Junaid Mohammed: APC Govt Has Ruined Our Economy, Messed Up National Security

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• Nigerians suffering from party’s lousy leadership
• Buhari, a Glorified President

A Second Republic lawmaker and avowed critic of the current APC-led government, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, in this interview with Bayo Akinloye talks about the ineptitude, insecurity, and hypocrisy that he thinks have characterised the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. He suggested that the Nigerian security agencies were in cahoots with the abductors of the Dapchi schoolgirls. Mohammed further   talks about the dilemma the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, has found himself, describing him as a sitting duck

You’ve been a consistent and vocal critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Why have you always attacked the president and his administration? Are you doing this because you’ve not been invited to ‘come and chop’?
Far  from it! If you don’t know, you need to go and learn about my history. One, I was a persistent critic of the (Shehu) Shagari administration; I was a member of parliament. My ultimate aim was to protect democracy and give it a fillip for survival. Number two, I’ve been critical of other presidents after Shagari. I was very critical of (Ibrahim) Babangida. I was very critical of (Olusegun) Obasanjo. I was very critical of Umar Yar’Adua. And, of course, I was very critical of the way (Goodluck) Jonathan managed his administration especially the crisis concerning the Chibok girls and the way he managed our national economy which prepared the ground for Nigeria to plunge into a very serious recession immediately after he left office. All the wherewithal, all the necessary ingredients for the recession were put together by Jonathan; and (President Muhammadu) Buhari really succeeded in further impoverishing the nation and that’s why we find ourselves in a messy situation under Buhari rather than under Jonathan’s administration.
So, if anybody thinks I’m critical of this government because I am not in the system, the person’s making a very big mistake; and I’ll give you an example: in this Buhari administration, I have had a series of discussions with a prominent figure in Kano, who is my childhood friend, and who was my classmate in secondary school. He tried to reach me that Kano is too small an arena for me and whether I can see the President and be out of town and be at the national or international level. He took me to the DG, DSS; both of them are alive. They asked whether I would like to have a meeting with the president. My answer was: ‘Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is a president of Nigeria. If he invites me I will go and see him. But I made it clear to them that I do not want anything from this administration; I don’t want any appointment. I don’t want any contracts or any favours. You can go and confirm from them; I can give you their numbers. As far as I am concerned, I am doing this because I have a mission. I have been doing this long before anybody heard of Buhari. And, I will continue to do so until my last breath because I do not believe in injustice. I do not believe in nepotism; and I don’t believe in hypocrisy which is the hallmark of this administration. I can assure you that I’ve never been caught out lying. I have never been caught out involving in mischief. I have no personal enemies in politics. Nigeria does not belong to Buhari or members of his family.

Aren’t you bothered that the likes of Bola Tinubu appear to be right behind Buhari?
I do not understand what you mean that Tinubu is behind Buhari because Tinubu is a friend of mine. I met him as late as recently. I can assure you that Tinubu is in a very difficult situation – in what can be described as a ‘double bind’. I also know that he’s not happy with the tenure elongation of the executive of the APC. He had been confronted; he did not agree with and he did not accept the violation of the national constitution and the violation of the APC constitution. But I also know that Tinubu is a sitting duck; they can arrest him or attempt to take his life. He has to be very careful because nobody will like to suffer death in the course of doing the right thing.

Doesn’t that contradict the fact that he has been appointed by President Buhari to reconcile aggrieved members of the APC? He seems to be having a great time with the president. At least once, they travelled out of the country together.
You don’t expect them to be shouting at each other in the public. You wouldn’t expect that, right? But you should also know that the most aggrieved person in the APC government today is no other than Tinubu. One of the biggest slaps he got was the appointment of Fashola as   minister. It was Tinubu who built APC, not Buhari or Fashola. If Tinubu had not bent over backward to accommodate Buhari’s camp, there would have been no APC and there would have been no Buhari presidency. How can you ask a man who is most aggrieved to go and reconcile people who are equally aggrieved? It is hypocrisy. Buhari knows he has offended Tinubu. He knows he has publicly spited Tinubu. Most of the bad blood in APC was created by Buhari. Buhari  now asking Tinubu to go and reconcile aggrieved members of the APC is like asking someone to take medicine for your headache. I don’t see how the party is going to survive when they are violating its constitution. Some people are going to court, mind you. There are members of the APC who are now in court challenging Buhari’s unilateral and arbitrary extension of the tenure of the party’s executive committee. I am telling you we haven’t seen anything yet.

