Features Interviews

The SARS man arrests you, gives you a POS to transfer money; to whose account does that money go to? A Nigerian statesman, queries

A Nigerian statesman and Igbo leader of thought, Mr. Delly Ajufo has raised questions of the involved of the police high command in thenefarious activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with reference tothe POS machines those SARS operatives carry about to extort Nigerians. Ajufo,75, spoke with THE AUTHORITY ASSISTANT EDITOR, CHIKA OTUCHIKERE on the raging #EndSARS protests, saying it willlead to a revolution. Excerpts

How do you see theEnd SARS protests?

This is long overdue. We have allowed these people ingovernment to manipulate the system and treat us like second class citizens.But it’s time for us to wake up. The youths have woken up and about time too.

Are you concernedabout the dimension the protest is taking?

Naturally, like everyother Nigerian, I should be concerned because government has taken over theprotest, employing hoodlums to create problems, to enable them do the nefariousactivities they are usually used to. The protesters are peaceful, intelligent,educated human beings who have successfully outwitted government intellectuallyand the government is at its wits end, yes. From that angle I’m concerned becausewe don’t have a president; we don’t have a leader in the country. Everybodyleads from wherever situation they are in; Buratai is a leader, all the servicechiefs are leaders and they take decisions based on their whims.

What do you expect tobe the likely outcome of this protest?

We’ll have to sitdown sometimes and know our rights and authorities and limitations. Thegovernment is gone too far. The protesters haven’t mentioned it, but being anelder statesman, I’ll call myself an elder statesman at 75, I see a situationwhere the youths, not having mentioned it, are angry at the Fulanization of this country, whereeverything in this country is manned by one particular tribe, incidentally, whoconstitute less than five percent of the population of this country. So, it’s acall to inquisition, a call to right the wrongs of the past. And if Buhari isnot careful, his action could lead to the disintegration of this country. Hehas, by his actions, awakened the consciousness of most Nigerians who, hitherto,would have accepted certain things.

Are you saying thatthe youths have woken from their slumber, having been once called ‘lazy youths’by this president?

Are they lazy? I ask you again, are they lazy?

So could youconjecture why the president branded them lazy?

Because he is a lazy man himself. He is lazy mentally,physically and otherwise. He cannot distinguish between lazy and smart. Buhariis a lazy, uneducated human being. So, whatever he says we don’t take himseriously. How can you call the intellectual congregation we have in Nigeria aslazy, they have proved it to him now. Youths, who can use their brains to dothings, you have not created an environment for them to tap into the economy toprove that they can do things. They are creating it for themselves. Thegovernment is marveled at what is happening hence they are trying to createevery avenue to discredit them and it’s wrong.

Did you ever have anencounter with the SARS operatives?

No, I’ve never had an encounter with SARS. But I have hadpeople who have had encounter with the SARS. My concern is that the SARS manarrests you, gives you a POS to transfer money. To whose account does thatmoney go to? If we want to solve this problem we can begin to question thatdestination of the funds. But nobody has talked about it Chika, nobody istalking about it. You don’t buy a pig in a poke; somebody’s account must bewarehousing that fund. Let’s find out who’s warehousing that account.

What’s yourperspective about the Nigeria Police as a whole?

I wish I could sing a song for you it goes like this

“Say what you like, it is my belief

That every policeman is a thief

Constable Joe we know,

You stole the cow from Jombo’s farm”

Every policeman in this country is a thief without exception,from top to bottom. So, until we change the nomenclature, change the system,you re-orientate them we’re still going to have the same problem. This song Isang for you was sung in the fifties. So, every policeman is a suspect. More soin Nigeria, a policeman visits you he says wetinyou keep, you go to them they say wetinyou bring. We must change the narrative; make them proud of their position. Howcan a policeman be earning N43,000 a month with children? Any policeman thatearns less than N200,000 to N300,000 a month is going to create problem. I’m notsaying it will end the harassment and bribery but some of them will withdrawfrom their usual antics of N50, Killing people for N50, yes.

Nigeria was describedas a fantastically corrupt country, so bribery is not peculiar to only the police.

Everybody is corrupt yea, your president had no money to buyform to contest election yet his son was riding a motorbike worth $150,000. Howmuch did the president earn and what job was his son doing. Recently, I saw on internet,the head of the DSS hiring a private Jet for his children, on what basis? Yeswe’re all corrupt. It’s a question of degree of corruption. For the DSS head tohire a private jet to take his children all over the country, on what basis Who is paying for it, my tax, your tax? Ithink it is madness.

What do you think canbe done?

EndSARS protest will lead to a Revolution. We can’t stop it,we cannot stop it, we have to have a revolution for this country to get itsbearing.

What form do youthink this Revolution will take?

First, we’ll go back to the system of federating governmentlike we had in the sixties. When I went to England in the sixties, we had counselorsfor every region representing us in England: The Midwest, the north, the westand the east. Every region was managing its affairs individually, creatingenabling environment for their economy to grow. We had a crown agent thatharnessed all the businesses of Nigerians with particular reference to eachregion. If you were working for Midwest for instance and you needed somethingto be done in Europe, you as a Midwesterner will go through your crown agent, similarlythe north, the west and the east. Yeah, we had this system but why are wecreating problems for ourselves now? Because some people feel that they have adivine right to rule this country, for what? What has happened since Buharicame to power? It’s retrogression. He decides to appoint Fulani in every positionand they are incompetent. The biggest disgrace is the one of Bello being sentto the International Court of Justice, it’s an embarrassment to Nigeria. A manwho lacks the knowledge and ability to do a job, because he’s from your tribeyou sent him out of this country? It’s an embarrassment. We should rise abovemediocrity and that’s Buhari for you, mediocre leader.

This Bello has beenthe Chief Judge of the FCT?

Yes, so who questioned him, by what yardstick has he been measured,delivering judgement? But he has gone to a place where knowledge is desirableand he was questioned and he flunked. I mean your president does not have acertificate, he has an affidavit. Who’s questioning that? This is what we wantstopped. We have lots of intelligent and educated human beings who could occupythose positions but because of tribalism, nepotism, they are not given theopportunity. We want to enthrone, not mediocrity but meritocracy. If we can dothat, Nigeria will move ahead. These #EndSARS protesters are being hailed byall and sundry outside the country. Most people in Africa say at last, thegiant has woken up and I’m proud to be alive to see it.

Do you think thatdisintegration, if it ever happens will be beneficial to Nigerians?

Who knows what tomorrow holds, but most European countrieshave disintegrated. Take Yugoslavia for instance, Russia, if that is the endsolution, we’ll take it. I’d rather take that gamble than stay in thiscontraption.

There is the issue ofthe Nigerian constitution. It was passed to Nigerians by the military.

“We the people.” That constitution should be thrown into thewaste basket. We have to sit down, look at ourselves and tell ourselves thetruth and devise a constitution that we the people would be party to. That 1999constitution is an aberration, it’s a fraud. They say “we the people”, you and Ihave no hand in it, neither did our parents or our children. It was acontraption made by the military. A fraudulent document. It is we the peopleand we did not have a hand in it.

What do you see for Nigeriain the nearest future?

I see a situation where Nigeria could solve its problems orwe go our separate ways. We’re getting there. Already, we have peopleclamouring for Oduduwa State, we have people clamouring for Biafra State. Eventhe middle-belter are clamouring for their own state. The Niger Delta people sayif we break up, they want their own Niger Delta state. We have a situationwhere we have Sahelean state belonging to the core north, according to them. I’mnot afraid of that. They either come to the dining table with clean hands or weturn it into rough, they have no choice.

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