Leader of the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), Alhaji Ibrahim Gambo Gujungu, has described recent reports giving credit to acting President Yemi Osinbajo for certain achievements recorded by the presidency, as an insult to the north.
What is your reaction to the issue of the President’s extended medical leave?
Buhari is a human being and just like anybody, he is capable of falling ill, but our major concern is that the whole issue is now being politicised for certain interests. This is exactly what happened during late President Yar’Adua’s government. Politicians have started bargaining for power using Buhari’s health condition. If they continue like this, we are going to expose them because we work for the unity of the north first before any other thing. We are not going to allow what happened during Yar’Adua’s era to repeat itself. In the event of any eventuality, the presidency will continue to remain here in the north till 2023.
I say this because we are conversant with the propaganda currently emanating from the South-west claiming that Osinbajo has performed so much within the two months he has been acting President. They claim that he has solved a lot of problems but what some people do not realise is that Nigeria is just like a plane on autopilot. The President had already done everything before he left and what Osinbajo is currently doing is just to press some buttons here and there. The President should get the credit for whatever achievements recorded so far. They are indirectly insulting the north by insinuating that Buhari could not do what is being attributed to Osinbajo within this period.
Some people believe that the Presidency is not sincere to Nigerians on the issue of Buhari’s health status. What do you think?
I would not want to dwell on that issue because I speak on behalf of the Arewa Youth Forum for northern unity. Buhari has already transmitted the leadership of the country to the Acting President. Unfortunately, the South-west are using it against the President, forcing him to speak or make comments. We cannot have two presidents at the same time in the country. Already, there is an Acting President and he is in control of the country. Buhari is on vacation and this issue is not like that of Yar’Adua who travelled out of the country without transmitting power to the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. We know the people from the north who are deploying all these strategies to get Buhari out of power.
I hope you are aware of the constitutional provision that says that the Vice President takes over power if the President is no longer there?
I am aware of the constitutional provision but President Buhari will be back. We have not even given any thought to the idea that the President will not return to the country to continue with his duties. He will certainly return. The country appears divided because of the issue of Buhari’s health. But what we are telling northerners is to put away politics and work for the unity of the north. It would seem as if we do not have the love of this country at heart.
Do you consider the visits by some Nigerians to London and the reported President’s conversations with some people as really necessary since he is officially on vacation?
They have the right to visit Buhari and we have already made all the arrangements too to visit him in London. We have got the approval and any moment from now we will fly to London to greet the President.
Given the widely reported poverty level in the country, do you see Buhari contesting in 2019 and winning?
The first thing we should do is to pray for his health. On the issue of 2019, we know we are going to get a competent person from the north because it is the turn of the north to be in power. People are praying for the President, in churches and mosques in the north. These are the people who truly love this country. When 2019 comes, we will know how to tackle it. Moreover, I do not think Buhari has told anybody that he is going to contest but if he does, the chances are there that he will win. But whether Buhari or not Buhari, we are going to get a very competent person because it is the turn of the north to be in power. We will know how to tackle it in 2019. A number of APC members are among the people spreading the propaganda that Osinbajo has performed more than Buhari and strategising against the President.
How do you rate the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight?
I actually disagree with some of the issues of government when it comes to the corruption fight. There should be transparency in the fight against corruption. For now, I believe the corruption fight is one-sided and the issue of whistle blowing will not augur well for this country. Some people will begin to point fingers at people and say they must have acquired their wealth or built their houses with ill-gotten money whereas that may not necessarily be the case. Government needs to review its operations when it comes to the fight against corruption because it is one-sided. It is like a witch-hunt of some people in the opposition. There are so many people in government and people know that they were involved in looting of this country and nobody is doing anything to them. They are walking around freely. There are many former governors who looted their states for two terms in the PDP and they switched over to the APC and they are walking freely today. That is the truth and we should be bold enough to tell the President the truth. What is happening now is that government is trying to fight corruption and corruption is busy fighting back.
What do you consider some of Buhari’s presidency impact on the north?
All Nigerians now sleep with the two eyes closed which was not possible some two years or even a year ago. Previously, before you go to church or mosque to worship, people were subjected to all forms of searches and scrutiny, but now people troop in to churches and mosques freely. That is a significant achievement. We do not believe in what I may call sectional achievements by some of our past leaders.
If you remember the late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, he did not do anything in Sokoto but he worked for the entire country and Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohammed and the others. They all worked for the entire country. It is not like Jonathan, Obasanjo and some others who concentrated on their regions. That is selfishness. We have about 22 dams in the country and there are 19 of them located in the north and Buhari has given approval for their rehabilitation.