The David Jemibewon Exclusive 2: “What I know about the recent coup scare in Nigeria” + My disappointment with Ango Abdullai & the education system

General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, mni)

In this
second edition of our exclusive encounter with General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, Mni), the General shared his fear for
a Nigerian political elite that lacks objectivity and candor when political
leadership is on the burner. The Iyah-Gbedde, Kogi State (North Central
Nigeria) born elder statesman regretted ever fighting for the unity of Nigeria
in the 30 months Nigerian civil war, claiming that, with the way things are
going in the polity, the efforts of heroes past (which he is equally among)
seems to be lost to the perils of now.
General Jemibewon 77, who retired into education business as founder of Jemibewon International Academy—Iyah-Gbedde,
is equally angry with the rate at which mushroom universities without quality
spring up in Nigeria despite the presence of a body like the National University Commission. On the
imminent coup scare revealed by Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai last week,
Jemibewon, an old horse in the trade of stratagem gave his verdict to
Asabeafrika. However, his response to the ramblings of Professor Ango Abdullai on the possibility of having Professor Yemi Osinbajo succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in the event of death in 2019 will
shock you.
Jemibewon is a former Governor of Western State of Nigeria under late General Murthala Mohammed’s regime between August 1975 and March 1976. He
later became the first Governor of Oyo State after Oyo; Ogun & Ondo were
carved out of the old Western States. He ruled Oyo under Obasanjo’s military regime between March 1976 and July 1978 before
he was promoted as Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army towards the end of
1978.  He came back to limelight in 1999
when he was appointed Minister of Police Affairs under President Olusegun
Obasanjo’s
civilian regime, a position he held with transformative strides
till year 2000.
Enjoy the excerpts in this second
part of our encounter with the General.

 The Chief of Army Staff General Tukur
Buratai recently raised the alarm that some politicians are approaching the
Army seeking for a change of government from the present democratic structure.
As a General and statesman, do you fear we might experience another coup in
this country?

The GDA & The General

(Laughs)
Anyway, I am not too sure that going back to the military (rule) is the
solution. And to be honest with you, I don’t know the solution. But I don’t
think the military is the solution. If anything, the military has contributed
to some of the problems we have. Even though I come through the military establishment;
sometimes I ask myself this question ‘the various military governments we had,
did they really come out for the good of the country or there were some
underlining personal ambition?’ This is the question I keep asking myself.

(Cuts in) I think you are asking
yourself a very critical question.

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’At times i feel ashamed of the legacy of the military in Nigeria’

Because if
the military did the right thing and for the good of the country, we ought not
to be where we are now; so to think of the military (coming back to rule), I
don’t think that is where hope lies. I don’t think so. I don’t see the military
taking over. Like I said, I don’t know the solution but I don’t think the
military is the solution. I don’t see it happening.  For Buratai
speaking out on this matter, I think that is a good one from him because we are
now in a democratic dispensation and the military should not be seen
interfering in politics. Politicking is not their job. I am in total support of
Buratai’s position.   
Last year while chatting with you at
your country home, you said you think Mr. President had a big dream for Nigeria
but his health might be a challenge as age is no more on his side. Sir, right
now the Northern Elder’s Forum led by Professor Ango Abdullahi has said that
should Mr. President’ health fail him in 2019, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
would not be allowed to contest. That even if Professor Osinbajo is allowed to
finish the President’s tenure if the worst happens, he must not be allowed to
contest in 2019. That the politics of power sharing must take precedence over
every other sentiment?

The GDA engages the General

To be
honest, the reference you made to Ango
Abdullahi
I haven’t read it. But if he did say so, I will be very surprised
and disappointed. If he did say so; because I think we have reached a stage in
this country that we should interpret the constitution and provisions of the
law as the drafters of such laws intended. So, I am not too sure if there is
any provision that says if a political appointee or elected officer comes from
one particular part of the country, in the event of him relinquishing that
position, we must go and bring somebody from that same Geo-political location
to continue his work.
But that is exactly what the Northern
Elites are saying through Professor Ango Abdullai, they want rotational
politics over the constitution. They fear that since it happened with Yar’adua
& Goodluck Jonathan, it could as well happen with Buhari & Osinbajo?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’This country cannot move forward if the political elites continue to think like Ango Abdullai’

Honestly,
this is one question that I find very difficult to say anything other than what
I have said. For example, one has to be very careful otherwise, it could almost
amount to wishing the President death and I will not expect anything, than to
wish a fellow human being death; and in particular, under the same circumstance
we are today. It is unfortunate that some people who have had great opportunity
in this country that this country has brought up sometimes do make statements
that are very diminishing. But like I said, I haven’t heard it until I heard it
from you this evening. So, I am still using the word ‘if’. If he indeed said
that, because I don’t see any reason why you should lie to me…
(Cuts in) At all, sir

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’I am really disappointed with Professor Ango Abdullai’s statement on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’

But if he
did say that, then, he is not helping the country and he is a very, very
matured person. An elderly person who has held very, very important positions;
he was Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello
University
. And if it is true he said that, I don’t think he is helping
this country.
When you see what is happening in the
country especially the corruption  among
political elites and you juxtapose that with the survival of your own children
and grand children, do you feel troubled as an elder statesman?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’This is not the Nigeria we hoped for’

