Buhari’s team weak – Ango Abdullahi


    Ango-AbdullahiThe Buhari administration seems to be embattled. The siege may have been brought on by a combination of forces, some of it self-inflicted, Ango Abdullahi, Spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, a professor and former Special Adviser to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and one of the founding fathers of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, seems to be saying. When he spoke to Sunday Sun recently in his Zaria farm, it was clear that he and those in his camp of the NEF are not happy with President Muhammadu Buhari. Abdullahi pointed out what he perceived as the inadequacies of the Buhari government and also offered advice. The former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria also faulted the sacking of 13 Vice Chancellor of federal universities by the Buhari government, describing it as illegal. Ango, an agronomist of international repute, pioneer member of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP and the Magajin Rafi Zazzau who participated in three Constitutional Conferences in Nigeria also spoke on the role of the Northern Elders Forum and other sundry issues of national interest. Excerpts:

    As a former Vice-Chancellor, a professor and an academic, it will be proper to get your position on the recent sacking of 13 vice-chancellors and the reconstitution of the Governing Councils of Federal Universities. Some Nigerians think it was done with­out recourse to the laws of the land, especially those whose tenures are yet to expire. One was even re-appointed late last year for another two years. Are we in for a long drawn battle over this matter? What do you think?
    Well, frankly speaking, university system has been virtually part of all my life. But what is always critically important for a country, for its institutions is to be guided by the rule of law. And anything that runs outside the rules, regulations and laws, you find out that the outcome is usually chaos. You see conflict of interest, and so on and so forth. Yes, historically, all Nigerian universities at the point of their establishment are established by law. The one that I know most is the Ah­madu Bello University, and it has to do with the Office of the Registrar as well as the Office of the Vice Chancellor. And of course, laws, when they are made, at various points in time, there are certain circumstances that need to be reviewed in line with the law to fit such circumstances in the evolution of that institution. And all universities are supposed to have laws and regulations. To come to this specific and recent happening about the dissolution of governing councils, the need for the sacking of vice chancellors that are in office, I think the resolution of the contentions must be found somewhere in the laws establishing universities, and for me, until recently, I was the Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. I remember very well the most recent university laws that were amended had conferred specific powers on the governing councils of universities to have sole responsibility for the appointment of their principal officers, including the vice chancellors. Before then, usually, the councils play a role up to the point when three names are shortlisted amongst so many that have shown interest in becoming vice chancellors of these universities and eventually these three names are sent to the visitor of the university. And the visitor can use his discretion to take any one of the three names regard­less of other recommendations that the council may have made in respect to those three. It was his prerogative to pick any of the three and that’s okay. But in the course of the amendment of these laws and particularly with the pressure that was coming from the academic staff over the years, wanting more autonomy, quote and unquote, autonomy for Nigerian uni­versities, and I think associated with the last long ASUU’s strikes, I think the Obasanjo administration acceded to this, if not all, some aspects of university autonomy. These aspects included the prerogative or exclusive powers of councils to appoint, and after such an appointment inform the visitors that a vice chancellor has been so appointed on such and such a date for such a tenure or period as allowed by the law. So, this is what I know subsists. And if you remember very recently when this new government came in, all para­statals were announced dissolved, but after a few weeks somebody must have raised this particular issue with regards to university councils. And in fact, part of the amendments that government came to agree with ASUU is that at no time should any university, federal university in particular, be left without a governing council. The Academic Staff Union of Universi­ties, ASUU, would not want vice chancellors to assume certain powers that they shouldn’t normally have. Or in the absence of councils, matters affecting the university must be reported to the ministry of education and that’s why this strong recommendation or demand was made by ASUU that at no time should the universities be left without governing councils and this was agreed. So, it must have been on the basis of this after the dissolution of parastatals and so on. A new announcement exempted uni­versity councils. If you go and check your records, you’ll find that this was made after the general announcement, that university councils were exempted. So, to that extent, that particular accord was being respected that all universities at any time shouldn’t be left without a council. So, on the issue of vice chancellors, they are tenured appointments. A tenured appointment, specifically, says that you are appointed from such and such a date to such and such a date. And I think that is a contract. But there are conditions under which you may be removed. There are conditions under which a university council can also be dis­solved. For example, something has gone basically wrong and the next choice is that the entire council be dissolved. So, the question now is for somebody to come out and say, these are the reasons why we feel justified in dissolving these councils even against these standing laws. I haven’t heard it. If the tenures of university vice chancellors have expired, normal­ly then the causes as the case maybe, would be initiated by the subsisting council of that university and this is what really created what appears to be the confusion they’re trying to grapple with. It is that all these universities we are talking about had councils. And so if they had councils, maybe the tenure of the councils may have expired. But even if it hadn’t expired and the government wants to replace them, according to that agreement to replace them but having made sure that at the point of replacing them there is a new council that have been appointed. And I think they can argue on this particular thin line that when they announced the replacement of councils, they immediately appointed new councils. So the contention here is that yes, councils’ life tenure has expired, but politically, I haven’t seen it myself, being a pro-chancellor before. I was fired on the television by Nyesom Wike. Shall we say no, Wike couldn’t have fired me as minister of education or minister of state for education? The President was persuaded to fire me on the television that I was promoting ASUU strike even though I was pro-chancellor of federal university as well and then the President bought into this and one of my friends saw it on the television that Prof. Ango Abdullahi has been replaced as the pro-chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University.

