Comrade Timi Frank, former deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, in this interview with JULIET OYOYO talks about the insecurity in the country, among others issues. Excerpts:
How would you assess Nigeria at 61 and the present administration?
I have made my position very clear about my views of Nigeria at 61 and President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to Nigerians. First of all, I made it very clear that Buhari’s speech on Independence anniversary was full of lies and I equally made it clear that from my own assessment, President Buhari made more lies in his statement in different forms and that statement he made was not a befitting statement for the status of Nigeria.
We had expected him to talk like a democratic President and certainly, not as a dictator or a military ruler. It is so unfortunate that once again, he spoke like a military general and ruler instead of a democratic President of Nigeria. Again, we had expected him to talk about the history of the founding fathers of Nigeria, like the late Pa Anthony Enahoro and others who fought for our independence. He never acknowledged them in his address. For any nation celebrating its independence, the President delves into the history of his country, its struggles for their independence including their present status, democratically. However, Buhari sadly chose to go the other way to talk only about himself and his government. He failed to mention how this once great country returned to democracy in 1999 but concentrated only on when he assumed office in 2015 till date which means that he does not recognize other democratic leaders before him, who contributed to our country’s growth, either in a positive or negative form.
What can you say about Buhari’s government?
To me, Nigeria at 61, under Buhari is nothing to celebrate. This particular independence celebration is full of sorrow and sadness. Up till yesterday, they were burying people in Southern Kaduna and people were still being killed in different parts of the country and, this is the same country that Buhari says is secured and safe under his government. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, this is the saddest independence and it will continue as long as Buhari remains the President of Nigeria till he leaves office in 2023 and we shall continue to remain in sorrow because, his administration does not have the will and capacity to take us out of the situation we are today.
Some members of the APC are of the view that all is well with the country. What is your thought about that?
They are members of the ruling party. However, where you will know that they are contradicting themselves, is when some of them who are Senators or, members of the House of Representatives will come to the floor of either the Senate or, House of Reps, from the same APC to cry about the insecurity and the collapse of security as some of them cannot go to their senatorial districts in Zamfara, including the President’s own town in Katsina State. This also includes Kaduna State. Is it Yobe or Borno states that you would want to talk about? They know the truth. They know that security in this country today has collapsed under this administration. They know that Nigeria today, under the leadership of their party; led by President Muhammadu Buhari is a total failure. They are aware of the happenings. Majority of them know the truth but, of course, they lack the guts to come out and acknowledge these facts. If you recall, I was among the very few that had the guts to speak out when I was in the APC as at that time, as the party’s Spokesperson. I was very critical of the party and the style of governance of Buhari because I felt it was not what we had promised Nigerians during the period of our campaigns, prior to the elections. Unfortunately, since some of us left the party, we have only chicken-livered persons left in the APC who only sing the praises of the government and the President. We call this group of people “The halleluyah group” or, “The loyal boys”. That is the way we also have such persons in the National Assembly; the “Oh Yes” Sect” and that is why Nigeria is where it is today. Remember, one of the lies Buhari dished out and it also gives me the opportunity to dare him, on the issue of the arrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu; leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) and Sunday Igboho of Oduduwa. It has really helped by giving them intelligence of the financiers of Oduduwa and Biafra. This same President, if his speech promoted nepotism, failed to address the issue of the financiers of Boko Haram that the United Arab Emirates (UAE_) came up with a list and published the same for the whole world to see. The financiers of terrorism included the names of six Nigerians, all of them from the Northern part of Nigeria. We expected Buhari in his speech to make us realize and see the sponsors of Boko Haram and therefore, inform Nigerians of his determination to prosecute and deal with them. He was very silent on that. He never mentioned them but was very quick to talk on the ones that he is alleging in the south.
The Senate has recently asked the President to declare the bandits terrorists. What is your take on that?
It is not enough for the National Assembly to demand that. The Senate knows what to do, if they truly want to compel the President to declare the bandits terrorists. Sadly, it is just a gimmick as they are not ready to do anything, as they ought to have come up with a solution by now, compelling the President to do so. If the President should fail, you and I ought to know that Buhari will not declare these bandits, terrorists, as these are his kinsmen and he also belongs to the same organization with them. He will not lift a finger to do anything that would go against his own people. This is the same President, who with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice was quick to name the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organization. We should also recall that, as at the time this group was tagged a terrorist organization, they were not armed or known to carry weapons but were peacefully carrying out protests in the Southeast. The Fulani herdsmen that the whole world has come to know for their activities, even the international community has recognized them as a terrorist group and yet, Buhari remained silent on their issue. So, what do you expect him to do? He will do nothing. The President that we have has confirmed himself not to be the President of Nigeria but the President of the Fulani or, President of the North and this is very sad. The Southeast is heading towards another Kaduna, Borno and Yobe States. Before Buhari became the President of Nigeria, the Southeast was one of the most peaceful regions in the country but it is slowly becoming a war zone and, if nothing is done, it is going to be worse. These were people that were very peaceful, you came and declared them as terrorists whenever they are on the streets to protest for their rights, you will arrest and kill them. What do you expect? You were grooming them to carry arms so that they can start defending themselves.
IPOB has come out to say that the killings in the Southeast region are not perpetrated by them and have termed the killings, political assassinations. What are your thoughts on that?
Whether it is IPOB or not, what we are trying to say is that, whether it is political assassination or not, before today, were there political assassinations ravaging the southeast like this? The answer is no. Definitely, IPOB might not be responsible for most of the activities going on in the southeast but, because of the circumstances of the way this government has maltreated the people of that region, they have created room for hoodlums and bandits to generate in that region who are now committing these crimes.