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Mallam Adamu Ciroma, journalist, administrator, politician, former minister of different portfolios and erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is one of Nigeria’s leading statesmen. Ciroma, who was third in the 1978 presidential primaries of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN, subsequently turned out to become a close confidant of President Shehu Shagari and served as minister in the Second Republic. He was also a close confidant of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Fourth Republic and a rallying figure in the northern opposition to the 2011 presidential bid of President Goodluck Jonathan. Ciroma has largely kept out of the public eye despite the active participation of his wife, Hayiya Maryam Ciroma in the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In this interview with Vanguard, he speaks on issues in his party, the ongoing agitations among others. Excerpts:
How do you react to raging issues in the polity such as the agitation for Biafra, the faceoff with followers of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky to the call for separation by the Afenifere following the kidnap of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae?
So you are talking about Nigeria, you are talking about people, living people, you are talking about people who are Muslims; you are talking about people who are Christians, you are talking about people who are pagans; you are talking about people who speak different languages, about Kanuris, about Fulanis in the Northeast; so life is dealing with all these complicated things, of people who are actually living.
There is no single prescribed way of how they are going to live. We are just Nigerians, we are not even called Nigerians, we are just black people living in this part. The British came and put us together and said we are Nigerians and eventually we all agreed with the British that we are Nigerians. And when we are unhappy, we say we are Biafrans or when we are not happy we will say we are Yorubas, but we say we are Nigerians.
So we are learning to live with one another, we accorded each other, so the way things will unfold, you cannot predict and you have to learn how to live with other people. Sometimes I wonder you Nigerians, are you real people? Don’t you know that we are coming together only a hundred years ago and we are still learning how to live with one another.
By the time the Europeans came, even the Yoruba people, did not even learn how to live with each other, they were fighting and all over the north, they were fighting everywhere, there were tribal wars.
Now we are at peace because of economic development, social contacts and things like that are happening, they are changing our ways of thinking, they are changing our ways of life, education is changing us. And sometimes when you ask questions you seem to be unaware that Nigeria is a complicated place, but not only Nigeria, Britain is a complicated place.
Look at how a lot of people from all over the world now are going to Europe, they want to go and live and enjoy, the Europeans are resisting. So you Nigerians, you must learn how to live with one another in such a way that you will understand that you have life that is you relate with each other in a friendly way, in a stable way, in an understanding way.
Biafra, this Biafra, I tell my Igbo friends, Biafra, for what? This Nigeria is too small for you Igbos. All over Nigeria you will see Igbos everywhere. If you go to Ghana, Igbos everywhere. If you go to Niger, Igbos everywhere. If you go to South Africa, Igbo everywhere; this Nigeria is too small for you. But now you want something smaller, what does it mean?
It means that people sometimes do things without thinking very deeply. But education is to enable you to think and to solve problems.
What the Igbos are saying is that they want Biafra; I just remember only recently the Yoruba leaders said they want to break, break from where. The Yoruba are probably the people who economically enjoy Nigeria more than anybody, economically. So why are they going? So my own problem with Nigeria is that many people say things without thinking.