A former House of Representatives member in the Second Republic, Dr Junaid Mohammed has been one of the fiercest critics of the present administration since its inception. In this interview with IBRAHEEM MUSA, the Russian-trained medical doctor speaks about the alleged corruption and nepotism that characterise the Buhari administration, how Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola is short changing the north in the execution of projects.
Nigerians who feel strongly about the nation’s state of affairs have written to President Muhammadu Buhari letters, expressing their concerns. Curiously, you haven’t written yet, why are you holding back?
First, maybe its because I am becoming lazy when it comes to writing and most of the letter writing is not just an individual’s output but a collective effort and that is not my style. My style is to write or say what I want to say and I don’t need another person to assist or guide me in expressing my views, when those views are genuinely held.
There is also nothing superior about that format of communication, that is letter writing, with other formats. I can talk to a radio station, I can appear on television, I can do a number of things; I can join the mayhem in social media. And that will be as effective, if not more effective than letter writing. What I notice is that the perceived gravitas of the person writing, helps in making the letter worthwhile and it makes it possible for people to seize it as a platform for commentary. And frankly speaking, I don’t need that.
Now, on the specific issue of what people are now talking about; the incompetence, the corruption, the fraudulent manipulation of the media, especially federal media, by the presidency, his ministers and other spokespersons, seem to be a deliberate effort to fudge issues, confuse issues. They want to divert attention from the real issues that are confronting the country, especially insecurity, corruption, economic incompetence and mismanagement.
Then there is the very serious issues of nepotism which the country has never confronted in its history. Then there is the issue of some wonder boys. This is the first time in the history of Nigeria, when somebody in his 20s, who married just a year ago, suddenly became a multibillionaire.
Who is that person and what is his position in government?
Sabiu Tunde! He is the son of the younger sister of Mamman Daura. In terms of formal appointment, he has not been given a single letter appointing him as anything. But he has more access to the president than any individual.
Essentially, he was jobless except now that he is in the presidency and has access to the president. He has been given the title, officially or otherwise, as the PA to the president. Normally, in a presidential system, the PA to the president is supposed to be a senior Director or a Permanent Secretary. So, he is a key beneficiary of the nepotism that has characterized the Buhari administration, where relations, cousins, nephews and what have you, are holding sway. Some of them are Ministers, National Commissioners in INEC and so on. Others don’t even hold any formal position like Mamman Daura but he is the De facto president of Nigeria.
What is you grouse with Mamman Daura? In almost all your interviews, his name usually comes up like a recurring decimal.
Because he is the Mafioso-in-Chief. He gives the instructions and he runs the government. If a man who has not won any election in his entire life, who has not handled anything, he left the New Nigerian worse off. You used to work there, you knew how the place became as a result of Mamman Daura becoming Editor and later Managing Director. And today, the paper is off the streets.
So, anybody who has any sense will begin to wonder, what has this man done so well in the past, what has he succeeded in doing that will warrant giving him this pre-eminent position, where he can even countermand the president?
I have been saying it that democracy demands that when you exercise power, you must have a rational and legitimate basis for doing so. Mamman Daura has no such legitimacy and he is living right there in the residence of the president. And in every crisis that comes up within government, his name comes up. Even if it doesn’t come up directly, the name of Abba Kyari comes up. Abba Kyari is a lackey to Mamman Daura. Now, there is also Babagana Kingigbe who is another lackey to Mamman Daura.
You were very close to Buhari before he became president, how did things fall apart between the two of you?
I was close to him because I thought he went through what he went through as a matter of principle. Since he became president, I found out that the man has nothing to do with principle. The kind of bribery and corruption which is going on now, and in the name of fighting corruption, has never happened in the history of this country. The juxtaposition of fighting corruption, with the phenomenal corruption that is going on now, is something that I find difficult to live with. I couldn’t live with it by simply staying away, but I will simply not keep quite.
Until these people that I mention are taken out from the presidency or government, the nation will have no peace and everyday will bring a new scandal. And because the president is not sincere, he cannot effectively defend what he is doing, and the best thing for him is to keep quite so that the business will continue, where he benefits, his relations benefit and his lackeys benefit.
Given your position on the state of the nation’s affairs, are you warming up to join Obasanjo’s Third Force?
First and foremost, I cannot join APC. I am also not a member of the PDP. But I have also said that I will not accept the principle of the Third Force, without knowing its guiding principles and whether it is not going to be dominated by irredentists and fanatics.
These are the kind of people who are now dominating Third Force and we have to be careful because those characters cannot win an election in Nigeria, even in their home base. They also have to tone down the rhetoric that they have been encouraging. Of course, many of them have been implicated not only in the violence that is going on between Fulani herdsmen versus farmers, they have been implicated even in the Boko Haram thing and the evidence is there. Their image cannot now be laundered either by Obasanjo or anybody. I will want Obasanjo to be in politics not to stand for any position because he is constitutionally barred, but I will rather have him in to influence matters from within.
