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Buhari’s Best Not Good Enough For Nigeria, Says Sheik Gumi |RN

By Akeem Nafiu and Lanre Odukoya

SheikhGumiandBuhari
  • Your views are personal –Keyamo

 

The Director, Strategic Communications of President Buhari’s Campaign Organisation for 2019 presidential election, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), has described comments credited to Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheik Abubakar Gumi, as nothing more than a personal opinion. Reacting to Gumi’s comment that the best of President Buhari has not been good enough for the country, Keyamo, in a telephone chat with Saturday Telegraph, disclosed that the cleric does not represent the views of the generality of ordinary Nigerians. Keyamo further said it would have been appropriate for Gumi to use available facts about the state of the economy and efforts of Buhari’s administration in tackling insurgency as the yardstick for analysing how the government has performed.

“I don’t think that view as respected as it is, represents the views of the generality of ordinary Nigerians. I would have expected the Sheik to present his views from a detailed analysis of the state of the economy and measures taken by the present administration to curb insurgency. “Nigerians have gone beyond the era of blanket criticism. We have gone beyond that stage.

After a criticism, Nigerians will want to know how best to tackle a situation being criticised better,” the lawyer said. Sheik Gumi, who made the assertion during an interview with Saturday Telegraph, noted that President Buhari administration is doing his best, but the best he can offer is not good enough for the country. “It is like a student I used to have. He studies, do his homework and reads but when the exams come, he fails. The problem is not that he is not trying but that was his capacity.

“The same thing is the problem of the present administration. Truly, they are doing their best, but their best is not good enough. What they need to do is to give chance to someone with the capacity to deliver,” Sheik Gumi had said. On the President Buhari’s assertion that much Nigerian youth are lazy, Keyamo, who agrees to be among the youth in Nigeria, asked: “What is wrong with what Mr President has said?” “Those who are saying they are not lazy are correct, they are not lazy. We are only saying some of them are lazy. Why is it that we try to be overly politically correct in all our statements? Why can’t we tell the truth? Do you want to say you don’t know that there are many youths who want to be earning stipend every month without working? We cannot be running away from the truth because we don’t want to offend anybody”.  (New Telegraph)

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“We Are Disappointed In Buhari” – Arewa Youths React To Buhari’s Lazy Nigerian Youths Comment |RN

“We Are Disappointed” – Arewa Youths React To Buhari’s Lazy Nigerian Youths Statement.

 

Arewa Youths React To Buhari's Lazy Nigerian Youths Statement

Northern youths under the auspices of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum on Friday went hard on President Muhammadu Buhari over his recent remarks in London that a lot of young persons in the country prefer to sit without working, stressing that the criticism is an insult on all Nigerian youths.The Arewa youths, who spoke through their national president, Yerima Shettima, in an exclusive chat with MC EBISCO said they have heard Buhari’s remarks at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London and are biding their time till 2019 to let the President know whether they are actually jobless and lazy.

Recall that presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina had accused mischievous persons of twisting the comment by his principal, who he quoted as saying, “a lot of them (young Nigerians) have not been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil producing country, therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare and education free”.

But reacting, Yerima stated that Adesina’s attempt at clarification does not make any difference, adding that since Buhari’s comment became public knowledge, he has been getting calls from youths across the north, expressing anger over the comment from the Nigerian leader.

He said it was bad enough that the president spoke in an international event where other nationalities were present, stressing that it was regrettable that the President would speak so of younger Nigerians who put their lives on the line to install the Buhari government.

“From the moment that statement was out, there have been a lot of complaints and grumbles from various people from my place, and they kept calling. The complaints were too much that I was compelled to issue a statement.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have said anything because I am not surprised to see that kind of statement because the government does not believe in the Nigerian youths from inception.

“If you look at the arrangement, the appointment, and how the government relates with the youths of this country, you will see that they do not have respect for the Nigerian youths despite the contributions of the youths. Don’t forget that the youths put their lives on the line to fight against the previous government but when it comes to sharing the goodies of government, the youths are nowhere to be found.

