By Chioma Gabriel, Editor, Special Features, Vanguard
Retired Lt Colonel Anthony Nyiam is one of the army officers who attempted the April 22, 1990 coup. He was also a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, PAC, which packaged the National Conference during the Jonathan regime but resigned after an altercation with then Edo Governor Adams Oshiomhole during the committee’s public hearing in Benin-City. In this encounter, Nyiam takes a swipe at the Buhari regime for failing to contain the insecurity problem in Nigeria especially the raging issue of herdsmen who have unleashed terror on Nigerians. He also flays “corruption” in the oil and gas sector.
Many people say Nigeria is sitting on the keg of gunpowder as strange things are happening and the APC government, in the eyes of several Nigerians, has failed them. Aliens are said to be taking over our land. Do you agree?
The people of good conscience in the All Progressives Congress, APC, need to wake up to their responsibility of not allowing the national political party, which they initiated and worked for to become the ruling party of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to turn into a party serving one or two ethnic interests alone .
The leaders of the APC at the national headquarters and chieftains from the South-West, North-Central, South-East and South-South are being made to look like zombies. The siddon look tactical response of these people is being overstretched.
If the party Chairman and other members of the APC National Executive Council (NEC) and the South-West, North-Central, South-East and South-South chieftains were not cowed by hegemonists in the top echelon of their party, they would not have condoned the sophisticated armed Fulani herdsmen killing the Tiv, the Idoma and the Egede communities of Benue State, the Jukun and co in Taraba, the Bachama in Adamawa and the Berom in Plateau.
Why have the members of the APC reduced their supposedly national political party to a sectional party?
The APC leaders of goodwill need to restore their political party to the position from which it can challenge social, cultural and political norms that engender the born to rule and associated tendency to covet or colonise other people or their properties.The majority of ethnic nations of northern Nigeria are still being subjected to a form of internal colonialism or the other by their born to rule colonial masters. Hence, the use of the term cattle colonies instead of cattle ranches would appear insensitive to the historical background of those who have been subjugated since the Jihad. The question begging for answer at this junction is this: Where is the Arewa Solidarity or Northern Governors Forum (NGF) when the non-Fulani or Kanuri people of the so-called Arewa are being murdered by sophisticated armed Fulani invaders? With the recurring killing of the Tiv people by armed Fulani mercenaries, it is a time for Dr. Paul Unongo to see that we have a common interest to defend. I say this as Paul Unongo had many times attacked me personally for highlighting the danger coming which sadly Unongo’s people are suffering from. Thank God, Unongo now sees the significance of state police which we who are pro-restructuring have been calling for. Some masters of double-speak or mischief-making have misled President Muhammadu Buhari to join their ranks in reinforcing his refusal to recognise that constitutional reform is inevitable. The president’s New Year’s address declaration that Nigeria does not need restructuring is a clear ignorance of the significance of Nigeria having an appropriate national constitution. President Buhari view that what Nigerians need is the addressing of the processes involved in governance and not a review of the structure of government is most misleading. The president appears unaware that a process not anchored on appropriate foundational structure leads to two steps forward and four steps backward outcome actions. The determinant of worthwhile processes of governance is, without doubt, having in place an appropriate political framework. Just as the structural skeleton of a human being is responsible for the human to walk erect, only a democratic federal system of government can meaningfully bring unity to a country of many ethnic nations which Nigeria is. While a process is a series of steps, or actions, taken in order to achieve a particular end, structure is the causal and sustaining basis without which the process cannot be in order. I hope this enlightens the president to see why he cannot run away from restructuring Nigeria.