That is why
I said from the onset that the way this country is going was not the great
dream we had or the hope we had for the country in our own time. Honestly,
things have really gone bad that I couldn’t agree more with something I read in
the newspaper last week and I didn’t bother to ask (questions) because it
coincides with my own feeling. General (Alani)
Akinrinade
was lamenting, having to have fought in the civil war. Because
when you look at the way the country is going today, you ask yourself, ‘what did we fight the civil war for?’
We fought it for the unity of this country. We fought for the progress of this
country. But today, can we say we are united?
No, sir

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’This country, Nigeria is not developing. I am sad’

Can we say
the country is developing?
No.
So, what did
we fight for? Those who have died, virtually, they died a wasted death and for
those of us who are living, just imagine. We are lucky not to have died. We
would have died. Yes, ‘our heroes past
have never died in vain’
but honestly, I am not too sure that merely
reciting that (in the national anthem) makes anything, possibly happening. I
think a lot of people have died in vain. I don’t know whether that answers your
question.
General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’I strongly believe a lot of our war heroes died in vain’
Yes, sir, to some large extent, it
does  
Take for
example, today; the roads are worse than they used to be. Education which you
have emphasized has been bastardized. So many universities but no quality and
yet we have organizations put in place to control education, what are we doing?
Yes, I was coming to ask you about
education, you invested in education with the establishment of the Jemibewon International Academy in
Iyah-Gbedde, whenever you travel and see some of these mushroom universities by
the road side, what comes to your mind?

The General & the GDA sharing sad expression for Nigeria

I don’t
know, I just hope that your journey from Lagos
to Ibadan is not in vain (Quite for a
while and breaks it with a sarcastic laugh). First, tell me one single thing
that you feel proud of in Nigeria.
In fact, I can’t mention one right
away because the whole scenario is muddled up

The General explaining a point to the GDA

Everything
has gone banana; the education you just mention is worse. They are still
approving universities. And there was a time I sat down; when we were cadets.
From the day you entered the military training school, the British instructors
who were then training us, will tell us the number of cadets that will pass for
that year for the course. They will tell you the number that will pass. For
example, we were 28 cadets including myself and they told us only 14 will pass.
Even Britain, they control the number
of lawyers they produce annually, the number of engineers they produce per year, in their universities. The reason is; a man who has been well educated,
his hopes have been raised for good life, for employment. When he comes out of
the university, in order words he has a vision. He has hope. He has objectives.
And if he cannot meet his hopes, he becomes dejected and he may be
anti-society.

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika….’If a system trains a graduate and cannot engage the graduate in one meaningful exercise, that system is a dead system’

This is why the advanced countries plan how many people go to their
professional bodies, how many people go to certain institutions, it is so
planned that when they come out there are avenues for employment. Of course if
you train a man up to that level and he comes out and his aspiration is not
achieved, his ambition is not achieved and he becomes somebody roaming around;
he starts asking himself questions and he might be a de-stabilizer of the
society because he is angry with the society. So, that is the situation in our
country—universities everywhere. Some of the students who passed out of these
universities, a lot of them can hardly write their names. And yet this country
must compete with other countries of the world. So I don’t think the
proliferation of universities is good for our country but I can also tell you
that it is the Nigerian malaise. If you go to a street and somebody starts
selling dodo. Within six months, go
there again, you may find half of the street is selling dodo. So, every tom, dick and harry want to own a university.

So, what could be the solution?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’I am sad the way and manner our education system has gone bad’

There are
bodies that recommend the approval of these universities, there is a national
body called the National University
Commission
. I don’t know how they make these recommendations. Honestly, I
am sorry; I am almost not being coherent because I cannot explain.
I can see your pains sir. I can see
you are disappointed with standards?

General Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’I cannot explain the role of NUC in regulating the Nigerian Education system’

I just
cannot understand because the National
University Commission
ought to have a plan to say ‘alright, from now to the next ten years we should not have more than
so-so numbers of universities approved’
. And because of the nature of
Nigeria-socially, religiously, tribal or ethnic wise, you can now structure
these universities in such a way that it will take care of everybody. You could
say ‘alright, east-west-north, this is
the number of the universities for now’.
‘Religious bodies, this is the
number of universities for you’. And you guide it and ensure you get a
consensus so that it is seen as a policy and everybody follow through. Today,
from where you come from, I don’t know where you come from and don’t bother to
tell me. If you establish a university there, somebody next to your door goes
to apply, he too wants a university. It doesn’t work like that and that is a
major problem.
The issue of the churches
establishing universities with exorbitant school fees that scare away the poor
man in the church is another issue. Do you think that is morally OK?

The GDA giving General DM Jemibewon a copy of General Sam Momah’s book; Nigeria:Beyond Divorce after the encounter

Number one,
if the church has a university, they have an objective. And the fact that you
are a member of that church cannot limit their condition because they ought to
have conditions. If you establish a school today, the school is not meant for
members of your family alone. What I am trying to say is that even if there is
Christian university, there is no reason a Muslim cannot go to a Christian
University. There is no reason a Christian cannot go to a Muslim University.
But we should have control mechanism to determine how many universities to be
allowed to birth and ensure standards.
(To be
continued)

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