Hon. Ismaila yusuf Atumeyi, the national chairman network for change and good governance (NCGG) in this interview with JONATHAN NDA ISAIAH, says the face-off between governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye is far from helping the development of Kogi State. He also spoke on some burning issue in the polity.
What’s your view on the current face off in Kogi State between Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye?
As a Comrade, politician and grass roots mobiliser from that state, I think the crisis between the two men is uncalled for. Governor Bello and Melaye should resolve their issue. They were friends before, the day the late James Ocholi was buried, I saw both of them in the National Hospital hugging themselves. I have also seen them laughing and enjoying their friendship. Both of them are now leaders of the party in Kogi State. I see no reason why both of them are falling apart in just some few years .It is uncalled for and it is not encouraging for us, the youths aspiring to contest the 2019 elections. That means what they are teaching us is that we should be violent. Both the Governor and Senator are youths, they should just face governance, they should let the young people to be proud of Kogi State. This is the first time a young person is taking over the leadership of Kogi State and the crisis between the senator, his people the Ebiras and the youths will not be proud of him, he should leave the senator. Melaye should do the same and focus on providing leadership. Kogi is known for all the bad reasons now because of the crisis between Governor Bello and Melaye. We are not known for developing the state, we are not hearing that Melaye has empowered everybody in his constituency or Bello has paid the 15 months salaries of civil servants or all the streetlights in Lokoja is working or industries are springing up everywhere, the only thing we are hearing is that both of them are fighting and both of them are young men. When former governors, Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada were there, we look at them as old men. We were praying for a young man to come and as God would do it, Yahaya Bello, a young man, took over and also Melaye a young man was elected into the Senate. So the crisis is dragging us back so it’s not good news for us the youths
What’s the way out of this crisis?
The way out is for both of them to come out and tell us the reasons for their crisis. Melaye cannot say he is fighting Bello because the governor is not doing well in the state. I can tell you on good authority that the senator brought the Secretary to the government in Kogi to the Governor. Is their crisis about politics or about the welfare of the citizens of the state? Is it because Bello is not paying salaries? Is that why they are having crisis in the state? Also the governor should tell us his problem with the senator. We can no longer continue like this. We want Kogi State to progress, we have abundance of mineral resources in the state. Both of them are young men, they should make us proud. I am a young man and I should be happy that a young man is ruling my state, let’s make the state proud and not cause anarchy. The elders should speak up before it becomes too late. If they continue like this, we will lead a peaceful protest for both of them to resign.
What’s your perception of the political situation of the country today?
President Muhammadu Buhari is one man I pray for and stand by. 2019 is close by we are praying for Atiku Abubakar to come. Personally, I am going to work for former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, he is my choice and the choice of the youths. Any party Atiku defects to, I will defect. The day Atiku leaves APC, I will leave, if he remains, I will remain. He is the only person that can change this country and bring peace and another person from the South-east. The South-east should produce the next vice president not the South-west or South-south. The president should come from the North-east which Atiku is from. As for someone from the South-east to be Vice President, I believe they have many men of integrity. We know they have been marginalised. We should remember there are three major languages and they should share and rotate power among themselves so that peace will return to Nigeria.
So you think giving the South-east the vice presidential slot will stop the agitation for biafra?
As for those agitating for biafra, especially Nnamdi Kanu, how long has he lived in Nigeria? He came from nowhere and he is now calling for biafra, can he withstand war? Can he defend his people and lead a war, does he know what it means to lead a war, he should just go and seek for medical attention. No reasonable person at this moment will be calling for secession. What does Kanu know about biafra. He needs to watch tapes of the biafran war and see how people died, war is uncalled for. Is Kanu a British citizen or a Nigerian? He should go back to where he belongs. We don’t want war all we want is peace and progress. Most of the big hotels in the North belong to the Igbos . Even properties and estates in Abuja belongs to the Igbos, same applies in Kano and Maiduguri. He should obey his bail conditions. Let all the leaders in the six geo- political zone address this issue. We all want one Nigeria and how to resolve the hunger in the land .
What’s your take on the calls for Arewa youths on Igbos to quit the North on October 1?
That is something we should not even debate on. As a politician and comrade I believe that it is just a political statement and that will not work. I will not support that at all. That means you are passing a message that we should start preparing for war. The person that made that statement can he withstand war. When war starts they will all run away. So it’s only the innocent people that will suffer. Igbos should remain where they are and know that Nigeria is one. The youths should wake up and take the destiny of the country into their own hands, we are tired of corruption. A time will come that I will go to Enugu to build my house because I am a Nigerian and I can live anywhere so Nigerians should remain peaceful.
Some have expressed the view that if you allow every region or state to control it’s resources, as part of the restructuring, all this agitation will stop, do you share that view?
I am in support that every state should control it’s resources and the only person that can make that happen is Atiku. I can assure you that he can make it happen. Restructuring will make all those governors who run to Abuja to sit at home and develop their states. Most governors are lazy and just wait to collect money from Abuja and all the money that is coming from the federal government is coming from the states. If every state control their resources most people will not contest for governors again because they will know that will have to really work.
We are just 19 months away from the general elections, what’s your advise?
I am calling on the youths in Nigeria to, ahead of 2019, to know that the only man that can stand for the youths and their ideology is Atiku. We will give him that chance. I will contest come 2019. My people have been calling me to run. For now I don’t know if I will go for State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate or governorship but all I know is that I will contest.