In this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, a former military governor of Oyo State, Major General David Jemibewon, says producing the next president of the country through zoning will not do the country any good. Jemibewon, who also once served as police affairs minister, speaks on the 2023 presidential ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Excerpts:
Insecurity has become the greatest problem Nigeria is currently facing. What is your view about this?
Honestly, I would rather say the situation in the country is unfortunate. When we have disturbing insecurity cases like we are having recently, both government and the common people will suffer for it. A lot of things will be affected. Business will not thrive as expected because investors will not feel safe to come into the country to invest. The situation is quite worrisome. I think government and security chiefs should swing into action and ensure the country is made safe, no matter what it will take them.
What is your opinion about the fight against insurgency by the current administration?
Honestly, this government has tried a lot in terms of fight against insecurity. Unlike when we used to have bombing at various parks in those days, which has been defeated totally. What we now have is strike from a few remaining Boko Haram fighters, which I will implore the military to finish totally. Though other security issues have been coming up recently, but I believe the government is up to the task.
Being a retired Major-General of the Nigerian Army, how will you compare the military now with what it used to be when you were in service?
I wouldn’t know because you need to have statistics if you want to be taken seriously. I don’t know much about military operations now, I mean how disastrous they have been against their troops. But I think the soldiers are doing well, I think so. So, it is difficult for me and I mean I have no corrections to the soldiers or army at this moment. So, I don’t know how really their operation has gone. But from what I read in the papers, it appears to me that things are improving but there are flashes here and there, otherwise I think they have really tried.
Nigerians at all levels have been calling on the President on the need to overhaul the security architecture of this country, especially regarding the worsening insecurity in Nigeria. What is your take on this?
The President was elected based on the trust and belief of the people in him. And being the president, he appointed his service chiefs based on their competence and the trust he has in them.
Of course, he has the power to change them if he feels they are not performing the task. But I don’t think the calls by the people on the pages of the newspapers will be the reason he would do that.
So, I think these people who are clamouring for the removal of the service chiefs ought to adopt a mechanism whereby they make their suggestions countable to the President.
Do you mean the calls should not influence him to change them?
I’m not him, he appointed them. He has the powers to appoint and reappoint as necessary.
This is what I am saying. Let us take, for example, you are a big man where you work and so if you have a driver whom you employ, you are the only one who can tell the driver that you don’t require his services anymore and you know your reasons for saying that. If people outside start convincing you to replace your driver and you respond, then those people will not take you as being serious because they can influence you to be changing almost every day. This is what I have implied.
Ahead of 2023, people have been clamouring that power should go back to the South. As an elder statesman, how would you advise the nation to deal with this?
I have never really shared the views of people who feel that it is the turn of Yoruba, it is the turn of Igbo, it is the turn of Ijaw, it is the turn of Ibibio. Honestly, I just have a feeling that it shows we have not developed enough, civilized enough, not been serious enough, otherwise, what is the point in establishing political parties? If you want Yoruba to be considered, why not say a Yoruba party or Igbo party, or Hausa party, you understand? Having come up with the idea of APC, PDP et al, why don’t you allow the establishment, these political parties, to be the party to go forward to nominate a potential leader for our people and conducting them and let your representatives be elected by the majority to the leadership position? For me, honestly, as long we continue to say it is Yoruba’s turn, it is Hausa’s turn, it is Efik’s turn, then we are not serious.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is one of the people that have been tipped to succeed President Buhari in 2023. Do you see him as having the clout to achieve this?
Who told you he doesn’t merit it? If a group of people come out today and say you should be president, then they must have seen some qualities in you. And I will expect also that whosoever is put forward, the party should ensure he doesn’t disappoint those who put him forward. This is because, those who put you forward might believe that all put together; this man is competent, he is educated, in terms of good character and he is knowledgeable, he strives to carry along those who put him forward, okay?