By Bayo Akinloye
President Muhammadu Buhari may have some shortcomings and physical frailty but there are no symptoms that the 75-year-old is clueless, the Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum and a northern thought leader, Anthony Sani, has said, while throwing his weight behind Buhari’s bid for a second term in office.
In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, the northern elder argued that the president could not be considered as being clueless or playing second fiddle to an alleged cabal in the Presidency.
When asked what informed his position, he said: â€œI do not see the president through that prism. A President who is clueless cannot weaken the insurgency and fight corruption to the level which he has done. You may wish to note that some of the charges in the letter by former President Obasanjo are misinformed. For example, Obasanjo accused President Buhari of passing the buck and used the devaluation of the Naira to buttress his point. But we all know that President Buhari has consistently said he remained not persuaded; that devaluation of the currency of an import-dependent economy could not be a panacea, considering the level of devaluation of the naira which the nation has gone through since the 1980s to no avail.
â€œWhen the president returned from the medical trip and found the experts had devalued the Naira, he was honest enough to tell Nigerians that he remains unconvinced but would work with it because it had come from the experts. How then is the president guilty of passing the buck to the Central Bank of Nigeria?â€
Sani, however, lamented the frustration Nigerians went through whenever Buhari kept silent over burning issues.
â€œYes, the presidentâ€™s culture of silence, the public altercations between government functionaries and also between the executive and the legislature where the ruling party has majority, suggests a divided presidency and of a government at war with itself which are unhelpful and should not be allowed to continue. But this cannot qualify the presidentâ€™s depiction as clueless. We can only say they are shortcomings that come with human frailty. But I believe the regime has tried, albeit there is room for improvement,â€ he asserted.
Speaking further, the ACF chieftain reasoned that the president should be assessed based on the challenges he inherited and the resources needed to overcome them, adding that it will not be fair to say he does not deserve a second term.
â€œI do not think I am qualified to speak for Nigerians who will vote this time on the basis of the presidentâ€™s performance and no more on the basis of hope. The ACF has said it would give its position at an appropriate time. Wait for the forum. But as a person, I can say the president has done creditably well on his campaign promises, which were to fight the insurgency and corruption in order to pave the way for the economy to take root and thrive. Consider the fact that the regime has weakened Boko Haram by localising them to the North-East and limiting their attacks to soft targets as against in the past when the attacks transcended the whole North. Today, hope and confidence have replaced fear and hopelessness,â€ Sani added.
As regards fighting corruption, the northern elder indicated that PDP defectors in the ruling All Progressives Congress could thwart Buhariâ€™s efforts.
He stated: â€œThe fight against corruption by President Buhari is on course but has a lot of challenges â€“precisely because corruption is fighting back ferociously. What is more, some of those who were in PDP are now in the ruling APC and capable of serving as sandbags on the path of the fight. But I think the president is aware of such challenges and would handle them appropriately despite the complexity.â€