A Nigerian statesman and Igbo leader of thought, Mr. Delly Ajufo has raised questions of the involvement of the police high command in the nefarious activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with reference to the POS machines those SARS operatives carry about to extort Nigerians. Ajufo, 75, spoke with CHIKA OTUCHIKERE on the raging #EndSARS protests, saying it will lead to a revolution. Excerpts
How do you see the End SARS protests?
This is long overdue. We have allowed these people in government 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 concerned about the dimension the protest is taking?
Naturally, like every other Nigerian, I should be concerned because government has taken over the protest, employing hoodlums to create problems, to enable them do the nefarious activities they are usually used to. The protesters are peaceful, intelligent, educated human beings who have successfully outwitted government intellectually and the government is at its wits end, yes. From that angle I’m concerned because we don’t have a president; we don’t have a leader in the country. Everybody leads from wherever situation they are in; Buratai is a leader, all the service chiefs are leaders and they take decisions based on their whims.
What do you expect to be the likely outcome of this protest?
We’ll have to sit down sometimes and know our rights and authorities and limitations. The government is gone too far. The protesters haven’t mentioned it, but being an elder statesman, I’ll call myself an elder statesman at 75, I see a situation where the youths, not having mentioned it, are angry at the Fulanization of this country, where everything in this country is manned by one particular tribe, incidentally, who constitute less than five percent of the population of this country. So, it’s a call to inquisition, a call to right the wrongs of the past. And if Buhari is not careful, his action could lead to the disintegration of this country. He has, by his actions, awakened the consciousness of most Nigerians who, hitherto, would have accepted certain things.
Are you saying that the 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 you conjecture 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. Buhari is a lazy, uneducated human being. So, whatever he says we don’t take him seriously. How can you call the intellectual congregation we have in Nigeria as lazy, they have proved it to him now. Youths, who can use their brains to do things, you have not created an environment for them to tap into the economy to prove that they can do things. They are creating it for themselves. The government is marveled at what is happening hence they are trying to create every avenue to discredit them and it’s wrong.
Did you ever have an encounter with the SARS operatives?
No, I’ve never had an encounter with SARS. But I have had people who have had encounter with the SARS. My concern is that the SARS man arrests you, gives you a POS to transfer money. To whose account does that money go to? If we want to solve this problem we can begin to question that destination of the funds. But nobody has talked about it Chika, nobody is talking about it. You don’t buy a pig in a poke; somebody’s account must be warehousing that fund. Let’s find out who’s warehousing that account.
What’s your perspective 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 I sang for you was sung in the fifties. So, every policeman is a suspect. More so in Nigeria, a policeman visits you he says wetin you keep, you go to them they say wetin you bring. We must change the narrative; make them proud of their position. How can a policeman be earning N43,000 a month with children? Any policeman that earns less than N200,000 to N300,000 a month is going to create problem. I’m not saying it will end the harassment and bribery but some of them will withdraw from their usual antics of N50, Killing people for N50, yes.
Nigeria was described as a fantastically corrupt country, so bribery is not peculiar to only the police
Everybody is corrupt yea, your president had no money to buy form to contest election yet his son was riding a motorbike worth $150,000. How much 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? Yes we’re all corrupt. It’s a question of degree of corruption. For the DSS head to hire a private jet to take his children all over the country, on what basis Who is paying for it, my tax, your tax? I think it is madness.
What do you think can be 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 its bearing.
What form do you think this Revolution will take?
First, we’ll go back to the system of federating government like we had in the sixties. When I went to England in the sixties, we had counselors for every region representing us in England: The Midwest, the north, the west and the east. Every region was managing its affairs individually, creating enabling environment for their economy to grow. We had a crown agent that harnessed all the businesses of Nigerians with particular reference to each region. If you were working for Midwest for instance and you needed something to be done in Europe, you as a Midwesterner will go through your crown agent, similarly the north, the west and the east. Yeah, we had this system but why are we creating problems for ourselves now? Because some people feel that they have a divine right to rule this country, for what? What has happened since Buhari came to power? It’s retrogression. He decides to appoint Fulani in every position and they are incompetent. The biggest disgrace is the one of Bello being sent to the International Court of Justice, it’s an embarrassment to Nigeria. A man who lacks the knowledge and ability to do a job, because he’s from your tribe you sent him out of this country? It’s an embarrassment. We should rise above mediocrity and that’s Buhari for you, mediocre leader.
This Bello has been the 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 desirable and he was questioned and he flunked. I mean your president does not have a certificate, he has an affidavit. Who’s questioning that? This is what we want stopped. We have lots of intelligent and educated human beings who could occupy those positions but because of tribalism, nepotism, they are not given the opportunity. We want to enthrone, not mediocrity but meritocracy. If we can do that, Nigeria will move ahead. These #EndSARS protesters are being hailed by all and sundry outside the country. Most people in Africa say at last, the giant has woken up and I’m proud to be alive to see it.
Do you think that disintegration, if it ever happens will be beneficial to Nigerians?
Who knows what tomorrow holds, but most European countries have disintegrated. Take Yugoslavia for instance, Russia, if that is the end solution, we’ll take it. I’d rather take that gamble than stay in this contraption.
There is the issue of the Nigerian constitution. It was passed to Nigerians by the military.
“We the people.” That constitution should be thrown into the waste basket. We have to sit down, look at ourselves and tell ourselves the truth and devise a constitution that we the people would be party to. That 1999 constitution is an aberration, it’s a fraud. They say “we the people”, you and I have no hand in it, neither did our parents or our children. It was a contraption made by the military. A fraudulent document. It is we the people and we did not have a hand in it.
What do you see for Nigeria in the nearest future?
I see a situation where Nigeria could solve its problems or we go our separate ways. We’re getting there. Already, we have people clamouring for Oduduwa State, we have people clamouring for Biafra State. Even the middle-belter are clamouring for their own state. The Niger Delta people say if we break up, they want their own Niger Delta state. We have a situation where we have Sahelean state belonging to the core north, according to them. I’m not afraid of that. They either come to the dining table with clean hands or we turn it into rough, they have no choice.