“We are completely disappointed in Buhari and we will never make this mistake again,” Yerima said.   (Akahi News)

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Buhari Has Failed Nigerians, Should Not Seek Re-election – Falae |The Republican News

Olu-Falae

National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae

Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Nigeria (SDP) Olu Falae has slammed the Buhari administration for failing Nigeria in the areas of security and the economy.

Falae, who bemoaned the continuous and wanton spate of killings around the country, said he had expected President Buhari to critically appraise the current situation in the country and declared he would not seek re-election in 2019.

He noted that, though the President is a good friend of his, he was duty-bound to point out any government that failed to protect the lives of its citizens, and that based on that President Buhari should be voted out of office.

False urged Nigerians to come together and do everything possible to ease out the APC-led government for the President’s sake and that of Nigeria.

The politician made the remarks in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital while fielding questions from newsmen, shortly after he emerged from a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Disclosing that he was in Abeokuta to see Obasanjo about the country’s state of affairs, Falae emphasised that Nigerians must unite in effecting the real change.

“I am here to visit Papa Olusegun Obasanjo, former head of military government and former president of Nigeria and who was my boss when I was the Permanent Secretary at the Presidency. I have to come to see him about the affairs of Nigeria.

“The affairs of Nigeria are greater than the political ambition of anybody. So I am here to exchange views with Baba Obasanjo on the affairs of Nigeria. Once upon a time between 1977 and 1979, I worked with him, he was the military Head of State and I was a permanent secretary working with him.  And we did many things in those days to advance the course of Nigeria and the way things are in Nigeria, I think should come back to see him, to exchange views with him to see whether we can make any contribution towards the elimination of the threat that we are now facing.

“You know and I know that the present government has not done well. The primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives of its citizens. This government is not doing so. People continued to be killed and slaughtered every night.
“Any government that cannot stop that has failed. President Buhari is my friend. Once upon a time, you will recall that I raised his hand at the Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan asking people to vote for him because he said he would restructure Nigeria.
“So it is not a personal matter. The truth of the matter is that he has not done well and I was hoping that he himself will look at the situation as a very honest and right thinking person and do himself and us a favour by saying that in the light of what has happened and giving the state of affairs, he is not going to contest. That’s what I thought he would do but he didn’t do so.
“What I am taking away from here is a confirmation of the fact that most Nigerians are united in wanting a change for the better. In doing whatever is possible to ease out President Buhari for his own sake and for the sake of Nigeria.”

On a possible collaboration between Obasanjo’s CNM and SDP, Falae said: “I am sure that most, if not all, right thinking Nigerians would see the need for all of us to work together to ensure that there is a good, beneficial, peaceful and progressive change in Nigeria.”

“We need a change from massive unemployment which we have now.  A change from continuous harassment from the killing of people by Fulani herdsmen. A change from the fear and threat of Boko Haram. A change from a situation where farmers are afraid to go to their farms.  A change from the riots that are all over the place because of frustration and loss of hope. A change from the present situation of depression and failure and revival of the economy of Nigeria,” he stated.  (The Sun)

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2019 Election: Disregard Obasanjo’s Warning At Your Own Risk – Yusuf Ali |RN

YUSUF-ALI-SAN1

 

Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin

Yusuf Ali is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), whose sojourn in legal practice spanned decades. He spoke to Journalists in Ilorin on the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s frequent criticism of the Federal Government and other sundry issues.

The Federal Government recently released the names of alleged looters of the public treasury, many of which are undergoing trial in the law court. What is your take on this?

Our country is an interesting country; we trivialise serious issues, and it is quite unfortunate that in spite of all the constitutional safeguards and the principles of rule of law, we are still behaving this way in the 21st century. 

