seen a very good innovation. The government has now extended the 2016 budget to a longer time in the year, thus making it current to afford enough time for 2017 budget to be finalised, passed, signed into law and then come into operation without creating a vacuum. What we have now is the president who will only work within the contents of the budget, and he is mindful of time to scrutinise whatever is there.

PT: At the beginning of this interview, you lamented about the problem of disconnect between the electorates and those elected under PDP government. We have now started to witness mob attacks against some political leaders in the North. Sir, is this something to worry about?

Ida: This is a very good question. It is indeed something to worry much about. What we have witnessed of recent is disturbing and it is the outcome of, seemingly a sign of ineffective representation. Mob attacks on some politicians can come due to many factors. One, it can come because of instigation from the local level. A senator or members of the state and national assembly must have some opponents to defeat. So those opponents can instigate some youth against him, especially because they think his being in that position deprives them their opportunity to be there also. The third factor is poverty. When you have unemployed youth, anybody can use them, either for negative or positive purpose. Now look at this, these electorates have started venting their anger on the leaders they elected to represent them. The leaders must take measures against this time bomb which if proper care is not taken will consume the good, the bad and the ugly.

PT: What are these proper measures?

Ida: The electorates must be very mindful of those they elect. I don’t see any wisdom in someone buying 250 motorcycles and distributing it to 250 members of his political party. It doesn’t make sense, because he only attends to the need of only 250 members of his constituency as a senator, governor or member of the National Assembly. Your representation at the centre is only effective if you can contribute to the development of a better Nigeria and attract projects to your constituency that has direct bearing on the people of your locality. But honestly our leaders must stop and have a rethink of how they relate with those who elected them. But if we continue to go the way we are, it will come to a situation where no leader will be able to move from one place to another without being attacked.

PT: Both you and the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria held the traditional title of Danmaje. He was Danmaje of Kano before he became emir of Kano, while you still hold the title of Danmaje of Katsina. Looking at how your friend is generating controversies; do you believe that Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II is on the right track?

Ida: His Royal Highness the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, was a friend before he became an emir.  But now I will not say an emir is my friend, but we still maintain our very cordial relationship. He is intelligent, educated, focussed and a great revolutionary.  We have put into consideration that revolutionaries were first rejected and persecuted by people very close to them. Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) was persecuted by his relatives. So, there is nothing new. With the kinds of problems we have in the north, you can’t expect somebody like Emir Muhammadu Sanusi to sit down and keep his mouth shut. This man is performing his role as a leader. Gone were those days when our leaders will see something bad or any social ills and yet keep their mouth shut. I wish all other emirs will emulate him. Let them talk about the realities of today and tomorrow, not the realities of yesterday.

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