•Agitation for Igbo Presidency’s agitation for Biafra
•You can’t arrest Gumi without arresting those that went to demand for Nnamdi Kanu’s release
Alhaji Buba Galadima, a former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, has dismissed the branding of bandits as terrorists by the Federal Government, saying it shows they know who the bandits are all along.
He dismissed the agitation for Igbo Presidency and said it is not different from the agitation for Biafra. He also made a case for the unity of Nigeria, urging Nigerians to do away with ethno-religious divisions and join hands to build a united country.
By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features
The Federal Government recently branded bandits as terrorists. Sheik Gumi said it’s a waste of time on the part of the government. What do you think?
In all honesty, don’t you think it is a waste of time? There are implications for this declaration. Those who declared these bandits as illegal or outlaws suggest that they know who the bandits are and have not done anything about them. For me, it’s a waste of time and a show of ignorance on the part of those who did that because I don’t know who answers bandits, whether they have address or location in such a manner that when they do banditry, you know where you can arrest them.
The highest the authorities could have done is to propagate an act or law saying that anyone caught doing banditry would face public execution or firing squad or whatever. But you can’t declare somebody without an address, without name an outlaw. You can only deal with the action. The action of banditry can be tackled. If you catch somebody in the act, you can deal with the person, but not outlaw the person because the people are faceless. If you outlaw bandits, you are telling us that all along you know who they are, you have been lying and you are in synergy with them.
But they have somebody who is linked to them like the famous Sheik Gumi…
Do you mean that there are people who don’t know IPOB? How about those who went to the President to request the release of Nnamdi Kanu who is the professed leader of IPOB? Why didn’t they arrest those people if you are arresting Sheik Gumi?
Are you comparing bandits with IPOB?
I am not comparing them because IPOB is a known organization, they have leaders who are known, they have account numbers and people are even paying into the bank account abroad and inside Nigeria to facilitate their activity. Is there any bandit with a bank account that you know?
So, I am not comparing bandits with IPOB because IPOB is known while the other is faceless but their actions may be similar. Bandits have no known bank account.
IPOB is not chasing away people from their homes and communities and occupying them like bandits are doing in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the North
Why did you mention Southern Kaduna when you know greater atrocities are being committed in Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Niger which are one hundred times more than what is happening in Southern Kaduna?
Bandits are not more prevalent in Southern Kaduna. We should look at things objectively in this matter of Nigeria. If anything is happening to you, we should agree it could happen to me and therefore, I must protect you and by that, protect myself for tomorrow. But when we hold a view that these are Christians, these are Muslims, we can never get it right. In this country when the North wants to deal with certain policies, the South trivializes it and makes it an ethnic issue. If we show you the video of what is happening in IPOB controlled areas, Nigeria will be in trouble and the media makes it difficult for us to explain that Nigeria is one.
Is Nigeria one?
From my perspective, it is. It may not be exactly what you want but we all can work together to make Nigeria what we want it to be by practicing the best practices we want to practice in this country.
What are your thoughts about the lopsided appointments in the country and marginalization of some sections?
I believe in one Nigeria. Which section of the country is not marginalized? Now, let me tell you about marginalization. I’m from Gashua which is the farthest part of the North and very close to Niger. We are less than 100 kilometers from Niger. My name is Abubakar Buba Galadima, I am a Muslim. The Galadima in my name is a title. In the olden days, our grand-parents go to Niger on foot.
Now, speaking about marginalization, I have worked for Buhari, more than anybody in this country. Do you believe that? I have worked harder for Buhari to be the president more than any living human being including himself. We brought him into politics. We stayed with him for 15 years.
There is no deprivation I have not seen in life including treason trials. I was put underground at No. 1 Parklane Apapa. I didn’t know the difference between day and night. I wasn’t seeing the palm of my hand. Yet, Buhari was in power. My daughter worked in the Villa, my daughter who Buhari and his wife went to the United Kingdom for her graduation, my daughter that he gave out in marriage to her husband, my daughter that had her first son named after Buhari, she worked in the Villa for four years without salary, they will pay one day, and will never pay again. What would you call her experience?
Why was that?
