•‘My mind is in APC but if PDP presents a better candidate I’ll support him’
•Speaks on Buhari presidency, CONVID-19
BY ANDY ASEMOTA
Front-line medical doctor and politician, Dr. Yushau Armayau, in this interview x-rays COVID-19 vaccine’s controversy and opposition of NMA to Chinese medical team and kits in the fight against Corona Virus pandemic.
The chairman of Katsina State chapters of ANPP, CPC AND PDM respectively in his 16 year sojourn on the political turf before he quit partisan politics also bares his mind on President Muhammadu Buhari administration, 2023 presidency among other burning issues. Excerpts:
How have you lived after retirement?
You know I am a medical doctor by profession but after my retirement from service, I joined partisan politics. I was in ANPP or APP, as it was called for some time, and I was the chairman of ANPP in katsina State for about 12 years before the CPC was formed. I was the chairman of CPC for another four years before we opted out of the party and formed the PDM where I was also its chairman for another four years. In all, I was the chairman of different political parties for about 16 years. So, I think I know a little bit of politics.
What is your view on whether 2023 presidency should be retained in the North or zoned to the South?
Well, sincerely speaking, my opinion about leadership is that it should go to the best, not based on religion, ethnic or regional groupings. I think in most of the countries that are developing quite recently, if you take Middle East for example, areas like Thailand and its environs, their development is based on picking the best people to do the job regardless of ethnicity, religion or whatever. This is the only way we can achieve the best. Sincerely speaking, I don’t mind whoever comes to be the President of Nigeria so long as he has the muscle; he has the intelligence to lead the country in the right direction.
Which of the political parties enjoys your support now?
You see, I have given you history of my sojourn in politics. All along, I was with the people who are in APC; I have never been in PDP. So, honestly, my feeling is still for the APC but that doesn’t mean that if a better person comes from PDP, so long he is very good and he can deliver, I won’t support him. This is my philosophy: Pick the right person, who can do the job and give him the job that is all.
Some critics have continually expressed doubts over the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the good of this nation. What is your comment?
What an interesting question. All my life, I believe in Muhammadu Buhari as a leader that can deliver. He has been in presidency for so many years now and he is doing his best. Well, I can’t say Buhari has done the job as well as I thought he would do it but obviously there are several factors affecting his administration.
I can understand that there are a lot of issues: some are political; some are personal and so on. I think Buhari has done his best but I believe he could have done better. I sincerely don’t approve of some of his choice of his lieutenants. There are people who can do the job but of course in politics you have so many considerations; he may have considered some issues that we don’t know in picking his own team and they are doing their best.
Talking about Buhari’s lieutenants, apart from the National Assembly, a cross of Nigerians have also asked the President to change his Service Chiefs. What is your take on that?
I am not at all conversant with military issues but Buhari is a military man; he has gone through the military and he knows what it’s about. So, I will not argue with him on military issues; there may be cogent reasons he doesn’t want to change his Service Chiefs.
As Nigerians bicker on the issue of medical team and kits from China, the NMA is opposed to using the Chinese team and kits in treating COVID-19 while federal government reasons otherwise. Where have you pitched your tent in this argument?
This is not a question of being a medical doctor but human being and a citizen who is current on national issues especially on health matters. One should be very careful on issue of Corona Virus. The medical people obviously can foresee the problems related to COVID-19; they know what it is to interfere with respiratory system and so on. From all indications and from media reports, this Corona Virus is a scary disease and it originated apparently from China. So, anything coming from China can bring suspicious. I can understand if Nigerians, not only NMA, are suspicious of the Chinese medical team and kits.
In NMA are doctors and professors, who are really very knowledgeable about what the medical issues are. If there are suspicions about these things, I don’t blame them. From what we have been hearing from social media and our brothers abroad, the issue of trying to use Africa as a testing ground for a vaccine that is to be manufactured in either United States of America or China is a scary thing.
If the NMA leaders are worried about COVID-19 vaccine, I don’t blame them. If I were in their shoes, I would do the same thing. They know what they are doing and the presidency on the other hand may also know what it’s doing most especially as everybody can see the relationship between it and China is blooming.
We have a lot of Chinese doing our jobs here in the country, so if the presidency is going to be very charming with the Chinese government, that is okay but let them allow the medical association also do its job. The federal government should allow NMA to do what is right medically; it is their profession, there should be no interference at all.
What do you make of the allegation in the social media that the federal government is bent on accepting COVID vaccine in Nigeria because it is seeking multi-billion dollar loan and other benefits from China?
A serious government, which I believe Nigerian government is, should be aware of the danger of this COVID-19. Anything that can worsen the cases of COVID-19 deserves all necessary measures. Take politics aside, government’s prime duty is to look after the health and security of Nigerians. So, it should do that. I have been in government before, so I know some happening in government; some of these things are unknown to the public.
You have retired from service but not tired…
(Cuts in) Who told I am not tired? I am tired but the issue is this, any issue that comes our way in Katsina, obviously, I try to talk to appropriate persons about it and I am doing that even now with the current authorities. I may not necessarily talk to the government or the governor about the issue but I can talk to my colleagues who can understand precisely what I’m saying when I am talking with them. It’s up to them to either use or discard my opinion.
What is your honest assessment of the APC administration in Katsina State?
That is political; I am not going to talk about it; that is their business.
Many are worried over the impact of the COVID-19 on economy. What is your advice?
You see, this Corona Virus is a scary disease and should be taking seriously. Our people are not used to any situation like this and some of them can’t even comprehend the situation but since I have knowledge of medical issues; I know this COVID-19 is a very, very serious issue. We shouldn’t take it for granted and we should not relax until we see the end of this Corona Virus.
We have been told how this virus disseminates from one person to another. We should try as much as possible to avoid congregations whether in mosques, churches, markets or even social gatherings. It’s very important because the mode of transmission of the virus is tied down to social gatherings.
People are talking of economy, economy but you have to be alive before you talk of economy. The way people are dying in UK, USA, Italy and Spain is scary. What economy are you talking about when you are not alive? You have to be alive before you start talking of economy. Sincerely speaking, the first step is to obey the rules laid down by the government on this COVID-19 and later we can think of economy and others.