Home » Latest Politics » Mammam Daura tried to control Osinbajo when Buhari travelled -Junaid

Mammam Daura tried to control Osinbajo when Buhari travelled -Junaid

 

A Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, shares his concerns over President Muhammadu Buhari’s return, his health and administration, in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE

How did you feel when President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his medical trip to the United Kingdom?

I felt happy because like the rest of the country, I had thought that the President was coming back in better health – probably in a better state of mind – to tackle the problems of the country, which in the 104 days of his absence have been compounded. They (the problems) have taken some ugly dimensions, which would require very careful handling. That was exactly my mood: I thought that the country would be better off by his return because he’s not a private citizen. I believe that even those who are now projected and presented as (unsupportive) people towards him are also Nigerians and they must have voted for him – or at least, they are concerned about the mandate he is holding for all of us. So, it was important that he came back in good health. That was my feeling.

Do you agree with those who believe it was the protests in Abuja and London that forced him to return home?

Honestly, in my entire public service career, I have never been given to speculation and thoughts that are not helpful. Secondly, they tend to create more dust than they really settle any problem. So, I wouldn’t want to speculate on that. But if actually, he came back as a result of protests on the streets and in the public domain, on social media, it shows that, at least, he is trying to be a listening president, which was not the case in the past two years that he has been in power. And perhaps it was time for a change to assert himself instead of allowing his mandate, which is legitimate and moral, to be exercised and abused by the cabal (he’s surrounded by).

There was a lot of fanfare when Buhari returned. Do you think it was genuine?

There was nothing genuine about it. They (the people who jubilated upon Buhari’s return) were rented crowds. We know how they were recruited. Some of the characters in the cabal and their lackeys have a voice in the media. Their thugs in town were the people who were given money and some transport was provided for them. Some came from as far as Kaduna, Jos and other areas – so, I’m not surprised. In my own experience in politics, if it is anything to go by, rented crowds don’t confirm or deny anything. And anybody who has been in (Nigerian) politics for over 40 years will tell you that rented crowds don’t prove anything and they don’t disprove anything either.

Are you saying Nigerians are not as happy or excited to have Buhari back as was portrayed?

I think the dominant mood is not one of excitement. It is one of relief because when we were voting for Buhari in 2015, we did not envisage this kind of situation; that within two years, half-way through his mandate, he was going to be completely ‘paralysed’; the government was going to be in complete doldrums – nothing is happening, nothing is being done – and that the entire nation is going to be consumed with speculations about his clinical and mental health, and many other things happening now. This is a nation which is already in economic recession. This is a nation also confronted by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East and (militancy) in the Niger Delta. This is a nation being challenged by secessionist agitations in Igbo land. You can see that, really, we didn’t bargain for any of these. We wanted a government that fights corruption, maintains law and order, and he was a relief.

When former President Umaru Yar’Adua was away on medical leave before he eventually died, Buhari was one of those who said he should resign, instead of holding the country to ransom. What do you think about the length of time spent by Buhari outside the country?

Firstly, I don’t know if the constitution provides the minimum or the maximum number of days by which a president should be away from his duties. If a president is hale and hearty, even if he’s out of the country, it is assumed that he is exercising the powers of the president. So, wherever the president is physically is not as important as the fact that he is performing his duties. But his (Buhari) shutting himself in Abuja House in London and making himself accessible only to his blood (relations), particularly members of the cabal like Mamman Daura, has done this country no favours. Frankly speaking, he is there to be the President of all Nigerians and those who should have access to him are those people who have reasons to have access to him, not those who are his blood relations – who have been doing their utmost to mess up the government and his (Buhari) legacy.