Just listen to me, I am leading to something. You talked about marginalization and I am explaining that to you. There was no salary for her even until now. This is the person that if he opens his eyes and sees her, he would call her name Zainab Buba Galadima; yet no salary for her. I that worked for him ended being arrested and detained three times during the period we were working with him. Today, he is in power. Those who organized for us to be killed who were governors then are today ministers. I have eight children, all with Masters, two of them medical doctors but they cannot get work. When they go for employment, they ask me to bring 3, 4, 5 million naira. I don’t have one.
Is this real?
Have you ever heard that Buba Galadima lies? Has anybody said Buba Galadima is a liar, that I have ever said contrary to what is known to be facts? I am telling you about marginalization. Whatever anybody has done to make Buhari President is nothing compared to what I did. I led the team that garnered 12 million votes for him but some people just came in, brought jets, contributed money but only garnered 2.8 million votes for him. Now, am I being favoured or marginalized?
Be the judge of the matter. This thing cannot be normal. My daughter has been talking about her experience to the BBC. Is her case marginalization or hatred? Which one is worse? Somebody worked for you and you couldn’t pay his daughter’s salary and the others that didn’t work for you are expecting appointments.
We are talking about the security situation which is getting worse. People can’t move around anymore. I’m based in Lagos but can’t go to the South-East…
It is not only you or those heading to the South-East that could not move. I lost my elder brother in Damaturu, my wife lost her first cousin. We are in Abuja here. We are Northerners and Muslims, we know Buhari one on one. We could not travel out of Abuja to attend burials in Damaturu. The situation in the country is bad but I believe we can work together for the betterment of Nigeria. The media can help but the media is ethnicising these things.
When there was the June 12 issue, #EndSARS issue, there were ethnicised. More northerners voted for Abiola on June 12.
During the EndSARS, if we had acknowledged that there was insecurity in the country and a Katsina man’s neighbour was involved; a Zamfara man’s neighbour was involved, all of us would join hands and fight. The South should stop trivializing issues. When we make insecurity a national issue, all of us would be on it. Can’t you understand the politics we are teaching you? When you trivialize issues as southern issues, northerners pull back.
The other day, Okwadike, the former governor of Anambra State came to me with a group of people and asked me to support Igbo presidency. When they finished talking, I told him I will not support Igbo Presidency but I will support an Igbo man from the South-East as president of Nigeria if the man is good, large-hearted, and better than Buhari who we promoted to be president but he shifted the ladder when he got to the top. When you said Igbo presidency, it is suggestive that he will only be the president of Igbo and not the president of Nigerians.
But he meant President of Nigeria from the South-East…
How would I know what he meant? How would I see his heart? What if he meant another thing? I am telling you so you tell your people. And it is very difficult to get out of this country. By the time you get out, we must have lost half of the population of the country. It’s not easy and when you do ‘gragra’ that you want to take the presidency by force, things get worse. Nobody trusts you that way. I will tell you what nobody will tell you.
So, I told Ezeife, no and I told him that all these agitations are counter-productive to an Igbo man becoming president of Nigeria because the thought is, are we voting for an Igbo man to dismember Nigeria with Biafra, or are we voting for an Igbo man to keep Nigeria one?
This is a big issue. We are not voting an Igbo man to be president of Biafra but to be the president of Nigeria. But how can that be with these violent agitations? The northerners will not take it, Yoruba people will not take it, because it’s like they are conquered in war.
When Obasanjo was supported, it was because he is perceived to have a large heart and could accommodate everybody. When Abiola was voted for, it was also for the same reason. His philanthropic gestures cut across tribes and religion. Why can’t the Igbo learn a small lesson? I am giving you a tip that you cannot buy in the market. When I finished with Ezeife and his group, I have not heard of somebody promoting Igbo presidency which means Ezeife had heard my warning and he must have told others. This is not by using force. The people will remain in power. Even if Nigeria will be dismembered, the people there will be the legitimate authority in Abuja.
Are you saying the Igbo is not fit to be president of Nigeria?
I am giving you a free consultancy on how to be the president of Nigeria. You cannot take it by force but by negotiation and dialogue.
But that was what Ezeife came to do with you?
And they are promoting IPOB at the same time
Ezeife was not promoting IPOB…
How about those who went to Abuja to meet Buhari to release Nnamdi Kanu? I was arrested and put underground during Obasanjo’s regime. Why didn’t the North raise hell and cry marginalization?
I have given you tips on how to be the president of Nigeria. The man who wants to be the President of Nigeria must have a large heart so that he can accommodate all of us and Nigerians must look at the man’s pedigree: when he was MD or minister, how many other tribes were in his employ?