President Buhari is focused on war against corruption but, currently, the worst corruption is alleged to be happening in the petroleum industry; fuel scarcity is the order of the day…
It is not surprising that whilst the president is focusing on the surface of corruption, the real graft is going on in the ministry where President Buhari is the senior minister. The strategic consequences of focusing on process and ignoring the underlying structural interactions are what we see in the current non-transparent pre-shipment inspection of Nigeria’s oil and gas exports. Under President Buhari’s watch, crude oil has, since July 5 2017, that is over six months ago, being lifted from Ajakpa, Aje, Ima, Ukpekiti, Obe, etc, without competent pre-shipment inspection. The unnecessary delay in the appointment of the eight pre-shipment inspection firms, who the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has carried out their due diligence duties on and found qualified, is cause of corruption concern. There are allegations that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not, since the last two or three months, gotten accurate records of crucial oil and gas exports. So, one can only imagine the billions of US dollars Nigeria is losing to fraud or corruption. What’s undoubtedly non-transparent is the fact that two pre-shipment firms (Trobell and Robinson International) have been temporarily appointed as pre-shipment inspection agents since July 5, 2017. The second of the double jeopardy is the danger in the impossibility of only two pre-shipment firms doing the work which at least six competent firms are needed. It is such a pity that the pro-due process Minister of Finance is being remotely controlled by a high Presidency or Aso Rock official. The question is that in spite of the National Assembly’s intervention, the temporary appointment is still overstretching a duration that is temporary. We do hope we do not have another senior female member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) openly disagreeing with a member of the cabal that is exacerbating the president’s lack of attention to details.
The non-transparency of the shipments of Nigerian crude oil and gas in the last few months, has led to Nigeria’s crude oil being hawked in different crude oil tankers. The largest scale bunkering and illegal sale of Nigerian crude oil and gas has taken place during the Buhari administration as a result of deliberate non -appointment of pre-inspection monitoring agents. This illegal activity has been on for the past two years. But since the president has lost control of the oil and gas sector, which is the bed rock of Nigerian economy, appointment of inspectors should be a matter of national concern. The Council of State must be involved and a board of inquiry set up without delay to investigate what has happened in the past two and a half years on the export of oil and gas.
Insecurity is escalating in Nigeria; herdsmen are holding the nation by the jugular…
The danger of Nigeria’s top National Security management not having a constitutionally backed coordinator is a huge problem. The National Security Adviser, NSA, is not constitutionally pre-disposed to coordinate national security agencies operations. The NSA is the president’s Special Adviser and not an executive officer; otherwise he would have been subjected to confirmation like the EFCC Chairman. You may have observed that there was a clash between the operatives of the EFCC and those of NIA and DSS sometime ago. This shows that there is lack of proper coordination of our security agencies. The point I want to make is that there is danger in the national security agencies not having a constitutionally backed coordinator. Somebody will argue that the NSA is the Chairman of the joint national security board. That is not enough because the NSA is the president’s Special Adviser and not an executive officer. The responsibility of coordinating national security is too important for such an appointee not to be confirmed by the National Assembly. We do not have a constitutionally backed or legally supported power or office holder to coordinate all the national security agencies. And that is affecting security. There is need for people of good consciences to challenge deliberately perpetuated misleading narratives like some Federal Government officials’ narratives of some national security crises, such as the knowingly misrepresentation of what is clearly sophisticatedly armed and well military trained, transnational Fulani invaders of Nigerian farming communities as herdsmen, farmers’ clashes; the reduction or down grading of what’s evidentially the armed invasion of Nigeria farming communities by essentially armed foreign Fulani militia to the misleading narrative of communal herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. It is mischievous or provocative or insensitive to describe an essentially armed stranger invasion of one’s community as one’s neighbouring community, especially when the victims of the armed invaders attacks fear that the assaults are aimed at being colonised or ethnic-cleansing colonisation of their ancestral land. The other misleading narrative in need of continuing challenge is the generalisation involved in the referring to all the states around, and the North of the Niger and Benue rivers as the North. Those who want to pitch the whole North against the South do not make distinction between the Fulani or Kanuri colonised far North and the non-Fulani and Kanuri people who have always resisted the colonisation of their land in the rest of the southern or Middle Belt of the North. Nigeria needs visionary leaders which we do not have. The only visionary leaders we had were in the first republic.
Is there something the National Assembly should do that it is not yet doing to solve the problem?
