2023: Presenting Northern candidate against South will be war -Frank Kokori warns APC, PDP | NN NEWS

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Chief Frank Kokori is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But just like other concerned Nigerians, he is worried about the festering security situation in the country especially the new wave of attacks on all means of transportation.

In this interview, he urged the Buhari administration to take a frank audit of its failings in the past six and half years with a view to addressing them frontally.

How would you react to the escalating security situation in Nigeria especially the recent attacks by bandits on Kaduna-bound trains?

All Nigerians are worried about the security situation in the country. And most of these security breaches are very embarrassing. For me, I think the security personnel are collaborating. Don’t you see the kind of weapon those ragtag bandits are carrying? Can they match the ammunition available to the Nigerian army? So, it seems to me very shameful. There is no way we can march on like this among comity of nations. We have the biggest army in Africa and there is threat of insecurity here and there. So much money has been invested in the security of this country. When you compare it with GDP of other countries, it is one of the highest. But the people in charge of it, security, are collaborating. That is why you see some retired generals are billionaire. How can a star general even have millions in his account and several property? Is that not corruption? All these things are obvious, although some of them are extreme nationalists and patriots. Anyway, they are like other human beings. I know the temptations I faced during pro-democracy struggle in this country. I am an elder statesmen, I don’t feel happy hearing some of these things. How can you imagine bandits carrying away over 200 school-children in one swoop and nobody will detect them for months. All this is a clear failure on the part of the government. In this digital age, a lot of things ought to be done.

In the face of all of this, the ruling APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been trading blames over an alleged plot to destabilize the country. How does it sound to you?

No responsible government will see people who want to destroy the country and fold its arms. Let nobody come and tell us this kind of rubbish. I am an APC man; they should leave the PDP out of this matter. The buck stops on the table of the Commander-in-Chief. Lai Muhammed should not come and tell us this kind of childish thing. If you know the people who want to destablise the country, you round them up. That is what we want to hear. Are we school children?

The three pronged agenda of this government is security, economy and anti-corruption. At this stock-taking period, how would you rate the performance of this administration based on these indices?

We were in the forefront of the people who were supporting Buhari at that time. Even we in the Niger Delta did so at the risk of our lives because Goodluck Jonathan was in power then. But I felt Jonathan was a lame president. So, we thought Buhari was what he used to be in the early 80s, we thought he would do wonders. But since he came to power, Nigerians have been short-changed. He may be a good man,  but he is tired. And he is one president you can’t even reach except the cabal around him. I am a member of the moribund Board of Trustees of the APC, I can’t reach him. He dictates the shot and everybody must follow. It is not that I am supporting the PDP; there is nothing in the PDP. In most countries, there is a two-party system. But APC can still spring surprises with a good presidential candidate and we know the people. The PDP too can spring up a good candidate that will work for the good of the country. That is why you can’t write them off. The APC could be revolutionized. So, we cannot write off APC because of Buhari. The only thing is that Buhari is tired in terms of age, mental capacity and health. I am saying this because I am of the same age with him and I know what people like us pass through. Kokori of today is not the same Kokori of 70s and 80s. Even then, you can govern well with trust. The truth is that the bad ones among the Fulani are not being punished for the bad things they are doing. How can someone invade people’s farm, destroy their farms, rape their women and go scot-free? Yet, you call the police and the police look the other way because they have order from the above. Rubbish! You don’t run a country like that.

What then do you see ahead as the country approaches the next general elections amidst this atmosphere of insecurity?

We will conduct elections smoothly if the INEC is serious with its preparations with the use of card readers. We will have good leaders as long as the parties present good candidates. APC can present a good man and change everything. The PDP can present a good man and change everything. Buhari had an image of a patriotic leader when he was younger, but now he is tired.

APC’s convention has come and gone. There is now a new National Working Committee to take charge of the affairs of the party. But there is still the hurdle of presidential primary. Do you see the possibility of the kind of consensus arrangement that happened during the convention?

If they can agree on consensus of a good person, good luck. For me, there should be real voting for presidential candidate. If you lose, it is your own headache. Buhari himself was elected as candidate by voting in 2014 at Teslim Balogun Stadium. He was in contention with Atiku and Kwankwaso. That time, I was a member of the BOT of APC and we did our best. We though Nigeria will change for the better, we never knew that the cabal would come and surround Buhari and be dictating the shots.

Could you now say that APC is good to go especially with the new NWC?

APC has better candidates than the PDP, but the two parties have similar ideological leanings which is why it is easy for people to move from one party to the other.  PDP too has good people. With a good leader from both parties, a lot of things will change. You can see what Tinubu and Fashola did in Lagos.

Is that suggesting that you have preference for Tinubu as an APC candidate?

Tinubu is my friend, he is capable. The only thing is that it’s long I saw him and I wouldn’t know if his health can carry the burden of leadership. If he feels his health is good enough for it, then he is good to go.

The PDP appears to be at a loss on the issue of power shift to the South. How do you see the ongoing power play in the party especially with the gladiators in the North already in the race?

It is all greed. How can you have Buhari as Hausa/Fulani for eight years and then give power to the North again? Is there any sense in that? Nigeria is on a tripod and even with the minority as the fourth leg. The argument the PDP is putting up is a very stupid one. They are saying that Southerners have ruled more in PDP than the Northerners. What of 30-something years when the military was there? Babangida was there for eight years, have they forgotten that? Buhari was there as military head of state for two years, they have also forgotten that. Murtala Muhammed was there for six months, they have forgotten all that because Obasanjo ruled for eight years. My stand is that Nigeria is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural and we should all respect that. Atiku has been contesting elections for decades. He is a good man, but he should allow other people to contest. They should leave it for the South. Both APC and PDP should pick their candidates from the South. We can’t allow Hausa/Fulani to be there forever. What about the other people? What about the people of the Niger Delta who are suffering environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration? Nigeria has not developed to a level where we neglect ethic consideration. Nigeria is not a homogeneous nation. We should not pretend to be. There must be some considerations and sacrifices to make the country move forward.

It’s like the party is afraid of the likes of Atiku who will not just let go?

Let them go ahead to destroy their party. There are many good people from the North in the PDP just as there are good people in the South. Presenting a Northern candidate against the South will be like a war. It shouldn’t be like that.

(The Sun)

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