What do you have to say about the level of insecurity in Nigeria?
It is clear that Buhari is not in charge. Who is in charge of security and who’s in charge of the economy is anybody’s guess. Clearly, Buhari is not in charge; clearly, the Presidency isn’t in charge. Clearly, the National Assembly isn’t in charge –they’re too irresponsible. They’re too obsessed with their own welfare and corruption;  humongous and  irresponsible salary to pay attention to the well-being and development of citizens of this country. I believe any responsible government confronting any of the challenges Nigeria is confronted with should pause and think –think very seriously about the problems  bedeviling the people of  this country. Any attempt by anybody to explain away the phenomenon of Boko Haram terrorists, the miscreants in the Niger Delta, and the so-called herdsmen-farmers conflict, will do himself a world of good to look at the underlying facilitation of the problems in this country; from the injustice, total lack of responsible policies,  governance,  corruption which is endemic and is only being fought selectively, while other people – relations, friends, nephews, and in-laws of the President are at the centre of corruption. I  really can’t see how this can be resolved,  because they’re multi-ferious and multi-faceted. And  I believe there’s no good intention to resolve the issue. And as you must know, some people are playing politics with the Boko Haram insurgency. The  army, for example, is guilty of everything in connection with Boko Haram: Abduction of people, seizing people’s farms, raping of women and young girls; taking people’s  property especially in Lake Chad (area) which is rich in terms of fish. Instead of protecting people, they’re confiscating  what belongs  to innocent people. What we have is an army of occupation that does not care about what is happening to hapless, harmless, innocent people.
And, when you look at the top echelon of the Armed Forces, you will see people who are marking time; officers whose tenures were extended not because of their achievements or merit but due to other considerations. We are troubled by some lousy leadership at the cabinet level and at the president’s level. Nigeria is faced with serious nepotism which is a form of corruption; some people who’re related to Buhari have been indicted with serious acts of corruption and he has not done anything. But other people who have no connection with him are being hounded and frustrated.

You’ve described this administration as being lousy and irresponsible. Let’s look at the person who’s in charge of the reins of power –the commander-in-chief. How will you describe him in view of what is happening in Nigeria today?
I will describe him as thoroughly incompetent. He has been clueless. He is out of touch with reality. In his first coming as a military head of state, even though he was in charge of authority, there were a lot of things he could not do. He was like a figure head then. It is the same situation today. This president cannot do anything without the power of the group that has a stranglehold on him. On his own, he’s unprepared; he doesn’t have any strength intellectually. Everybody knows he did not pass his school certificate exams, for example. And, how he became a general in the military remains a mystery only the Nigerian Army can explain. There are so many other things which are obvious. The man is sick physically and intellectually, and is otherwise unfit for office of the president of Nigeria. That’s why he is in the midst of a security challenge, social and economic upheaval  and does not know what to do. But clearly, he has not demonstrated any sense of rational thinking in the way he manages personnel – in the way he makes appointments so as to put round pegs in round holes. Now, a person with this kind of attitude –primitive attitude towards power –will never be a leader of 200 million people and for that he has  failed abysmally. He doesn’t have a government worth its name. The people he surrounds himself with are only looking after themselves. We’re in very serious trouble because of a man who is timid – a glorified president who cannot explain himself well. Nigerians are very robust but they didn’t bargain for what they have now.

