Barrister Mark Nzamah Jacob, was Kaduna state Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General (2005-2007) before he became the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP (2007-2009). He played powerful roles in the 2011 general elections as one of the key players in the Neighbour-2-Neighbour campaign that retained then resident Goodluck Jonathan in Power.
He served as executive Director, Legal Services of the Ferderal Civil Avaition Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from where he resigned in 2014 to return to his village, Zonkwa, Zangon Kataf Local Council of Kaduna State to contest for Southern Kaduna Senatorial ticket of the party. He howver stepped down for his friend, Chief Danjuma La’ah who later won the senatorial seat.
In this audacious interview with Vanguard in Kaduna, Jacob, a restless advocate of the right of the Middle Belt, spoke among others on how the North would produce the PDP presidential ticket in 2019 and how Kaduna State is being run under Governor Nasir El Rufai.
How can you assess the PDP after it lost the Presidential election?
There is no hiding the fact that the PDP currently has a problem. The problem is how do we re-invigorate; how do we re-strategise? The PDP needs to rebrand. It needs to get into the management of more competent hands, not charlatans that have compromised and brought the party to its knees.
It needs fresh and competent hands. We cannot move on if we have stubborn people who insist on operating the party as personal estates, and have become so used to the old ways of doing things. We had a President; we had most of the governors, Ministers, Senators and all that. These people easily got money from them and that made them too complacent and lazy. They have to move away now.
The dynamics have changed. They are just no longer competent to handle the party under the new challenge. We are now an opposition party. We need new ideas; new people. Other than that, we are intact as the biggest party in Africa.
Why did the PDP lose so much in the last election?
Apart from clear lack of internal democracy in the party, incompetent leadership of the party and some gaffe we committed in our 16 years of running the country, we were also bombed with unprecedented propaganda and unbelievably well-crafted deceitful messages from the opposition.
Today, those lies are hitting back at the ruling party. They managed to convince a broad section of Nigerians that for 16 years the PDP did absolutely nothing, outside embezzlement. For God’s sake, that’s arrant nonsense! Look, I come from a village called Zonkwa, in Zangon Kataf. Before the PDP came, I can’t name one community that had a borehole not to talk of treated running water; many communities had no schools, clinics or even motorable roads.
There were many village folks who never believed that they could have electricity at home in their life time. You had to travel for hours to get where to make a phone call. The Post offices were dead. But, go to my village today and see the abundance of these things. There was only, I think two Banks in Kafanchan town that were serving six local councils, which in area is larger than Abia and Imo states combined. Today, there are banks everywhere with ATMS.
But, to me, the most profound contribution of the PDP to our people is the sense of liberation and justice it gave us, we the ethnic people south of Kaduna. Before the advent of the PDP, we were forced under the Emirate of Zazzau with Zaria about 300 kilometre away as the headquarters.
This was a sad, unfair colonial arrangement of the so-called indirect rule. It was such an insulting injustice and our parents would tell us of the indignity and exploitation that came with it. So we had Distract Heads from Zaria superintending over a people they could not and never conquered in ancient wars. We were ruled by people who shared no cultural and religious similarity with us. But, the PDP changed that. It created several autonomous chiefdoms for every ethnic group in Southern Kaduna.
The PDP ended over 100 years of oppression and exploitation. Our Chiefs are now the equivalent of our emirs. So, how could anyone say that the PDP did nothing? Well, the records are there, that Southern Kaduna did not buy into that propaganda. They voted for PDP in 2015.
And come to think of it, apart from General Muhammdu Buhari and maybe two others, who is in the APC today that was not a creation of the PDP? They made their political capital from the largesse of the PDP. They would have been nothing without the PDP. Check and see, from their governors to their Senators.
Who was Nasir El Rufai among the six million people in Kaduna state if he was not chanced to have been picked by the then Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and given a job at the BPE? We all know how he turned round and humiliated Atiku. Now, if ElRufai claims that he had contributed to the development of Nigeria as the BPE boss and the FCT Minister and that it was based on that that he should be voted governor in his campaign, would that not mean that it was the PDP government that carried out those services?
