The former presidential liaison officer to the senate and delegate to the ongoing National Conference, Kashim Ibrahim Imam, has said the solution to the problems of the country does not lie with the convocation of the national conference but by enthroning quality leadership.
Imam who spoke in an interview with THISDAY yesterday said the conference had no legal backing and may not make significant impact in tackling the problems confronting the country.
“I had my reluctance about participating, specifically because, there is no enabling law that empowers the president, to convoke the conference in the first instance; I see it as a talk shop, my expectations are very low, and I donâ€™t see much coming out of it,â€ he said.
Imam said there were even much more fundamental issues confronting the nation, which had to do with bad governance and failure of leadership.
“God has given us the best of everything; our oil is the best, and itâ€™s only in Nigeria you find ebony growing in the wild. We have been richly endowed with every natural resource that you can think of.
“Our land is fertile, we have a population of about 180 million people, not only that, after He has given us everything good, God did not hit us with any natural disaster. Our problem, I believe and I am positive about it, is traced back to bad leadership, we do not have good leaders and that is what this country needs,â€ he said.
Imam bemoaned the security problem affecting most parts of the North-east, saying the people of the area have been cut off from every means of livelihood as a consequence of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“I think the situation Borno State is very tragic; what is happening in the North-east in general and then in the state in particular is dreadful. You are aware of the security challenges that weâ€™ve been having for a while now which have escalated. In the past three years and we have now reached what I consider to be the boiling point, which has crippled almost every imaginable activity that one can think of.
“Be it commerce, agriculture, even just day to day living has been crippled; if you say the situation is pathetic, Iâ€™ll say itâ€™s just gross understatement
â€œAt the last count, we have about three million people who are displaced, while more than 35,000 people have been killed. These lives lost have been from both sides, innocent civilians, even school children. Weâ€™ve read about the 59 students that where literary slaughtered in Buni Yadi, it also includes the heavy losses on the side of the insurgents.
The day they attacked Giwa barracks to free their members, more than one thousand lives were lost on their side, including the military as they tried â€œto contain the situation.â€
He said their strategy for containing the situation was very simpleâ€”going into the neighborhoods, and just pack literarily all the youths, and that would be the last that would be seen of them.
“We have today found ourselves in a situation that we lost an entire generation, the chaps that were killed were mostly very young boys, the most productive members of the society, usually between the ages of twenty to thirty, that has taken a heavy toll in terms of people that have lost their lives, apart from that, more than three thousand classrooms, in the affected states particularly in Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa have been raised down, three thousand buildings have been raised down, this include not just houses but churches and mosque, market, stalls, you name it. So the toll has been very heavy.
“What should take the centre stage is how do we fight corruption in Nigeria, how do we create enough jobs, and here we are 500 of us arguing on how to share the cake, I think the fundamental issue is everyone being selfish and not trying to solve the enormous challenges facing us. So my expectation towards the output of the conference is very low. I donâ€™t see any useful information coming out of it, â€œhe said.
The former presidential aide called for the establishment of N300 billion-reconstruction fund in aid of the zone. He said, â€œI am calling for the establishment of reconstruction fund of three hundred billion naira.
The federal government budgeted two billion this year to confront the challenges in the northeast. I feel that it is grossly inadequate considering the fact that the same government, not too long ago budgeted the sum of two hundred million Nollywood actors,â€