- from OMONIYI SALAUDEEN -
Senator Joseph Waku is the Vice National Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). In this interview, he speaks on a wide range of issues agitating the minds of many Nigerians-national security, corruption, bad governance among others. In what appears to be a new perspective to the security challenge facing the nation, he posited that the threat of Boko Haram might be a grand design by a particular section of the country to give the north a bad name so that they can execute their secession plan.
He said, “We northern leaders are even contemplating that Boko Haram is his (Jonathan’s) own making to blackmail the north so that they can secede. It has reached a dimension for one to believe that there are some people somewhere that are fueling this crisis to give a dog a bad name so that they would have a reason to secede. We are beginning to suspect that there is a plan against the north.” Excerpts…
Boko Haram has become a big threat to the unity of this country to the extent that the Igbo have given directive to their people in the north to move back home owing to the feeling that they are being targeted. How do you see this development?
Ndigbo are not being targeted. If you read our last communiqué by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), we advised Nigerians to stay where they are. We even attempted to defend the elders of the South-South despite the reckless pronouncements of their youth. But up till now, none of their elders has come out to tell the nation that they are not involved in what their youths are doing. The ACF has come out to say that we are not in support of that. So, northerners have not given any instruction to Igbo to leave. We are under a constitutional provision which allows freedom of movement and association. But if those staying in the north are tired of staying in the north, they are free under the constitution to move. But the north cannot accept a blackmail that Igbo are being targeted. Let them come out with what is motivating them to move back home. Of course, they are free to move anywhere in this county.
They probably have recorded more casualties than any other tribe?
(Cuts in). They recorded more casualties because in terms of religion, particularly in the north, the Igbo dominate Christian religion. So, if a church is burnt, naturally, Igbo who are in the church would be affected. In Kano which is predominantly a Muslim state, is Boko Haram group not killing people there? The problem of Boko Haram has gone beyond tribal issue.
Some people still believe that northern elders have not spoken loud enough on this Boko Haram issue. Have they?
How would they have spoken? Have they been consulted to speak? I know some southerners tried to accuse the northern leaders, Adamu Ciroma and co that said if Goodluck Jonathan becomes president, the government would be miserable. He said that because he knew as of fact that the people would not be happy and they are not. He has spoken sufficiently because you know that it was not the turn of the South to produce the president. Let me not deceive you, people are angry. Our governors in the north are angry. But they don’t know what to say and the people of the north are against them because they sold out. They betrayed the confidence reposed in them; they sold out the north.
Isn’t it an irony that the same people they would have ruled over are the same people being slaughtered?
And that is why I said when people are angry is like when God is taking judgment. If you leave everything to God to take decision, the aspect of His decision will affect everybody.
Isn’t this killing enough for somebody to call the group to order?
That is if a government is there. This matter is no longer a village Boko Haram that we were talking about in Maiduguri, they have gone scientific. It is the duty of security apparatus to map out proper strategy for dealing with the problem. It has gone beyond a village kind of revolt. It is not a thing that you will say because Senator Waku is the Vice National Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, he should go and talk to his people. The President and Commander in-Chief of Armed Forces said that there are Boko Haram members in the executive council, the police, SSS, and the military. And we northerners are saying bring these people out so that we can be vindicated that we don’t know them. If their offences require facing a firing squad, bring them out. He is the Commander in Chief; he is the nation’s Chief Security Officer, why is he keeping them? We northern leaders are even contemplating that Boko Haram is his own making to blackmail the north so that they can secede. It has reached a dimension for one to believe that there are some people somewhere that are fueling this crisis to give a dog a bad name so that they would have a reason to secede. We are beginning to suspect that there is a plan against the north.
But there is a report in the media that some northern governors are giving financial aids to Boko Haram to prevent them from striking in their state. What is your take on this?
I don’t know about that. That report boils down to leadership issue in this country. It means nothing is hidden about Boko Haram again. If it is true that those people approached some governors for finance so that they will not attack their states, then the Federal Government should hold those governors responsible. They should tell Nigerian who came to make the request whether they turned it down or accepted it. We are not kids. I have been in this game for 45 years. By the time I mark my birth coming up in the next few weeks, I will be 66. So, you can imagine I have started this game in my tender age.
Is this the reason why some people are saying that he is not in charge?
I believe he is in charge as the President. He can be weak but it doesn’t mean that he is not in charge.