    You talked about conditions under which a vice chancellor can be removed or governing council dissolved. What kind of coincidence would make all the 13 VCs and the governing councils meet the condition for their sack and…
    (Cuts-in). But as a human being, I have the right to know why I was just re­moved. There are procedures for removing councils and there are procedures for removing individual members of council including the chairman. But nothing was brought to my attention that I have done wrong as a Pro-Chancellor to the extent that my name was just mentioned on the television that I have been replaced as chairman of council of ATBU. But you know it didn’t bother me in the sense that since I didn’t look for the job, I didn’t ask for it, they just saw me worthy of doing that, is ATBU my property? So, I just let go and didn’t bother asking questions why they did it. But for me I had a fair idea why. My idea is that I have been critical of the Jonathan administration. And there was nowhere I could hide. And they wanted only people who could praise the good job of the president.

    In view of the agreement between ASUU and government, would you agree that the sacking of these VCs is illegal?
    Well, I mean technically, it is. If you want to go strictly by the provisions of the laws of the universities as amended and going through the agreements reached by ASUU and government over the years definitely this procedure was not correct.

    Let’s talk about the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF). You are the spokesman of the forum. Is this a northern NGO, a socio-cultural organization or a political organization?
    It is a political activist group. That’s what makes us slightly different from, for example, ACF or even to an extent, Afenifere. They say they are socio-cultural or­ganizations. So, it depends on what they give to their activities. If their activity is on culture and sociology and social aspects of community living, we see it, perhaps, on what they are trying to do on matters of national interest. But, our difference is that, we are paying particular attention to the political aspect of lives in the Nigerian state. We wish this country well, and we want to be part of building this country, Nigeria that we inherited from our forefathers. To that extent, I don’t think anybody can fault us.

    Is the Northern Elders Forum registered?
    Emm! We are in the process of registering it. It takes time and the former gov­ernment all along has been suspicious of what we were and what we were trying to do particularly some of us who were against the government. So, when we ap­proached the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, so many times our applications were turned down on the basis that we are trying to start a political party. And political parties are under the law the responsibility of INEC, and so that is how they frustrated us out of the registration. But we are still pursuing it. Our goals and objectives are stated and we hope that we will be registered because we abided by the purpose demanded by law.

