Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai rose through the ranks at Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission to become a Deputy Director in charge of Finance and administration; a position he left in 2011 to join Borno State Government as Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Garbai is said to be one of the topmost contenders for the APC ticket for Borno central senatorial bye-election occasioned by the death of a Senator of the APC, Zannah Ahmed.
Garbai met with journalists shortly after his screening in Abuja on Thursday night by officials of the APC during which he unveiled a seven point agenda to contribute in the fight Boko Haram. Below are excerpts:
Tell us briefly about yourself
Well, thank you so much. My name is Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai. I was born on 3rd February, 1969 in Damasak, Mobbar local government area of Borno State but i hail from Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, from Shehuri north ward. I did my secondary education in Konduga, I was at Borno College of Education, Science and Technology in Bama and I hold a Degree and Masters Degree in Business administration, both with focus on Banking and Finance, from University of Maiduguri and Bayero University respectively. I am a banker and public accountant by profession.
We heard you are also a prince from the Shehu’s palace that your grandfather was a Shehu of Borno, you didn’t include that.
I think what is most important is that I am from Borno State and I am very proud of being a Borno son and I see every Borno son and daughter as part of me regardless of background. By nature, I de-emphasize the prince thing, all humans are of equal status by creation and before God, the one with stronger faith comes first and not the one with royal status and what have you.
We read from the media about a month ago that stakeholders of the APC in Borno State have endorsed you as candidate; does it mean you will be unopposed ahead of the APC primary election?
What we practice in Nigeria is liberal and constitutional democracy that provides level playing ground for all and sundry provided constitutional eligibility is met based on conditions set by the APC which do not run contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution. So, I don’t have the right to declare myself unopposed but as loyal party man, I subscribe the supremacy of the APC and would subscribe to decisions made by the party whether the decisions are against my political preferences or in support.
Is is true that the APC stakeholders have endorsed you?
What is true is that I was very active in the politics of the ANPP in 2011 and the APC as it affects Borno State. I supported any good course Governor Kashim Shettima stands for so long as it was beneficial to Borno. I was very vehement and visibly involved in all activities before and during the March 28 and April 11 General elections which the APC won in Borno with landslides. As you might have known we were under serious political pressure from the past PDP Government at the Federal level working with some black horses in a determined effort to make sure President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Kashim Shettima loose the 2015 elections, so the pressure mounted on us made those of us supporting the APC to become very united. I think the bond created between us which is still in force, made me to have a good network of true friends and associates within the APC with whom we share very strong passion for the recovery and development of Borno State. Most stakeholders and party members who genuinely supported the APC and Governor Kashim Shettima at the elections equally support my aspiration for the Senate, perhaps, they see me as one whose support for the APC and the Governor ahead is with extreme devotion and without the slightest element of fear, reluctance or double standard. They might be seeing me too, as someone that shares their passion for Borno. Therefore, if you call their brotherly and sisterly support for me as an endorsement, I will thank you for that pleasant conclusion and I will also hope that the endorsement as you call it, translates to overwhelming victory for the APC at the Senatorial bye-election and a resounding victory for the good people of Borno State when I am able to make meaningful contributions at the Senate with the guidance of Allah.
What is something new that you hope to bring in line with your party’s slogan of doing things differently by way of ‘change’?
I consider this the best question you have asked and I will tell you that from the day I made up my mind to contest the Borno central senatorial bye-election, I spent so much time and energy drawing up target for myself so I that I will have a mission in the Senate. I don’t want to go into the Senate for the sake of adding the prefix, ‘Senator’ before my name to be called Senator Baba Kaka, no. I want to add creative value with my primary focus being on the insurgency which is the number one problem facing Borno today. One of the most fundamental requirements of Borno and indeed. The northeast is a radical fight against poverty and mass employment. Only last Saturday, I accompanied Governor Kashim Shettima to General Shuwa hospital in Maiduguri, most of the patients we met had issues that Doctors associate with either lack of good nutrition or poor hygiene arising from lack of good shelter. We have a very serious crisis of unemployment which requires a national legislation that will ensure rapid response to the urgent need for capacity building and provisional of tools to our teeming populace to make them self employed and the need for conditional cash transfer to support thousands of our wealthy business men and traders who have been sent out of businesses by Boko Haram insurgents. This is why the establishment of the Northeast Development Commission is important because the region requires a marshal economic blueprint. Another major problem we must tackle is youth access to drugs. Fighting drug abuse is key in addressing any armed conflict.There are other issues like getting the Federal Government to takeover the Ramat Polytechnic, resumption of works on Federal roads, power projects that were held back and other issues but I have seven key agenda that are connected with the fight against insurgency.
