Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a second Republic politician in this interview, tells what most people do not know about President Buhari – he was packaged to look like a hater of corruption but the interview tells otherwise.. From the Presidency reaction about all aides accused of corruption – it is evident that Buhari is a lover of corruption like all other Nigerian leader. We also recall when he said late Sani Abacha was never corrupt.
You claimed to have been a friend to President Buhari since he was a rising officer in the army, do you have to come to the open to criticise him instead of doing that privately?
There is a little story about this. I had occasion to speak about this issue about two or three times. Yes, the man has been my friend and I remember in 1998, I saw Buhari, he was then Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund and he asked me to see him in Abuja from Kano which is about 450-500 kilometres. Upon my arrival, I was lodged at the then NICON NOGA Hotel, the next morning, I joined him in the office at Asokoro over tea. After we had discussed other matters, I gave him the information I had about some dirty business going on in the Finance Department of the PTF. I mentioned names, I gave him details. And I told him, ‘Don’t trust me because I understand there are some people you normally trust, out of these beneficiaries, get some of them to investigate.’ Then we parted company and I returned to Kano. Three and a half months later, Buhari himself called me over the telephone and said, ‘Mallam doctor, can we see?’ I said yes. The next day, I went to Abuja and found that a hotel accommodation had been booked for me by one Sali Hidjo who ran the African Projects Consortium, the main consultants to the PTF. The next day, I went to his (Buhari’s ) office, the first question he asked me was, ‘Mallam doctor, what is your source of information?’ I told him I was not going to let him know my source of information because if I don’t keep my sources private, then I am finished as a public person. He kept quiet for a while; then he smiled and told me that everything I told him turned out to be correct. In fact, he said there were certain facts that I didn’t get but which he found out. He said he commissioned some people with accounting backgrounds and some officers of the SSS and gave them the freedom to recruit others to do a forensic audit of the records and the team submitted a report to him. They found that everything I said was the truth and he thanked me. Then I asked him, ‘Sir, General, what do you intend to do with these people since the head of the Mafia-he used the word, not me- was a man who was a director of finance in the PTF was the elder brother of a friend of his, a former military governor. Buhari said he and the former governor, now late, were friends. He said he (Buhari) he and the former governor had come a long way, that they joined the armed forces around the same time, though in the Air Force. He said they started soldering around the same time, they had been moving around together around the same stations, that they were made (military) governors and sworn in the same day when Murtala (Muhammed) appointed them governors. He was appointed the governor of the North East and his friend was appointed governor of North Central State and they remained close until the man’s sudden death. It was his brother who was the mastermind of this fraud perpetrated under Buhari. And I said, “General, what are you going to do with these people?’ He said he summoned the culprit and scolded him bla, bla, blah. He said he also summoned the entire staff of the finance department and addressed them. I asked him, “Is that all?’ I think he realised that I was not satisfied; he said there was nothing he could do. I said it is not your personal money; it is the money belonging to the Nigerian patrimony, money belonging to all of us. If they have been found to have abused public trust, they should be taken to court and dealt with appropriately. If for whatever reason technical or otherwise, they are found not guilty, they should be allowed to go free but in this situation, you cannot pretend as if nothing has happened. The way and manner you have handled this matter, I assure you no matter the explanation you will want to give about your personal relationships will not suffice.’ I was not satisfied; Buhari was not satisfied with my position. I stood up, we shook hands, he walked me to the lift, I entered the lift, then my car and left for Kano. So, when he started messing up this time around, a reporter whom I have known for over 40 years who is also from that state and has lived in Kaduna with Buhari asked me on live television why I decided to go public with Buhari- he volunteered the information to me that Buhari was aware I was going to grant the interview and in fact, would be watching the television station at that time. Then I said, this was what happened and I decided I was not going to go to him. I said the experience I had with him was unpleasant and I found the standards I expected of him were not the standards he maintained when he became President. The people who asked me the question are very much around; one is Mr. Toyin Alabi, the General Manager of Liberty Radio and Television. The man who did the Hausa version was a man from a famous family in Zaria, Mamman Baba-Ahmed. You can verify from them. I believe that one, if you are in a position of public trust, it is a challenge; I don’t relate to people who don’t take the truth I tell them and I am not prepared to be associated with a leader who believes that his personal interest can override that of the public. I believe Nigeria is greater than all of us, including the President and if any of my friends believes their personal interests and that of their dubious cronies are greater than the collective interest of Nigeria, we will part ways.
Buhari has come out to say that both Ibrahim Magu and Babachir Lawal have been cleared of allegations against them; do you think Buhari is protecting his appointees?
Precisely, that is what he is doing and he is doing it in a very shameless manner too. The two cases (Magu and Lawal) are not the same. Magu got his appointment after a proper background check had been done as far as I can recall. Magu is still a serving police officer. The police keep a very meticulous record of their officers and you don’t go up to the rank of an Assistant or Deputy Commissioner of Police with a bad record. As far as I am concerned, Magu was appointed because among those checked, he was considered as one who has what is required to carry out the anti-corruption war the way the President wants it fought. Now, those who have something to hide and members of the cabal around the President have, in cahoots with senators who feel threatened, are trying to deny him an opportunity to do his job. I have said in the past and I repeat it today that the ambition of members of the cabal is to hijack the anti-corruption war so that they can use it to make money and exercise power. Magu has gone through a lot. If there is any evidence that he is teaming up with individuals to shortchange Nigerians at his duty post, he should not only be relieved of the job but also be prosecuted. The DSS report cannot be a basis of an indictment against Magu because the DSS is acting in cahoots with the cabal; they take directives from the cabal and we have to be careful. In the case of Lawal, he should have been asked to step aside but that was not done. And then to cover the tracks, the cabal and some elements within the Presidency tried to bring in the case of Magu to distract the public.
You once came out to accuse President Muhammadu Buhari of perpetuating the worst form of nepotism in Nigeria; do you still hold this view?
Absolutely! I have seen no evidence so far to make me change my mind. In the previous interview I granted you, I did ask Nigerians or anybody else to look at the evidence I produced and that evidence is very much alive and well and can be verified by anybody who cares to verify it. As far as I am concerned, I stand by everything about the allegations I levelled against President Buhari, Mamman Daura and other relations of his for being nepotistic and if you want, I can repeat what I said offhand because I am certain about my facts. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no response either from the people mentioned or from the so-called Presidency and their spokespersons. As far as I am concerned, everything I said still stands and if anybody is willing to challenge me, I am prepared. If anybody wants to challenge the identities of the people mentioned or their actual, exact connection with Buhari, I am prepared to go public. I am prepared to confront such people whoever they are or whatever they say.