We are supposed to be concerned about the state of the country – recession, armed robbery, kidnapping, militancy in the Niger Delta and terrorism in the North-East, economic mismanagement and the compounding problem of corruption. In addition to these challenges, it is really unrealistic to expect Nigerians to be happy, Buhari’s presidency has added more to the challenges. We now have a situation whereby the presidency is becoming too powerful, and unfortunately, the president is not in charge. There are some shady characters whom nobody elected. Mamman Daura has never been elected into any office in his life. As I speak, the man does not hold any piece of paper indicating that he has held any position. But he is more powerful than Buhari. He is effectively in charge of the country, under the presidency. This is a scandal, and if Buhari doesn’t see this as a scandal, it’s a shame.

How would you rate the performance of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the acting president?

Below par. He didn’t performed as well as I expected him to perform. The first time Buhari was (out of) town, he (Osinbajo) maintained the presidency on an even keel. Services were being maintained, people were being encouraged to be good citizens, and the country was at the forefront of his concern. Now, he decided to play politics. Firstly, he started by issuing irresponsible – and what I would regard as emotional – statements, saying that hate speech is equal to terrorism. In fact, lawyers are questioning whether there is any law (that prohibits hate speech) – and he (Osinbajo) is a professor of law. He should point out any law which shows that hate speech is a crime. In addition, he made some reckless appointments which favoured members of his tribe and church – he was careless in making appointments based on sentiments, not on merit, and not making sure that the people who were nominated were morally fit for their positions. You remember what happened with the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission) appointments and that became a morass. The cabal did not have the ‘free hand’ they had in the first absence of Buhari; it does not mean that Osinbajo did well during the second spell of Buhari’s absence. He did not.

Do you feel there was pressure on Osinbajo from those close to Buhari not to outshine the President?

I suspect that there might have been a political plan by the cabal, especially by Mamman Daura. But it is not a direct interference. They would go and put ideas into Buhari’s head. Sometimes, Daura was in the habit of trying to reach out to Osinbajo and suggest what Osinbajo should do and should not do. Mamman Daura has been known to be making intemperate and irresponsible statements that the government belongs to him and his ilk and they will do all they can to run the government. The grapevine in the North is very leaky. We talk to people who talk to him. We talk even to (Buhari’s) family members who are unhappy with the way things are going. They (the cabal) are ruthless. If they find that they can have somebody who will replace Buhari and do their own bidding, they wouldn’t mind collaborating with him.

How easy will it be for Buhari to free himself from the cabal?

It is not going to be easy because he has already given the impression that he is under the cabal’s spell – some people in the North are even talking about marabouts, mallams or from Senegal or Morocco, etc. Frankly speaking, even if he was to be conscious of that fact and he would want to free himself from these characters, I think it is almost too late. So, Buhari and Nigeria will have to live with the consequences. What makes it even worse is that Buhari’s nuclear family is also bearing the brunt of what is happening now.

How is Buhari’s family bearing the brunt?

First, you must realise that over a year ago, the wife (Aisha Buhari) came out and spoke about what she saw at close quarters how certain policies were being carried out; how certain individuals, who had nothing to do with the party, are being smuggled to Buhari; and how in fact some of the things that she raised and cried out against ended up being public knowledge in terms of being used to castigate her. Now, if you castigate a president’s wife or a member of his nuclear family, you’re castigating the entire family. In the case of Buhari, you’re castigating his entire family-his children, grandchildren and what have you. And some of the things we have been getting are not only from outsiders like us, but are also from within the family itself. And the only quarrel the mafia and the cabal have against Buhari’s wife is that she has been crying foul and telling Buhari contrary views to what they believe and what should be happening.

Given Mrs. Buhari’s social media post last month that hyenas and jackals would be ejected from the proverbial kingdom, do you think the president’s family has overcome the cabal?

I don’t know because I don’t like getting involved in the family affairs of my friends. I’m not close to the First Lady, but I have a feeling that, if there’s any (problem), I’m sure somebody within the family will speak out, especially among the girls, who are very well educated. Even the First Lady is well educated; you don’t marry that kind of wife and expect that she will stay at home and behave like a typical woman in purdah. I’m not surprised at all. The cabal hates her like no man’s business and she also returns the favour by hating them, especially Mamman Daura, who she blames for a lot of the dangers and the influence these people are wielding against the historical legacy and achievements of her husband because they are misadvising him and make it impossible to have people who are decent, pragmatic, have political gravitas and know their onions as far as governance is concerned.

