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‘I’m tired of celebrating independence’

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In this interview, Saxone Akhaine interrogates former Governor of old Kaduna State and leader of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Balarabe Musa, on Nigeria’s journey since independence in 1960, with the old politician giving a verdict of collective leadership failure. According to him, it is time to embark on revolutionary socio-economic and political transformation of the country like China if Nigeria must survive.

WHAT is your impression of Nigeria at 59, when you consider its rate of development and growth?
Actually, I’m tired of discussing the formality of Nigeria’s celebration of independence with no result to show. Some of us have said a lot about moving Nigeria forward, but it has fallen on deaf ears. These people in government don’t listen.

Knowing well that Nigeria’s situation is pathetic after 59 years of independence, what do you think should be the way out of these problems?
A peaceful revolution; there is need for socialist reconstruction of Nigeria, starting with the leading role of the state in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of the human person and progressive, even development in the country. To make this peaceful, we must have and insist on free, fair and transparent election leading to a legitimate government. We must make the voters decide the faith of any political party and any elections in the country. Do you think that it is lack of interest of the nation at heart for the purpose of self- ish interest that has retarded the progress and development of Nigeria since independence from the British colonial power?

You see, the reason is simply the socio-economic system that we adopted from the beginning that allowed all these. And the system controls the political system. More so, the political leadership produced by the system inevitably brings about the negative situation of the nation today. So, if we really want to change the situation, we have to change the socio-economic system controlling all development in Nigeria and the political leadership produced by the system. We have to change that, because if you don’t change it you will only keep repeating the same mistake all over until there is demise of the nation. As an elder statesman sir, you have served this country and within leadership position that led this country to this sorry state of affairs. Are you now saying that your leadership has failed Nigeria since independence?

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Yes, collectively, our collective leadership has failed in the journey so far. And this leadership cannot be changed without changing the system that produces it. It is the system that produced this leadership and we have to change it if we want to think of embarking on making progress for the country. We all have collective responsibility. Individuals like us can make our contribution and effort to ensure that we change the system; it is Nigerians that will judge us. Nigeria at 59, what are your regrets?
First of all, we have not achieved what we could have achieved. And there are examples that are so visible that proves our failure. There are countries that started like us, and within their 59 years of independence have produced a lot in their countries in terms of development. We have not produced even one tenth of what they have today. Let us take the example of China that has really advanced. China, by 1949, was a slave country. Human beings were just there living below the standard of life. There was no human dignity there. But, after revolution, china began to work consistently and by 1949 that country that was a slave colony was transformed. And today China has now become one of the leading countries in the world. In terms of human dignity, development and patriotism, China is the first in the world today and it has even surpassed her colonial master.
If Nigeria gets it right today, she still has hope of being part of the most developed nations in the world if we start thinking of transforming our socio-economic and political systems. Would you say the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari into governance has changed Nigeria’s fortunes for the better as he campaigned and keeps say- ing?
I don’t think so. It is the same system that he inherited that he is operating; therefore, he is bound to fail. He is just trying to maintain the status quo with some kind of dignity like the dignity of a monarch as compared with a gangster.

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