Buba Galadima is an unrepentant critic of President Muhammadu Buhari. In this interview, he barred his mind on the challenging security situation in the country, the anti-corruption war of the administration and the possibility of another Third term agenda in the guise of surrogate.
How would you react to the startling revelations that are coming out of the probe of some government agencies by the National Assembly vis-a-vis the anti-corruption war of this administration?
We had already predicted some of these things that are coming out now. Years back, we had envisaged that they would happen and we raised the alarm. But the owners of this administration saw us as an enemy or opponent of government. They were looking at the messenger not the message. If not, certain people that were appointed as ministers wouldn’t have been appointed. While Buhari was making the appointments, there were lots of allegations that people were paying for their positions. Some of these people were even under investigation for alleged stealing where they had worked before. But President Muhamadu Buhari found it expedient to appoint them. So, how can anybody in his right senses expect Akpabio to be a saint? Everybody knows that they have to recoup the money they invested in buying those positions. This is exactly what is happening. I just wish the president well because if he finishes his term, and he hears certain revelations of what has been happening during his government, I hope he would not have heart attack, because it will be unbelievable for him. It is now left for him to look at the issues dispassionately and do justice for the people of Nigeria who gave them their trust. Today, dollar is selling for N475 despite the fact that there is no importation or overseas travels. So, what do they use the dollar for? My own submission is that those who steal public money are converting it to dollar. They should find out why dollar is selling so high when it is not needed. Let the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, be tried publicly, you will be shocked of what he says. There is no secret of any individual in this government that he doesn’t have. If they press him hard, he will turn the whole of Nigeria upside down because of the revelations he is going to make.
Since the advent of this democratic dispensation, successive governments had always made commitment to fight corruption to a standstill, but all to no avail. Is it the system that allows corruption to thrive or it is inherent in the people?
Let me frankly tell you that it is in our blood. Every Nigerian is corrupt irrespective of his or her belief, tribe or where he or she comes from. It is only in Nigeria you see people besiege the court during the trial of somebody who stole public money and say leave him, he is our son. Having said this, there is no government in Nigeria that has mouthed anti-corruption war as much as this government. Yet we have never had it this bad. Out of several trillions of naira they have borrowed in the name of infrastructure development, nobody can show me for what purpose these monies have been used. What this government has done, if it happens in another country, the country will turn upside down.
The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, recently raised the alarm about the alleged sabotage going on in the Northeast in the efforts to fight the Boko Haram insurgents. What is your take on this matter?
You don’t believe in what he said? You mean you didn’t see it in social media how he was attacked in Baga?
I don’t live in the Northeast, so, I cannot say yes or no.
He is in a better position to tell you whether what he said is correct or wrong.
Where is the sabotage coming from?
Has this government not told us severally that they have defeated and decimated Boko Haram? I want to tell you that I live in Maiduguri from 1956 to date. Today, Maiduguri is a town housing over five million people, the most populated town in the whole of Nigeria. You can’t go to any local government without security escort. The only road you can go in and out of Maiduguri is Damaturu road. Even at that, you have to go with an escort. A day to Sallah, the insurgents almost took over Maiduguri. I urge Nigerians to pray for Zulum. He is trying to see that his people are out of this dilemma, but all those around him, including the security agencies have not been honest in fighting insurgency. Our prayers should be with him because since he is spoiling their business, we have to pray that they don’t succeed in killing him as they killed the officer around him on the day he went to Baga.
The army recently announced the release of about 600 deradicalised Boko Haram elements for reintegration into their communities. In your own personal opinion, do you see this as a right step in the right direction?
If they have succeeded in deradicalising them as you have said, it means they are normal people like you and me. This happens all over the world. Even when America arrested the Taliban people, they put them through some processes and when they became deradicalised, they sent them back for reintegration into their communities. So, it is not first happening in Nigeria. But if they integrate people who have not repented as Boko Haram, then there is a problem for the country, which I will not subscribe to. We have no means of assessing the deradicalisation process. I am 1000 kilometres away from where they did the deradicalisation. So, I can only get information through a third party. I don’t want to make an opinion on what I cannot beat my chest for. Whether they are deradicalised or not, you cannot beat your chest for anybody. They can change at any time; they can do things that are unimaginable.
Would you then subscribe to the resolution of the National Assembly that the Service Chiefs should be sacked?
