The Kaduna-based top Sunni cleric and Islamic scholar, Sheik Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, in interview with BABA NEGEDU, explains why Nigeria needs new President...
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - How do you think we can solve Nigeria’s myriad problems
Actually, my own idea of what will solve the problem of Nigeria is for us to have a new page in our political life. New in the sense that we have people with no baggage. This is what I have been saying and even in the last election. I had wished that former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari had not contested at all. Because like I said before now which ever way the election goes, it is not a win-win situation for the country. The country was going to be divided, I had that feeling and you can see that it went that way because the country is fractured, factionalised. Any discerning mind can see that clearly.
What is your take on Buhari’s declaration to run for a second term at this period?
The president has no option than to declare as he did because his political people around him are the ones pressuring him to do it. If you look around the administration, it is really hard to find someone that will think out what is good for the nation. So, on that front, I am not surprised that he has declared his intentions to run again.
But what I really want to say is that Nigeria as a country needs a young blood in the political arena. New faces that can really unite the nation, remove all the prejudice in the country, whether tribal, religious or region. Nigerians should make sure that he like any other person goes through the process, through his party primaries and at the end of the day, let Nigerians decide what they want, let them come out and vote for who and what they want and protect their votes as they did in 2015 and let the winner take it.
What is your view on Buhari’s performance?
Let me say that the president has done his best, but his best is not good enough. Let me give you an example; Buhari is like a student or a boy who is hard working, reading day and night, but when the examination comes, he still fails because the problem is not all about hard work. The problem is that the boy is not intelligent enough to pass. So the president is doing his best but his best is not good enough and that is what we have been telling him. Yes, you are doing your best, we understand your passion but the situation in Nigeria has changed and the president can no longer handle Nigeria any more. This is the situation we are in.
Are you saying this because of the wanton killings?
Actually, these killings had been going on, even before this administration. What we can say is that this regime has inherited a bad situation and the economic situation is not helping the government at all. But I can categorically say that the worsening economic situation is also majorly contributing to the crisis, the bad economic situation of the government has really worsen the situation. Once the economy is poor, politics and security would be worse off. This is what is happening and that is why we are telling the government that they need to really rethink and have on board, people who can actually tackle the economy, support the security and the security agencies will tackle this issue.
But the president has blamed it on Ghadafi’s men. Don’t you agree?
If Ghadafi’s men or any rag tag army can come into the country and kill people and cause havoc, it means that our security is porous, weak, so what we need to do is strengthen our security apparatus. I wonder why we are not doing like some smaller countries with smaller armies who are protecting themselves. So we really need people who are abreast of the situation.
Isn’t that why he requested $1bn to tackle insecurity?
Sincerely the money is coming too late, one year to elections and you are asking for money, it is too late. I share the concerns of those that believe it might be diverted for election purposes. The National Assembly should wait till after the elections to approve the money, the new dispensation should be able to take the money and work with it. We have a saying that it is the way you judge that you will be judged.
During elections like this, security votes are the target as we have seen in the previous administration. But my concern really is for them to unite Nigeria, the last elections were done peaceful. In Maiduguri, Adamawa and Yobe, there were elections that showed some level of peace and security, so the last administration had done something. But when this government came it was all about criticism, all about blaming, but the same thing will happen to it.
What do you see to the latest controversy among the northern elders
There is no need to talk about them, it is the grassroots people that matter and those ones don’t even know that the elders exist, they don’t even know them. The elders are only useful to the political class, mainly during primaries. But during election, it is the grassroots.
Do you think people in the grassroots are ready to accept the president again?
The grassroots I can tell you are divided into three, they are those who will support the president but they are few. They are those who will oppose him seriously and they are also few. The majority are waiting to see who the alternative to Buhari is. If there is any viable alternative candidate to Buhari the majority will vote for the person. So it is the choice of the opposition that will now determine whether he would return or not. If the opposition put someone acceptable, the majority will go with the person.
I can tell you that the majority of Nigerians, Northerners especially are waiting to see who is coming on board, so the choice of the opposition is very vital. Also, the party is vital for the outcome of the election. If somebody else comes from the APC other than Buhari because he has to go through the primaries and he is from the North, the economic challenges may continue because of the divide in the country. The country is fragmented, the PDP is in the South South, South East and some parts of the middle belt. APC is in the South West, North East and North West, so you can see that the country is fragmented. Except if APC can do an overhaul, bring in the whole of the South West and South East, maybe things can be better.
Do you believe there is a chance for the oppostion to push out the APC in 2019?
If the opposition can put somebody who the people will be happy with, and they do their homework, then they can win election. The APC has to think well because since Buhari has baggage with him and many people don’t trust him, it is better for him to withdraw and let the APC pick someone else and Nigeria can move on. APC has to think well, this is no time to play with Nigerians, with our economy, with people’s lives. It is the party that needs to act, the President has no option, it is what the sycophants tell him that he would do. It is the party that has to act.
But some people have argued that there is no alternative. Don’t you agree with them?
Those saying that there is no alternative to Buhari don’t know God. I don’t think they believe in God, they don’t believe in God. No man is indispensable, no man, no man born of a woman is indispensable, the world has been going on. The prophets came, they died and the world has been going on. So, how can they even say they is no alternative? They are over million alternatives to