At the maiden meeting of the Third Force, I noticed that quite a number of those present came from a section of the country. A certain section of the country which is the majority, was grossly under represented. This does not augur well in a democracy. I was invited to attend. I also realized, political systems is what is called open systems in Sociology. Its not a secret cult. It is not what you call in trade union a closed shop, that means you cannot join that sector of the industry except the union presents you. That’s not how politics is played; it should be open and anyone who wants to join can come in. And someone assumed the leadership of the group when the issue was not put to vote or consensus.
So, but its not too late for them to make amends because I believe the current dispensation in the country will make do with one or two additional political parties. What we have now is a two party system which consists of APC and PDP on one side and the other 65 parties on the other side.
I also believe that in urging for a more robust, credible two or three more parties, we need to encourage all areas in the country to belong to them. It enhances credibility and makes the whole thing more workable and it will confer legitimacy to the government that emerges out of those parties. I’m particular about the Igbos in the South East; it is in the interest of the country for them to belong to the mainstream instead of clinging to Igbo irredentism and insisting that APGA is the only party. If you don’t belong to APGA you are not an Igbo man; this is not good for the country and Igbos themselves because this is self marginalization. They are now saying that they are marginalized, which is not true.
Whatever you may say about Tinubu, he engineered the return of the Yorubas into Nigeria’s mainstream and they are benefiting enormously, disproportionate to their contribution to APC. However, this has also brought people like Fashola with his anti northern agenda. And for the period he is now minister, he has done more damage to the north.
Go and find out the profile of the projects that his ministry is executing. I don’t know a single project in the north. Even if you are talking about Mambilla project which is the new theater on the ground, it was started in our time, that is the time of Shagari government. And the man who did most of the background work was Engineer Salihi Iliyasu who was the first PRP gubernatorial candidate of Kano state. He was disqualified by FEDECO of those days.
Salihi Iliyasu was a Water Engineer; he did all the work. So, at the moment Fashola is just about awarding the contract. We know how much sabotage Fashola has put into that. We know how much sabotage he is doing in the power industry. And this has been brought to the notice of Buhari by people I know, by people who are working in the ministry and even by members of the House and Senate.
The way he has been concentrating projects in the south west is preparing grounds for Oduduwa republic. And unless characters like him are dealt with, we are going to have a lot of problems. And I am assuring you, if he continues the way he is doing, the end of this government may not be peaceful.
There are more northerners in both chambers of the National Assembly, why are they not raising the red flag over Fashola’s alleged antics as you are now doing?
Go and talk to the northerners there because they don’t represent me! The way and manner of their coming into politics and into government was a very peculiar way of politics in Nigeria. It was all about tribal politics and godfather politics. I have nothing to do with them because I did not vote any of them. But if they ask us, we will give them the information.
The last time we had a meeting of Kano state Committee on Restructuring, they came and we had a meaningful interaction with them. But in dealing with a character like Fashola, you have to be 100% alert because he has an agenda of hatred. With people like Fashola, it means religion has nothing to do in politics because he is supposed to be a Muslim.
He has not done anything in the north other than evil, and to render us completely marginalized. And Buhari doesn’t do his homework since he doesn’t read, so he doesn’t care to call him to order. In any case, he doesn’t call even members of his kitchen cabinet to order.
You spoke of additional two or three political parties to enhance national cohesion. Reports indicate that there is a move to reposition the PRP, your former political party in the second republic. Are you part of the New PRP?
If there is a genuine effort to recreate the PRP, I have to be involved because I was one of the founding members of the party. Musa Musawa and I were the only ones who were there when the PRP was formed. Unfortunately, because of the crisis and so on, during the so called subsequent republics, some people had gone and registered parties. And the typical lawlessness of Nigeria, a party that was de-registered was now recreated with funds from the security branch which was made available by Aliyu Gusau. They have registered PRP and Balarabe Musa has been making a few noise about it. But when we saw that he was not stopped, we formed the PSP. Professor Attahiru Jega cancelled the two parties in addition to others. The matter went to court and that decision has been reversed.
So, in recreating the PRP in terms of principles and ideology, we will have no problem with that. It is not a personal thing. It’s a people thing and the ‘’people’’ is what distinguishes the PRP from any political party in this country.
Remember that NEPU, the precursor of PRP, was the first political party to be formed in the north, not as a cultural organization. And so far, no one has successfully or otherwise, accused the PRP of being a tribal or religious party and we are proud of that. We remain ideologically committed, we have a worldview which is Talakawa-oriented and we will be happy to remain with that mantra to our graves, whether or not we form a political party.
Are you on speaking terms with Balarabe Musa, given the fact that most PRP members have gone their separate ways since the crisis of the second republic?
Oh yes, I spoke with him last weekend.
Did he tell you of his intention to reposition the PRP?
No! I don’t know whether it is his intention. I heard from the grapevine but what I believe is that Balarabe will not simply go into an alliance or merger with other parties and retain our identities. That is not a way to run political parties. Once you agree to an alliance, especially party alliance and not government alliance, you simply surrender your identities and form a team.