Honorable Abdulrahman Terab is one of the most brilliant young members of the House of Representative you would ever meet. He spoke to NEWISSUES honestly on Boko Haram and his people of Bama, Ngala and Kalabalge. This is the most honest brave politician who isn’t afraid to confront the truth at a period where everything in Nigeria is being politicized by politicians and political party leaders.
NEWISSUES: Sir, from what I learnt, you are the son of Abba Gana Terab…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Yes
NEWISSUES: Famous politician, he was one time presidential candidate during the Abiola/Kingibe era, how has he influenced your career today?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: He was everything. He was the source and the root. That’s how I picked up, and it is ehh…, the fruit of his labour that we are still reaping now.
NEWISSUES: The issue of your people is what brought us here, the people in Bama, Ngala and Kalabalge. Recently there has been series of attacks on your people, what has government done for them in terms of reliefs. I mean the vulnerable women, children and others.
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: while, ehh… relief has come in so many ways but our primary concern is security. There is no amount of relief you can give someone who is in a state of insecurity that will make him feel better. It is when insecurity comes that you get to know that nothing in this world is as important as peace and then whatever it is that you have is meaningless, is useless. There is no amount of money you will have that you will go to the market, there is no amount of strength that you will have that you will go to the farm, and there are no schools, no hospitals…so you are virtually living on your own. That’s how people are feeling. It is not a matter of relief. Reliefs are going there in and out from concerned citizens, government and from all across. What we want is security to be maintained, sustained, and ensured, so that our people can go back to their lives as they used to.
NEWISSUES: The Nigerian government has been trying in their own ways to ensure there is security in the area. Do you think they are doing enough?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: While…I will not know equally from where they are coming from, but I must say that if someone is coming out for an operation, then you must have made preparations. Based on what we have seen on ground, we have always believed that much needs to be done, but if of course you believe everything is ok, by now everything should have been over. So, it is insurgency, it is insecurity, it is not the first time it is happening in the world. It is not a new phenomenon completely in the history of the world, and we have seen how it is being battled in other parts of the world. But we have always made a very significant point here that our people have made remarkable sacrifice for them to agree to live without this people. To take their own brothers and sisters out of them, and to create their own society free of insurgents. That is the first thing that any insurgent infested environment should do. They have done that, which means they have contributed more than fifty percent to the war against insurgency, and of course the military is there with the might of the Federal government, we just hope this will be sustained so that peace can be restored back to the whole of the region, I mean the North East.
NEWISSUES: There is the issue of the way the Federal Government is going about fighting insurgency in Borno State. A lot of people are not satisfied with the whole of it. People complain of too much force, civilian casualties, like the incident Gamboru Ngala where civilians were caught in the whole imbroglio sometimes ago. What are you people in power doing to ensure things like that never happen again?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: While, I don’t know if you have your records straight. From what is going on right now I doubt much if we have unnecessary civilian casualties. While…in any case we are fighting insurgency and in insurgency you don’t have uniforms. You have people attacking from all corners. Sometimes it is rather very unfortunate that we find ourselves in the crossfire. You understand what I am saying?
NEWISSUES: Yes, I understand
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: …but the fact of the matter is that in recent times because of the high corporation of the civilian population in helping to tackle this matter, and of course that is being reciprocated the military authorizes, there has been a very cordial relationship between the army and the people for quite some time now. All we are after and have always said is that the military needs to get all the resources it needs on ground so that they can battle this thing as it is expected, and I believe that with so much cries, complains, that has been coming on and off from all sides, I believe that they are now trying to put things in right steps for them to conquer it.
NEWISSUES: The issue of insurgency is a battle of ideology; the issue of using military power alone does not work anywhere, even in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen…sometimes we need government to…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: That’s what I am telling you. Our people have already ideologically sensitized themselves for them to agree not to live with them. In any case what we are now having in our place is more of…is already getting into a conventional warfare. The issue of insurgency is more and more getting reduced. What is insurgency? Insurgency means warfare from within the community. Believe it our own communities have gotten rid of its insurgents out of them. So it is now more of a conventional warfare. I said it in a lot of for a, I said it once in the United States department of states that if anybody should be commended the people of Borno specifically must be commended in the war against insurgency. In the history of the world there is no place that just within four years after a major strike of insurgency, after insurgency eating deep into the society, that within just four years they woke up and decided to get rid of it on their own. It has never happened neither in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, nor in any historical insurgent areas that are known in the current history of the world. So I believe the case of Borno is a special case study where the people have awoken, re-orientate themselves and resist it. So the issue of ideological warfare, I think it should be left to others, people of Borno have woken up on their own.