So, how could he turn round again, to say that we did nothing and people believed him? I don’t know the kind of voodoo they used on the people. So this helped the APC to get a swell of violent supporters and the rest is history.
We are waiting to see when they will start paying N5000 per month to the poorest 100 million Nigerians as they promised in their campaigns. My brothers in the villages are waiting. And it is already in arears of three months. We are waiting to see Electricity hit 10,000 MW in one year. We are waiting to see when every child in our primary school will be fed and clothed free. We are waiting see every village in Nigeria paved with tarred roads. We are waiting to see when Boko Haram will be completely eliminated before December.
We are waiting for a utopian Nigeria. Today when you say things are just not working, people would say, “please be patient”.
Did we vote for patience? APC is reneging on its promises and you are talking of patience! The very few that voted for the APC from my place said they did so based on a promise of great changes. Now, they are saying that instead of criticising the government, we should pray for it. That is rubbish! I will not pray. I cannot become a prayer warrior for lying politicians.
The PDP has zoned the 2019 Presidential ticket to the North, are you happy with this?
That is in sync with me. I have no problem with that, except that some of us would like to know which kind of North the PDP is talking about. Because, there is a section of the North that believes that its only part of the North is the North.
It arrogates the definition of the North to itself, even when it is a minority in the North. If the PDP is talking about a north that includes me from Southern Kaduna; that includes the Idoma man from Benue, the Nupe man from Niger, the Bachama man from Adamawa, then I am happy. So, let no one think that the zoning of the ticket to the North is for Hausa/Fulani. They have had their share of power.
The late President Yar’adua and now President Buhari are Hausa/Fulani. That is enough. It is the turn of the majority of the North who are the other ethnic nationalities scattered in 14 Northern states. Let the Hausa/Fulani never imagine rearing their heads near the ticket when the time comes.
Do you see the possibility of the PDP returning to power?
I am abundantly and absolutely sure that we will get back to power. The APC cannot sustain and manage what it got for free. You can see the confusion already. The sun is too scorching. People will have to move back to the big, new formidable umbrella.
His assessment of the APC government in Kaduna State
I have not seen anything outside the propaganda that is being mouthed. The government of El Rufai is delivering promissory notes only. The few things it has done shows the poor policy direction of the government. I can mention two of them. The first one is demolition of peoples’ homes and business premises. And I am surprised that the people of Zaria, who were visited with this cruelty, did not go to court.
Negative show of power
If the constitution says that government has a responsibility to provide food, clothes and housing as basic rights, why should government, which did not do so, go on to demolish homes of citizens? And the plots on which they built were provided by government. You are saying that the allocation was in trespass of government land. If it is not sheer wickedness why make demolition a priority over so many other promises you made?
How does destroying people through demolition improve the standard of living of voters in the state? It is unfortunate that a man like that would accept the nickname “rusau” (demolisher) and want to live by it. Even, the APC Senator representing Kaduna Central, Comrade Shehu Sani is with me on this. Many APC supporters also detest this appetite for negative show of power.
His take on Governor El-Rufai’s abrogation of indigenship status in Kaduna State, saying every resident is an indigene.
I want to say that I pity the governor on this pronouncement because it in obvious clash with the Constitution. Sections 25, 26 and 27 of the 1999 Amended Constitution of Nigeria has clearly stated the citizenship status of every bona fide Nigeria. It states that “. . . a Nigerian citizen must be an indigene of a Nigerian community”. That means that your father must be an indigene of a certain place. It is in the constitution. El Rufai is carrying out a dangerous experiment in Kaduna state in violation of the constitution. El Rufai is trying to instigate natives against non-indigenes for very strange reasons.
But he has appointed non-Kaduna state indigenes into prominent positions in government, among them a woman from Niger State as the acting LGA Chairman of Chikun.
You can interpret it the way you want. But, you witnessed the brave demonstration by the Gbagyi Progressive Union over that inciting appointment of Hajiya Ladi Yahuza. They challenged it and the protest was stopped using state violence. Six trucks of fully armed police men came and shot live bullets to stop the demonstration. The woman does not know anyone in Chikun.
