2019: Why Buhari has not declared his intention –Nahabu, President’s cousin

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Muhammadu Buhari

•Says Buhari is still best option

President Muhammadu Buhari’s cousin, Adnan Nahabu, who is a public commentator and technocrat in Kastina State, has given reasons the president has not declared his intention to contest in the 2019 election. 

Nahabu who also plays the role of spokesperson for the family said that Buhari does not take actions in a hurry.  In this interview with Sunday Sun, Nahabu debunked insinuations that Buhari was losing popularity in the North-West states following the crisis in the APC.

He also refuted allegations associated with the recent appointment of 22-year-old, Alhaji Sabiu Yusuf (Tunde) as Personal Assistant to President Buhari even as he spoke on Buhari’s chances of re-election in 2019 and other sundry issues. 

President Buhari promised to bring positive changes to Nigerians, especially to the common man, but it appears that most of the citizens are still complaining of poverty in the country. What is your reaction on this?

I don’t agree with this statement that some people are making because this government has put a lot of measures to revamp the economy, considering how the government came in and the deterioration in the economy, which he inherited from Jonathan’s administration. One critical area you have to look at is the agricultural sector and this government has introduced a lot of programmes for the benefit of the common man. So, whoever said there is hunger in this country or extreme poverty are those people who do not want to work to earn a living. They are people who always capitalize on the issue of revenue or position they find themselves to tarnish the effort of the Buhari administration. The millions of Nigerians who answered the government call to farm would not mention the issues of poverty or hunger. Go to rural areas and ask farmers or urban farmers, they will all give you answers.

Sometimes ago, a member of this government was quoted as saying that the administration has failed to fulfill the promises made to the Nigerian common man, are you saying that the statement was untrue?

Let us go back to history, take a look at where we are coming from so that we will know where we are going to. As I said earlier, this government inherited a number of problems and some people are against the notion that we are reorganizing the government; this programme is not a day’s affair.

This government came in 2015, in fact, President Buhari didn’t find the scenario easy because of the serious damage that was done to the Nigerian economy by Jonathan’s administration. For instance, there was insecurity, massive corruption and total collapse of law and order. I believe people should have a positive mind towards this government. People voted for Buhari and the man will not betray them.  He is my blood brother, I know his lifestyle. Buhari hates cheating and betrayal. So, someone with this attitude cannot behave otherwise. I don’t know why some people don’t appreciate the effort of this administration, especially how it saved Nigeria from sinking. During Jonathan’s administration, Nigerians were not thinking of hunger, instead everyone was concerned about survival because bombs exploded at markets, mosques and churches etc. I think these baseless criticisms are manufactured by political opponents certainly not the Nigerian common man. How can the government spend three years in office and someone will say it has not done anything? This is absurd.  But I will agree with anybody who says this government has made mistakes in the government, which is normal.  We are human beings and subjected to make mistakes. No matter how cynic one can be, you must admit that this government is on the right track. What we need is time to implement all development programmes. Buhari is taking these items one by one. That is why we are asking Mr President to come for re-election.

The issue of re-election you are talking about does not seem to be Mr President’s priority because up till now he has not declared his intentions. Why is Buhari taking so much time to make his intentions known to Nigerians?

First and foremost we need to understand the person of Mr President. Buhari by nature is not someone who rushes his decisions. He studies situations and time very well before making his decisions. I think it is not yet time for him to make his decisions known to the public. But already the scenario has proved to Nigerians that Buhari will re-contest the election. It is not up to 12 months to the election now or is there any contender that came out to indicate his interest in the presidential seat? You can imagine up till now, with the political atmosphere and momentum that hit the polity yet nobody has come out. This is because there is nobody that matches President Buhari in terms of quality. However, I think what we want Nigerians to understand is that there is no vacancy for anybody apart from Buhari. Already laudable policies have been put in place, and we need continuity to implement them. Take, for example, the EN-Power scheme which every unemployed Nigerian youth is benefiting from with an allowance of N5,000. We need time to measure in, in fact, at least three years.

President Buhari is also accused of allowing himself to be caged by some people in the Villa. Also, he was accused of appointing a 20-year-old as Special Assistant, who critics believe is incompetent and unqualified to handle the sensitive assignment. What is your reaction on this?

I have read this criticism before, but whenever I read or hear this I laugh. There is a politician from Kano, one Dr Junaid Mohammed the man was criticizing the appointment of the president personal assistance in the person of  Sabiu Yusuf popularly called (Tunde). I read his interview in one of the national dailies where Dr Junaidu described the young man as incapable and too young to handle assignments. You see, this Dr Junaidu descended so low to talk like in a beer parlour gossip in a high level degree. He said in the interview that the office of special assistant should be designed and handled by a career permanent secretary. Honestly, I don’t know where they got this law from. Special Assistant is self-appointment based on self-convinced criteria of who can do what you want and certainly, not on civil service criteria. In other words, no law said the president can only appoint a special assistant when the person attained the position of a permanent secretary. So people should make constructive criticism and not be personalizing an issue unnecessarily. I was disappointed with Dr Junaidu, a medical doctor, a former House of Representatives member, to make this kind of criticism. If people like Junaidu are the people to represent us in the National Assembly, you can imagine what they will do or say before the House and the kind of law they will make. Mr President appointed these young man based on the confidence he has in the young man, his qualification and competence. This man has represented the teeming Nigerian youths who always complained that the youths are not being carried along. To crown it all, he has been with President Buhari during the campaign period to elections and he contributed a lot. So, what is wrong in appointing him as personal assistant to the president? 

One of the complaints about President Buhari is his inability to re-organize his cabinet even after he admitted that there are some negative members among the ministers. Does that mean he is not in charge?

