SANUSI MUHAMMAD is a political activist and veteran journalist based in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. He is one of those respected journalists that can be described as fearless, professional to the core with eyes glued on critical stories that make headlines.
In this interview centred on burning national issues, he dwelled on so many issues for a good reading.
Q: The election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president
Muhammad: That is an issue pending in the Supreme Court. I may not be in the position to speak on such a burning issue until the apex court decides. What I know is that the election umpire, INEC, had declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of the presidential election which was challenged at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT). The tribunal announced its verdict which was faulted by aggrieved parties. So, let us wait for the decision of the Supreme Court.
Q: Any hope for a credible judgment by the Supreme Court?
Muhammad: Let us wait for the judgment first. We have read several controversial and suspected compromised judgments from the Supreme Court already. There may be a diversion from the past. I am not saying that Tinubu did not win the election but those petitioners are expecting a reversal or cancelation of the entire election result for a by-election to hold or one out of them to be declared as the rightful winner of the election devoid of the application of technicality as requested. So, let us wait for the Supreme Court.
Q: Proposed NLC strike
Muhammad: I tend to disagree with the position of the Labor Congress on wages increase because increase of wages at most times only creates inflation than solution. Looking back at the Udoji salary increase of the 70s and subsequent salary increases, the entire policy created more problems to workers than solutions to their plights. Instead of increase in wages, NLC should press for the reintroduction of the defunct Price Control Boards. With a constitutionally backed Price Control Board, prices of goods can be within the purchasing power of workers. But, I doubt much if increase in wages is of any good to the worker.
Q: Causes of lingering security challenges
Muhammad: The first culprit to be blamed is corruption. The second is insincerity in governance and the third culprit is unemployment and fear of a bleak future. Corruption is the bane of the security challenges we are forced to confront. We are in a country where corruption is respected and protected against justice. We have the most highly corrupt piloting the affairs of government. Our leaders are extremely insincere and dishonest. We are almost a failed country. This is a country where sincerity in government service is thrown to the dogs for feast. We have very dishonest and self-centred persons in leadership. Look at the mess going on in the EFCC. Some operatives of the commission are more of criminals than those they are chasing. Look at what is happening in the ICPC where sometimes bribes are demanded before any official assignment can be handled. Look at the NDLEA where identified hard drugs dealers are friends to some operatives.
The list is long as in other security organs of government charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption and bribery. It is only in Nigeria a low cadre civil servant with a poor family background employed by government on a monthly salary of N40-N50, 000 drives personal expensive exotic cars, owns mansions and other properties with pride without an eye brow raised by anyone.
It is only in Nigeria staff of other federal establishments competes in stealing what belongs to Nigerians to own properties in the FCT and other choice locations without any fear. It is a country with several public servants and political office holders within the executive and the legislature with fake credentials.
With such unwholesome situation at hand, how do you expect to be safe? We are in a rat race for illicit wealth accumulation because governments have failed to provide the needs of the people in all sectors of the economy. The people are forced to provide their needs in the midst of plenty. Money budgeted for projects are brazenly stolen. Public servants are now contractors against the civil service rules. What we have today are criminals in public offices tutoring politicians on how to steal and escape with the loot.
Another point is that those with the requisite knowledge to assist security agencies to degrade the insecurity situation are either not, reached, frustrated or even threatened by those security agencies for obvious reasons. With the ray of intelligent officers we claim to have, how can Boko Haram insurgents, kidnappers etc continue to threaten our peaceful existence? Kidnappers for ransom are there having field day. Ritualist and other criminal elements are parading the streets with pride. There should be a change of attitude. I suggest the establishment of a secret security monitoring committee under the office of the Chief of Staff to the President for effective monitoring.
Q: Tinubu and fight against corruption
Muhammad: It is too early to judge the Tinubu administration because it has not even settled down for business. Let us give it a chance to settle down first.
Q: The crisis between Wike and PDP
Muhammad: There is no genuine brouhaha between Chief Wike and the PDP from my understanding of the situation. There is only a misunderstanding and betrayal. Chief Wike should not be blamed for what befell the PDP at the presidential election because he sounded a strong warning before hand. If the PDP had listened to Wike and did the needful as he requested, PDP could have been in power today. The party refused to sacrifice Iyorchia Ayu to attain victory. It preferred to have Ayu who could not even deliver his state to the party than addressing the critical issues raised by Chief Wike. Honestly, I don’t accuse Wike for any wrong doing because he stood against injustice.
Q: Wike as a federal minister in an APC government
Muhammad: There is nothing wrong with serving your country in an opposition government. Wike has proven to be above petty and sentimental politics. He believes in service to Nigeria no matter the odds. Serving as a minister has not denied him the membership of his party, the PDP.
Q: Demolishing of the National Mosque
Muhammad: Who is to demolish the national Mosque? Definitely not the Nyesom Ezonwo Wike that we know over the years who provided a level playing field for all religions in Rivers state when he was a governor. As FCT Minister, Wike never said he was going to demolish the national Mosque. Let us get it right! If any portion of the national Mosque or any other place of worship is not within the Abuja master-plan by law, definitely, it has to go. We should stop fanning embers of hatred against those leaders determined to correct the wrongs. I know of a few areas within the FCT earmarked on the master-plan as gardens but converted to places of worship through the active connivance of FCDA staff. Chief Wike should investigate how those structures not captured on the Abuja master-plan came to be. the culprits are there in his office. There are more criminals in the FCDA than sincere members of staff. We all know of their modus operandi and how they amassed so much wealth through illegality. Instead of Chief Wike to be placed under the boot, those criminals should be fished out and prosecuted.
Q: Wike and Sheikh Ahmed Gumi
Muhammad: I listened to the castigations and insults heaped on Wike by Sheikh Gumi which was very unfortunate. The learned cleric spoke out of ignorance of the real situation at hand. As a religious leader, I never expected such uncouth statements from the learned cleric. I expected him to have studied the situation at hand before voicing his opinion. But, he exhibited his ignorance and went wild against a government policy. That shouldn’t be the case. Wike from my understanding of the situation never intended to offend the Muslim community or demolish the national Mosque as mischievously reported. At any rate, the problem is over with the visit of the national Mosque Committee to Chief Wike for facts finding.
Q: Who can you rate as the best performing governor in Nigeria today?
Muhammad: There are very few of them. Sen. Bala Muhammed in Bauchi is doing his best. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is there in Lagos. Prof Zulum is another performing governor in Borno and Caleb Mutfwang in Plateau State is not the sleeping type. There may be few others battling the odds of underdevelopment in their states but majority of them, are far below average.
Q: Akpabio as Senate President
Muhammad: No comment on the dictatorship on display. Sen. Abdul Azeez Yari could have been far better than him in piloting the affairs of the 10th Senate.