I had said this two or three years back, but everybody thought it was because I was against Buhari. My opinion is on record just as Mamman Daura spoke about zoning or no zoning. Whatever is the case; these Service Chiefs have outlived their usefulness. They have no new ideas.
Was it not premature for you to have raised the alarm three years ago?
If they had done the right thing three years ago, we would not have been in this dilemma? The issue of sabotage would not have arisen because the new appointees would know the reason their predecessors were removed and they would be forced to perform. If the Service Chiefs had spent two years without an impact, what else are you expecting from them?
Miyetti Allah is proposing to establish its own vigilante group for the security of its members. What is your take on this matter?
My take is that it is a vote of no confidence in the ability of the Federal Government to protect the lives and property of the citizens. It is out of frustration that every group is establishing different security outfits like Amotekun, Fulani vigilante or Zulum hunters.
Presumably, each of these outfits has a defined geographical enclave to operate. Amotekun in the Southwest, for instance, operates in Yoruba land. How would you define the geographical boundary where you expect the Fulani vigilante to operate without conflict with the local communities since they are found almost everywhere in Nigeria?
It is you that will define it, not me because I didn’t hear about it until now. I am not Miyetti Allah. So, I can’t define the geographical entity, but I know they are Nigerians. If they are everywhere and they want to establish vigilante to protect themselves it is due to the failure of government.
Are you saying they can go ahead to establish vigilante in Southeast, Southwest or any other parts of Nigeria?
You are the one suggesting that. You have just told me now and I said even if they establish vigilante in Akure, it is a frustration arising from the inability of the government to protect their lives and property. You are asking me a question you cannot answer yourself. I am not Miyetti Allah, I am not their spokesman, but they are Nigerians and there is a need for them to protect their lives. Nobody will sit down for somebody to come and chop up his head. Where ever they are, they should be in a position to protect themselves, if government cannot protect them.
Do you not see danger in this kind of self-help arrangement?
You are trying to suggest that I am supporting the establishment of these groups.
Not really. I am only looking at the potent danger of the trend.
(Cuts in) I agree, it is an invitation for chaos. I don’t support the establishment by any group. But I am saying that it is a failure of government. It is an expression of frustration by those who do it.
You have always been known to be a fan of Buhari.
(Cuts in) I am still one.
But from the perspective of the people out there, you have a departure point. At what point did you decide to part way with him?
At a point where I realized that he was not doing what we agreed for him to do when he gets to power. This borders on the issues of large heartedness, accommodation of every Nigerian, protection of lives and property, employment generation, fight against corruption, et cetera.
But you also know that it is impossible for any individual to achieve all of these things you have mentioned.
(Cuts in) Where does the bulk stop?
You can only do your part and leave the rest.
(Cuts in) I say where does the bulk stop? I think you are speaking for him.
You didn’t answer my question, you parried it. All the issues you have raised will forever remain a work in progress. Isn’t it?
You are now telling me the man is fighting corruption, you are now telling me the man is providing employment, when the son of Mr. “Nobody” like me cannot get employment, when slots for job are being sold for N1 million to N5 million. If you want to work in NNPC or CBN, bring N5 million, I will get you employment. Are you telling me that what he is doing is correct, and so I should eulogise him?
Other than these issues, in your own heart-of-heart, can you say you don’t have anything personal against him (Buhari)?
That is personal, you don’t ask me personal question. You ask me question that is beneficial to the public or to the country. I can decline to answer a personal question. I have the right. It is not part of my contract with the people to tell you whether I hate or like somebody.
You led the breakaway part of the APC in the run up to the last general elections against Buhari’s re-election. Didn’t you?
I told you we had a departure because he didn’t do what we agreed he would do satisfactorily. Therefore, I may be right if I led a group of people to revolt and say he should go. And now that he has forced himself on the people, is he doing better than before as to make me come back?
If he retraces his steps and begins to do those things you agreed with him to do, would you rejoin him?
He will not. I know him better than you. He has no capacity to do anything. We just have to endure him till May 29, 2023. That is if they will not spring a surprise that he will run again.
Are you expecting a Third Term?
Yes, I’m expecting a Third Term. Clearly, I am expecting it because Third Term comes in different forms. It may be him directly, or he may bring a surrogate. If he brings a surrogate that is only known to him, that is a Third Term in disguise.
Where do you see Nigeria in the next two and a half years?
We have to live with his incompetence.