Talking about 200 million people, did you see the mammoth crowd that warmly welcomed President Buhari in Kano? Some people point to that crowd as a sign that Buhari remains popular in Nigeria as against what critics like you suggest. How do you see and reconcile that with the malaise plaguing the country?
If what you said were true, I would have said it was a contradiction and would have wondered why this special phenomenon. I am based in Kano and I am a Kano man. No Kano man would go around looking for him (Buhari). What I am telling you is that that crowd was a rented crowd. Many people were brought in from nearby Jigawa State; some from Katsina and some from Kaduna; others are from Zamfara. I have never been impressed by a rented crowd. The rented crowd didn’t come out to welcome Buhari out of conviction. They did it out of hunger. They’re poor. If you pay anybody without a job N500 or N1000 to come from Kaduna or Zamfara to Kano, he’d come because he has no means of feeding himself. It is, however  to his credit, that he’s the most divisive and incompetent leader the country has ever had. All those people around him are gathered there not because they love him. Make no mistake about that. Let’s not waste our time. My concern will be in the next (presidential) election; it is against national interest, common sense, and rationality for Buhari to stand for election and get the kind of crowd that he got in Kano. Tell me one good thing Buhari has done for this country?
I remember the Emir of Kano one time saying to Buhari, ‘You have come here to commission projects not done by your administration but by the Goodluck Jonathan government and the previous regime. I’ll be glad to see you within the next one year when you come to commission projects which you’ve done.’ He told him to his face on live radio. Tell me one thing Buhari has done in the North. I challenge you and I challenge anybody; maybe you know the North more than I do. I know politics more than Buhari and he admitted to that too.

What do you imagine the next four years would be like were Buhari to be re-elected?
There are a number of scenarios. One scenario is possibly that he may not contest the election. I am not his enemy but I believe one term or two terms of four or eight years or given more than that, this man will not be able to do anything for this country. He’s simply incapable. He’s too incompetent and unprepared to preside over Nigeria. If he’s selected as the anointed presidential candidate of his party, if he doesn’t win the election,  it would be rigged in his favour – and if that were to happen, I want to assure you that from the day they announced the election results until the end of the four years there would be no peace in this country because people would not tolerate the incompetence, illiteracy, greed, nepotism, and corruption. There’s a limit to their patience. We’re not going to take whatever Buhari gives no matter what his supporters, the media, and other people say. If the APC government went ahead to rig 2019 elections, there would be trouble. I cannot tell you the nature of the trouble because Nigerians will determine what the trouble will be. Buhari cannot win 2019 election on the basis of performance. The APC government under his leadership has performed abysmally. Buhari has ruined the national economy; he has messed up the national security; he has lied through his teeth about integrity by promoting and supporting people who have no gravitas –those who’re related to him that have become billionaires overnight. On what basis did they become overnight billionaires? Simple: on the basis that they are related to him. Buhari cannot win a free and fair election in 2019. I challenge Buhari to tell me one thing he has done for this country. If he got re-elected, it might be because of tribal sentiments or geo-political sentiments.

What will you say about the intractable herdsmen killings in the country?
The same Fulani you’re talking about have been living with other people from time immemorial. How come they suddenly became violent and difficult? The problem started with the Yar’Adua regime, passed through to Jonathan’s regime and now the Buhari regime. My understanding is this: the land system we inherited from the colonial administration provided for lands set aside for the purpose of grazing. And, anybody who says that the Fulani are troublesome and should set up ranches is missing the point. For the Fulani, being nomadic is a way of life. It is not just an economic issue. It is more than that. It’s a lie to say that these people are troublemakers. We should be sincere to one another. I know that lands set aside for these people have been taken over by some elites and converted to farmhouses. Some of the people who are being killed or alleged to be Fulani are not even Fulani and they do not own the cattle. The land at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport was allocated for cattle grazing. And, all over, from the extreme North-East to the extreme North-West, North-Central down to the furthest to the East. And I know that we have dedicated lands  backed by laws and edicts. As far as I am concerned the herders-farmers crisis Nigeria faces was mishandled by previous government but is being mishandled particularly by the APC government under the leadership of Buhari.
It’s unfortunate that quite a number of Fulani have been killed. Many of those killed are in Taraba; in a place that is predominantly their land, not minding what the Benue governor is saying. They’re being killed because they say Buhari is a Fulani man. So, they’re killing the Fulani to avenge what Buhari is doing to them. But before Buhari came to power there was this problem. And now that Buhari is in power he’s not opened his mouth to say any meaningful thing to explain or resolve the crisis. It is unfortunate that people are saying Fulani are making trouble because Nigeria is ruled by a Fulani president. But Buhari is not a Fulani man. I challenge anybody that says Buhari is a Fulani to tell us when he became a Fulani and how he became a Fulani.