She has never lived there. She is not from Kaduna state, except that she and her husband live in Kakuri, in Kaduna town. And the two are not natives of Kaduna State. The woman knows nothing about the problems and prospects of Chikun people. Yet, Chikun is blessed with thousands of educated, experienced and exposed politicians in APC. Let’s see if such “artificial” indigenes can win elections in Kaduna state.
On El Rufai’s perceived eradication of banditry and cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari and other northern areas of the state and whether it has been felt in Southern part of the state
I want to say that the approach of El-Rufai to security in Kaduna State, especially in Southern Kaduna is very irritating and laughable. Look at it this way: There is an established problem of cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari and some northern axis of the state, which is unacceptable. Then you have a case of ongoing, clear genocide in parts of Southern Kaduna.
In these parts of Southern Kaduna, gun wielding herdsmen butchered people, burnt communities and people have fled in terror. Their villages have been taken over by the herdsmen. Fear rules Sanga and Atakad. Marauders are lurking all over the place till date. In Birnin Gwari, cattles are being stolen. But the governor invested millions of Naira, sponsored the military in a formidable operation by a combined Task Force. And they wiped out the rustlers.
Everyone sleeps well and life has become normal there, which is okay. Yet, in the case of the genocide, the governor set up a committee led by General Martins Agwai (retd) and gave him terms of reference. Among the terms is, “finding ways to end communal clashes in Southern Kaduna”. The General actually embarrassed us when he accepted that job. It is very insulting to use respectable man to do a dirty and eyes diverting assignment like that. In Southern Kaduna, there have never been communal clashes. The governor knows this. The General knows this.
Villages will be sleeping and some armed people would invade the villages and kill, loot and burn villages and then retreat. They came back and graze in the occupied villages. There is no history of a certain native community in Southern Kaduna clashing with another native community in the past 150 years, outside the Zangon Kataf crisis of 1992. In the case of Southern Kaduna where herdsmen killed 200 people in a night, the next day 50, and 70 and communities razed and taken over, you set up a committee to go and speak English. Then in the case of where cows are stolen, you spent millions and commission the military to end the stealing.
Now, tell me, does this indicate any respect for human lives? I want the Human Right Commission to intervene and ask El Rufai why he places premium on cows over human lives. Or is it that Southern Kaduna did not vote for the APC so it can rot and die?
I don’t know how true that is, but I heard that he is going to put mirco chips on their cows to track them should they be stolen. Imagine that. He will spend millions to track cows, but cannot spend a penny to invite the military to chase out murderers in Southern Kaduna.
They are still there with their guns in the occupied villages. This is what the Hausa man would say “Allah ya isa” (God is enough).
It would look like the PDP is just waiting for the slightest opportunity to condemn and to. . .
Look, El-Rufai was the arrow head of the rubbishing of the name of the PDP. When the PDP led government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan allowed him to return from exile, he tested the waters and found out that the PDP was a civilized tolerant party. It was not a party of dictators. He took advantage of it. He settled to become the most bitter critic of harmless Goodluck. He carried his campaign of mudslinging both at home and overseas. He did that and rode on the back of that blackmail to power. We are not going to spare him a chance anytime he goes off the line. The truth is that he has not seen anything. We are to re-strategising and re-organizing our opposition. You shall soon see us.
Summarize how you think this government will look like at the end of four years.
That is not difficult because of the shocking ways the APC is going about governance in the state. For example, last month, the Governor was in Indonesia; the Deputy Governor was in New York with the President, the Speaker and his principle officers were in Saudi Arabia. All of them out at the same time for over a week. This is a state that El Rufai thinks he can govern through twitter. Kaduna is too serious and critical a state for its leaders to all jet out at once. This is not a sign of a responsible leadership. The summary of the end of this government will be a disastrous, because this is a government of, “we shall, we will, it will be. . .” It did not come with a workable blueprint. It came on deceit, power now seem a liability to it. (Vanguard)