Weeks after the inauguration of President Muhammodu Buhari’s government for the second time, Nigerians have continued to react to the state of affairs of the nation with a focus on what is and or should be expected in this controversial renewed mandate. In this interview, Sheikh (Dr) Ahmed Mahmud Abubakar Gumi, a Kaduna based Islamic clergy said from all indications that there is nothing to suggest improved turnaround in the lives of Nigerians within the period in focus. Correspondent, JIBRIN MIACHI, brings the Excerpts:
Despite the various cases in court in respect of the previous elections, presidential inauguration has taken place. What is your feeling?
What should be ideal is that all the election tribunals should have concluded their assignments before the swearing-in ceremony, but never the less we have seen many cases going on after inauguration, if the panel decides, their decision is final. So it does not matter what has taken place because there should be no vacuum in leadership. So, I don’t think there is any problem. We are waiting for the panel to finish and see what they will come out with.
Now, the government is in place and what looked like a renewal of mandate is what took place. Having seen what happened in the country in the last four years, what will you suggest should be the focus of this administration in the next four years?
They have their own next level of governance. But the truth is that we have come to realise that there is absolute decay in the society, which involves the leaders and the followers, altogether. Though the issue is the whole Nigerians, we give blame to the leaders because we have a proverb in Arabic which says if the lord of the house is beating drum, you don’t blame children when they dance. What it means is that if there is a good leader – sincere and honest leadership, which is what we need, behaving in a way, everybody will fall in line. In this case so far, there is nothing in the horizon to suggest that things are going to be in the right direction. As I was coming, somebody was telling me a story how he suffered in the hands of armed robbers in Abuja trying to confiscate his Keke Napep (Tricycle) and it tumbled on them. While some of them sustained fracture, others were unconscious. I have seen a lady who was battered in a taxi after taking her ATM card and forcing her to give them the PIN number as well as collecting her hand bag and then pushed her a way. She nearly died. I saw the pictures. This happened in Abuja. If crimes of all sorts are happening in the capital city of Nigeria, you can imagine what happens in villages is worse. We heard in the news how people were massacred in Sokoto. So, this nation needs a lot of prayers for Allah to give us leaders that can lead us out of the quagmire we are into. We need the cooperation of everybody to reclaim and safeguard our future. We cannot leave it for politicians alone. Every Nigerian must cooperate. There must be rule of law and nobody should be above the law. Anarchy is already happening in villages. They don’t see the presence of government. It is a case of big fish eating the small ones. These days, people are paying criminals for their own protection in the village because there is no government presence there. Even in Kaduna here, people shared in this experience during the Ramadan and this is part of the reasons why we didn’t have money. People cannot pay jakat because they pay ransoms. Many people were caught, locked up in the house, took their wives and demanded ransom. This is no dream. I am telling you what is happening in our society. Like I said before, the 2019 election was a big shame and has tarnished the APC as an instrument of governance.
From the pictures you have painted of APC vis-à-vis the last general elections, some of which cases are in court, including the presidential race, what are your expectations?
In Nigeria, if you want a true change, everybody should brace up and do his work. Let them look at it well and see, if there were malpractices and rigging in that election, they should nullify it or deliver judgement accordingly. Before the creation of APC, I said to the people in my mosque swearing that this time around we are not going to be allowed to be ruled by money bags. During the PDP regime, I used to say that the party has been rigging elections but this time around we are not going to allow ourselves to be sold and bought by politicians. So, I floated a foundation known as “My Choice, My Pride” but the harsh economic situation of the country did not help matter and the electorates were engaged and manoeuvred for electoral frauds. Even my child told me he voted without card reader. This is unfortunate and a disgrace that those who are claiming sanity are doing this kind of dirty thing. I hope the lawyers and judges will sit-up and do justice so that criminals will not be allowed to lead the people. A lot of things which does not reflect the wish of the people happened in the election.
In your own opinion, what should be the next level for Nigerians?
The next level for Nigerians is to come together, pray and be honest to themselves in whatever they do for a living. I know Nigerians are hardworking people. There should be forgiveness for one another, especially between farmers and herdsmen, in order to build a new nation. Every side has grudges. If you don’t deal with that grudge, it will continue.
Things are bad, agreed generally. What should the government do to remedy the situation now?
Constitute a government that will unite Nigerians. Give people food to feed; provide effective medical attention and effective education system. Whether we are going to sell everything to meet this three obligations, let us do it and Nigeria will be better for it. What is the need of trying to revamp the economy when the people are dying as a result of hunger and disease, when children are out of school as a result of poverty? Once these problems are solved, the issue of security is tackled. The fact is that we have tasted bitter pill under this leadership of this government. I believe, any leader coming after this one will not be like him.