Buhari, in his post-resumption speech, said comments made on social media crossed ‘national red lines’ and said they were a step taken too far. What do you think?

I agree with what he said entirely and I believe it needed to be said. By and large, the concerns he expressed were legitimate and as the president of Nigeria, he is the embodiment of our national existence and sovereignty. So, I expect any president in that kind of situation to express a concern. Secondly, he must have hinted at the uncivilised discourse we have been having on the social media – and the fact that it has been abusive and I don’t think anybody would expect any solution for any problem to come out of that. In addition, he hinted that he might have supported restructuring in the past. I don’t know if he understands the implication of those who are clamouring or agitating for restructuring in the past wanted. If you are in the habit of reading what other people have written for you, you have to be very careful because you’re likely to find yourself in a situation whereby your speech-writers have an agenda, which you might not comprehend. You will have a problem because people will then put words into your mouth and people will say, ‘But you said so.’ The way the restructuring debate is being couched, I will not be supportive because it is divisive, irresponsible and gives the impression that some people are trying to blackmail the country and the government of the day into taking certain steps.

Also, there are clearly stated provisions in the constitution and other laws of the country, which spun out that if you want that kind of arrangement for the country, you have to follow certain steps. These matters have been subjected to the National Assembly. A bogus N17bn was spent on (former President Goodluck Jonathan’s) constitutional conference, of which I was a participant. So, what makes anybody who lost at the constitutional conference and at the National Assembly to now say, ‘Because Buhari is now back, this matter must be re-introduced’? They should be careful what they wish for; because if they want a showdown, they would be surprised. The people they think they can blackmail will have the upper hand. The constitutional conference was skewed against northerners. It wasn’t a mirror image of the country. When we got there, they (pro-restructuring agitators) could not have the upper hand easily as they thought, despite the billions spent in bribing (the delegates). And some imagined – because they are such geniuses in politics, arrangements and collaborating in intrigues – that they were going to have some kind of unity between the South-West, the South-East (and) the South-South, and with that, they could pull off Jonathan’s agenda. But they lost out. So, if they want to have this kind of comprehensive discussion about the future of the country, they are as good as anybody else; they can commence it and let us see how the discussion goes. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. It is even a democracy, so numbers matter. You cannot just force your views, which even within the South-West and the South-East are minority views, and say that it must be accepted because they are special (to you).

Concerning the right to free speech and agitation against marginalisation, you once said Buhari’s political appointments favoured northerners.

No, I didn’t say that. Don’t put words into my mouth. If I said it, I must have known what I said. I spoke about nepotism. I didn’t say Buhari was favouring the North, the East or the West. If anything, what Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has been doing has been completely and openly against the North. We know what the projects are. Since Buhari came to power, there hasn’t been a single project in the North. So, it would have been completely useless, unnecessary and uncalled-for, for me to say that there was marginalisation in favour of the North when there was none. In fact, what I said was that people like Fashola – who have an anti-northern agenda, have been doing their utmost to mess us up and Buhari – is incompetent in addressing problems.

But I think the converse of free speech is hate speech. I have not been addressing any issue on free speech or hate speech. But if you say free speech is at stake when somebody is saying something you like, you must be prepared also to listen to somebody else invoking the same concept of free speech against what you stand for or what you like. So, it is a double-edged sword. Nobody should use the issue of free speech to encourage people to be irresponsible or to bring into question the existence of the country because the only thing that binds you and me is the country. Without the country, we have nothing in common. So, we have to be careful.

Buhari, in his speech, also said Nigeria’s unity is settled, not negotiable. Shouldn’t there be an open discussion about self-determination?

