Waku agrees that there was need for revolution in the country as called for by some. He, however, warned against a bloody revolution.
Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Senator Joseph Waku has said that Nigerians are disenchanted over the way they are being governed by politicians. He noted that the political leaders are no longer interested in the people they govern, but only in taking care of themselves.
In this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, Senator Waku agreed that there was need for revolution in the country as called by some people to change the imbalance. He, however, warned against a bloody revolution.
He also condemned the Osun governorship election, saying that it was an open broad daylight robbery, advising the governor-elect, Gboyega Oyetola, to go and make confession.He spoke on other salient national issues.
Some Nigerians, including Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma have called for revolution, does this mean that the disenchantment of the people has reached the point of a revolution?
You don’t call for revolution; revolution is spontaneous. I know that Nigerians are disenchanted. If you look at the way the primaries of political parties are being conducted, it’s just like a family affair. It has come to create so many enemies to a point that the people are angry. I didn’t listen to Balarabe or Chukwuma and so, I don’t know what kind of revolution they are calling for. Is it democratic revolution, electoral revolution or a violent revolution? There are several kinds of revolutions. Nigeria has gone through revolution. The revolution number one was when Nigerians came out and voted en masse for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), on a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It was a revolution. And when it was announced, Nigerians insisted that the military should quit the polity and they did. That was a revolution. Another revolution was when all the political parties in opposition came back to team up with one single political party called All Progressives Congress (APC) to sack a sitting government. These are what I know to be democratic revolution. So, I think Nigeria as a nation has been going through revolutionary changes. If that is not enough, then, they are calling for violent revolution. And if that is what Balarabe and Chukwuma are calling for, then I don’t think Nigeria has gotten to that stage. And even if it is revolution of creating awareness, we should all know that revolution is not organized, but a spontaneous reaction. Therefore, I don’t think they are calling for a bloody revolution. But I know that there will still be many more revolutions in this country, but it may not be really through the violent revolution.
What do you think is fueling the discontent among the people?
Certainly, the less privileged Nigerians are not happy. Even the political class is not happy except for very few. We used to know about politics for the people, by the people and of the people. Now, it has become politics for the few and for the privileged. So, the disenchantment in our society is very pronounced. There is no doubt about that because some people have not taken politics as a way of rendering services. They are taking politics as an investment and they do not bother whether it hurts someone’s feelings provided they get what they want. That is not the style of our founding fathers politically. It is no longer community service, it’s about investment and it shows some level of impunity and arrogance in trying to surcharge one another. And this is very dangerous. I’m not blaming those who are calling for revolution, but the point is let’s find out from them what kind of revolution they are calling for. Is it a democratic revolution, political revolution or a revolution against the rich? But obviously, Nigeria has gone through democratic revolution several times. And I’m sure it would soon evolve itself. Like I keep telling people who care to listen that APC may not be lucky to rule this country for 16 years as the PDP did. I am not a prophet of doom, but from the look of things, it appears that the APC cannot be that lucky because of the management of the administration in partisan politics. It is becoming a bit clumsy and Nigerians are getting wiser and they would not tolerate that kind of oppression or suppression any longer. So, that is why I said that things will definitely evolve itself through a democratic mechanism. If you look at revolutionists, when they start, it never ends because they too have no plan. All they do is to get out certain group of persons, but they wouldn’t know what is the replacement. It happened in Russia in 1968 or thereabouts when the revolutionary leader took over power and he didn’t know what to do with it because there was no plan.
So, obviously, I think the way we are going, Nigeria is heading towards that. But I do not subscribe to a bloody revolution. Nigeria is responsible for its misfortune because money politics has now become the order of the day. You know he who pays the piper dictates the tune. When Nigerians begin to shun all the moneybags in partisan politics and elect people of their choice, Nigeria will go back to its days of glory. For instance, in Benue, there has never been a rich person becoming a governor. During the Second Republic, Aper Aku was one of the lower income earners that became a governor against people like James Adzape, Atim Ateze and Simon Kusa. Also, when it came to the time of Adasu, the late Tachia Jooji, the late Joseph Igbeta, Igbeta and Jooji were richer than Adasu who came from the church, yet the Benue people elected Adasu as against the moneybags. During the Fourth Republic, George Akume was a civil servant who had only one account to his name and that was his salary account. He contested with Mike Mku who was then the General Manager, Commercial of the most viable state-owned company in Nigeria as at then, which was the Benue Cement. But then, George defeated Mike Mku. It was during George’s second coming that Benue people were to revolt democratically that he (George) introduced money politics and that is what is going on right now. When Nigerians begin to shun money politics and vote in committed politicians, then we will begin to get it right. But now, you can find out that when people come to you to seek an elective office and they tell you that they had suffered enough, that means they are not going in there for service. They have made politics as an enterprise and investment and if that continues, we will be nowhere.
