All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial aspirant in the 2019 elections and a former member, House of Representatives (Kaura-Namoda/Birnin-Magaji Federal Constituency of Zamfara State), Honourable Aminu Sani-Jaji, served as Chairman, House Committee on Security and National Intelligence. He speaks with group of journalists on the APC reconciliation in the state, Sheikh Gumi’s peace deal as well as the solutions to the insecurity in the country.
Now that the APC is back as one in Zamfara State, what is the implication of the reconciliation to 2023 elections?
Yes, we thank God, even though the journey in respect of this reconciliation started since last year. I can say God has proved right what I have said before, that as long as we desire to move our party forward and we care about the people of Zamfara State, we must come back together as one. And that was the reason I took a bold decision in November 2019 by reconciling with the former governor and his faction, so as to manage the perception and the challenges bedeviling our party in the state.
But from what has happened with this reconciliation, I will say we are all people of faith. Reconciliation is an integral part of our religion and we must abide by it.
Apart from that, you can only succeed if you come together. Forget the fact that APC is an opposition party in Zamfara State; we all know that Zamfara used to be a stronghold of the APC, but the crisis that erupted in 2018 cost us everything. But we have no regret whatsoever, because it was ordained by Allah that such a thing must happen. We are only ambassadors of executing God’s plans and we cannot run away from that. By and large, this reconciliation is sending a clear message to the incumbent governor and other people holding positions: from the state assembly, the National Assembly and others, that we are really ready to reclaim our state from them. So, the implication of this reconciliation is very simple, inasmuch as we have reconciled sincerely, understood our differences and ready to manage them well, we are as good as reclaiming our state from the PDP in 2023.
So ,how were you able to persuade the former governor for the reconciliation?
I told the former governor, Alhaji AbdulAziz Yari Abubakar, that you can provide leadership with interest, but not with sentiment. If you provide leadership with interests, it will be accepted by all and sundry, but if you provide leadership with sentiment, I think nobody will accept that. So, he promised to provide good leadership and that was why we all agreed and surrendered to him as the leader of the nothing party.
Zamfara State has been engulfed in banditry for a long time now, and recently, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi had a meeting with the bandits there in a bid to persuade them to drop their arms. What is your take on that meeting?
Well, banditry and other nefarious activities are currently happening not only in Zamfara State, but also in many parts of the country. The decision of the Islamic scholar to meet with the bandits is a welcome development, but the only fear that I have is that, I know what it takes for somebody or an entity or group to canvass for issue of amnesty for bandits. Reconciliation with the bandits is one of the difficult tasks even for the government. I said it one time that before you reconcile with people of that character, the fundamental thing you need to know about them is their strength, motive and people or the channels that are involved in the crime. That means, you need to have intelligent information regarding how they operate, how they source for their weapons and other materials, how they interact, how they relate and how they engage among others.
I saw the way the Sheikh Gumi group was going about it, but for me, it is too local to be accepted because there is no way you can operate or handle something like that. There are so many things that need to be involved. If they say they want to agree or they surrender to a scholar or to a group or whatsoever, how many weapons have they surrendered before you? Then, what about the sources of getting the weapons and other things?
We should not forget that this banditry is now like a business. There are many chains and many people involved in that business. So, we have to manage them one by one, which an individual or group cannot do, it is only government that can do it. And I said it that, majority of the governors that are engaging these bandits on reconciliation are doing it merely for political gains rather than for conventional reasons. So on this decision taken by Sheikh Gumi, I think there is need for the security agencies and other governors to come together to conclude what he started, because he cannot finish it. That is the reality. People that know the intricacies of this banditry know where I am heading to.
Just like what I said last week, Zamfara is blessed with a lot of mineral resources. Unfortunately, the minerals have become a curse to the people of the state. As long as the so-called elite are after the minerals resources, we will not have peace in the state. I know that if the governor read this interview, he will know what I am saying. Therefore, time will come when many people will ask how significant these resources are to the state, because as it is today, the decision by the federal government to ban mining without first looking at the issues will take us nowhere. Until they restore peace in the state and other places, there won’t be peace in the region and in some parts of the country.