I have no problem with the sentiments expressed by Buhari. I believe it is the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. I also believe, as an elected president of this country, he has the right and the responsibility to say what he said. But my concern is when he either before or after that statement, he used the fact that he, as a personal citizen, before he became president, had had a discussion with another personal citizen, (late Chukwuemeka) Ojukwu, who went to his house in Daura (Katsina State). For all I care, what Buhari, as a retired general, and Ojukwu, as a retired military officer, discussed was entirely their private affair. There was nothing they discussed or agreed which was binding on anybody else, including their wives or their children. I have no doubt in my mind that we have a responsibility to maintain peace, order and good governance in this country. I am concerned that since he (Buhari) came into power, there has been very little evidence of that. But I have no doubt in my mind that no matter what he or anybody else says or may have said, if Nigerians do not care about Nigeria and they don’t want to keep the country united, then there is nothing he can do.

But if Nigerians are keen about it, then they should speak up and say, ‘Look, there is a limit to what we can take.’ At some point, there has to be a critical mass of people who must believe in this country and say, ‘Enough of this, Enough of that.’ But as regards the right of people to secede, I have no problem with that. I believe, in the next constitution whenever we have it, there should be an opt-out clause, which allows any group of people within a country, provided they go through the basic, democratic process of running a referendum which will be supervised either by the Independent National Electoral Commission or the United Nations to leave. And we have had situations in 1962 when the Northern Cameroon and Southern Cameroon, which used to be German Cameroon in the past, were given the opportunity by the UN; Northern Cameroon chose to be with the North and they are still part of the North. Southern Cameroon made a choice; I think more on sentiment than the rationality of the moment. Those who declared Biafra in 1967 did not address the issue of how they could make Biafra survive and how they could maintain peace and prosperity in those areas; and how they could accommodate the people who had been forced to leave other parts of the country and survive on their poor soil. And of course, what happened was a major tragedy for the whole country. It’s blight on our history because over one million people were killed in the war. It was too much of a price to pay and I believe if they want to go that way, they are likely to have themselves visited by a similar tragedy.

What is your take on the calls for the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to be rearrested for violating his bail conditions?

What is the big deal in arresting one Nnamdi Kanu? What is so special about him? I wouldn’t want to dignify that action with any comment. I know what it means to win an election. I also know what it means to exercise the authority I have as an elected representative of the people. I am not about to give legitimacy to people whose only legitimacy is that they can collect money from some Igbo people both internally and externally, splash it out and then ask people to be intimidated – forget about that. If he wants to prove he is a tough guy, let him come into the main city of Nigeria and play politics. And if he wants to play violent, he’s going to be confronted. Those who triggered a civil war and hopelessly lost out had to stand before the world and the country in total surrender. He cannot now use the same civil war mentality for the rest of the country. He’s not alone; there are some actors in Lagos saying, ‘If we don’t have restructuring, we shall take our struggle to the street.’ I challenge them to take it to the street; let’s see who will blink first.

Buhari said all issues of national discourse should be undertaken by the National Assembly and the National Council of State. Does this point to the daunting task Buhari has to handle with two years to go in his tenure?

These are my concerns. One is obvious to Buhari (and) to anybody who is dispassionate enough to have a look at the situation and have a look at the man even on TV. He is in no position to continue exercising the enormous powers of the presidency. At the same time, I am also aware of the fact that Buhari won an election fair and square, unlike (Ibrahim) Babangida who was disgraced out of office by force. Buhari won an election and it’s not easy to banish a man who won an election just like that. So, the only hope I see in the current situation – and it’s a major quagmire and an impasse constitutionally and politically – is for Buhari himself to take a decision whether he wants to continue in this kind of morass. I am sorry, I haven’t seen evidence, given the performance of the cabal and the Kaduna mafia so far, who are his closest advisers. So far, I have seen no evidence that he has the historical sense and the presence of mind to really come to terms with the enormous responsibilities of having this situation continue up till 2019.