If I come to your office and I can’t find a Hausa man, that person is not worthy to be President. I want you to get the correct message. If you are talking about insecurity, you can’t go to your village in the South-East for Christmas, I can’t travel to the North to bury my dead relative, we are all victims.
My case is worse or is there no Christ in Lagos? I believe Christ is everywhere. Must you go to your village for Christmas?
We are talking about the EndSARS report. If I tell you what happened in Abuja, who did what in Abuja, you will not believe but I can tell you the future is precarious. Now, there is the likelihood that the fuel price will rise from N165 to N340 and it will affect everybody living in Nigeria. Don’t you think we need to stand together and fight it? We need to fight it.
I am ready to come out and lead a protest but who will follow? Will other Nigerians join me in the fight? If we can’t come and fight, then there’s a problem.
When an issue comes up in Nigeria, don’t trivialize it, don’t ethnicise it. When you do, others pull back and the issue never gets addressed. We must be one Nigeria to fight. Every section of this country has people who can fight. The fuel issue is affecting everybody, don’t say Buhari is a northerner, Buhari is a Muslim. We should all come out and fight. We should fight this fuel issue.
We should look at the issue objectively, there has not been an Hausa President or Yoruba President and there can never be an Igbo President. We want a Nigerian President from the South-East, who can accommodate everybody; who is large-hearted. We can support such a person but this Igbo presidency sounds scary. It sounds like the President of Biafra who has defeated both Yoruba and Hausa.
We should investigate who wants to be President of Nigeria. We should dispel all concepts being done by other people.
We should research the various establishments in Nigeria: government agencies, ministries, governors’ offices, even the presidency, judiciary, and private establishments to see how things are run in the country, how people are being employed by employers and their choice of employees.
An Hausa man should not employ only Hausa. An Igbo man should not employ only Igbo and a Yoruba man should not employ only Yoruba in their private establishments or government agencies they sit at the top.
In leadership, especially in areas like service chiefs, you will find that all leaders pick service chiefs from areas they are comfortable with because it’s self-protection first. If the service chiefs are doing their jobs, there is no problem even if they are from the same family.
What bothers me with Buhari’s service chiefs is that they are not delivering on their mandates.
In the days of Abacha, whether you like him or not, the chief of army staff in the days of Abacha delivered on his mandate.
I have never said Buhari is a good man. I abused him the most in Nigeria but, the press annoys us, the press promotes Buhari when we want to hold him on the ground to slaughter. The press trivialises issues and ethnicises them, they get people to rally behind him.
We have a lot of things we can do to help this country. Let’s forget about the tribe, let’s forget about religion, let’s forget about where one comes from. Who is it that can make Nigeria work for all of us? You can’t change the constitution which said you can vote for whoever you want, you’re free to belong to any religion. So, I am not circumventing the constitution. Unless this constitution is changed, there is nothing anyone can do. It is democracy. I’ve put all my life to work for a better Nigeria.
I worked in the Rivers State government in 1975. I was managing 500 million US dollars under my signature and I lived in a two-bedroom house. I was Director of Ajaokuta Steel Company; I was Director-General of NIMASA, I was a national youth leader of NPN, I was the national financial secretary of the NRC, I was the national secretary of the CPC.
I have eight children, each with a Master’s and two medical doctors among them but they couldn’t get jobs because I couldn’t pay for the jobs. They are asking me for N5 million. My daughter has two first degrees, four Masters and when she was graduating, Buhari was there with his family, he gave her out in marriage, she named her first child after him, yet she worked in the Villa for four years without pay and somebody is telling that because he is another tribe in another place, Buhari should give him employment. Why not my daughter? I am annoyed, I am frustrated and when we see a window to deal with him, you people will trivialize it and turn it into a Hausa/Fulani issue and bring in other people to stand behind him? We can make Nigeria better for all of us but we have to do away with small sentiments of tribe and religion. We should look for who should do the job and he who thinks he can do the job should reach out to others.
We always talk about democracy as the best practice in the United States and Europe. Are they talking about tribes and religion in those places? We should do away with tribe and religion and go for the best person. I am a minority in the north but I will never see myself as such. I see myself as every other person. I am bold, I attended the Constituent Assembly and the 1994 Constitutional Conference.