 The law is settled and sacrosanct above board that once parties submit a case to a court of law, parties hold themselves; you don’t resort to self-help. What I have just seen from all these unfortunate scenarios is that we have allowed politics and grandstanding to override a very solemn issue. 

Those individuals who are undergoing trials, it is only the court that can pronounce them guilty; it is beyond any of the parties. And you see when I said this thing is being trivialised, the other side too came up with names of others, who belong to the ruling party, who are also in court, being tried for various offences. So, it shouldn’t be encouraged. The government should not do such a thing no matter what propelled you. You can only call anybody a criminal or a looter or an economic saboteur if he has undergone normal trial in a court of law; he has been so pronounced by a court of law. But you see that it is all politics now.

We are trivialising very serious matter. It is unfortunate. That is my view.

Going by the list of alleged looters from both parties, don’t you think Nigerian Judiciary is being put under pressure?

To a large extent, you are very correct. But I can assure you with the training of Judges, they are ordinarily inbuilt for all these rantings. A judge has been trained in a way to maintain his impartiality and his focus. But my worry is the average Nigerian. That is why some of us are opposed to the media trial because the average Nigerian only hears one side of an issue. They don’t have the patience or the gift to listen to the other side. If those who made allegations cannot sustain them in court, the general belief in the society will be that Judiciary is doing something to free somebody whereas, the person ab initio ought not to have been labelled or branded a criminal.

In view of this, what is the way forward?

The way forward is for all of us to demonstrate seriousness in all issues. Look at what is happening in the US about the alleged Russian Interference in the election that produced (Donald) Trump. In spite of the fact that Trump is the president for more than a year, they would use their system, because they have strong institutions. They appointed Independent Council, who has been doing its own work, indicating people, in fact, some people have been convicted.

If it were to be in this country, most of us would start to query that the man is now the president, what are they still looking for. But in their (US) own system, it is very important because of the integrity of the system. Our system here has no integrity. So, there is nothing to defend. It is everything goes. For me, I believe quite honestly that we should show seriousness and those who are in positions of authority have greater responsibilities to show seriousness.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria recently set up a committee to monitor corruption cases. What is your assessment of the committee in view of the list of alleged looters?

Luckily, the committee is made up of Judges and seasoned Lawyers. My own understanding of their work is to ensure that there is adherence to the rule of law in everything that happens to all these trials. And I’m sure at the end of the day, the positions some of us took earlier will be vindicated that most corruption cases are lost due to two major reasons: lack of proper investigation and weak prosecution.

You just talked about the strong system in the US. And here, the presidency and the National Assembly are at loggerheads over the retention of acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Where do you think we are missing the point?

 Everything boils down to our attitude. I have spoken about the continued stay in office of Magu. I have no problem with him as a person. But if we are talking of building an institution and I have made this analogy several times before. The constitution says these categories of officers must be screened by the Senate and confirmed. If you appoint somebody in an acting capacity, and his name has not gone to the Senate, there is no problem about that. That can be accommodated within the spirit of the constitution.

But immediately you submit the name of the person to the Senate, for whatever reason, either tenable or untenable, the Senate says no, I don’t believe it would be right to say the person must continue. And I give a simple example if the president submits the name of somebody for a ministerial appointment and the Senate rejects the name, can you appoint him as an acting minister? That is the simple logic.

 So, in order for us to defend the institution, if only for that, I think the matter should have been handled in a different way. For me, it is as if we are saying there is only one individual in Nigeria, who has the credentials to help us battle the hydra-headed monster of corruption. I don’t think so. I think there are a lot of good men in this country, many of them very silent individuals.

Recently, General Danjuma asked Nigerians to defend themselves against killer herdsmen terrorising parts of the country. What is your take on this?

 My first reaction is that we would be unserious as a people if we dismiss what he said. And it would be more worrisome if government dismisses it with a wave of the hand. You have to know Danjuma’s antecedents, right from the day when he was a Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army. Anybody who has followed the history of Nigeria; the first coup, the counter-coup, will know that Danjuma is a veteran, and then he rose to become the Chief of Army Staff in our country; he didn’t stop at that, he became the minister of Defence in 1999.

