(Defunct) Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) National Leader, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has criticised the declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and the subsequent military offensive against the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Buhari, who featured on the “Guest of the Week,” a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio, yesterday said the federal government’s action was a gross injustice against the north.
According to him, unlike the special treatment the federal government gave to the Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished.
He said he was not in support of the declaration of state of emergency in the three north-eastern states because President Goodluck Jonathan had failed from the outset in addressing the security situation in the country.
Besides, Buhari added that the security challenges facing the country started in the Niger Delta region where he alleged that politicians desperate to retain their positions as governors recruited youths and armed them to enable them win elections by force.
According to Buhari, who fielded questions in Hausa language before the English version of the programme, “What is responsible for the security situation in the country was caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants.
“Every Nigerian that is familiar with what happened knows this. The Niger Delta militants started it all. What happened is that the governors of the Niger Delta region at that time wanted to win their elections, so they recruited the youths and gave them guns and bullets and used them against their opponents to win elections by force.
“After the elections were over, they asked the boys to return the guns, the boys refused to return the guns. Because of that, the allowance that was being given to the youths by the governors during that time was stopped.
“The youths resorted to kidnapping oil workers and were collecting dollars as ransom. Now a boy of 18 to 20 years was getting about $500 in a week, why will he go to school and spend 20 years to study and then come back and get employed by government to be paid N100,000 a month; that is if he is lucky to get employment?
“So kidnapping became very rampant in the south-south and the south-east. They kidnapped people and were collecting money.
“How did Boko Haram start? We know that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf, started his militancy and the police couldn’t control them and the army was invited. He was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.
“The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses.
“Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today.
“You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an airplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north are being killed and their houses demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice.”
Buhari also explained why he joined politics after his release from detention by former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, saying that his close associates and those who knew him very well convinced him to join partisan politics.
He said those who knew him, knew that he took on positions of responsibility without begging anyone for appointments.
“I was a military governor in a state that has been divided into six states today; I was minister of petroleum for four years and six months. I was a military head of state. But because these people know how I live my life, they were not coming to beg me for money. They were coming to ask me to comment on issues that affected the nation,” he added.
He said further that the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 also shaped his attitude to politics.
“When I joined partisan politics in April 2002, in my ward in Daura, (Katsina State), they kept on coming. And then one significant thing at the global level happened, the Soviet Union collapsed.
“Out of the Soviet Union, there are now about 18 or 19 republics and that conclusively proved to me as an individual that the multi-party system is the best form of democracy, but with the big caveat that elections must be free and fair. That is how I arrived in CPC today, but first from APP to ANPP to CPC,” he said.
Buhari lamented that God has blessed Nigeria with human and natural resources, but “we have failed to organise ourselves”, stressing that one of the problems bedevilling the country is bad leadership.
Called From: This Day of June 2013