Alhaji Junaid Mohammed, the self-acclaimed Northern irredentist and jingoist, is not my fan. I hate him for his guts. I hate him for his unbridled and intemperate commentary on national issues which often verge on ethnocentrism. I hate him for his predilection to initiate national conversations that tend to polarize our ethnic nationalities instead of welding us together as a nation with equal stakes.
But I am beginning to like him, I am beginning to enjoy his uncouth language. I am beginning to see the other side of him, that in his vociferation he spares no one, he has neither friend nor foe. I am beginning to admire him for his fearlessness to walk on hallowed grounds where many clay-footed mortals dare not. That is the plank I situate his recent revelations about our President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The Yoruba have a proverb. They say that no matter how clean someone may be, if you poke your finger right into his anus, you will still find some dirt there. And the Igbo say it the other way. They say that it is only when the wind blows that we can see the anus of a hen. So in the July 23rd edition of The Punch newspapers, the wind blew, and fingers were poked. Mr. Junaid Mohammed, erstwhile member of the National Assembly, took the other part of our President to the cleaners, revealing what many Nigerians didn’t know about Buhari.
In an interview he granted the paper, Junaid threw caution to the wind and accused the President of favouritism by surrounding himself with members of his clan contrary to what the constitution says.
In my last article here, I had expressed indignation about how 14 out of the 17 security appointments Mr. President had made so far all came from the North, leaving only 3 for the South and none for the East. Junaid Mohammed’s revelation was thus like a reaffirmation of my earlier thoughts. He accused Buhari of surrounding himself with a clique in the presidency who, as Junaid said, are his family members. For the interest of many that may not have read that interview, it is important that I reproduce here part of what he said.
“Let me say straight away that whether one calls it a cabal or a mafia or power within the presidency under Buhari, whatever you say it is; it is, and a lot worse. First, the most influential person in the presidency today is one Mamman Daura whom as you know, is a nephew of the president. His father was Buhari’s elder brother. In addition, Mamman Daura was the one who single-highhandedly brought up Abba Kyari, the current chief of staff to the president. In fact, Abba Kyari knows Mamman Daura more than he knows his own father.
“Next, the personal assistant to Buhari himself is the son of Mamman Daura, next is the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP), and is also a son-in-law to Mamman Daura because he is married to Mamman Daura’s daughter. Next, the minister they unilaterally chose, against the interest of the party and against the wishes of Sokoto people, happens to be the daughter of the younger sister of Mamman Daura’s wife. Both of them are daughters of Sultan Dasuki, who was sacked by General Abacha. We have the aide-de-camp to Buhari himself, Colonel Abubakar. He is married to the granddaughter of one of Buhari’s elder sisters. Next we have the woman who represents Kaduna in the Federal Executive Council, she is a cousin to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. It is well known that el-Rufai is one of the closest governors to Muhammadu Buhari.
“Next, we have the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Minister of the FCT is the man called Musa Bello, who used to be the Managing Director of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, which used to be the biggest holding company that belonged to all the northern states. His only qualification to be the FCT minister is the fact that his father has been Buhari’s friend over the years. Now, there is a young man called Sabiu Yusuf, nicknamed Tunde – probably because of the late General Tunde Idiagbon. He is another PA to President Buhari. He is also a grandson of another sister of Buhari.
“This is enough to prove to you that this is shamelessly the worst form of nepotism in the history of government in Nigeria. In fact, in the history of Africa, let me make bold to assert that I have never seen any level of nepotism that has equalled or surpassed this in my entire life – I am now in my 67th year. Another thing I also want you to know is that Amina Zakari, who was and is still a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission representing the entire seven states in the North-west; it is being claimed that Buhari knows nothing about her appointment (before he became the president), it is a lie.
“When President Goodluck Jonathan was reorganizing INEC and he was bringing in Prof. Attahiru Jega, he reached out to Buhari and asked him to nominate somebody from the North-west so that, that person would be a national commissioner. Of all the people in the North-west, Buhari decided to nominate his own niece, the daughter of his elder sister – Amina Zakari. She has been there; when Jega left, Buhari was determined to make her the chairman, it was because of the massive backlash that he dropped the idea like hot potatoes. As we are talking today, that woman is a national commissioner which means she is one of the principal members of the election umpire.
“Throughout my reading of history, political science and social sciences generally, I have never heard of any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government whether totalitarian or fascist, appointing his own niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or going to be a party to; Buhari has done that. The immediate younger brother to Amina Zakari is currently the Minister for Water Resources representing Jigawa State in the same Buhari government. In addition, even though they are from Kazaure, Kazaure is contiguous to Daura. The eldest sister of both of them is now the Commissioner for Education in the All Progressives Congress government in Jigawa State. If this is not nepotism, then I don’t know what nepotism is. For somebody who had the guts and the brutal arrogance to appoint these relations, not bothered about public opinion, about the sense of justice, and about competence, then you can see that he has a very serious question to answer.”
Mr. Mohammed’s revelation is instructive. I can flesh out three things from it. First, it smacks of lack of trust on the part of the President, and a serious lack of sense of our political history for our most important power structure which is the presidency to be reduced by anybody to a village or kinship affair. Second, we did not look before we leaped, or we looked but did not look well because we were consumed by the need for “Change”. We were looking for a hero, any hero, and therefore wanted to make a George Washington out of a man who wanted power to settle personal scores. And third, if Mohammed’s revelations are correct, then the president has fallen short of our constitutional provision. Our nationalists, both dead and living, who drafted the constitution, made a provision in section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution for whoever that occupies the office of the president to “effect the federal character of Nigeria” in his or her appointments and actions, being careful to observe “the need to promote national unity, and also command national loyalty”. Other presidents past and alive did their best to uphold this. But we cannot say in all fairness that Mr. President’s actions and body language reflects this.
Mr. Junaid Mohammed is on a solid pedestal to tell us the truth about our president because he knows him better than we do. But I am tempted not to believe him because these revelations sound like a fairy tale. But if perchance that turns out to be true, it will give us some inklings about our president and some food for thought for those who railroaded him to power. We siddon de wait for 2019!