 So, it would be very unserious for anybody to dismiss him because what he said essentially is an indictment against the Nigerian Army, of which at a time he was their Chief and Minister of Defence, superintending all the arms of the Armed Forces. We cannot say he doesn’t know what he is talking about. And the level of information he has, ordinary people don’t have that kind of information. Then the propriety; the issue is that why could you have said such a thing and so on. There are for and against. For me, the truth is sacred. It doesn’t matter, who says what. The substance of what has been said should be the issue. He is saying Nigerian Army has become partisan in the way it is handling these issues. So, we should address the issues, and that is the problem of our country. Usually, we leave the substance and chase the shadow. I think we should not take his words as ‘Ranting of Mr Nobody’. Danjuma is something in this country; rightly or wrongly. We must take his words seriously. Let’s employ self-introspection. This attitude of dismissing everything is unhelpful. 

 Transparency International has said that we have gone lower in Corruption Index, we dismissed it. Amnesty International made an allegation against Armed Forces, we dismissed it. Anything that does not cheer with our perception, we feel there is no substance. I think that is not the correct way of moving forward in a country.

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has followed up his damning letter on the performance of the APC- led government with some commentary. What is your perspective on his latest action?

I’m not an Obasanjo’s fan but I think all patriots must commend him. He could have just sat in his comfort zone as a former president, enjoy all the things of being a former president and he would be in the good book of everybody. Don’t compare our own with America. People would say we have not seen former American Presidents making comments. That is not even true. (Barrack) Obama and (Bill) Clinton have been speaking about Trump.

When you have an abnormal situation, there must be some reactions. For me, I’m not saying Obasanjo is right or wrong, but for having the conviction. Because we need people who can call attention to things that are not going right. Wole Soyinka says ‘The Man died who keeps silent in the face of Tyranny’. So, for me, you may agree with him (Obasanjo), you may disagree with him. We need at least people who have been there before to call attention to it. I don’t care about his motive, and like I said before, the things he said, are they true at all or no true. And I can bet you, if it had not been Obasanjo who said those things, it would take one million of Yusuf Ali to say those things to be noticed at all. 

 We need such interventions, and of course, the other side would also say their own. The man said certain things that were of common knowledge to the people; there were others he said that were from his vantage position as a former president. It is like when people talk to me about the economy. They say Nigeria is out of recession. Nigeria is out of recession in the books of Central Bank (of Nigeria). But to an average Nigerian like me and you, the recession is still living with us. Every Nigerian who lives by his sweat knows there are hard times up till now economically and financially.

 You may disagree with Obasanjo’s style but all the things he said, are there truths in any of it? Is it not good for someone who is so highly placed to draw our attention to issues? We should also remember that he was one of the people who supported this administration to come into place against all odds. Like I said, if we dismiss what he said with a wave of the hand, Nigeria will be undoing itself.  (The Sun)

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Buhari Gives His Government Pass Mark, Says ‘We Have Not Done Too Badly’ |RN

Muhammadu-Buhari-NigeriaPresident

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Amidst growing allegation of non-performance, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said that considering the condition in which his administration met the country, allegedly without savings and the economy vandalised, “we have not done too badly.”

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President spoke while receiving some members of the Buhari Diaspora Support Organisation, led by Mr Charles Sylvester.

Buhari noted that Nigeria was gifted with tremendous human and natural resources, but regretted those past leaders failed to capitalise on the nation’s resources to improve a lot of Nigerians.

“Failure of some of the leadership we had in the past led to our not being able to capitalise on resources to improve a lot of the people,” the President said.

He added that “wicked people” plundered the country, “and kept Nigerians poor.”

Buhari said the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive, and that government was doing its best to recover some of the loot.

He, however, admitted that it was impossible to identify and recover all.