NEWISSUES: The insurgents…some of them are people of Borno, some of them are from within the area…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: To the best of our knowledge almost all of them are people from Borno.
NEWISSUES: All of them?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Almost all.
NEWISSUES: This is new because…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: No, it is not new, because you people don’t care to take it very well. Anyone that cares to listen knows that it is not new. We have told everybody that the whole of this insurgency case is a Nigerian case. For us for now, for anybody that is on ground, that is doing this, is a…they are all Nigerians. They are all brothers and sisters of everybody that knows them…, people woke up one morning and decided that my son is no longer going to live with me because he is in this group and he hands him over to the security. A mother wakes up and give up her own son…do you know what a son means to a mother? They sacrifice their children. Children have woken up to sacrifice their brothers. People have woken up to sacrifice their parents. This is to that extent that the people of Borno State have been a lot aware. So the ideological warfare you are talking about now doesn’t exist because the people have done the best they can do. What they need is to be reciprocated by the authorities since they have done the greatest work which is intelligence, the rest of the war is easy.
NEWISSUES: You are so far one of the most honest person I have talked to about Boko Haram, who admitted confidently that this is a Nigerian thing. For instance…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: You have been talking to the wrong people
NEWISSUES: For instance now people say it is the PDP…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: I keep telling people that even people in Bauchi, and people in Gombe and people in Taraba, who are all in the North East, as close as these people are they do not know…understand what we are going through. That’s to tell you how large Nigeria can be and how unappreciated we are of each other. So the fact of the matter is that it is our own, we are all part of it, we are surviving it, and we are helping in this situation, so we must be helped.
NEWISSUES: This is very honest. I am sure you are a member of the APC as Borno is an APC State. Some of your leaders are still saying it is PDP and PDP are saying it is APC that are behind Boko Haram?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: To be honest with you this is very recent. It is probably when 2015 is coming around the corner. This is something that started as far back as 2002. The war started at Kananba in Yobe State in 2002, when none of the leaders of present day were in leadership. So you have something for twelve years you must be able to crack it. In any case we have had it sustained because of the word you used, it was ideological. And ideological it won a lot of hearts, because I can tell you at a point in time it had over one hundred thousand members. It has eaten deep or rather crippled the society. And the society feels it is not a progressive thing and they rejected it. And they felt that those among us who believe in such ideology should please leave us because it is not a good omen to us. It has crippled us economically, it has crippled us educationally, and it has crippled us agriculturally. As I am talking to you, in 2012, just about 40 percent of people were able to farm successfully. In 2013 less than 20 percent of farms were successfully cultivated and harvested. And in 2014, if we continue like this I am telling you less than 5 percent will be cultivated and harvested. So you are bringing a very serious catastrophe into the polity, into the economy, where people can no longer eat and when food becomes an affordable luxury, then anarchy looms and when anarchy looms, anarchy in itself can be transferable. You understand what I am saying. It is an epidemic and when it gets to the level of epidemic, it will no longer be a problem of the North East but the problem of Nigeria.
NEWISSUES: It is already the problem of Nigeria. It got to Abuja before they were pushed back
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: It went back and people felt comfortable like it is no longer with them.
NEWISSUES: Nigeria has its numerous political problems that has taken us to the National Conference today, the issues of North and South, South and North…so some people sometimes feel it is a…
Hon Abdulrahman Terab: It is a Northern thing
NEWISSUES: Yes, it is a Northern thing, why should it be our business?
Hon abdulrahman Terab: You know, that’s why I keep telling people, you see, our generation has grown; some of us have never known this boundary between a Northern Nigerian and a Southern Nigerian. It is unfortunate that we have woken up today…somebody will wake up today and tell you, let me give you a simple example, some would say, “Northern leaders should go and solve their problems.”
Hon. Abdulrahma n Terab: …and I ask people, as I am talking to you now we are in the National Assembly of Nigeria, I do not see we have two chambers, one for Northern Nigerian members and the other for Southern Nigerian members. I did not see a constitution that one is written Northern Nigeria and the other written for Southern Nigeria. I am not ware at any time that this country has been divided into two and that we have two countries in one. Why should you tell me that it is my leaders that should look into my own problems? Who says they are Northern leaders? I believe they are national leaders.
