Biafra: Breaking up Nigeria has consequences Ė Junaid
ó 31st December 2016
Wants Buhari to look
beyond US for ways out of recession
By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN
fiery politician, Junaid Mohammed, has called on the
President, Muhammadu Buhari, to look beyond the United
States, for ways out of the countryís present economic
This is even as he said that if the Igbo continued with
their agitation, a democratic means could be devised for
them to vote and decide whether they want to go or
remain in Nigeria. He was, however, quick to add that
those who think that breaking up Nigeria, was a
universal remedy to all its problems, were deceiving
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday
Sun, Mohammed, who cannot understand why the US would be
prescribing what it never applied to its economy, when it
faced economic challenge, similar to that of Nigeria, about
eight years ago, further said: ďIronically, when the US ran
into economic crisis in 2008, they did not do what they are
now advising us to do. They say, we must control our budget,
rein in on our spending and expenditure, bla, bla. But, when
they were in economic crisis, instead of reducing government
spending, they increased their own spending. They also
maintained a high level of their currency. So, what makes
you think that we must listen to those advising us to do
what they never did, when they faced similar challenge in
the past? They never did what they are asking us to do.Ē
once advised President Buhari, at the inception of his
administration in 2015, that if Igbo want to go, they should
be allowed to go. Do you still hold the same view?
Well, I donít know if you understood the context in which I
said the Igbo should be allowed to go, if they want to go.
First, there is no way the Federal Government can allow any
section of the country to go, without going through another
civil war. And another civil war is an open invitation to
anarchy and violence. I am not a violent man, I donít
believe in violence. But yes, if they continue with their
agitation, a democratic way can be devised, so that they can
vote, to decide whether they should be allowed to go, or to
However, and most unfortunately too, Igbo have not
articulated what they want. You cannot start talking for
people who do not know exactly what they want. What will you
be preparing for? And mark you, those who imagine that
breaking up Nigeria will be a panacea to all the problems we
have, are deluding themselves. I say so because, examples
abound all over the world. Look at Southern Sudan
experience, America insisted that the country must be split
in two, it has since been done, but is there peace in
Southern Sudan today? The South is already enmeshed in a
bloody civil war; nobody knows how it will end, when it will
end. I donít believe Igbo would want to go through another
civil war, after the first disaster of 1967-1970. And I
believe they are entitled to every right and everything an
average Nigerian is entitled to. And there is no evidence;
they can claim to say they have been deprived.
they are complaining of being marginalized under the present
It is not correct. Tell me, who is not marginalized under
this administration? Anyway, the two most powerful
individuals running the countryís economy today, rightly or
wrongly, are Igbo. The Minister of Budget and National
Planning is an Igbo man, the Adviser on Budget is an Igbo
man, and the CBN governor is an Igbo man. So, only the
Minister of Finance is not Igbo. So, if they think they can
continue to make irresponsible demand from the national
patrimony, of course, let them go ahead. At some point, all
things must come to a certain end. And I donít lose sleep
over certain demands made by some people.
One of the arguments they are making is that, in terms of
equitable distribution of resources and political offices,
they have not been fairly treated.
you also saying they have no case in that regard?
Well, first and foremost, they should tell us, who has been
favoured, vis-ŗ-vis the positions they claim? Two, was it a
planned subterfuge by the government of the day to deny them
certain positions or was it as a result of certain things
that have happened in the past, when Igbo occupied those
positions, which is not as a result of anybodyís planning?
For example, after General Aguiyi Ironsi, who was implicated
in the coup that brought him to power, the next senior Igbo
man we had was (Gen Azubuike) Ihejirika, as the Chief of
Army Staff. He turned out to be a big disaster, as he turned
out to be a dangerous tribalist. What makes them think that
we must now give them that position again, simply because
they are now clamouring for it? That is number one. Number
two, we had a former governor of the Central Bank, his name
was Paul Oguma, and he was a disaster. We now have another
Igbo man, Godwin Emefiele, who has turned out to be another
disaster. So, if you allow me, I can go on and on.
in) But we had another Igbo man, as CBN governor, Prof.
Charles Soludo, who most Nigerians believe performed
creditably well in office.
Soludo is only good at noisemaking; I donít think he was
such a brilliant governor of the CBN.
talking about the economy, how do you think Nigeria can get
out of its present economic challenge?
Let me be honest with you. I am ideological. I donít believe
in capitalism. But the government must look at its worldview
critically. For instance, what do you stand for? Do you
believe that the economy should be run in such a way that
only the few are rich, with the overwhelming majority being
poor? Do you believe that we should devise our own ways of
running the economy or just taking everything the World Bank
says, and other capitalist countries? Shouldnít our economy
be run to serve our own national interest alone?
Ironically, when the US ran into economic crisis in 2008,
they did not do what they are now advising us to do. They
say we must control our budget, rein in on our spending and
expenditure, bla, bla. But when they were in economic
crisis, instead of reducing government spending, they
increased their own spending. They also maintained a high
level of their currency. So what makes you think that we
must listen to those advising us to do what they never did
when they faced similar challenge in the past? They never
did what they are asking us to do.
what is the way out?
I think we should link up with our trading partners, those
whom we share something in common with, not only the
American government. I know that like Nigeria, America was a
former British colony; I know we share certain things in
common with America, but that does not necessarily mean we
should be their slaves. And we have known the economic
history of the country, over the last 200 years ago or so.
The problem we had over the years, including the disaster
that is unfolding under Buhari, is caused by our blind
support for and obsessive following of capitalist ideas. And
if we continue with that, we are going to have more
problems. It is time to look at our economy, taking into
cognizance our peculiar realities, and come up with ideas
and policies that will suit our peculiar situation, and then
decide what we want to do and how we want to go about it.
Finally, APC crisis appears to be assuming a North and South
dichotomy, is it healthy for our polity?
I think it is unfortunate, that tribalism has become the
easiest nest we fall into, each time we find ourselves in
political crisis. It shows that we have lousy elite and
political class that cannot think for themselves. It is very
unfortunate. Whatever happens, I believe what is happening
today has been to the benefit of those who followed Tinubu
into the merger. If they feel they have not gotten what they
believe they should have, they should tell us who in the
north has benefitted? The position of the APC in most of the
so-called northern States is very pathetic. Buhari has spent
more time, being in the service of the South-West, than he
has been to the northern states. Whatever is happening now,
one thing is clear, Oyegun, is not a northerner, he doesnít
come from the north. I donít believe what Buhari has been
doing has been to the pleasure of John Oyegun.
However, I am absolutely sad at the happenings. The truth
remains that we cannot build this country without being
sincere to ourselves. Most of those in the Buhari government
today from the South-West are there because Tinubu
introduced them to Buhari. Tinubu took the position he took
in 2015 because he knew it was in the best interest of the
country. And he has not come out to say he made a mistake.