I’m not saying Sheikh Gumi is playing to the gallery. I know he has the passion to see that peace prevails, but he should not allow any sentiment whether political or otherwise to take over his emotions.
What do you think are the solutions to address these security lapses as one-time Chairman, House committee on Security and Intelligence?
First, we must understand why all these things are happening before we think of solutions. We have been discussing Zamfara and some states in the country, especially the North-Eastern part. Today, Osun State is vulnerable to insecurity because the state is blessed with mineral resources too. You should understand that there are international forces behind all these things. We will soon start seeing problems coming from there because of the mineral resources. So, many things have to be in place to address this insecurity. It is not individual effort alone.
I want to advise the security agencies to take advantage of this reconciliation by Sheikh Gumi as quickly as possible to see how they can come in and bring an end to the insecurity everywhere.
Politics aside, I know what I am saying by the virtue of the position I held as the chairman, House Committee on Security and Intelligence. So we should not play politics with this issue of insecurity. The way kidnapping is going on in Kaduna /Abuja highway, if they (security agencies) provide the desired solutions, it will be over in three months. Just like what is happening in the North-East, we have allowed it to degenerate to this level and that is why it has turned into something else.
The problem started like a mere thing before it went out of control. Then, the local governments were not getting their funds as it was in other parts of the country. So many young men became vulnerable since life became difficult. Thus, they were recruited as Boko Haram members. The same thing is what is happening today. Also, many people today are engaged in arms dealing and nothing is done to them. They are moving freely. These people should have been interrogated and questioned.
Also, let’s take the issue of cattle rustling. Who supplies the cattle to the rustlers? Who buys stolen cows from them? They need fuel. Who buys the fuel for them? They need recharge cards to communicate! Who buys it for them? They need food. Who buys food for them? Who buys the arms they move around it or who sells these arms to them? We have to cut all these channels in order to restore peace in our land.The media have a very significant role to play, because from my understanding, people are not saying the correct thing about all these insecurity stuffs. There are a lot of incorrect narrations that must be corrected and exposed. That’s where the media come in.
Now that everywhere in Nigeria, the Fulani is [being fingered as] the main culprit, the question we should ask ourselves is who is supporting them?
Some people are giving support to the Fulani to do what they are doing. That’s the simple truth.
Having said that, another area I think security agencies are not paying attention to is what happens to those people that are being kidnapped. Having sold their property to pay huge amount as ransom beyond their capacity, many of them still stayed with the kidnappers for three weeks or even months before they are set free. Once they are released, we do not care about how they will continue their lives. I think these people ought to be on the close watch of the security agencies until they are safe to move around. Let the media challenge the security agencies and government so that they will do the needful.
Can we say the APC reconciliation will spell an end to the PDP reign in Zamfara in 2023?
Well PDP are in power, with or without reconciliation, they have the majority. Even if someone is telling them they will continue beyond 2023, he is not telling them the truth. The only thing is let the governor do his best to serve the people. In 2019, if you asked him whether he would be governor, he could not have told you or give you an answer. He was ranked 5th or 7th in hierarchy on the list of those interested. But God in His infinite mercy said I want you to be there. And so today, he’s the governor; so whether they will start packing their bags or not is left for them.
Looking at Zamfara politics, the western part have produced more governors than the Northern and Central zones. Do you think power should now shift in 2023?
Well, for me, what is paramount is to have from any part a governor who can deliver and take the state to the promise land. It is okay that I want to be governor, but if I see someone whose credential is better than mine, I will join hands with him to take us to the Eldorado. But anywhere that the issue of zoning comes up, it means there is an interest. Allow people to aspire and let the people decide. Let the people make their choice. No imposition. So, let us not do politics of sentiments. We are all entitled to our freedom. Let’s allow everyone to exercise his/her constitutional rights. We are after a credible person who can develop the state.