Can you list the seven agenda?
One big mistake we will make is to abandon the fight against insurgency after the Boko Haram is defeated. This will be a big mistake. Since September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York which was 14 years ago, the United States Government has not relaxed the measures it took in fighting terrorism in their home front. This is because terrorists don’t give notice before striking, the Government has to continually work to prevent them from attacking. From the roles played by youth volunteers otherwise called the civilian JTF in Borno State, everyone monitoring developments must have been convinced that one of the most effective ways of stopping insurgents is by involving residents who offer to help. These residents know their territories, they know their kinsmen and neighbours, they know the history and they can best police their communities to support armed forces. So, I will like to work with Senators from the northeast in particular, others from all parts of the country and leadership of the Senate to legislate for the establishment of a National Agency for Training and Management of Counter Insurgency Resident Volunteers, so that we have an institution in place to be charged with enlisting, reorientation, training, kitting, deployments, welfare and general management of resident volunteers willing to help the Federal Government in securing lives and property of Nigerians. It will be a nationwide thing such that all volunteers in part of Nigeria can be enlisted based on extant security needs to be determined by the Federal Government. The agency can be fully funded by the Federal Government or through a shared funding arrangement between the Federal, States and local government areas. The second agenda is also on security. We all know that Nigeria is still not an. intelligence based country despite huge investments on security. In the modern world, the use of CCTV is not just used to track down crimes and those who perpetuate them but most importantly, people restrain themselves from carrying out criminal activities especially terrorism, robbery and other forms violence when they fear there are CCTV cameras in place to record them. We have all read many stories about installation of CCTV cameras by the police in FCT and stories about the CCTVS not working. Two weeks or so, President Buhari talked about his plan to install CCTVS in all cities. I think before that is done, it is very important that we have a structure in place to specifically be charged with managing, deployment and access to content and distribution of CCTV footages. My idea is for us to have in place a Closed-Circuit Management and Intelligence Bureau (C.I.B) under a Director General with intelligence background so as to make the issue a serious one that is detached from any existing security agency. The bureau should have State commands under Directors and should work with all security agencies for access to footages through laid down procedures. It is important to have legislation in place to confer powers on the bureau on deployments because some Nigerians can be funny enough to reject CCTVS in certain areas whether around their houses, businesses and what have you and also we need to spell out constitutional penalties for punishment of anyone that vandalize or steal any installed CCTVS and this must be treated as a matter of serious sabotage to national security. We also need a provision that will make it compulsory for every corporate organization with a certain share capital and personnel size as well as all Government institutions at the federal, State and local governments to install CCTVS with the CIB having powers to access the content on matters of security and based on provisions that protect the right and privacy of citizens without disregarding national security. My third agenda is to work with the leadership of the Nigerian Senate for it to reach out to countries with common threats of Boko Haram attacks so that we have what I call Nigeria/Cameroon/Chad and Niger Inter-Parliamentary Union under a Senate President of any of the four countries as chairman for rotational period of 2,3 or 4 years so that we don’t just leave efforts for regional security alliance to the executive. The parliament has a duty to also come together with a view to putting in place legislative frame work to support executives and also to oversight their efforts. One of the first things such an inter-parliamentary union should which is my fourth agenda is to make heads of Government of the four countries to consider putting in place what I call Nigeria/Cameroon/Chad and Niger Terrorism and Transborder Crimes Joint Intelligence Commission with headquarters in the capital any of the four countries such as Abuja, Chad, Niamey and Yaounde and each country should have a competent senior intelligence officer whether retired or in service, to serve as a commissioner for a period of four years in the commission and their role should be gathering and sharing intelligence together on issues of terrorism, arms and cash smuggle and continuous evaluation of activities in border communities to identify suspected criminal elements. Treaties establishing the commission should identify powers and limits of the commission so that sovereignty of member countries are not compromised by way of spying and things like that. My fifth agenda is the lobby the Senate leadership to put in place a Senate Committee on National Emergency