The Chairman of Nigerian Youth Support for Buhari, a group that fought for President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy in 2015, Alhaji Lawal Adamu Usman, popularly known as Mr LA, has given reasons there are persistent killings and bombings in the country.
Usman who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and prominent politician in Kaduna State, as well as the Coordinator of Peace Foundation of Nigeria, revealed that some politicians in a bid to sabotage the country’s growing democracy masterminded the killings and bombings.
The youth leader who was among the few Nigerians that accompanied Buhari to the recent Commonwealth Summit in London said that he discussed with the president in London on how to improve the conditions of the Nigerian youths, the economy.
He also spoke on the crisis rocking the APC in some states, saying that only internal democracy can unite the party to win the 2019 elections. Usman also described the gang up by past Nigerian leaders against the Buhari administration as a mere deception, gimmick and threat to the country’s political fortunes. Excerpt:
You are among the few Nigerian youths that supported President Muhammadu Buhari in 2011, and 2015, that ultimately brought him to power, today, many Nigerians are criticizing Buhari for the failure to improve the living standard of Nigerians. What can you say on this?
That is not true at all. You see when Buhari took over the mantle of leadership in 2015, the country was almost collapsed in terms of development, but with seriousness and hard work, Buhari was able to start the process of rebuilding the nation. No matter how cynic one can be, the present state of affairs in Nigeria is not the same as three years ago. Let me tell you that no country in the world has ever attained development in a short period of time. Reformation is a gradual process that demands patience, commitment and hard work At the on set, Buhari promised to tackle three things as major problems of Nigeria, the first was corruption, second, economy and third was security. If you look at these very well, all have been achieved significantly.
Though not 100 per cent. Buhari was able to reduce the recurrent bombing in the North-east and almost completely in some parts of North-west. Similarly, other criminal activities that emerged recently like armed robbery, rustling, kidnapping and headsmen are all in the process of being tackled. On corruption, Buhari is doing a lot to compare to what obtained during the Obasanjo and Jonathan administration where every high profile person stole public funds and nothing happened. It is really not easy to deal with such people the way President Buhari is doing at the moment. On the economy, Buhari met a shattered economic situation where every Nigerian lost hope for any development. Now, Buhari set up a new economic approach to stop any bleeding in all the sectors. Let’s be very frank to ourselves, you can’t re-build or reform a collapsed economy within three years, even America, England or China did not just build their economy within few years.
You said Buhari has reduced bombings and killings in some parts of the North, but recently there are indiscriminate killings across the Northern states, which has created a serious state of uncertainty, don’t you think your statement could be seen as a paradox?
Not at all, what you are seeing today is a new set up by some heartless politicians who feel that the only way to achieve their political goal is to sponsor killings and organized violence among the people. It’s not a new phenomenon in Nigerian politics, we have seen how millions of innocent people died during the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations in the name of religious riots and ethnic violence. Typical examples are the Kaduna and Plateau states crises. It is true that even the so-called Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram and Zamfara cattle rustlers rampages are all linked to politics, defending on how you view it. The most unfortunate thing is that the architects of these crises are still in their hideout. I believe the government can fish them out if it cares. That is why I keep saying that Buhari should be careful with those he relates with or his advisers on security. I strongly believe that some governors are misleading him. Unless he changes from listening to these people no significant improvement will be achieved in the area of security.
Recently, the president approved the recruitment of 30,000 policemen in the country, do you think it’s the right step in right direction in arresting insecurity in the country?
Yes, it will, but there are several factors responsible for the present insecurity situation in Nigeria. The short-term measure, of course, is the recruitment of more security personnel, while the long-term measure will be the ability of the government to curtail the increasing number of jobless youths in Nigeria. It is really difficult to provide jobs for 60 per cent of the population, but at least the government can create a conducive or enabling environment for the youth. It’s sad to say that while we are talking about this, some state governments are sacking workers regardless of the negative consequences. Another important point on this issue is the process of the recruitment. The government has to be very careful with the process otherwise it will end up recruiting criminals into the police. There is need to go back to the 1960s, when our local chiefs had to recommend you before you join the police or army. This system should be revived to arrest the situation where only criminals join pthe olice.
Last week APC ward elections was full of crises, it had violence and protests ever had in any primary elections. What do you think was responsible?
Well, it difficult to say that the election was entirely chaotic, while some states had their elections in ba ad mood, others were smooth. I agree with you that there were reports of violence in some states. Even in Kaduna State here there were reports of crises and violence in many wards across the state. You see the major causes of the voidance were due to some injustice and selfish interests of politicians, especially those in power who wanted to used all means to impose their people against the wishes of other members. This is one of the major problems of the APC at the moment. The crisis of APC today is caused by its inability to sustain internal democracy. Some influential leaders of the party abused the constitution of the party to favour those in power. This has created disunity among members. If you talk or try to correct them, they go against you, sometimes they threaten to expel you from the party. For goodness sake, how can you establish justice and fairness among the people with this kind of attitude? APC has accused other political parties of establishing injustice in the country, so why did we allow some people to import these bad values into our party? So, let me tell our members that unless we sustain internal democracy, there will never be unity among members and the chances of winning elections will be very lean. I am appealing to President Buhari to ensure justice and fair play among members, particularlythe in Kaduna, Kano and others states. I know there are some people commissioned to destroy the party, which he must know that. I joined politics not to insult or abuse anybody. If you are committed to serve people, why should you bother to attack one’s personality. I think it’s wrong, absolutely wrong. Anybody who wants to contest should go and look for people, not impose himself. I think the central cause of the entire crisis hinged on wrong manipulations. Nigerian masses are becoming aware of their right, they are ready to resist vehementhe tly any dictatorial style of ruling.
President Buhari made remarks on Nigerian youths and it generated negative reactions. What is your opinion on this?
