Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, a fiery cleric, spoke to GODWIN ISENYO on national issues and the leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari
You criticised former President Goodluck Jonathan when he was in power and now you are doing the same thing to President Muhammadu Buhari, what is the problem?
The problem is complex. It is difficult to simplify, if you want. There is problem everywhere. We only criticise when we feel the problem is going to overshadow the progress. During the last regime as you said, there was a lot of bloodshed. Yet, there was a lot of progress that I can acknowledge. Universities were built. Even in the north, the almajiri schools were built and also, the railways were built. Things were moving on. In fact, even at a time, the Nigerian economy was even growing faster than that of South Africa. But there was still bloodshed and there was a kind of ‘I don’t care’ attitude. But because of the problem that we have in Nigeria, we need a person that can truly unify the country, pacify and put the country together. So, when I see a leader polarising or dividing the polity, no matter how he claims to be good, he is not good for the situation. Every situation has its own remedy.
It is ironic that a northern cleric like you is criticising Buhari. Why?
Our criticism of Buhari is not about being a northerner or a Muslim. It has to do with what is in the best interest of Nigerians. A leader is like a blind man. People on the ground or on the field could see what he cannot see. Preachers of religions who are apolitical are the ones that are the eyes, telling the leadership what to do or where things are going wrong.
Even before Buhari came, I was one of the few people that advised him that the Nigerian situation at the end of Jonathan’s regime was not the best for him. He was going to make things worse, not better. If you are bringing in a patient who has broken all his limbs to the hospital, The doctor will not be looking at the protruding bones but those standing by will be looking and wondering why the doctor is not concerned about the bones. The doctor is concerned about how to save the life of the patient. That is how Nigeria is.
Somebody I know very well was kidnapped while coming from the railway station towards Mando. They are looking for N1.5 million to secure his freedom. Insecurity has become worse, though Boko Haram has been tamed. There is no security in the country. I was told that a girl was stabbed in Kaduna recently by thugs who were trying to snatch her phone. They killed an undergraduate just because of a phone. What has Nigeria turned into? During Jonathan’s time, these things were not happening.
You said you have the options of either castigating Buhari or apologising to Jonathan for the way you castigated him for the killings that took place while he was in government. Are you saying that Buhari has performed worse than Jonathan?
Definitely, the situation now is worse. The economy is worse. Feeding is a problem; medical care is a problem. There are problems everywhere. Nigeria is down. Nobody is secure. The honest people in government have pulled out. Look at what a governor said recently; that he was resigning his position as the chief security officer because he is helpless. Another governor said we have to face the fact that there is a problem in Nigeria. We can’t deny that. Buhari is just a common man. He is just an ordinary one man in Nigeria. We cannot be hypocrites, hiding facts because of a man. Why are people shivering because of him because he has a team of illiterate, fanatical followers? We can deal with them. They should not hold us to ransom. He is a victim of this ignorant, unemployed and senseless followership. When politicians see that, they become frightened. We won’t succumb to that. Let’s do what is right. Put the right Nigerians to lead us, if not, we will destroy ourselves. We cannot be victims to these rascals. People are dying, things are not good. We cannot continue this way.
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