Are you saying President Buhari isn’t Fulani?
Buhari is not a Fulani man.  I am saying so. Go and do your homework. There are many people who are not from this country but have naturalised as Nigerians and have risen to top positions in the country. They have every right like other Nigerians. But to say that Buhari is from the Fulani tribe is sheer nonsense. He can’t speak one word of Fulfulde. If you want to commit murder because you assume Buhari is a Fulani man you’ll be making a mistake. It’s not my business and I don’t care what tribe he is from but I don’t believe people should be killed simply because somebody who is assumed to be one of their kinsmen. Again, did you see anybody kill the Ijaw simply because Jonathan was the president? It’s also sheer nonsense to lump Hausa and Fulani tribes together. There’s nothing like Hausa-Fulani. The two tribes are different. They speak different languages. But because of ignorance and laziness of the media, these people are collectively called Hausa-Fulani. I am a Fulani man but I don’t speak one word of Fulfulde because I was brought up in Kano and the major language in Kano is Hausa.

If you judged Buhari as not being a Fulani man because, according to you, the president can’t speak Fulfulde, what about you admitting being Fulani but can’t speak the language?
But that doesn’t mean you can deny my identity as a Fulani.

Ok lets put it this way, are you saying the president doesn’t have that genetic connection?
No; he doesn’t have it.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in a recent interview with THISDAY said it was the carelessness of the Buhari-led government that led to the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State. What’s your view?
I hardly agree with Atiku but on this one I throw my weight behind him. It was carelessness; sheer callous carelessness. Let me also add that the abduction was pre-arranged; I don’t see how you can take away the blame from the Nigerian Army or military officers who ordered the evacuation of the soldiers on the ground in that area. In addition, the evacuation must have been done in tandem with the people who abducted the girls in Dapchi; because the abduction was carried out publicly. And within the week the incident happened, nobody including the military surveillance aircraft which are in Maiduguri saw anything. Maiduguri to Yobe is within 15 minutes flying time. Yet, nobody knew nor saw anything. So the police and military men around knew nothing and saw nothing? Also, there are supposed to be some SSS operatives in every local government. What happened to them and what is the information from those elements?

Do you agree with Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi that the APC government is incapable of dealing with the country’s insecurity because of the involvement of external forces?
I have known Bolaji for more than 40 years. He cannot deny knowing me. But I want to believe that Bolaji Akinyemi sometimes allows his imagination to run ahead of him. First of all, I agree entirely that some organisations whether local or international interfere with the situation in this country. But whether these ones are in control of what is happening in Nigeria I don’t have enough facts to support that. The Buhari government should be held solely responsible for the injustice, corruption, and wanton poverty pervading this country. This government has tolerated a lot of vices and sooner than later Nigerians will react to the injustice and nepotism of the incompetent government that is complacent to the hardship of Nigerians. I condemn any form of terrorism. But that is not enough for me to conclude that there is a group or some form of organisations which are responsible for what is happening under this administration.

Do you think the present administration can make amends?
I’ve never seen any sincerity in Buhari or in the cabal that he harbours in his government. Any possibilities of finding solutions to Nigeria’s problems under Buhari are completely non-existent. It is too late for him to change his mindset. Besides, people around him are making too much money through corruption. There’s no way they’ll be open to meaningful changes.

Who will you recommend as the next president of Nigeria?
As far as I am concerned, there are enough people who are capable of ruling this country other than the dictator that we have now. I don’t have the names of the people now but in time I’ll give their names. But I dare say that the Buhari disaster should be a clear example to all of us.

Some people accuse the North and the South-West of political conspiracy against the East and the South-South. How do you respond to that?
Where’s the conspiracy? If any conspiracy exists it must be from the time the North aligned with the NCNC. I don’t see any conspiracy between the North and the South-West. And by the way, if you’re talking about democracy, you talk about the rule of law: One man, one vote. Look at Buhari’s ministers: how many of them can manage a department not to talk of a ministry? What is the benefit of Buhari’s administration to the North? The answer is nothing. Of what use is a conspiracy that doesn’t benefit the masses supposedly part of the conspiracy? Is (Babatunde) Fashola who controls three ministries a northerner? Is (Kemi) Adeosun a northerner? The de facto president of Nigeria, Mamman Daura, is Buhari’s nephew. No Nigerian leader, military or civilian, has so abused power by putting in key positions his relations and cronies like Buhari. I cannot call Buhari a man of integrity.