I humbly respond to the National Assembly’s call for suggestions on how to fill the gaps in our national security architecture as follows: There is urgent need for an internal security strategy and a fit-for-purpose institution for containing enemies within the Nigerian territory or foreign invaders such as the armed transnational Bororo Fulani militia who are invading our farming communities. Secondly, there is need for across the board four-fold expansion of armed forces, police and other national security agencies personnel strength. Thirdly, there is need for an independent Nigerian national security think-tank which, in addition, will be resource persons to the Presidency in addressing immediate security threats, initiating and advising the Commander-in-Chief on medium and long-term solutions to security problems which persist. Fourthly, there is need for something like the United States National Guard which, in the Nigerian context, could be known as, for example, Katsina State Guard. The states’ guards should be armed up to only the small arms level. Then, at the national level, there should be the National Guard with heavy arms so that, with the consent of the National Assembly, the president can direct to reinforce a challenged state guard. What does former President Obasanjo’s recent insistence that the country must continue to renegotiate its unity amount to, if it is not constitutional reforms or what many Nigerians describe as restructuring? Same inquiry goes for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s reminder that the APC government must embark on deep reforms. That is another way of saying that PMB should stop the pretext and accept the inevitability of restructuring. What I have suggested above would neatly complement the existing good structure for defense against external threats known technically as Armed Forces Order of Battle (ORBAT). The failure has always been with our internal security architecture. Lest I forget, there is need also for a national coast guard. All the proposed national and state guards and coast guards and other agencies should be coordinated by a Coordinator of Internal Security Operations (COISO). The COISO’s office, like that of the National Security Adviser should be in the Presidency, but his appointment must be with the consent of the National Assembly because of the executive nature of the duties of the envisaged coordinator. PMB should stop insulting Nigerian people’s intelligence on the fact that he is the most nepotistic and tribalistic Nigerian president. The appointments he was listing for the South-East are of officials in office but not in power. Ndigbo are not stupid as the sychophantic house slaves who frequently parade the villa. They are just watching. Why is an Igbo not fit to be in the corridor of power? Does President Buhari think we don’t know that only one or two ministers can readily be allowed to see the seemingly meek but indeed imperial Commander-In-Chief? Those who can see the president anytime they want by virtue of the power of their appointments don’t include any Igbo or Middle Beltan. Only one South-South and one South-West appointee can do that. The appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria came only after months of crying out loud. We are not ignorant that the SGF, the CoS, the DG NIA, the CNS, the CAS, the IGP and the bosses of the INEC, the EFCC, the Customs, the NDLEA, and so on are the movers and shakers of power in this dispensation. The only South-West slot of DG National Intelligence Agency was recently replaced by another PMB’s ethnic man. I forgot to add the boss of Immigration amongst the powers-that-be. I have in fact been warned that one or two or three of these security agencies could be used to frame me for doing my patriotic duty of contributing to ensuring that PMB does not continue to bring the nation-state in harm’s way by his nepotism and favouritism to give his kinsfolks advantage over the people of the South-West, the South-East, the South-South and the Middle Belt. By PMB’s actions so far, he has made incredible his statement that he is not a president of all. What a pity for a man to disown being a general or statesman; reduced himself from the position hitherto of a respectful general and head of state to a Fulani warlord. It’s no wonder the Hausa, one of the most culturally, politically and economically enslaved people, are beginning to question why hegemonic practices are being done in their name. The town Fulani and the bush Fulani of good conscience are also unhappy that PMB’s divisive practices of governance is exposing them to notoriety. The afterthought information of the DSS begs many questions. Could it be an attempt to distract gullible Nigerians’ attention from the sophisticatedly armed transnational invaders threat? Why is the information conveniently coming now? Isn’t it the NIA, an agency like the United States CIA, which is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of foreign and transnational intelligence which should have informed us? Is the armed Bororo Fulani militia part of the Islamist plan to take over the Nigerian aborigines’ land?
So, what is the way out of all these problems?
There is need to restore the principles of justice, fairness, truth, equity, liberty, compassion and well-being of Nigerians in general so that the objective of governance in Nigeria, which is about the attainment of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, is realised. It is for the foregoing good reason that the biblical priesthood, Solomon, taught that where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18).This is exactly what has happened since Nigerians lost their only two visionary leaders, Chief Awolowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello. There is need to enlighten and mobilise a critical mass of Nigerians, to educate Nigerians to the level whereby they are driven by core values rather than falling prey to the animalistic instinct to meet their immediate needs. There is need to raise Nigerians’ awareness of their inalienable rights; for instance, their liberal democratic right which, according to Abraham Lincoln, “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other person’s consent”. There is need to restore Nigeria to the appropriate framework/structure/ system of governance that can facilitate the attainment of the foregoing vision and mission and provide Nigerians with the options for choosing potential leaders who have values in line with the foregoing vision. We need to encourage massive participation of Nigerian youths in the conduct of transparent national census and free and fair elections and create a platform that will facilitate the emergence of independent candidates; create a support system for credible individuals who have the political will to serve the country but not the financial support or influence of corrupt cabals and godfathers who presently run the political arena in Nigeria. We need to sensitize and mobilize Nigerians to the need to having a truly independent census and electoral commissions. To achieve these, there should be a steering committee to develop the road map for what is most likely going to be a movement; such committee should be comprised of individuals and statesmen who are known for good leadership in their own spheres of influence. Members of this committee must have no intent to run for political office at this time as this might compromise the integrity of the platform.
