• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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A nation where people are hostile to one another is no nation – Ex-Education minister


Dauda Birma, a former minister of Education, and onetime presidential aspirant under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), in this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, laments the level of division in Nigeria and expresses pessimism over the continued existence of the country. Excerpts:

How do you describe Nigeria at the moment with all the things that have happened in recent times?

The times are very precarious. Anything can happen. Several things have been revealed. We have been complacent as a people and the leadership, particularly. We have not taken the necessary and right steps, perhaps, some of the things we are witnessing now would not have happened. I can say that we are sitting on a tinderbox or gunpowder. It is no doubt, a very difficult time indeed for our country. I am worried.

From what you see now, how can we move forward as a nation?

It depends on what you mean by moving forward. In the first place, we are not a nation. We are just a people forced to live together and we are hostile to each other. Each person treats the other based on his perception of the other. That has been demonstrated during the #EndSARS campaign. The #EndSARS was actually not the problem, it was an excuse to what people intended to do or achieve. They just hid under the #EndSARS to perpetrate their evil agenda. When they came out, it was what was on their mind that they did. For me, SARS is nothing. Is it not part of the Nigeria Police? It is just a small unit, a branch of the Police? It is not worth the importance that is being attached to it. You can see that when the #EndSARS campaign thing started in the South, Northern governors said SARS was good for them. The North did not see the essence of the #EndSARS campaign because the way SARS was viewed in the south is different. This is because there are peculiar crimes that happen in the south that SARS is dealing with that are unknown in the north. The North however, has its own types of criminality- banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping. By and large, there are many people in the North that did not know there’s anything like SARS. I think, the #EndSARS protest was a designed movement by some people recruited and paid to cause havoc in society or to achieve some goals.

But it appears things are calming down. From your own reading of the situation, do you envisage more crises along the same line?

Well, it is the cooling down of a volcano, when next it erupts, it could be very devastating; very dangerous.

If that is the case, how may we achieve a lasting peace?

I think that can be possible when we split Nigeria into territorial lines. I have become very pessimistic about the peace of this country. I am not very optimistic about any lasting peace in Nigeria in the form we are now. I have become very pessimistic about the possibility of us forging a common front, seeing how farther apart we have drifted in our ethno-religious and political biases. I think the best thing that we should have is when we split Nigeria along territorial lines. What I see now does not give hope for a continued unity.