By Clifford Ndujihe
Former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and lawyer, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, was chairman of the Delta State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, and vice president of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, South South.
In this interview, he fingered North/South dichotomy as the problem militating against the development of the country and called for immediate restructuring of the Nigeria to save the country from implosion.
The United States National Intelligence Council, NIC, in 2005 predicted what could happen in Africa in 15 years and said Nigeria might disintegrate in 2015. What is your take on fears that Nigeria could break this year, 2020 which is 15 years after the prediction in view of situation of things in Nigeria?
To me, it is not news. I have said it time without number that Nigeria’s unity is lip-service and window-dressing. We pretend to be one Nigerians but deep clown in us, the division that resulted the massacres in Kano in 1953 prior to independence is very much with us.
There’s too much suspicious among the diverse ethnic groupings in the country for which remedy can be sought. The average northern never regards the Igbo man as friend even though they dined and wined together on the same table. Similarly, the Yoruba man never likes the Niger-Delta man as brother. We only pretend to like each other at the time of necessity.
For how long should we continue to deceive ourselves? Both the amalgamation and the Independence of the two protectorates are unholy, which need re-visitation.
The day a northerner will wake up, genuinely embrace an easterner or an easterner accepting the Yoruba man as his true brother, that day will end Nigeria’s problem.
However, t I don’t see it coming. I am an apostle of one Nigeria but not to the detriment of others. I still believe very strongly in Nigeria’s unity and the need for the various components to co-exist as we need one another.
How do you see the #EndSARS protest, can we say it was a success?
The issue of success or not, to me, is not necessary. We should search our minds if the country is moving forward. To me, we are being governed under winner takes-all syndrome unless we are not truthful to ourselves.
During the #EndSARS protest, most states in the North did not participate. This is traceable to the North/South dichotomy yet the North is the most disadvantaged, worst affected by hunger and security challenges.
The protest is a wake up call on the Federal Government to rise above board and face the challenges. Until that is done, it is not over yet. Nigerians are tired of daily excuses. The #EndSARS protest is just a starting point, it goes beyond removing and replacing SARS.
It is very sad that nothing works in Nigeria because of corruption. It is unfortunate that Mr President has not taken the bull by the horns. Until the right thing is done, the country will suffer from mistakes of the past and self-inflicted wounds.
The protest is as a result of the anger of accumulated frustration over a long period of time. The people have lost hope and faith in the government and therefore, have resolved to take their destiny in their hands.
On hijack of the protests, destruction of government and private properties
First, let me condemn in the strongest term, the act of stealing and destruction that took place. It is unacceptable. I’m sure that it was not the intention of the protesters. Criminals took advantage, hijacked and started looting and destroying both government and private properties.
Yes, they have freedom of expressing their anger through a peaceful protest but the destruction of lives and properties should not be their primary objection. It seems there was a deliberate plot to destabilize the economy of Lagos State and the Nation at large. Lagos State is the centre of Nigeria’s economy.
Once it’s destroyed, other parts will be affected. I blame Lagosians for their carelessness in this direction.
Your party, the APC, some time ago set up a Committee on restructuring of the country headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai. How far did the committee go?
I am not a member of that committee therefore, I can’t speak for them. I recall I submitted a memorandum to the committee, I’m wondering that up till now, nothing has been heard of their report. In any case, Nigeria does not need any restructuring committee, we should implement the report of the National Conference of 2014 the only sure way of addressing several issues begging for solution.
There are too many injustice in the country as ethnic and sectional interests have dominated and beclouded our sense of belonging. Nigerian governments since the days of independence have been operating winner-takes-all syndrome.
You were at a time a foremost youth leader in the country. There is an agitation that elders should be retired from politics so that the youths can take over. What is your View?
I disagree completely. Our today youths are worst. Just imagine the level of looting and stealing during the #EndSARS protest. Take a look at the increasing rate of yahoo, robberies and kidnappings going on.
Our youths still need to learn from the elders. Even though, there are few good ones that can be entrusted with leadership. Permit me to give you a typical example, since 2004, we left the leadership of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, to the youths agitating for leadership, the rank and file of the youth in the council has not known peace. They take themselves to court everyday and at a point, they had five presidents.
As I speak, peace has not returned to the council, yet they are the people who want to take over. The greed for acquisition of wealth has blocked their sense of direction, without recourse to patriotism, service to humanity and Nation-building.
During our days, it was not so, my patriotism and the zeal of Nation-building propelled me to meet with several world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Ibrahim El-baradie, a world chemical scientist, formal president kikwete of Tania, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and former Irania President, Hamadinijad.
If you had contested the 2019 presidential election and won, what would have been your focal point or agenda?
My first assignment in office would have been setting up a Truth Commission, TC. The Commission will ensure the implementation of the National Conference report, possibly organize a constitutional conference, to review where we got it wrong since the per-colonial days till date. I don’t know why a section of the country is afraid of the word ‘restructuring. ‘Nigeria needs to be restructured now to put various agitations to an end.
Vanguard News Nigeria.