The handshake across the Niger has commenced. What do you think should be done as many people don’t seem to understand the concept so as to key into it?
The handshake across the Niger is long overdue in the sense that the internal colonies do not want the two main ethnic groups in the South of Nigeria to unite, the Igbo and the Yoruba, and it is really great credit to the likes of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olu Falae, Yinka Odumakin and the Ooni of Ife at the background, on one side and, on the other side, the eminent and amiable Ohanaeze President-General, John Nnna Nwodo, Ike Nwachukwu, Admiral Ukiwe, Ndubisi Kanu and Chief Joe Irukwu. All these men mean well for Nigeria by embracing the handshake across the Niger. This is why the handshake is tilted towards the East and also towards the Middle Belt. And also Jonah Jang being present at the meeting is a great plus. By the way, you must realise that Jang was hated because he stood as Ortom is standing in deference of his people against the foreign invaders. The governor of Benue is forced to do what he needs to do and that is why it is surprising that the governor of Plateau has suddenly become a willing tool to extend their religion to the South. Now, Gov. Lalong came out to completely show that he does not understand what democracy and constitutional authority is all about. The governor of Benue followed due process. He didn’t need to consult the people outside his state. He needed to consult the people in his state and follow the due process of passing a by-law through the state House of Assembly and that is enough. We shouldn’t forget that the federal and state governments should be coordinate governments; one is not superior to the other. It’s just that we have forgotten what government is and we now practice abnormalities. So, it is most irresponsible for Lalong to be trying to play to the gallery of those who are killing people: the Junkum people in Taraba, the Bachamas in Adamawa and that is why he singled out Taraba and Benue and it is not surprising why many of the eminent generals who fought the civil war for Taraba and Benue are trapped. If there is really Arewa solidarity, would ACF stand by and Northern Governors Forum stand by, to see General T.Y. Danjuma’s state being destroyed by foreign invaders?
The truth of the matter is that some of the governors because of lucre of office and the greed for another term in office are selling the destiny of their people. They are playing politics with people’s lives, but in a state like Ekiti, Governor Fayose has drawn the line…
In this matter, one can say that Governor Fayose cares for his people. He rises up to his responsibility as a governor and is protecting his people. The others are not like that. This is why I said earlier that it is a real shame that APC governors and the party are being subjected to attacks by foreign Fulani invaders and the APC government has not done much. It is only to bring out one chap who has been jumping from party to the other to come out and defend the APC whilst we know that the APC Chairman, Chief John Oyegun has realised his mistakes and is working hard to ensure that the president is not allowed to run a sectional agenda.
Herdsmen are everywhere, not only in Taraba and Benue, even in the southern states, wreaking havoc and their grand patron and other patrons don’t seem to appreciate the pain of those whose wives, husbands and children are being killed.
I want to move forward and, in doing that, I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for listening to the cry we made a few days ago be sending troops to Taraba, Benue and other states that transnational Fulani invaders are attacking. The government is doing something now I believe it is tackling the problem.
I don’t believe government is serious. Inside the cities, the FCT, Lagos, everywhere, even government houses, schools, classrooms, across states in Nigeria, cows are grazing and everybody is treating herdsmen as sacred people.
President Buhari is grossly being mis-advised or people are afraid to tell him what he needs to know. If Buhari listens to the people and continues refusing the call for restructuring, if Buhari stops being sectional and stops favouring the Fulani and the people from the North-West and the North-East and begins to build a legacy which is anchored on restructuring Nigeria, I will support him in 2019. I must point out that he has listened to the cry we made, thanks to the media houses, when we cried that he needs to go beyond the police and bring in the troops. He has done that. We thank him for listening and we require him to listen more and stop thinking that he can lecture Nigerians. He’s elected to do the will of Nigerians and not his own will.