What is your assessment of the recently concluded Osun election?
The Osun election is a disgrace to nationhood. I don’t know whether the president has issued a congratulatory letter to the supposed winner of that election. If he did, then it is unfortunate for a man with integrity to accept that sham called election. I know there wasn’t election there. The said election in Osun was a broad daylight robbery and it should be condemned by all. Do you know the meaning of rigging? Rigging is stealing. I can never subscribe to that kind of victory because it is not a victory, but robbery and the person that assumed that office be it a Muslim or a Christian, must go for confession to ask God for forgiveness because God forgives no matter what crime you have committed.
Almost the same thing is also playing out in Lagos State all because there is a godfather somewhere who dictates the tune. What is your take on this?
You see, people are not grateful to God. I do not intend to run anybody down, but it is on record that in 2012, Asiwaju Tinubu and I went for a function in Chicago organised by Jesse Jackson, a famous human rights activist. During the event, Jackson’s son was reading a citation of Asiwaju and he described Asiwaju as one person that God has helped, loved and elevated from a cab driver to a jet owner. I was there live, listening to that citation. And you know what overseas students do to survive. Some engage in dishwashing and other menial jobs to survive. Then, God elevated you from cab-driving to governor of a state. In any circumstances, you should not play God to anyone. You should be grateful to Almighty God. And when human beings begin to act and show that kind of impunity and not thanking God then there is a problem. God has told us in the Bible that He does not share His glory with anyone.
You are aware that there have been political manipulations in Benue for some time now. Just recently, we sighted you at the Government House in Makurdi where you went to visit your brother, the governor who is of the PDP while you are a chieftain of the APC. Don’t you see your visit as anti-party and are you not afraid that your party can sanction you for that?
I am 72 years old and as at now, no politician in Benue who is actively participating in partisan politics is older than me. As at today, no man born of a woman can address me as a failed politician having gotten elected into parliament and gotten elected as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria twice and then I have become a statesman. Don’t I have the right and the conscience to decide the right thing to do? Don’t I have the right to decide the right person to support? I have that right and if any man born of a woman does not like what I do, that man can go and hang and it costs me nothing. Senator McCain of the United States of America who died a few weeks ago left a legacy of principle, consistency and conscience. McCain was in the hospital when President Trump wanted to repeal ObamaCare. And they needed just one vote to get it through. McCain was flown from the hospital. A senior member and Senator of the Republican in the United States of America went in and cast his vote against his party, against his president because, according to him, ObamaCare was meant to save Americans and not Donald Trump. He said Donald Trump can do what is better by developing his own ideas, but that he will not support him on repealing a progressive law he met on ground. That is the legacy McCain died and left behind. Now, nobody talks about McCain’s bank accounts. Nobody is talking about his business umpire. People are talking about his principles, his conscience. And by the time I am gone, that is what I want to be remembered for. I have made it public that I am working for Ortom. I’m not PDP and I’m not against APC. In fact, as I speak to you, I’m a card-carrying member of APC, but that does not mean that the APC as a political party will blind my eyes and my brains and my thoughts. No way! It cannot and it will not happen. Rather, they should use my talents, my focus to build the society for the younger generation to come and inherit. And that is what I do know about partisanship in politics. I’m too old to be following ABC. No. I follow people, I believe in people. I trust in people and I work for that. So, I am not working for PDP, I’m not against APC, but I am working for Ortom; full stop. And no man born of a woman can stop me from doing what I’m doing. Whether he (Ortom) becomes governor this second term is a different ballgame all together. But I will be satisfied with my conscience that I supported him. And I have no apologies to anybody. In fact, if he invites me to accompany him officially with a letter as a guest speaker during his campaigns, I will go.