I have a feeling that if he decides to go, he will have a greater say on/over who takes over from him than he would otherwise have if the situation has been forced on him. The All Progressives Congress has become a joke as a party; I don’t know how it is going to fare in 2019 under Buhari. We have to be very careful what we wish for ourselves.

Should Buhari seek re-election in 2019?

By his continued stay in office in spite of the fact that he is very ill, he is taking the country on a very dangerous road – because clearly, he is not in a position to carry on as the President of Nigeria. And, he cannot be removed because, one, the Senate is a washout. They are too corrupt and the ambition of some of the elements in the senate is too glaring that whatever they say cannot be interpreted to mean ‘in national interest.’ It is also too far-fetched to expect the Federal Executive Council to set in motion the necessary processes, through a medical board, etc., to disqualify Buhari because he appointed all of them. And, all of them are desperately lobbying to be retained in the event that he carries out his so-called cabinet reshuffle. So, the only option we have is for him to resign. And if he doesn’t resign, there is no force that can compel him to do so. So, as far as I’m concerned, the whole thing boils down to his attitude to what he believes is in the national interest. I’m not sure that, given the present state of affairs, the national interest will be served by whatever action he takes.

Do you think Atiku Abubakar, Nasir el-Rufai, Sule Lamido, Rabiu Kwankwaso or Bukola Saraki will be a credible replacement for Buhari in 2019?

You mentioned Atiku, Lamido, el-Rufai, Kwankwaso, Saraki and so on. The number one question to ask is, do they come from the same political constituency as Buhari? Those who are not in the APC are out of the question. Unless they are members of the APC, you cannot expect them to hand over power to them. Number two, you are assuming that, at the rate they are now going, the APC will win the election in 2019. I’m not so sure. Atiku is only nominally (an) APC (member). El-Rufai is the only person who is in the APC; he was also a defector from the PDP.

Do you think the PDP is in a good position to take over in 2019?

Far from it! Nothing I said before should be construed to mean that I would endorse the PDP as a party to succeed the APC. As far as I’m concerned, the PDP has its fair share of abuse, corruption and mismanagement. If the country is to be salvaged – and that was the main reason Buhari and the APC were elected in 2015 – we’ll have to look for a new formation, a new party. I don’t believe members who are leading people in the APC have learnt anything. Some of the worst excesses that are associated with the APC are very much alive and well in the APC states today and none of those you mentioned who are likely or aspiring in secret or in public have in any way disavowed the policies of the APC. Some people are after power at all costs and want to perpetuate the system. That system will lead us to total disaster. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between the APC and the PDP. The country needs a new political party with a new set of values, principles and ideologies. Those who have the potential don’t even realise they have the potential – so, they’re wasting it away.

Don’t you think that a new party will only attract more of the same people in the APC and the PDP?

Yes, there is that likelihood. The new people who will be in the new party are likely to be defectors from either the APC or PDP. But if a party has leaders and it’s built on core principles, that is not likely to happen. Nobody can penetrate the party and turn it upside down against the principles and ideologies for which it was formed. Clearly, the first problem with the APC under Buhari was that Buhari is not a political leader. The biggest problem of the APC today are directly traceable to Buhari’s ignorance of politics and pretence about (his influence over) the party which put him in power. We have to be careful, because the party is not a personal affair. So, we have a (ruling) party that is barely on speaking terms with the President; none of the appointees of his government are people who have been recommended by his party. So, what are we talking about?

Do you believe Tinubu has any influence on Buhari?

No, I don’t think so. In more ways than one, Tinubu has been more of a victim than a beneficiary of the Buhari administration. It’s unfortunate, because I think the man deserves better treatment. But I cannot say he has any influence on Buhari. He may have subterranean, under-the-carpet influence on Osinbajo, based on their personal relationship. But I don’t think he has any influence on Buhari. Time and again, this has been proven over the last two years that those who have real influence on Buhari don’t even have a position identified within the party or any (official status) in the government.

-Punch

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