  It is wrong to say that Mr President is not in charge. He is in full control of his government. Although I agree that there are bad elements in his cabinet, but I can tell you that in every government you find these kinds of people in the cabinet. But the main issue is that have the bad elements out-numbered the good ones? The answer is no! If the bad ones are more than the good ones, the government cannot function properly. But in this case, the bad elements are few, though they can be a stumbling block, I believe that very soon you will see the action of the president. He will push them out soon. You see, there has never been a government in the history of Nigeria that suspended and dismissed its Secretary to the Government, reputable judges and others on the grounds of corruption as it was done by the  Buhari administration.  Also, he did the same with many public servants too. 

Due to the recent intra-crises in the APC in some major states of the North-west, which include, Katsina, Kano and Kaduna many people have the impression that President Buhari is losing popularity in the North-West. What is your take on this?

This is absolutely untrue.  Anybody that followed Mr President to Kano recently could see the crowd that welcomed him when he arrived.  That alone justified that people of Kano are still with him. So many people came out to receive him. Let me tell you that Nigerian politicians deliberately hide under a minor issue to try to ridicule an opponent. But thank God the Nigerian masses are becoming wiser now, they know where they come from and know where they are going to. No matter how cunning the opponent of Buhari plans to downplay his administration, they will never succeed. On the intra-crisis, already the Tinubu committee is working to reconcile all parties involved in this crisis. Party crisis is normal and common in any democratic setting.  Another thing is that everyone in the government has a reason for joining the party, some joined for personal reasons while others are in there for collective benefits. Those who have personal reasons are never tired of initiating a strong move to achieve their personal goals. At this point let me state that the ongoing crisis is not healthy, as such the APC at both national, and state level must find ways to end this crisis. Let them make concrete arrangement to address these problems at different levels before it escalates to other areas. This is my candid advice.

Moreover, in a democracy, you cannot stop people from agitating for what they want to say. The truth is that there is no crisis in Katsina APC as some people are insinuating, so there will be nothing that will affect Mr President. Everyday, people keep joining the APC in Katsina State; recently, more than 155 leaders of PDP and other parties decamped to APC in Katsina State. But in Kano, you see Kano politics is very dynamic and Kano is the centre of Nigerian politics. Therefore, even if there is a political problem, they know how to solve their own problems and this is quite peculiar to Kano politics. You can’t interfere with their policies, they have a unique approach to their problems and the governor is there trying to set things right. But Kaduna state is a bit different, that’s the elitist state. There is a sharp and higher competition there, but with Nasiru el-Rufai there is little to fear. I respect that man. It takes a great courage to govern Kaduna State.

There is a general belief that the inability of the president to personally intervene in the crisis may lead to the collapse of the party as it happened in CPC and ultimately led to the party losing elections. How do you see this view?

No, not at all. I don’t agree with this. Mr President was elected by Nigerians under a democratic process. Politics is a different thing and an act of governance is another.  So, Mr President has not done anything wrong by setting up the committee to settle the problems in the party. This is politics, if you say Tinubu’s committee has no meaning, do you want Mr President to invite the warring factions himself?  I think this is wrong, the committee is moving with the president’s mandate, so what is wrong here? So, should we be shuttling Abuja to Gombe and Kano just to reconcile party members while we push pressing national assignment aside? I think no reasonable person would allow a sitting president to do that. That case of CPC was different and Buhari was not a president at that time but now he is in charge. I think what he can do is to discuss with major actors after the committee submits its reports.

Some prominent Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo advised President Buhari to step aside in 2019 elections on grounds of his poor state of health and inability to fulfill promises and other reasons. What is your take on this?

Well, let me say that I have respect for former President Obasanjo as an elder statesman. But the issue here is that Obasanjo and others are Nigerians. It is the right of anyone under a democracy to express his views whether negative or positive. In a democracy anybody can come and shout on anything he wants, you can write an open or close letter in the media or any public place. However, on the content of Obasanjo’s letter, there are things that have to be looked into that bother on politics, while there are some on personal hatred. More so, the president equally is granted the constitutional right to re-contest the election, which Obasanjo spoke about. After all, we were all in Nigeria when Obasanjo was in government as president. On the issue of the president’s inability to check the activities of his cabinet, we have seen what happened when he was civilian president; we had massacred killings all over the country. He built a library with public funds and commissioned it as private one and requested for public donation. It was during Obasanjo’s government that he changed Presidents of Senate like he was changing cars under the influence of his ruling party. Are these things constitutional?  Of course, they are not. He also tried to elongate his tenure by the third term, which is the worst abuse of the Nigerian Constitution. So, he who violated the constitution of Nigeria is now telling us about the constitution.

There are stories circulating on the social media that during Buhari’s vacation in Daura, the indigenes protested that they have not benefited anything from his administration since he assumed office. How true was that?

Let me tell you that, anybody from Daura can claim that President Buhari has not done anything to his community. But it is important to know that Buhari is a nationalist.  He focused on the problem of Nigeria not Daura , of course, Daura is included because it’s part of Nigeria, but Mr President would not take an advantage of that to develop Daura and neglect other parts of Nigeria.  Mr President has introduced Anchor Browers sheep, if you go to Daura now you will see how he transformed the farming scheme system. He brought the same benefit; to Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Enugu and all over the country. Believe me; Nigerians are feeling the impact of what Mr President is doing today.

What can you tell Nigerians about President Buhari which they either don’t know or they have ignored?

What I want to tell Nigerians about President Buhari is that those who don’t understand Mr President should try to understand him very well. They should understand that he has a good wish for this country. Buhari is someone that can be trusted with resources of this country. He does not steal and does not allow anybody to steal. Let people give him more chance to actualize what he has for this country by making Nigeria a proud nation to all citizens.

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