“If they had used 50 percent of the money we made when oil prices went as high as $143 per barrel, and stabilised at $100 with production at 2.1 million barrels per day for many years, Nigerians would have minded their business.

“You could almost grow food on our roads, as they were abandoned. The stealing was so much, and they were so inept that they could not even cover the stealing properly.

“I wonder how all those things could have happened to our country,” the President said.

He commended members of the Buhari Diaspora Support Organisation for deciding to identify with the country when they could have stayed abroad where they are comfortable.

“I am happy that people like you are here, on your own, defending the country. You have shown courage and sacrifice. I assure you that your confidence in us won’t be abused; we will do our best to justify it,” Buhari said.

Sylvester was quoted as saying that members of the group were happy with the achievements of the Buhari administration so far.

He said the same God who healed the President when he was sick would grant him victory in 2019.

He said, “You met a difficult situation, but you have overcome most of them. We are happy with the agriculture revolution, the ease of doing business, the anti-corruption war, the employment of youths through the N-Power programme, and the blockage of leakages in the public sector through the Treasury Single Account.

“We are proud of the speed with which you recovered the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls. It shows you as a worthy General.

“We are happy that you have declared for 2019. Majority of Nigerians are happy, but agents of corruption and darkness are unhappy.

“The same God who healed you when you were ill, will grant you victory in the 2019 elections. You are a General who does not fear combat, either with Generals or non-Generals.

“We declare our love and support for you. You are fixing the faulty foundations of our country and the second term is when you will build the enduring structure.”  (Punch)

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This Is Why The North Will Still Vote For Buhari In 2019 – Matthew Kukah |RN

Bishop-Matthew-Hassan-Kukah

Bishop Matthew Kukah

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, speaks to TOBI AWORINDE on the socio-economic situation in the North, President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance and the forthcoming 2019 elections

You were one of those who vehemently opposed Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency from the outset. How would you describe the quality of leadership in Nigeria in the immediate past era?

Vehemently opposed to Buhari? Where did you get this from? I think you were sold this dummy in the heydays of ecstasy, frenzy and euphoria of the Buhariphilia, who jumped out of every corner of Nigeria believing that their redemption was at hand. Sadly, today, a good chunk has since apostacised. I never doubted the sincerity of the President’s intention to fight corruption. However, no matter how much you hate leprosy, you cannot cure leprosy by just giving Panadol to the victim.

My fears were threefold and based on experience. First, no matter the goodness, holiness or devotion of any human being, wait until he or she has power entrusted to them and see what they become. So, even in the most optimistic of situations, set goals and expectations and let the person prove himself or herself. Secondly, what Buhari kept saying about corruption did not seem to be the result of some deep reflections. His claims and strategies had never been interrogated. And finally, I insisted that national cohesion was far more urgent a task than just saying ‘we are here to fight corruption’. That informed what you may have referred to as vehement opposition. I was simply warning against too much blind trust and now we are where we are today.

What worries you most about this administration?

I am worried over the lack of fresh ideas, focus, vision and a seeming insensitivity to public feelings; a kind of contempt for how people feel and the impact of policy choices, on the part of this government. This is a season of anomie and alienation. The (Buhari) government seems closed to ideas that challenge their assumptions and apparently does not care what Nigerians think and what they feel. Else, there is no way that you can have a government make the mistakes that this government has made; refuse to engage citizens and simply refuse to give a damn. It is disturbing and, clearly, the government is listening to other drummers. Technically, no one suggests that their views should be taken, but this government has given Nigerians a feeling that they were sold a dummy. This is sad; very sad indeed.

Buhari and the military under his government have continuously claimed that Boko Haram has been defeated. Do you believe them?