He is opposed to restructuring Nigeria and his henchmen who are the beneficiaries of Nigeria’s lopsidedness are toeing the same line, talking to Nigerians as if they don’t have brains. Now, such people, do we need them in 2019?
Look, I am not a respecter of persons. I am a respecter of principles. Now, what do I mean, anybody who will put the principles I mentioned into practice, I will vote for that person. So, if Buhari today changes his mind, and begins to work towards the restructuring of Nigeria and doing something that is beneficial to the people, I will vote for him, but if he continues in his way, well, there is nothing I can do. I wrote a book in 2012, that if we don’t have true federal democracy, the awaiting implosion will come. Now, it has come. We are already facing it. You asked me a question what Nigeria needs to do. And that is what made me take part in the pro-democracy action against government in 1990. What we are asking for is, first, we need constitutional reforms. How? We don’t need national conferences anymore. We have had many. What I am suggesting is that President Buhari needs to work with about three leaders from each geo-political zone to review the 2014 National Conference report and the one before it and then use those two documents with the 1963 Constitution to come up with a new draft constitution for Nigeria. That is the first important first step. The second step is that when Nigerians focus on elections, they forget that in other climes, elections do not go without the underlying census figures. That is why in other countries, electoral and census commission are one and the same. They are not separate. I am saying that anybody focusing on the processes of election, even as it has happened before and will happen in 2019, should know that they have already rigged the election structurally. How? They rigged in such a way that whether Nigeria likes it or not, the North-West geo political region has been given undue population advantage that they will always use to influence whoever emerges as Nigerian leader. This, you see evidently whenever it comes to political parties automatic tickets for primaries. The number that comes from the North-West is much more than what comes from the South-East and South-West states put together. Some people want young people in and old people out but they forget that the election has already been rigged because of the fraudulent census figure we have at the moment, the figures have given undue advantage to two far North geo-political zones which means the two will always determine who emerges the president of Nigeria. That is where the battle should be.
But this will not count where power is rotated across the six geo-political zones…
That is why I am saying that equity will come in a restructured constitution. What you said underscores the point of having restructuring to stop those benefiting from the injustice, the unfairness, because they prefer these advantages to short-change the other four zones, the South -West, the North-Central, the South-East and the South-South. One thing to do, I believe, is to educate Nigerians to the level where they are driven by core values, so they don’t fall prey to animalistic instincts. Nigerians are looking forward to their immediate needs. Like I pointed out, many people are focusing on the election without knowing we are going back to square one. A lot people rushed and jumped in, ‘oh, change, change’. Many of those people are now regretting. We need to raise Nigerians awareness to their inalienable rights. We need to restructure Nigeria; the appropriate framework to restructure the system of government can facilitate the attainment of what I am talking about.
Former President Obasanjo has asked President Buhari to forget 2019, alleging he is grossly incompetent in the face of the challenges facing the nation. What do you think?
Obasanjo is only explicitly expressing what some of us have been implicitly hinting if PMB continues in his rigid and persistent ignorance of the inevitability of restructuring and being a Bororo Fulani warlord. The de facto president of Nigeria is over 80-year-old Mamman Daura, Buhari’s uncle and unelected occupant of Aso Rock. That is why Buhari disregards his wife’s wise counsel. Buhari has been rendered not to be in charge. The ship of the nation-state shall sail away from PMB, if he continues in his rigidity, especially the one driven by ignorance. The 80-year-old Aso Rock occupant would seem to have used his associates to compel the Minister of Agriculture to accept cattle colony rather than what Chief Audu Ogbeh has been a long advocate of. Daura controls the political and economic power while Buhari is in office. PMB’s directives are known to be not only ignored but also changed before his eyes and nothing happens. Genuine loyalists of Buhari’s aspiration for integrity in governance are not allowed by the hand of the de facto C-in-C, the CoS, Abba Kyari, to have audience with the president. Through the CoS, the unelected Mamman Daura wants to use the window of opportunity, which PMB regime provides, to add Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Borno, Adamawa to the Hausa they have social-culturally enslaved and then use such to take over the South-East, the South-South and the South-West.