Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, elderstatesman and Second Republic presidential liaison officer in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, shares his thoughts on alleged coup plot, fears over Nigeria’s breakup and the 2023 general election. Excerpts:
The Presidency last week said there are alleged plot by some Nigerians, working with foreign elements, to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. What was your reaction when you heard the statement?
I read the news where they said they are aware of a conspiracy to overthrow the president. This is a very serious issue. What I expect from the presidency is not a statement of this nature because there are so many statements like this in the past. I think it is time for the presidency to act.
If they continue making statements without acting, people will tend not to believe them in the future and it will be disastrous for the country if the citizens cannot trust their leadership. This time, I think the government should let actions speak louder than words. Let them arrest those who are scheming to overthrow the government and arraign them before the court of law.
That is more credible and helpful for the country than making these statements which may make people brand their statements as ridiculous in the future.
Some Nigerians are calling on the president to convene a national conference where all the myriads of problems confronting Nigeria will be addressed. Do you subscribe to that?
There are many national conferences that we have had even before the one of 2014. I wasn’t happy that former President Jonathan who initiated the 2014 national conference did not find it necessary to issue a White Paper and accept which part of the conference that the government accepted and which part they will reject.
If we had done that, we would have gone far by now. There is no need for another conference when the recommendations of the previous conferences are not implemented. You can’t keep on holding conferences and making recommendations which are not implemented. I will prefer the government to take the report of the previous conferences, pick each one they consider appropriate and implement them rather than holding another conference. It will be a waste of time and resources holding a new conference and we don’t have that time. If we are going to hold a national conference, the minimum time required is one year. One year from now will be May 2022 just a few months to the next general elections. There is no registration of voters yet and so many things are yet to be done. The less than two years that we have now should be dedicated to the next election not for national conference.
Meanwhile before the next election, the government should look into the report of previous conferences and pick the ones they consider implementable and implement them before the next election. The country will really praise them for that rather than holding another conference. Nobody is interested in holding another conference for now.