Elder statesman and Second Republic Presidential Adviser, Tanko Yakasai, has blamed military involvement in politics for Nigerian’s economic and political misfortunes.
He held that the dreams of Nigerian”s founding fathers could have been substantially realized if civilians were allowed to remain in the leadership of the country.
In his reflection on the nation at 61, Yakasai affirmed that Nigeria has not been able to exploit its full potentials while stressing that military intervention in politics had stalled the pace of rapid growth and development that heralded Independence.
“So far, we have not achieved what we had hoped to achieve. What brought about this? There is no doubt that it was the military’s intervention into the politics of Nigeria.
“If political parties had been allowed to flourish uninterrupted, perhaps we would have been closer to our dreams” he declared.
“I have said this before that what we are operating is a military constitution and not a civilian one. And that the set of real civilians that came to power since 1999 to date are few. A lot of them came to power through the instrumentality of the good offices of the military.
“From 1999 to date, we have had four Presidents – Obasanjo, Buhari, Jonathan and Yaradua, that is two from the North and two from the South. The question is why is it that these people were not able to make progress? The answer is that these political parties were not the creation of the people of Nigeria. They were the creation of military fiat.
“I was a member of one of the two political parties at the time of their creation and I know how the two political parties came to be through the intervention of the military.
“And you should note that the richest people in Nigeria are either the military or the people who are close to the military. So, until we create a situation whereby we have political parties who are the creation of the people, we may not be there.
“The trouble is that the military had tasted power and they do not want to leave the stage or to do without it. How we would solve this problem? Until when you and I devote ourselves to get rid of these problems.
He said the solution lies with the emergence of civilian-formed political parties.
“We should force them to have a program. If you create a political party that has no program, it is nothing. We should have two political parties like it had happened when we had APGA and NMA.
“That would force the political parties to compete on the basis of ideology and programs and development would come around. The party in opposition would strive to come up with a better program to win the hearts of the electorates and if he eventually wins the election, he would implement those programs that were derived from the needs of the people.
Speaking on the growing agitation for secession and break up of Nigeria by different groups in the country years after independence, Yakasai admitted that there were calls for separation but added that, “The people who are making this call for separation are the minority, not ethnic minority, but numerical minority when compared to those who are not opposed to the oneness of the country”.
He added that they are young people, “Younger people who got university education and hoped to get jobs, but the system has not provided jobs for them. The opportunities are not there, a reason they resort to this call for separation”.
Yakasai added that “The matured people like Edwin Clerk and Adebanjo and all those who are in the vanguard for the restructuring of Nigeria, I have been asking them to produce a road map of what they meant by restructuring, to provide us with a blueprint for a restructured Nigeria.
“You cannot just go about calling for a restructured Nigeria without telling the people exactly what you mean by restructuring and how the country should be recreated and this is the result of the restructuring.
“ I still have hope in Nigeria as a united country, I have hope in Nigeria because nobody has been able to produce an alternative to the Nigeria project? Has anybody produced an alternative that will make Nigeria richer and enjoy a better life than what we have today?
He urged Nigerians of all walks of life to promote values that would lead to unity and oneness while insisting that Nigeria must have political parties that are created by their members if we were to make things work.