Interview conducted in January 1916
He is a fearless public commentator known to speak regularly on activities of government. He has score President Buhari low on his ministerial appointments and further said that President Buhari should question former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan over the Dasuki Arms deal saga to establish the level and reason for delegation of his executive powers. He said APC should not see opposing views as antagonistic on party grounds but as patriotic zeal for a fundamental change anticipated in all quarters, Meet Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa who spoke with our Correspondent,excerpts:
How can you assess the President Buhari led administration so far?
Balarabe Musa: As far as I know, he has not fulfilled any of the promises made so no significant improvement.
How do you mean sir?
Balarabe Musa: I mean we have not seen any significant improvement or changes in the system, any change that does not guarantee sustainability cannot be referred to as change. The change on the ground is not fundamental and cannot be sustained. Therefore, no success yet by Buhari led administration.
Looking at the lineup of ministers, do you think the President made the right choices?
Balarabe Musa: I cannot comment on ministerial appointments but my position has always been that because of the difficult situation in the country we don’t know who to trust or rely on. From the onset, we advised him to pick 2/3 candidates that is twenty four, with proven, traceable records of service, such that immediately their names are mentioned people can trace their antecedents while in service, while the rest 1/3, twelve of them can be people who are considered credible, with impeccable character even if no nation record of service. These other twelve may not be well known at the national scene however they are proven to be trust worthy so they can have the opportunity to emerge but as it is now, only about four of them have record of service with which we can judge their past and we know can perform. So we don’t know their level of experience and whether they can work under tense situations or not. The present composition of minister is hard to comment on. Whoever is the President now is supposed to build the system around which ministers will work; there is no working standard of performance yet in Nigeria which no one is expected to fall below. The constitution is regularly violated by those who suppose to uphold them. In advance nations, there are standards of performance for public office holders. In such places nobody should fall below that standard, here we only have the constitution and this is regularly violated. So I don’t think the majority of the present composition of ministers can perform as expected.
How can we have a national standard?
Balarabe Musa The country can have a national standard and entrench it in the constitution so that whichever party you come from, National Interest will be a priority and no one will fall below such standard. The present system is neocolonial in which leader’s personal interest comes first. That is why I said the change is not fundamental, we still have same leaders and same system. Those of us seen as leftists have not seen anything to commend yet in the approach so far to nations challenge. The change we expect is supposed to take care of economic development and the general system of governance.
Do I put it that his critics are doing so along party lines as against national interest?
Balarabe Musa: Noooo! Those of us opposed to government because the y are unable to provide the desired change. We want the best for our nation but we have not seen him as capable of delivering the fundamental changes we desire for our nation. Change should address leadership structure and orientation so we view the said change as falling below expectation. The government is not radical enough for us, they would still make the same mistakes of past leaders and that will only lead us to same result at the end of the day. For example system controlling development in the country now is self-interest first, public interest no, we want a change that will address public interest first and elective interest second and a leadership that is patriotic. For example an economic system as the one that brought about privatization and SAP under Babangida. It is not ideal for our nation: we want a radical change in the system so that the nation comes first and which means the government of the nation will play a prominent role in the economy and guarantee peace, justice, equality and good economy. That is a fundamental change. What obtains in the country now is neocolonial capitalism that put self-interest first and public interest as secondary. A situation where imperialism and its agents play a prominent role in the government. You see we have oil and gas and other resources but over sixty percent of the benefit or the incomes go to private hands and foreigners.
Talking of a radical approach don’t we need a suspension of the constitution to enable Mr President do his anticorruption campaign effectively
Balarabe Musa: No, he doesn’t need to suspend the constitution; in anti-corruption campaign, it is only by legal means that he can make Nigerians trust him. This corruption and criminal waste of national resources is at the bottom of the negative state of the nation, if you can solve this you have solved all the problems affecting national development.
But we see how those charged with corruption get court injunctions to frustrate their trials and get Mr. President Handicapped
Balarabe Musa: (cuts in) how can he be handicapped?
When the courts grant injunctions it will frustrate government and stall the case
If court grant injunction everyone under rule of law must comply but the government he can appeal against the injunction, the constitution allows for an appeal but you don’t violate court rules. In the alternative, go to public court seeking public opinion on the matter. Going against the court order is illegal, when court gives a judgment, if you don’t agree then you appeal up to Supreme Court, the court system allows for that.
How do you mean by public opinion?
Balarabe Musa:There are many ways of getting public opinion, you can use the propaganda system to convince Nigerians that you are doing the right thing and Nigerians will support government on that, even the British system recognize that. You can inspire the public to support your course.
As a Northern Leader do you feel embarrassed in the former NSA, Col Dasuki Sambo rtd in the Arms deal scandal?
Balarabe Musa: First and foremost the government should prove that he has no authority to do all he was said to have done. The government should prove that he was not delegated to carry out such an assignment, only then that we can find him guilty. If he had gone beyond his executive power under delegation then he can be said to be guilty of having misused the power delegated to him and be probed. His duty is in an advisory capacity, how does he come about awarding contracts and making payments to contractors? Only the President could have delegated such authority so it is the President that is culpable of such offense, but if Dasuki is found to have abused the power delegated to him he would face the music because his duty is advisory. As security adviser he doesn’t have that power to award contracts or make payments. Under the constitution, he has no such powers. So let those investigating look into delegation of authority and establish that he was not given the authority to do what he was said to have done.
But a President is not sick or incapable of being in office, should he have delegated such sensitive powers to an adviser?
Balarabe Musa:You see under the Nigerian constitution, the President is too powerful, he the commander in chief of staff of the armed forces, he is the chief security officer of the country, he is so powerful, he is ‘Oga patapata’ like Yoruba say it and ‘Seriki yanka’ like Hausa people will say it, so find out what happened first from the then President, hold him responsible for whatever happened. Mr President in Nigeria is the overall authority above every other person working under him even his Vice President, so he can delegate his power to anyone under him, so everybody in government functions by his authority except when it is classified under the constitution like the security of the judiciary and the legislatures. So Dasuki should be taken into account for going beyond the powers delegated to him unless he was not authorized to do so.
Let’s talk on religion; do you support the regulation of religious practices in Nigeria?
Balarabe Musa: What should be the reason? Should religious leaders be the victim of government’s non performance? It is the failure of government that creates influence which religious practice operates on. Religion has tremendous influence on the people in Nigeria. What government could not do for its people, the people get from religious organizations and therefore their loyalty shift to those religious places, so if government wants to be better respected by its people, they should do for the people what religious organizations do for them, there is no need for regulation of religious practice in Nigeria.
On the proposed social media bill, what is your take sir?
Balarabe Musa: We have seen it before, he tried it under his first regime 1984 and failed, and he will fail again. Bringing about the restriction to the media will infringe on the right of the people and the people will resist and revolt. The people will never take it.
What is your New Year wish for Nigerians?
In the New year as expected always, Government should address fundamental changes that will positively affect the people and government should encourage the people by being more open and sincere in its conduct in running the affairs of Nigeria. I wish Nigerians a new year.