Well, this is part of the problem and I think we should let the evidence — not the sloganeering and propaganda — do the talking. The government has refused to listen to the views of Nigerians about the rather incestuous and non-plural ways it has dealt with security and the appointments of their heads. Perhaps the government has a reason for allowing members of only one faith to monopolise the security apparatus, perhaps because it thinks Boko Haram is a problem within Islam and only Muslims can address the issues. Either way, our country is haemorrhaging in a way that ending the Boko Haram conflict will only open a new chapter in a country of people suffering the collective trauma, fear, self-doubt and a feeling of being totally disconnected from the state that has no empathy. With the government seeing this purely as a military operation, we can spend all the money in the world, but we will be nowhere near having a united nation or people. This battle has become a military operation with all its consequences on the economy and the dynamics of the engagement.

What was your reaction upon hearing the news of the Dapchi girls’ abduction?

My reaction was that of shock, sorrow; a tragic sense of déjà vu, and some level of near despair.

Do you agree with Buhari that his response time to the Dapchi girls’ abduction was better than that of the previous administration to the abduction of Chibok girls?

This comparison does not arise. One tragedy is bad enough; a repeat is a disaster. It is like asking whether dying by injection is better than drowning.

Do you think Buhari owes Nigerians an apology, considering his commitment to rescuing the Chibok girls and defeating Boko Haram within the first few months of his presidency?

Why should he apologise? I believe this government has done its best and this is about all it can offer. So, they should be judged not on speculation but on the reality. The issue of an apology does not arise because what we are seeing is the best that is on the table and this is the best team for the job in their view.

Buhari’s health was a major talking point last year with the President spending several weeks on two medical trips. Do you think Buhari owes Nigeria an explanation about what he was treated for?

You mean he should apologise that he was sick? I think we should respect everyone’s privacy. You don’t lose that by being a public servant. I was not happy the way we handled the issue of the President’s health. Others behave differently and I think we should learn not to play politics with everything in Nigeria.

Does his physical fitness worry you, given the possibility of his running for a second term?

There is a Hausa proverb which says, ‘You cannot borrow someone else’s mouth to eat onions’. No one has the right to decide on anyone’s health and as to whether they are capable of a particular function. It is left for the insiders of a party to decide whom they will field as a candidate even if the person is on a stretcher. Today’s weightlifter could fall sick tomorrow. Let the party decide who their best candidate is.

Three of the major promises of this administration is to fight corruption, boost the economy and conquer Boko Haram. Would you say the government has made any significant stride in these areas?

I have said repeatedly that personal opinion does not matter in the long run. Look at the reports from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations Development Programme, Amnesty International or Transparency International. What does the evidence suggest? You cannot pick and choose what you want to believe. Or look at the entire Nigerian landscape littered with corpses, destroyed businesses and buildings, all the ravages of war. This is very painful.

What achievements do you think the Buhari government has made?

There is a Minister for Information; he has that duty, not me. They said they have technically defeated Boko Haram, reflated the economy, and brought back some Chibok girls and the Dapchi girls, bar Leah. We now have 7,000 megawatts of electricity and so on. They are also telling us about new multi-billion-naira projects which they are embarking on with no idea when they will be completed. The faces of Nigerians tell a different story and, sadly, we are not communicating with one another.

How do you feel about the recent revelation that senators receive N13.5 million monthly as running costs and that House of Representatives members receives N12m monthly?

Senator (Shehu) Sani has done his job. It is left for Nigerians to decide what to make of it. It is a pity that we are in such a state of stupor that nothing can rouse us from our apathy and this country will continue to sink. Will the President, Vice President, governors and ministers ever come clean or does it require reverting to the Freedom of Information Act? In the mafia, they call this destructive secrecy ‘omerta’, an oath of silence under pain of death. This is why Senator Sani deserves our respect for taking the decision he took. We hear that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is claiming ignorance as to these sums. But, as I have always said, governance in Nigeria is a criminal enterprise which functions above the law.

What are your thoughts on governors’ transition to senators when their eight-year tenure is completed?

Well, what else is there for some of these people to do? Can they go anywhere to deliver a lecture or write books on their experiences? This country stands or falls depending on what the governors do.

