• Predicts bloody election in 2019
• Gives reasons security system has collapsed in Nigeria
Brigadier-General Don Idada Ikponmwen (rtd) was the former Provost-Marshal of the Nigerian Army. While serving in the army in the various capacities, he brought to bear the great discipline he imbibed from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) where he was trained.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he spoke on a wide range of issues, blaming some of the Army Generals who brought corruption to the Nigeria Defence Academy for being responsible of extending it to the country.
Looking at the forthcoming 2019 general elections, he declared: “I can see very stormy political period in the future, I can see a very bloody election process, from the signal so far, there is a stormy weather ahead of 2019 elections.”
General Ikponmwen, who is now a practising lawyer, therefore, counselled Nigerians to stop following people who pretend they are the only messiah in the country, saying that such former leaders will offer them no hope.
Sir, killings in the country have been of concern to all Nigerians to the extent that there is fear that if the trend continues, we do not know where it will lead us to, so what do you see from what is happening?
The problem that we have been having in Nigeria which totally is touching on the insecurity of lives and property has definitely reached an alarming stage. It did not start today, the issue of Boko Haram dated back to about 2009.
We have heard and discussed about that threat very seriously at the National Confab. Beyond that, the problem of Boko Haram really came to the fore during President Jonathan’s administration.
Before then, there has been religious skirmishes here and there, even in the late Yar’Adua’s time which led to the theory of amnesty that was propounded at that time to address the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta. That one also took its toll on the lives and property of the people.
Then Boko Haram came and even assumed greater dimension. At the time when Boko Haram was getting the attention of all Nigerians and people beyond Nigeria, some people were speculating that it was part of the whole idea of making the country ungovernable, which was contained in the threat of Buhari before the Jonathan’s administration.
We are aware of the efforts that Jonathan made but Boko Haram did not go. It came to a point that Boko Haram was now in control of quite a number of local government areas in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.
So, the issue of Boko Haram and the killings it involved was made an issue in the campaign for the 2015 election and the present president gave this issue of Boko Haram killings in Nigeria as one of the major plan of his campaign, which also extended to economy, security and the anti-corruption war.
It appeared that at a time when the regime changed, the situation of Boko Haram problem actually reduced substantially to the extent that the government now said the problem has been practically eliminated, but everybody is witness to it today that the problem is still there.
They are still killings here and there, especially in the North Eastern part. To worsen it all, now came the problem of herdsmen and farmers clash. Initially, everybody thought it was all struggle about the land, farmers needed the land to farm, herdsmen needed the land to graze and that appeared to have been the picture for a while until it assumed a larger dimension and we now started hearing herdsmen business, it is not just a question of clash between farmers and cattle rearers, but a grand design towards a repeat of the Jihad of 1804.
It came to a point that everybody started blaming the president. Killings were going on at a high level in Borno, Benue, it spread to Taraba and even recently to Plateau. As if that was not enough recently, it spread to Sokoto, where so many lives were lost.
The president, in reaction to the accusation that he was not doing enough or anything to bring this killing to an end, especially viewed against the background of, in fact, that security was the main issue in his campaign. The president in his defence said that the killers are not Nigerian Fulanis, but people from outside the country who were trained by the late Ghadafi. Be that as it may, the killings continued.
So, obviously, we have a serious problem in the country, especially when you view it against the background that the security of the citizens of this country is the principal responsibility of the government. Society in the present age must be contrasted with earlier societies which people referred to as the state of nature where man was wolf to man.
Through 15,16, 17 centuries up till now, political and legal philosophers have all come to say we have a society, the idea of countries and states have gone because of the need for the citizens to give up some of their natural rights to government by whatever name so that the government will now take responsibility for everybody’s wellbeing and the major thing expected from the government was security. Political and legal philosophers have gone to the extent of saying that if a state is not able to give security to its citizens, it automatically lacks the right to govern.
And even the American declaration of independence and all the wars before it were all centred on the rights of its citizens. It is no longer arguable that the right to protection is the principal issue about governance and the people.
Do you think that there is enough intelligence gathering to stop the killings in the country?
Now, if all the past rulers have been making efforts and I must confess that they have been making efforts, the Army, Navy, and even the Police have been making efforts, but it appeared all the efforts are to no avail because the killings have continued and the state is unable to stop it.