It is sad that many Nigerians are of the habit of misquoting statements. If you listen to the statement very well there was no place Mr President specifically condemned the Nigerian youth. In fact, his explanation on atthe titude of most Nigerian youths was correct. It is a bitter truth that Northern Nigeria has more uneducated youths, unproductive to meet up the present challenges, especially in the area of entrepreneur and manufacturing. In fact, how can you expect a society to grow with the army of illiterates and school dropouts on the streets everywhere? Honestly, this our big challenge was what the president was referring to and it became a subject of misquotation. This problem is the collective responsibility between local government, states and fethe deral government. Presently, apart from Kaduna and few other states, no any area speaks much on education. There is no future for an illiterate society.
You accompanied President Buhari to the Common Wealth Summit recently in London, where such statements were made, did you speak the mind and feelings of the Nigerian youths to Mr President?
Yes, I was fortunate to speak to him on many issues that effect the Nigerian youths. My discussion with him was like an appeal to him to widen the scope of his political capital to enrich Nigerians, especially future generations with specifics on youth empowerment. The president unveiled his plans to me on general development arrangement starting from road constructions across the country, from North to South-west, South-east and South-south. Secondly, on pothe wer sector, the president has promised that he will spend his last money to ensure that Nigerians enjoy 24-hour electricity power supply while the issue of law and order is toa p priority of his administration.
He told me that this area is critical and central to the development of a nation like Nigeria. He assured that his anti-corruption crusade will continue to receive all supports. The recent anti-corruption court set up to trail corruption cases will soon commence actions to speed up judgment and restore justice and fairness in the system. On agriculture, the president said that his administration has no option than to shift to commercial agriculture with a view to providing the teeming unemployed youths with reliable jobs and accelerate economic development. Let’s say that our discussions with Mr President were full of interesting promises for the Nigerians youth.
Are you optimistic that President Buhari will win the 2019 elections despite these crises?
You see, there is no candidate to match Buhari in the contest in APC. If there is any, let him emerge though God can still send somebody to emerge. Let me tell you all the noise you are hearing are mere rhetoric, mere threat by some so-called master politicians. All APC governors won the 2015 election because of Buhari, hence every one wants to go back or contest to go to Senate, they must support the man Nigerian masses want otherwise they will lose. So, one may be deceiving himself for now to think Buhari is not APC candidate. Of course, Almighty God can change sithe tuation, but certainly not individuals. For now, Buhari is our candidate whether you go for primaries or not.
Another dimension to the crisis against Buhari is the gang up of Army Generals against his style of administration; here I am talking about Obasanjo, Babangida and his own boss in the military, Gen. T.Y Danjuma. What is your take on this?
All these Generals you mentioned are known very well by Nigerians, as well as their shortcomings and contributions to the nation. But let’s be honest to ourselves, apart from Gen. Danjuma, none of them could be vindicated or exonerated from the recent Nigerian economic and political quagmire. In other words, all they are accusing Buhari of they are the architect of the problems. If Gen. Danjuma has pea rsonal opinion on the mistakes of Buhari or the military that could be entertained, but what of Obasanjo and IBB, who are seen as those that ran the most corrupt government in Nigeria? All their criticisms were part of the power play to unseat Buhari, but they may not succeed. After all, what’s wrong if Buhari choose to re-contest. Buhari is a human being, he could make mistakes in his action, but making mistakes does not mean he is incapable.
Some suggested maximum of 55 age limit for anybody wishing to aspire or contest for presidential position in Nigeria. What is your opinion on this?
Interestingly, this is an old concept and theory propounded by General Babangida when he was a military president. It was a theory that originated from the desire of power perpetuation. From my school of thought, power is God-given, it’s destined, not designed or determined by oneself, but by the Almighty God. If it comes at your level you take it. I believe there will be a time, when Nigerian youths will take over power without necessarily enacting a law. When Nigerian youths are ready to seek or take-over power as the case may be it will happen. Gowon and Buhari were in their 30s when they became heads of state even Babangida was in his early 40s when he overthrew Buhari. Ironically, the same Gen. Babangida later wanted to contest for prthe esidency at the age 70 years, he has forgotten this. Until when the youths participate fully in politics at all levels, the aged people would continue to dominate the political scenario. Thank God apart from Governor Ganduje of Kano State, I don’t think there is any governor that is above 65 years of age. Gladly to state that President Muhammadu appointed many young men as special assistants, board chairmen and ministers. So enacting a law is not necessary for now.
Recently, we learnt you are aspiring for Senatorial post. Can you make it in the midst of these old politicians?
Let me tell you that I have a conviction that I have so much to contribute that are capable of changing the Nigerian situation for better. As I said earlier, it is only when the youth participate that God will give them opthe portunity. I have the knowledge, strength, resources, courage, mass supporters and above all the backing of Almighty God. I don’t fear anybody in Kaduna State. I think my offence is my contest for the Senate. There is a person who feels that I am a threat to him, so he is doing everything to undermine me, including castigations that I have received from the governor for no reason.
Is it true that your strength in Nigerian politics is because of your family’s relationship with President Buhari?
No, no, that is not true at all. Though I am marrying a daughter of Alhaji Sani Buhari Daura; President Buhari is only a close friend to my uncle, but that does not mean he influences my participation in politics. I have been in politics at different stages in life starting from my early participation in the activities of many Non-Governmental Organizations and support to many Civil Society Organizations for many years, up to 2011,wh en I joined CPC and APC in 2015, and later formed Nigerian Youth Support for Buhari. In fact, when I told the president that I want coa ntest for sethe natorial position, as a father, he only blessed me and wish me well that is all. I respect him as a father and as a principled man. He does not compromise his principle for injustice no matter how close you are to him.