What is your grouse with Governor Nasir el-Rufai?

What do you mean by grouse?

You recently criticised el-Rufai on his handling of the Southern Kaduna massacre. Do you think there is room for reparations?

Did you read my sermon in its entirety and why do you single out Governor el-Rufai? It was a funeral and there was the need to set the records straight. I simply articulated an evidence-based side of a story that I had played a role in. If that is what you mean by criticism, then fine. We are all entitled to our opinions but we are not entitled to our facts because facts are sacred. I presented my side of the story based on my personal experience with the claims he made.

What can the governor do to make amends?

Amends with, or to, whom? That is within the realm of governance which requires consultation and consensus building.

You have been vocal about the role of the northern elite in the poverty and underdevelopment plaguing the North. Can you elaborate on this?

My field of doctoral research was on Religion and Power Politics in Northern Nigeria and the result was my book, ‘Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria’. It opened up new frontiers and it was a pioneering research on how religion has been used to mobilise and retain power by the northern Muslim elite. I had over 100 recorded interviews with a cross-section of northern politicians across the divide.

This has given me an appreciation of the issues. It does not make me an expert. However, it is because of this that those who do not want to follow the arguments keep falling back and accusing me of being anti-northern or anti-Muslim. This is the easy line for those who benefit from this manipulation but do not want to face the consequences.

There is a noble obligation that all elite owe to those they represent; those on whose shoulders they may have stood; those who voted for them or those who helped them get an education. In the rest of Nigeria, these elites have met these obligations by building schools, hospitals, clinics, and so on for their people. They have bridged the gap between government’s absence and the welfare of their people. This is the story of almost all of southern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt.

In the North, the evidence of this dereliction of duty litters the entire landscape, millions of out-of-school children, federal and state government projects such as irrigation and power-generating dams that now lie abandoned in remote communities, structures, such as the Almajiri schools, all in decay in many communities, and so on.

Look at the World Bank, UNDP and other reports on development in Nigeria and look at northern Nigeria. The sad thing is that for the elite, these lives of destitution, illiteracy and squalor are reservoirs of investment from where they draw their oxygen of political relevance. The grinding poverty leaves the people permanently below zero and all they do is continue to look at the stupendous wealth of the elite with awe. In exchange, they (the elite) pretend to offer them (the poor) dubious religiosity through the manipulation of pilgrimages and construction of mosques.

Could that be the reason for the emergence of Boko Haram?

In my view, it is the long historical experience of this distortion of the religion of Islam with its exclusionist tendencies that Boko Haram has exploited. Boko Haram exploited the fact that this elite proclaimed Sharia in 1999 and 2000, while in reality, they did not believe in the religion itself. So, Boko Haram simply has asked them to step aside.

Indeed, the Buhari project presents us with an interesting view. The average northerner has become far more impoverished under Buhari than he was under (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. But they will still vote for Buhari because they see him as the only one who can help bring their derelict elite to order. It is a strange appeal but that is it. They believe their corrupt elite are above the law. They were seduced with Sharia because they believed it was going to help them punish their own elite, who they see as being above the law of Nigeria. These are the issues.

Did the northern elite act against the interest of their people intentionally?

If they were mistaken, 50 years would have been enough to correct the mistake, but as I said, this culture of ignorance, poverty and squalor is an investment. Aminu Kano spent his life trying to open the eyes of his people, the Talakawa. The late Bala Usman, a phenomenal intellectual, made massive contributions in this regard by subjecting this charade to critical social analysis. The result was a ‘saner’ environment for the generation of fresh ideas among Christian and Muslim scholars. Ideology replaced the divisive tendencies of religion among the elite. Fighting the Kaduna mafia and other mafias was an ideological project. Today, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and some of the remnants of NEPU (Northern Elements Progressive Union) politics remain the last of the best wine.

What are the interests of the northern elite?

