Haruna Abdullahi is the author of the soon to be released book – “The Buhari In Us”. In this interview with JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH, he says the North-Central and South-East zones should be given the opportunity to clinch the presidency in 2023, speaks on his book and some national issues.
What’s the inspiration behind the book, The Buhari in Us?
The desire to pen down the book, “The Buhari In Us’ stemmed from a deep-rooted yearning to document the phenomenal traces of a man who exists at a time when references to discipline, honesty and integrity are far-reaching attributes. From the character of this man, I have come to realize that nothing guarantees peace of mind than being true to oneself. Since 2003, I have been stuck to the ideology and character of Muhammadu Buhari. I have lived in his image and sold to the sundry his many unique qualities. Since that time to this moment, I have only met him once but in a fleeting moment. How do I get consumed by the phenomenon called Muhammadu Buhari?
In my secondary school days, I stumbled on a book whose title I can’t remember, written by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
In that book, he describes one man in superlative adjectives and that man happens to be Muhammadu Buhari. So mesmerized was I by Obasanjo’s verdict on Buhari that I asked my uncle, John Sule, who Buhari is. Beaming with smiles, the man referred to a scenario in 1983 where Buhari deducted N1 from workers’ salaries at the beginning of his government following the financial crunch he met on ground. To the chagrin of all, Buhari ordered the refund of those deductions.
That singular act glued my uncle to the man Buhari. That I am tied to the Buhari ideology is not a circumstance, it is a deeply rooted conviction that is not motivated by the exigencies of today. It is a legendary decision that dates back to history. Lastly, do not begrudge me of my choice, this is my decision. Be like me, identify that individual that gives you confidence and eulogize, even praise to high heavens. Some people are even paranoid with my choice that they say I worship Buhari, but seriously, what is wrong in canonizing integrity and impeccable good heart? Don’t the good books describe people with integrity and honesty as being the image of God? To sustain the pedagogy of the study of Muhammadu Buhari, I chose to document my feelings of this man into this venture titled The Buhari In Us, except we are being economical with the truth, there is certainly at least one Buhari in us!
You have been an ardent supporter of the president, why so much passion and love for him?
The simplicity of the man is awesome, his level of contentment is infectious and how he has reshaped our thinking is second to none. Like the lake, he remains always calm even in turbulence. He won’t engage you in any bout of fist or cry wolf even in the face of perceived animosity. One infectious attribute of Muhammadu Buhari is his humility, he can disarm even the most hardened heart. Different people have described him in different ways, time and circumstances have placed him on a scale of continuum to be defined in many forests of descriptions.
While some see him as the reasons for their unmet expectations, I see him as the bearer of hope to a nation almost on the precipice of ruins. Borrowing the words of Mr Femi Adeshina, ‘And for me, if you love Buhari, all your sins are forgiven. If they are like scarlet, they become white as snow. If they are red like crimson, they become white as wool. That is me, no apologies’.
My passion for Buhari is not about money, fame or relevance but it’s about a deep conviction, about integrity, about the fear of God, about an impeccable man with stainless traces. I am perpetually glued to the character, integrity, impeccable leadership style and personae of Muhammadu Buhari, Dogo dan Daura.
And for those who may feel otherwise, do not begrudge me of my choice, this is my decision, be like me. Identify that individual that gives you confidence and eulogize, even praise them to high heavens. I’m Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice and Muhammadu Buhari is my obsession.
What is your view on opinions that the president has not lived up to expectations?
Measuring governance using the scale of expectations will be difficult given the peculiarities of time. What we should be talking about is, has the development or agenda of the president translated into tangible benefits for Nigerians? That way, it becomes very easy to measure the strides or otherwise of the present administration. Lets even isolate the issues, he did promise to increase the take-home pays of civil servants, did he or not? What about the plight of pensioners, did the man abandon them in their hitherto pitiable state? Of course not. He ensured that teachers’ salaries are increased and followed suit by making available statutory allocations to states.
Infrastructure-wise, can we be fair to the administration that it has done well?
Recently, President Buhari flagged-off the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project which is said to be the largest of its kind in the nation. This is just one reference in the catalogue of the many infrastructural strides of the administration. What about governance as it affects the youth? In March 2016, the N10 billion Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) project was launched through the Bank of Industry to empower the youth with loans to start businesses. In the same vein, in May 2016 to be precise, Farmer Moni, Trader Moni and Market Moni-some notable schemes of this administration were set up to financially empower over two million traders and farmers including youth traders and farmers to boost their businesses. I can go on and on.
But that does not mean to say all is well with the administration?
There are other shortcomings inherent in the government. For instance, the absence of sanctioning mechanisms where everyone does as they like has stained the garment of the administration. The government must be seen wielding the rod on erring officials – a review template of performance must be seen working.
Do you support the zoning of the presidency in 2023?
The first creed of civility is fairness and equity, the opportunities inherent to man must be equitably distributed to everyone. Nigeria is like a father with six children, as expected of any father, his love and affection for the children should be equal. The four regions of Nigeria have tasted power, it’s time Nigeria gives the North-Central and South-East regions the embrace of power. This is the next advocacy that every democrat should engage in.
What is your view about the insecurity ravaging the nation?
The prevailing insecurity in Nigeria has dwarfed the many strides of this government, no day passes without the ugly news of killings. This has unsettled people and put them in fear and disillusion. Deliberate efforts must be made to address this nightmare otherwise we will wake up one day to a forlorn state. Everyone must come together and find a permanent respite to this issue of insecurity in Nigeria. Bandits have not only taken over the roads but are into people’s homes where families are abducted in their numbers, farmers can’t go the farms due to the menace of bandits. Something must be done very quickly.
The country is experiencing another recession within five years, some have blamed the policies of the president, what is your view on that?
Certainly, there was no way Nigeria would have entered into a recession given the prevailing realities on ground. The world was on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of oil plummeted, oil fell to almost $9 per barrel because no one was buying from anyone including Nigeria. Secondly, we had no business locking down Nigeria. For months, salaries were paid to workers not working, money was given for Covid-19 palliative, and the list goes on. Imagine Lagos getting N10 billion for COVID-19, what happened to that money, where is the Italian guy that brought the virus to Lagos, what happened to all those quarantined? The federal government got it tragically wrong in locking down Nigeria. They should have listened to Yahaya Bello of Kogi State who refused to lockdown his state. WHO protocols that depleted our already lean resources was an ill-thought measure. We shouldn’t have been allowed to cope with our peculiarities before COVID-19, our food import drive was almost near zero, we were making do with what we had, boom, we locked down and the rest is the aggravated hunger that greeted us in the face. Evidence and statistics show that 95% of our earnings come from oil. Assuming your income from a line of business is N100, and you got hit by an event and the revenue falls to say N10 without your control, what can you do? We keep saying diversification but the fact remains that our earnings as a country is still tied to oil whose price is not in any way in our control. Whatever happened in OPEC and the oil market, we are on our knees. Therefore, that we are in another bout of recession is not a surprise but a reality.
Restructuring is now on the front burner, what does it mean to you?
We should be talking about restructured values and not political restructuring that comes only when election is around the corner. Devaluation of political powers has nothing to do with good governance. The resources at our disposal, how have we utilized them in the interest of the people? True federal true should begin with us, especially those saddled with the responsibility of providing governance.