Prevention and Response, Victims Welfare, post Emergency Reconstructions and Stability so that the parliament gets involved in over-sighting emergency issues, the welfare of those affected and what happens after. The Senate President was in Maiduguri, he was the first Senate President to ever visit the State for official reason and not for campaign and that visit was historic but the Senate must go beyond that to show legislative commitment. There are displaced persons, so many of them, there are refugees on account of Boko Haram, flooding, inter religious and tribal conflicts, cattle rustlers and farmers and what have, the Senate should have a committee directly charged with stepping in to know what to do and not adhoc committees all the time. We are aware of all the talks about reconstruction, the donations to the victims support fund, there should be a senate committee to ask questions that will ensure the right victims get the support through transparent utilization of resources, the Senate also needs to get involved in over-sighting reconstruction effort to compel those who should do what to do what they must do. My sixth agenda is to work with the Senate to identify constitutional roles for traditional rulers with serious focus on community policing to check insurgency. A lot of people don’t know why insurgents target the Shehu of Borno, killed the Emir of Gwoza, killed many district and village heads and those traditional rulers who man streets as Bulamas. The reason is because the traditional ruling system is one of the most effective and efficient structure in monitoring criminal elements and in gathering intelligence and passing to security agencies. Usually, in the traditional system, anyone who comes newly to live anywhere must be identified by the Bulama who manages the street. The source of livelihood of the person must be known, he or she must point to referees and if any suspicious movement is seen, the Bulama reports to the Lawan who controls a number of Bulamas under his unit, the Lawan reports to district head, the district head reports to Waziri and the Waziri reports to the Shehu or Emir who informs the Government or security agencies. One local government could have many Bulamas, Lawans and up to 4 or 5 district heads depending on the size of the local government and its ancestral customs, all of these traditional rulers are involved in community policing through a very good and effective channel of communication. In some cases district heads report directly to divisional police officers on matters of urgent security. That is why insurgents keep going after the lives of these traditional rulers with a view to stopping them in their patriotic efforts to enhance public security. Now, part of my aim is for the constitution to identify these traditional rulers, spell out their roles, make it lawful for them to apply and get security protection where necessary and spell out their structures, remuneration and palaces they require to operate. These traditional rulers also play key roles mediation to settle communal problems, they settle family quarrels as sort of alternative dispute resolution systems, they explain, interpret and mobilize citizens for civic duties and national actions whether on immunization, census, antenatal advocacy and so many things. The success Nigeria has recorded in the fight against polio is largely due to the backgrounds roles played by traditional rulers to disabuse the minds of their followers on certain misconception earlier held regarding polio vaccines and we need to back up all what they are doing with constitutional provisions. My seventh agenda is to work with my colleagues to compel the Federal executive to set aside a day for remembrance of Victims of Terrorism and other Violent Crimes and on such day, the President should annually address the nation on issues of public safety with the regards to violence of terrorism, armed robbery and armed conflicts whether religious, tribal or economic with the President announces strong messages of reassurance and policies aimed at supporting victims at all levels. Such a day should have activities that should include the President and Governors honoring the memory of dead victims, meeting surviving victims, offering special awards to exceptional Nigerians that gave so much in defense of other Nigerians and these awards can be post humors or those alive, the essence to constantly remind of us that the Boko Haram insurgency was the worst calamity that befell Nigeria and to always remind us of the need to strengthen measures aimed at ensuring such calamity is never witnessed. Nigeria is the country that is the fastest in forgetting challenges so long as it overcomes them and this is why a particular problem hits us on repeated times. We must make very conscious efforts to safeguard the future of the country and the young generation. The fight against insurgency must be a permanent feature in our national lives not a temporary thing. America was hit in 2001 which is the September 11th in New York but within the last two years which is over ten years later, America has been attacked in some states and in schools, what this means is that some insurgents have permanent motives to launch or coordinate terror attacks, we must the make comprehensive defense of the country, a permanent and creative effort as well. I will be in the Senate to support any good effort by my colleagues. Nigeria is for all of us irrespective of where we come from.