They want to permanently hold on to power. Inherently (there is) nothing wrong with that if it can be used for the good of the people, but after all these years of the monopoly of power under the military and civilians, we northerners are still the weakest, the most sickly, the poorest, the most illiterate, and the most vulnerable. We have the highest number of childhood stunting, which is a danger to the future. The elite has brought shame on us and made us too weak to fight.

Do you believe in restructuring?

Does it matter what I or anyone believes? Even if it determines the outcome of the elections, did the All Progressives Congress not promise us restructuring? Promises have never been a problem. The saddest part of it all is that even the politicians do not expect to be believed, but somehow, we stupidly do. The Kenyan scholar, Patrick Lumumba, once said the tragedy with Africa is that those with ideas are not in power, while those in power have no ideas. The sad thing, he said, is that when the people have a chance, they still vote for those with no ideas.

What do you think the North has to gain or lose in restructuring?

They may perhaps gain the chains of poverty and the fear of those who hold the chains over the majority of our people.

What do you make of the APC committee on restructuring led by el-Rufai?

I have not seen it.

Many have described the APC panel on restructuring as an afterthought by Buhari to score political points. Do you agree?

No idea. Nothing is ever late. It is when honesty appears that matters.

What are your thoughts on the Catholic Church in Nigeria rejoining the Christian Association of Nigeria?

How can we rejoin what we started?

Do you still maintain a relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan?

I don’t know what you mean by ‘a relationship’. The last time I saw him was when the Peace Committee had a consultative audience with him after the swearing-in of the new administration.

Do you have any expectations concerning the outcome of the 2019 elections?

Let us pray to be alive first. 2019 is a long way away. But I tell you that I have never felt this sense of foreboding. Things could change, but we have to plan how to cross this wide river that lies ahead of us.  (Punch)

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Why I Criticised My Husband’s Government, Aisha Buhari Explains |RN

Aisha-Buhari1
                                   Aisha Buhari
  • says her action based on justice, not confrontation

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha Buhari, has explained that her 2016 interview which was considered to be critical of her husband’s administration was based on her sense of justice.

She said the interview was not meant to be confrontational or a sign of disrespect.

Mrs Buhari made the clarification in a message she sent to the 2017 Vanguard Awards where she was honoured as Vanguard Personality of the Year 2017.

A copy of the message of the President’s wife who was represented at the event by one of her daughters, Halima, was made available to journalists on Sunday by her spokesman, Suleiman Haruna.

Mrs Buhari said she was brought up to stand by the truth and that was how she has been living her life.

She said Nigerians elected her husband based on the trust and confidence they have in him and she felt the administration must serve Nigeria to the best of its ability.

The President’s wife said, “I wish to thank the management of Vanguard Media Limited for this unexpected award, in recognition of my humanitarian efforts towards improving the health and welfare of Nigerians particularly women, children and less privileged.

“One of the reasons adduced for honouring me was the interview I granted which some people saw as criticism to a government that I am part of.

“I need to state that my position as a result of my sense of justice and not confrontation or disrespect. I was brought up to stand by the truth and this is how I have always been.

“As we are all aware, Nigerians elected this administration based on the trust and confidence they have on my husband; I, therefore, feel that we are here to serve Nigeria to the best of our ability.

“Let me use this opportunity to state that I support my husband in this call to service and will continue to do so.

“On this note, I hereby dedicate this award to the people of Nigeria, especially women. Thank you sincerely for this award.”

Mrs Buhari had in the 2016 interview with BBC warned her husband that she might not back him at the 2019 election unless he shakes up his government.

She has claimed that the President did not know most of the top officials he appointed.

She had said, “The President does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.

“Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.”

In the BBC interview, the Mrs Buhari refused to name those who had hijacked the government, saying, “You will know them if you watch television.”

On whether the President was in charge, she said, “That is left for the people to decide.”

Mrs Buhari had also said her husband had not told her whether he would contest the 2019 election as of the time of the interview.

She had said, “He is yet to tell me but I have decided, as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.”    (Punch)

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