    There’s no doubt that you have been constantly making statements in support of the North and its legacies, but the flip side of it is that some critics have accused you and the Northern Elders Forum of helping to smash the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and by extension, the unity of the North. What is your reac­tion to this?
    But I am a member of the ACF and nobody can deny me membership. It is the socio-cultural organization for all Northerners of my age and whatever. I have been an active member of ACF. The only difference sometimes is when things get a little to the political front. And by virtue of ACF being a socio-cultural organiza­tion, every Northerner irrespective of his political interest is a member. So, this is where many times before certain issues are discussed…, Let’s take, for example, a consensus candidate during the 2011 elections. The ACF couldn’t take a front stand because many of the members, some of them were PDP, some ANPP, some form of political organization or the other. So, any time they see ACF going in the direction where their political party or group is at disad­vantage, they kick out and water down any resolution that ACF wanted to take. Aaah! I remember my elder Umar, many times, he was confronted by you journalists, who would ask him who the candidates of the North are? Have you settled for any of the candidates? He will say no, Nigerians and Northerners are free to pick a good mate­rial as they deem it fit. But the ACF is slightly different from our group. I mean in the North as well. I’m sure you are witness to this. Up to the time of primaries, we never called a single name of who is our preferred candidate throughout two, three and four years we have been agitating for power change from the South to the North. We didn’t call anybody’s name. What we said is that all the parties that want us to support their candidate should offer us a Nigerian presidential candidate of Northern extraction and I’m sure people, normally, only bothered, particularly those who criticized me, really bothered to rationalize with me and I always try to remind them that I was a founding father of PDP. They were telling us who went to sign on the dotted line in INEC office for PDP to become a political party. I was one of the 10 people. We drafted the constitution of PDP; Jerry Gana and others. So, you see, we put in all those things that will make the PDP popular across the country, make PDP acceptable across the country and make every part of the country that feel that it has the chance at one point or the other of providing leadership for Nigerians. And that is how this debate started with the inclusion of power shift be­tween the North and South. We went a step further and asked where will the rotation start from? Eventually, the majority opted that it should start from the South and that is how we went there. And who are the principal contenders at that time, Ekwueme and Obasanjo and that was how the convention decided that Obasanjo will be the candidate for PDP and based on general agreement, Obasanjo won this election free and fair. I keep repeating, but they keep refusing to listen to me. But thank God, recently, I have been vindicated by no other group but the PDP itself. They said they made a mistake when Obasanjo was about finishing his eight years. He even started fiddling with the idea of third term and, of course, we trashed that. And then he decided that he should be the main arbiter in terms of who would suc­ceed him. We didn’t quarrel too much with that and eventually Umaru Yar’Adua emerged as the president. He was of northern extraction in accordance with this agreement, eight years in the South and eight years in the North. Umaru took over and died three years in office. What is expected of PDP in fairness is to come with clean hands to discuss what next to do in terms of this understanding of rotation between the South and North. We expected that on their own they will bring somebody of leader­ship qualities and say, yes the North had three years since the constitution says that this term would be finished by the vice president. The North is shortchanged by one year. Fair enough the vice president will finish the tenure. But four years after, and then he offered himself again.

    Some people believe that going by your level of edu­cation and exposure, you should be more concerned with merit rather than being parochial when it comes to issues of national interest?
    Well, I worked hard on that. But at some points some people came to challenge me just like you are doing now. Yes, I tell them I don’t want to come in. People who came, I can list two, three, all of them working with President Jonathan. They did say why can’t you support Jonathan for another four years? I said no I would not and gave them two reasons. Firstly, he behaved in a way I could not trust him. Anyone with my kind of background should not trust him because he came out to say that he is not aware of an arrangement of this rotation. He said so, to your hearing. You journalists even recorded it that he was not aware of rotation. But he was sitting and he signed as No.37 in expanded caucus in the Villa when Obasanjo was asking for his extension of first term under this agreement to second term…..

    But your group was asked to present any document that showed where he signed and you never did
    No, no! he signed as the No.37 agreeing that Obasanjo should have another term of four years and after that, the South would have eight years and the North eight years. He was there representing Alamieyeseigha at that time. So for him to say he was not aware; this is somebody I consider dis­honest and I don’t support dishonesty. Secondly, I said he’s incompetent, not even fit to run the affairs of government. A person is given a background with a title Ph.D. I said no he is totally incompetent; I will not support him even on the basis of his incompetence. Then I challenged those who came to me. I said go and give me a very competent person from the Niger-Delta. Forget about all other areas, go to where Jona­than comes from, give me one. They said no, no.

