Second Republic member of the House Representatives and Russian-trained medical doctor, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, in this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, says Nigeria may break up if President Muhammadu Buhari is re-elected in 2019. The fiery Northern leader also speaks on other national issues. Excerpts:
You are one of the few leaders from the North who do not believe in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Why is this so?
As far as that question is concerned, I have all evidence to tell you that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has been a monumental failure. It has failed in several areas. It has failed in bringing peace, stability and understanding among Nigerians today.
It is till today the most nepotistic government in the history of Nigeria. Most of the appointments made by Buhari were made from among his friends, family and close relations, while neglecting competent people all round the country. Is he saying among
the 180 million people in this country he didn’t see competent people anywhere, except in his family? Buhari has showed himself to be totally clueless in terms of governing a country with this complexity.
But you were one of the key people who fought tooth and nail to ensure he became the President.
(Cuts in) Many of us, who supported Buhari, did so because he had been very tenacious in becoming the President of this country. He contested three good times before he finally got there. And having achieved this, we expected him to have something to show for it.
But now that he has been there over 19 months, it is clear to everyone that Buhari does not have any clue about solving the problems of Nigeria and he has nothing to do in terms of moving the country forward. Nigeria is a very complex country and I believe anybody who is entrusted to lead, as Nigerians supported him, he must show to them that he is competent.
He has outlived his usefulness. He has exhausted his mandate, and I think he will do himself a lot of good by not contesting in 2019, because if he does, he will only disgrace himself. But some people believe that he is better than former President Goodluck Jonathan.
(Cuts in) Buhari succeeded someone with great qualification and achievement, and he is spoiling what this man had achieved before he left. For instance, look at the issue of BokoHarram, the Army Generals behind it are still in Buhari’s government, holding
several appointments. Buhari is fully aware of the guilt and he is comfortable with it, and this is because they are his own type of Generals; whatever they do, he doesn’t care. Also
on Niger Delta, Buhari has not showed any serious concern because he knows what is at stake. Some people are holding the country to ransom and he is being heartless about it by not solving the issue all this while. It is unfortunate.
Inspite of your criticisms of President Buhari’s style of governance, many Nigerians have scored him high on the fight against corruption. What is your view on this?
If I should tell you, Buhari’s fight against corruption is selective. This is because only a minimum number of inconsequential people have been probed so far. And this shows clearly the selective nature of the fight against corruption and it also shows that under
Buhari, there are many people who are above the law and I see all this as monumental tragedy, which is a disgrace to his administration and his relations he has brought into government.
There are speculations that there is no more love lost between President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress National Leader, Tinubu. What do you think is responsible for this development?
The root of the problem in the APC is majorly because of the incompetence of Buhari as a party and political leader. I don’t see Buhari leading a party like APC that is formed from people with different agenda. In a political setting like this, I believe someone like him is not just a leader of his party, but leader of all parties in the country.
He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which means that the entire security and governance of the country is in his hand. He is also the head of the diplomats in the country. You can go on and on to mention. Now in all these areas, I have yet to see any where he has proved to be a leader.
This is because he is a very narrow-minded person. I don’t believe he can mention ten Nigerians from the South that he knows. For instance, there was a time he asked me to arrange a tour for him abroad after we had lunch with him in Daura. And I said, General, you have been to USA and you also attended American War College, can you please give us some names you know there so that we can contact them for easy facilitation of what we want to do there? And to my disappointment, he said, “Dr., since I left USA, I have not placed one telephone call”, and that is over 50 years since he left the college.
Now, this kind of a person with narrow mind, is he competent to rule a complex country like Nigeria? I can go on like that and count his antecedents. But I hope that a man like this, when he leaves the government, things will return to normal in Nigeria. I just pray he doesn’t leave the country with more tragedy than we are seeing.
If there is going to be a free and fair election, Buhari will never win again. Let me tell you, in the last election, majority of the votes that helped him came from the North. Now, look
at the suffering in the North, the corruption in the North; with absolute hopelessness in the North, nobody will vote for him again.
And for this, I believe that majority of the people who participated in form I believe that majority of the people who participated in forming the APC and threw out PDP and Jonathan would have regretted it now. Buhari has been desperate to become the President and while he did in 1984, I was a member of the parliament and political party leader. Since Babangida overthrew him, he had spent his entire life running to become the President. Now, God helped him and he did. If you are in such shoes and you are truly serious about governing the nation, won’t you have had your plans on ground? But for him, nothing to offer.
Even in military, where we all expected him to be versatile, nothing. In my view, his government is a compound disgrace. If this is what he wanted to do, why did he waste
With all these you have mentioned, do you see APC coming back in 2019?
If Buhari will be presented again by the APC in 2019, the party will fail woefully, because already he has indicted them. So, tell me, with this performance, who will vote him. Look at the problems he has plunged the country into. Who will vote for more difficulty? If there is going to be a free and fair election, Buhari will never win again. Let me tell you, in the last election, majority of the votes that helped him came from the North. Now, look at the suffering in the North, the corruption in the North, with absolute hopelessness in the North, nobody will vote for him again.
Let me tell you, I come from Kano, and I represent them in so many political assignments. Kano is a political home for President Buhari and I believe sincerely if there is going to be an election tomorrow, Buhari will not win in Kano. Kano has consistently given Buhari the largest number of votes each time he has contested. But since he became President, Buhari has not stepped his foot in Kano. Three of the biggest markets in West Africa are in Kano and they got burnt, and Buhari didn’t deem it fit to say common ‘sorry’ to Kano people. But the vice president has been to Kano four times. And you think they will forgive him, No! And let me tell you, if Kano is not going his way, I can assure you the North will not support him. And if he makes mistakes of rigging election through any means, there will be a kind of a situation he never expected in his life. And I can tell you it may lead to the break-up of Nigeria.
But don’t you think all these complaints about the poor state of the country should not be blamed directly on the President since there is a global recession.
Cuts in) As far as I’m concerned, the recession is not an excuse. He is the President of this nation. He is expected to delivery, no matter what. He should stop blaming past leaders. We knew they were doing badly and that was why we threw them out and brought him in.
When you are in government, all assets and liabilities of the country are yours. That is why I believe there is no excuse for him because he was brought in to solve the problems. This is not the first time there will be Let me tell you, I am not a fan of former President Olusegun Obasanjo but I knew the debts and problems he inherited when he came to power.
What Obasanjo inherited as problems was more than what Buhari is shouting about today. But he didn’t raise the alarm over it; he fought tooth and nail to make sure that Nigeria was included among the countries that were doing good.
He also fought and ensured that we were relieved of our debt. And I knew how much political structure Obasanjo put on ground while in government. Till today, all his achievements earned him a lot of credit both in Nigeria and abroad. Tell me, what challenge is Buhari fighting that he is now pushing to borrow $30 billion, which he can’t explain.