Tanko Yakassai has said President Mohammadu Buhari and the ruling All
Progressive Congress, APC, were never prepared to rule Nigeria.
Yakassai, a former Aide to former President Shehu Shagari said rather than
good governance and fulfillment of electoral promises by the APC, the
Government and the Party will continue with propaganda until the end of
Read on from his Interview:
Q:HOW would you assess the President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance so
far? My assessment is the same as that of Nigerians in general that
President Muhammadu Buhari is lucky to have realised his life ambition to
be become President of Nigeria.
A:He was the military head of state and due to some misunderstanding he
had with his colleagues, they removed him.
His attempt to become civilian President three times was not successful,
but before the last attempt, he declared that he would not run again.
But because some of his supporters, who want to use his popularity to
benefit themselves, they persuaded him to and he contested and won, even
though with a slimmest majority in the history of presidential election in
Now, it is the common experience from all Nigerians that the country is
more difficult today than what it was this time last year. No doubt about
In my opinion, Buhari has been nursing the ambition to come to power for a
very long time, but I can inform you, from what has happened so far, that
it seems both his party and himself have no plan to run the government
when they eventual get the power.
From my observation, the concentration was how to get the power at all
course, but they did not have plans of what to do with power.
In addition, he was so unlucky that he came to power when the price of the
crude oil was at a very low rate.
As you know, oil is our main source of revenue and the result is that we
are getting less money to run the government.
To that extend, we can say without any fear of contradiction that the
performance of the government is far below expectation of Nigerians.
There is lack of money in circulation, increase in the rate of
unemployment and industries are shutting down and our foreign reserve is
So far, I don’t think we are making progress. Nobody can point at any
project being commissioned by this government since it took over.
Appointment of key figures in government, which does not require
intervention of legislation, took the President three months to appoint
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), his Chief of Staff
and the rest.
All these people he appointed were his close friends. So, what stopped him
from making the appointment much earlier?
Q:The President recently amended this year’s Appropriation Bill he earlier
submitted to the National Assembly after so much controversy about it
being missing or altered through the backdoor. What is your take on this?
A: It was a common knowledge that the budget was ‘missing’ and they
finally got the adjusted version from the Presidency.
But the whole issue got to tell you that the government is not really
ready and prepared for governance. My concern is that two-third of the
money on the budget would be borrowed.
Coming to look at the budget of about N6 trillion, where two-third of it
would be borrowed, the reality of it all is that the budget is actually
about N4 trillion.
The National Assembly will surely consider it. But just like an analysis I
read recently, the economic sectors, like agriculture, water resources,
power, investment, etc. were given almost the same thing given to the
Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), who only render service
and not generating income.
If the economic sector that will generate income and employment would be
given equal allocation with the ONSA, I think something is wrong with that
Like the ministry of Information given N400 billion, the same allocation
with Transportation, then something is wrong.
I am the pioneer commissioner for Information in Kano and I know what I am
saying. If you look at what this government has been doing, it is pure
propaganda all the way, particularly on anti-corruption war, without
anything concrete that will help bring food on the table.
I don’t think there will be anything difference from last year. By my
calculation, the only time Nigeria can hope for better thing to come is by
2018, when the price of crude oil would hopefully have improved, and if
there is no improvement by that time, there may not be anything different
in the country.
Q: How would you rate Buhari’s anti-corruption war?
A:Let me tell you, the only person arrested by this government on
corruption is Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). Any other person arrested is
connected to his office.
Yes, some days ago, the minister of Information gave out figures of some
names of former ministers, permanent secretaries and so on that will be
arrested, but if you go through the list, these are people already accused
of corruption by previous governments of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo,
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, except former governor of Benue
State, Gabriel Suswam.
If you look at the whole news about anti-corruption crusade, this
government has arrested only one person, Suswam.
For me, I am satisfied by the anti-corruption programme of the government,
because if it were like this before now, the country would have made a lot
I must praise the present government for fighting corruption, but let me
remind them that those people they are going to arraign are people already
arrested by previous governments; nothing spectacular about it.
I would like to say that throughout my political history, I have been
committed to fighting corruption. Go and check my antecedence in politics.
So, I am in support of this government crusade against corruption and I
hope subsequent governments would do the same.
But let me made this clear: The whole thing we are hearing are propaganda,
while in actual fact, little has been achieved.
Q: Are you not disappointed and surprised by the manner the former NSA
shared the money meant for arms purchase, while insurgents continued to
kill several people in the Northeast?
A: I promised not to discuss anything about this. You see, in this
country, I am one of the few who have seen all sides of government.