NEWISSUES: These divisions, these problems are caused by politicians…
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Sorry to say, I believe they fuel it and even the press has contributed a lot. That’s the fact of the matter. People have woken up not to appreciate where they come from and they believe the domain they know is the only place that matters and the stories they were told is all that matters. But we have a duty to protect what is sacred and what is sacred in Nigeria is its unity. That should be protected in the line of our duties. When I see people discussing nowadays on the social media, radio, the print and all I see discussing as if we are in two nations. It is appalling. When people say, where are your former military and security chief? I ask them have you ever seen any of our security or military chiefs work in the North? That what people don’t understand. I was in Bama at least barely three weeks ago, and I had cause to go into the barracks, which of course they are my friends and I have made it my duty that if anything happens to them I will stand by them. You will see about 70 to 75 percent of the soldiers are Southerners. Majority of them are not from anywhere close to the North. You will see Emeka, you will see Oluwa, Wale, Benson, and you will see all sorts of names that are not from the North. And somebody does not know that he is creating havoc for this people. He will sit down somewhere and be writing.
NEWISSUES: The media?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: No, no, no, the media is just a channel. Somebody said it, whether it is politicians or anybody. They have refused to understand that our brothers and sisters are there trying to defend the nation, making sacrifices to defend others. It is these boys that would go home later as the leaders of tomorrow. And some are asking about Northern military leaders who have never served in the North but in the South to come and solve Northern problems. What an irony. We have lost it.
NEWISSUES: Yeah. We’ve lost it somewhere sometime. It is shrouded in history, the issue of Nigeria’s problems. We distrusted each other from the beginning. What are young people like you in the National Assembly doing to change people’s mindset about what is going on in this country?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: This is the only way we are doing it. I am here in the National Assembly and everybody knows that I am unbiased, objective, and we have always tried to discuss issues that deals with Nigeria and Nigeria as a country. I believe until we reach that point when we decide to break the country, we have a duty to protect what we have sworn to protect. Everybody has the duty to do that. And so for that reason we believe that the insurgency problem is not a Northern problem. This is not an issue that only Northerners can solve. You have just spoken about history; most of us even forget what history is all about. Not very long ago we had a problem in the Niger delta, tell me how many military commands posted there are from the Niger Delta? Till date the president himself celebrates Musa Yar’adua as a champion of the amnesty programme. Was he from the Niger Delta?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: There has to be a will, and they say when there is a will there is a way. And that is what I believe all Nigerians have to resort to.
NEWISSUES: The issue of dialogue with the remaining Nigerians who are Boko Haram, do you still agree with dialogue?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: There was a time the issue of dialogue was brought up in Maiduguri and I remember thousands of youths trooped into the Maiduguri Sport Center and they protested. They said it is not time for time to agree with dialogue at this point in time because most of them had already stuck out their neck. You people asked them to corporate with you, they have done that and they have reiterated that these people are no longer with us, they should be found and taken care of and tomorrow you are talking about dialogue, so that these same people will come back and live among them. They will still butcher them.
NEWISSUES: I mean if they repent.
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Nobody is against that. I am only trying to tell you the scenario; you understand what I am saying? Of course the most important thing you do at all time is to extend the olive branch, If the person accepts why the need for continuous violence? There is a saying that violence only breeds violence. But if one has to repent one has agree in total to the norms of the society and to live in peace no matter what.
NEWISSUES: Before we leave sir, let’s go briefly to the National Conference. A lot of Nigerians are not aware of what is going on right now, people who are aware are divided. Half are not happy with it, the other half think it is ok. One of the issues is that a lot of people are not happy with some of the delegates representing them. What your view of the National Conference?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: While…every set up of conference is an avenue for people to discuss. At this point in time as they are appointed by the president…
NEWISSUES: Appointed by the president?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Of course, of course appointed by the president.
NEWISSUES: Without the consent of the governors?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: It is all a matter of the same thing. As far as I am concern, it is the president’s initiative. It was at first applauded, and everybody was waiting to see the procedure for selection, for appointment, and at the end of the day we saw people appointed. Where you a party to any of the criteria that took place in deciding who becomes a member?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: Do you know how they became members?
Hon. Abdulrahman Terab: You are told that these people represent so and so places, and so all of us believed it. While from the other point of view I am a member of the National Assembly. Elected by my people to represent them, and very well recognized by law. At this point in time I am only waiting and to see whatever the outcome is going to be. And as far as I am concern people are here discussing issues also, dialoguing, you understand what I am saying? And I believe whatever it is that they have as an advisory will be handed over because of due process. The reason why people are not aware is because people have not played a role in the whole process.