Buhari’s supporters have always said the president’s greatest achievement is his fight against corruption. When the latest Transparency International report stated that corruption had worsened under Buhari’s watch, his supporters reacted angrily. It will also be recalled that Tinubu once awarded, perhaps in mockery, President Jonathan a gold medal in corruption. What’s your thought on all this?
My attitude toward this development is to look at the evidence and make up my mind; and the evidence is clearly there. It is also important to state that Jonathan was not only corrupt but irresponsible. There’s massive corruption going on in the Presidency, around Buhari –around his relations –as a result of nepotism. Transparency International is operative in many countries and their assessment has been validated by the individuals concerned. I recall vividly Obasanjo’s administration; the anti-graft agency alleged that there was massive corruption in the country, most of which were concentrated in the Presidency around Atiku, Obasanjo and their cronies. There’s no big deal about that assessment passed on Buhari –he deserves it, just like Jonathan also deserved it. Talking about the gold medal award on corruption to Jonathan, I think he richly deserved that. It is nothing but sarcasm and of course, Tinubu has a tremendous sense of humour. So, if he sarcastically gave gold medal to Jonathan, I don’t know what he’ll be willing to give Buhari, his relations, and cronies; because Buhari and his people have perfected corruption more than any previous administrations in this country.

So, what will you award President Buhari?
I will award Buhari platinum (in corruption) because it is higher than gold. I’ll offer him platinum. The worse aspect of his own corruption is that it is brazen and centred on his relations, cronies, and friends. He claims he’s fighting corruption but turning a blind eye to the corrupt activities of people close to him; he’s taking Nigeria for a ride. I think that’s the height of irresponsibility. My concern about Buhari’s mode of fighting corruption is that he thinks he’s smart but unfortunately, there’re people in his government who are untouchable.

The Mainagate, Babachir Lawal’s corruption scandal, and the recent discovery of the disappearance of $44m from the vault of the NIA are said to be a chink in the armour of Buhari. What exactly do you think is going on?
In the first place, the shiny armour of Buhari is a ruse. There is no such armour. If the armour does not exist why bother yourself about shiny armour? The whole thing is a ruse; I’m telling you it’s a ruse. My concern is that Buhari will make it even harder for any other leader to come and fight corruption because his brazen acts have made it impossible for people to believe he’s fighting corruption. And, once people don’t believe in the cause you’re fighting for –they think you’re lying –it becomes impossible to fight corruption.

How do you feel about the 14 governors who attended Ganduje and Ajimobi’s children’s wedding  while the abducted 110 innocent Dapchi schoolgirls were held hostage by ISIS West Africa? But just as I’m speaking with you there was the breaking news that most of the girls had been returned by their abductors.
Are you saying the girls have been returned? As far as I am concerned this is a huge relief. To all those in governments, to those who hold one form of political power and to all Nigerians this news should be a great sense of relief. Having said that, I believe that the governors who had time enjoying themselves were just exercising their choice but it was bad timing. They couldn’t have done anything about it because plans were at advanced stage. Yet, in view of the Dapchi girls’ kidnap coupled with the economic hardship Nigerians are experiencing that kind of extravagant display of fortune and affluence leaves much to be desired. Our leaders should exercise more caution; they should be more circumspect. Whatever we do, we should do it with the eye of history and of course, with the eye of national interest and economic situation. What’s bad is bad; what’s good is good. There’s no need to justify wrongdoing.

You said President Buhari is clueless and incompetent. Not a few will think your comments are pretty harsh. Are you saying this because he’s not in charge of his government and by that are you saying  he’s a figurehead?
Anybody who knows what it means to be in charge will know that Buhari is not in charge –let me be honest with you. It has nothing to do with my personal attitude towards him. It is obvious from the way he manages or mismanages governance. It’s clear from the way he’s fighting the anti-corruption war. I am not satisfied that the man is in charge. He has not been an effective leader and he’s not in charge. He’s a figurehead but at what point he became a figurehead I don’t know.