I started as a member of opposition party for 15 years, then by sheer
providence, I was appointed as state commissioner during the Gen Yakubu
Later, I served in executive council of Kano State for eight years without
partisan politics. So, I have seen the inner working of the government.
Then during Alhaji Shehu Shagari administration, I served as special
Now, I wouldn’t say I am impressed about Dasuki’s case, but I still
believe fighting corruption alone would not bring food on the table of
Nigerians. The government can fight corruption side by side other things
and still provide economic opportunities for the people.
One of the cardinal promises of this government was to create job
opportunities, but till today, we have not seen anything. They promised to
give 20 million youths N5, 000 every month; I hope they will do that this
I would have preferred the Chinese approach. I will have preferred you
teach somebody how to fish, rather than to feed that person with fish.
Q: Nigeria has been fighting insurgency and some soldiers even fled the
theatre of war because there were not enough sophisticated weapons and
somebody was accused of sharing money meant for that purpose?
A: You ask this question before and I told you that my attitude is that I
would like to have two sides of a story to have informed judgment.
So far, we have been hearing the side of the government and we have not
heard from Dasuki and for one reason or the other, government seems to be
hasty to start his trial, not minding the opportunity he has to say his
side of the story.
For me to start discussing objectively and honestly, I will like to hear
Luckily, I read that the court has set another date for his trial. Then,
maybe we would hear the other side of the story, because all we are
hearing is that money given to him to buy ammunition was shared to some
people, companies and so on.
Also, we are hearing that the former military heads too are being invited
to explain why money approved to buy military hardware was used for
Whether they bought substandard weapons or they did not buy at all we
don’t know. So, this is why I say let us wait until Dasuki himself speaks
about how much was given to him and how much was diverted.
I believe nobody can make informed judgment on the whole issue for now,
because if somebody was given money to buy six new aircraft and he ended
up buying four or buying substandard ones or not buying at all, then all
of them are being charged at the same time.
In the military, each arm has its own Tenders Board and government did not
just allocation, but based on their request. And in the military, nobody
buys equipment for them.
Let us know how much was given to each of the military arms and how much
was left with Dasuki and until then, we would be able to make informed
Q: But many of those people mentioned have not denied collecting the money?
You know wait, you can’t just pick part of the money and begin to
generalise them. What about the rest of the money?
Let us know the total amount of the money and what they they allocated
I am not defending Dasuki, but all I am saying is, don’t let us be too
much in a hurry. In less than two months, we would know much about
Even in Islam, we must listen to the accused and the complainant, and I
will rather wait until that time before making my comment.
You were known to be opposed to Jonathan until close to election. At what
point did you change your mind?
I and some other people started fighting Jonathan about his ambition to
run for a second term in office, but later, others ran away and left me
I went to court to fight him up to the time the Judge retired from the
service after we completed all document and left with the judgment.
What we were asking for was that the doctrine of necessity that brought
Jonathan to power did not exist in our constitution.
Also, our argument was to maintain zoning of the Presidency in Nigeria. We
wanted rotation for the North to complete the two term of Yar’Adua the way
The idea was to give every section of the country a sense of
responsibility and everyone would understand that time would come when the
power would shift to them. We hoped that this would bring peace and unity
to the Nation.
But when the whole thing went beyond my capacity, I had to give up to
support Jonathan to allow his zone to complete the circle, so that another
zone will come back.
Q: Was that not because you benefited financially?
A: No, not at all! It was a matter of constituency and
institutionalisation of zoning in Nigeria.
Look, today the southeast has never got it at all. So, zoning and
rotational system is to give stability in the country.
If I wanted money, I would have joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
long time ago.
Q:But you have been sympathising with Jonathan before the election?
A: Will anybody fight you if you decided to sympathise with Buhari?
You are entitled and at liberty to sympathise with anybody you so wish. I
have never been a member of PDP and at no point did I join them for
But as a Nigerian, I am entitled to support anybody for my own reason and
I gave you my reason for supporting Jonathan.
I did not even support him as an individual; I decided to support Jonathan
because of his (South-South) region, which I want to then to be President
for eight years, so that we can settle with that zone, just like
Q: Were you aware the money collected by Chief Tony Anenih, out of which
you were given some, was meant for arms?
A: How could I have been aware? Even Anenih was not aware, because he used
the money he collected based on the instruction of the former President.
The total money he spent for the President, according to what he told the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was over N400 million.
That was before the election and when the time to collect the money came,
the President directed the NSA to pay him N250 million, which he did not
even know where the money came from.
He had no way of knowing where the money was coming from and he did not
know how much you expected me to know.
Q: Would you also join calls for Jonathan to answer questions about the
A: We are running a democratic government and so far, the EFCC chairman
had said there was no case against the former President.