    You mean you would have supported such a person?
    I even gave them a name. I said go and bring me Tam Da­vid West. He is my senior in school. He was even my teacher to some extent even though I was not his student. Go and bring him and I will be his director-general in any elections in this country because I can trust him. He has intellectual ca­pacity and I think his integrity has been tested. So, I’ll support him; but they said no and I said okay then leave me alone I cannot support Jonathan. How could you compare Jonathan with even Umaru Yar’Adua in terms of merit?

    Did you tell David West himself?
    No! Tam David West I know he hadn’t a chance in the sense that all these people when I mentioned his name, they said no, no, no, we still want this man to continue. I said well, if you want this man to continue don’t waste my time because I’m not going to support him and I’ll persuade everybody here not to support him. And that was what happened. Jona­than himself spoke to me in this house, (his Zaria farm). I was sitting down in that small chair, (Pointing at a chair). He called me and said can we see, I said yes sir. Any time he wants me I will come. The vice president spoke to me and I gave him my reasons why I cannot support him because they had totally different ideology, purely political matter that will keep this country in peace and for people to be really trusting if you have not been trusting before. This is why we intro­duced this. I was three times in constitutional conference and I have always been in the committee on power sharing and chairing the most controversial committees.

    There is this raging argument over the rel­evance or otherwise of NEF to the ACF. Is it that you are trying to carve a niche for people of your ilk – academicians of northern extraction because if you say they are politicians in that place, you are also politicians?

    Why don’t you go with the ACF? And what is the relationship between NEF and ACF?
    I have been assigned responsibilities under ACF. It is only these issues we have just talked about where people should be fair and firm and say this is wrong and we should do it this way. And this is where we parted ways in some cases on some issues, not all issues, with the ACF. That yes, you have not come out strongly enough to say the North should have a fair deal under the PDP agreement or understanding that, you know power should be shared on the basis of period A to B and then after that somebody else takes from C to D…..

    As it is, the North does not seem to have a rallying point any longer and some people from this part of the country have blamed this position on people like you who they say have balkanized the North by refusing to toe a straight line format out of desperation.
    No! no, no. If we had toed the one straight line format, perhaps Buhari would not have been president today. If we had not fought the way we did to ensure that any party that wants to do business with us should give us a candidate of northern extraction we would not have made it. That is why we parted with everybody or with anybody who feels differ­ently because if you take, for example, the difference between me and Tanko Yakassai, that is all the difference. He said he is satisfied that the North should have vice president, and I said no this is the time North should have president. Whether that president is from Oturkpo, Ilorin, Borno or from wherever but a president of Nigeria of northern extraction is the posi­tion and some said no, and we said no to their own position. If I was as desperate as people are accusing me why should I support Obasanjo? In fact, I was the one who sat with him, his wife, Stella in Ota when he declared for president in 1999. I was the one sitting with him. Babangida and so on were all sitting together.

    In other words, you are responsible for Bu­hari’s victory?
    Well, I wouldn’t make that claim. I would only say if Northern Elders Forum and whoever it is have claimed such , I think the NEF can also make claim to a substantial contribution to Buhari’s victory in this election particularly because we decimated PDP here (general laughter). It is true we broke their ranks and before you know it there was no PDP here.

    What do you think is responsible for the disunity in the North?
    But there is no disunity in the North. No! Is there? None!

    You and Yakassai with his Northern El­ders Council, for instance, are operating along different lines and the ACF is also doing its thing and you…
    (Cuts in) But where is Yakassai in the political are­na of today? If he was of substance perhaps Jonathan would have won an election, but he did not.

    Is there anything you are doing now to reconcile with Yakassai?
    We only call for reasons. We reasoned while we took the position we took. He also reasoned while he took the position he took; but the people went for us and went against him and that was why his candidate lost and our own won.

    How would you react to the descrip­tion of your Forum, NEF, as a political wing of some bigwigs in the North?
    Who are these bigwigs?

    You know them.
    No, you should tell me..

    Aliyu Gusau for instance?
    Aliyu Gusau at one point when he was a presi­dential aspirant, I was a director-general of his presi­dential ambition.

    Yes, that is why I am asking.
    Hold on, because Obasanjo then wanted to have absolute control of PDP and he will tell you what to do or not. Aliyu wanted to run for president; he said yes you can. Many of his colleagues said no he can’t because Obasanjo will not agree. Unfortunately for them they came together with his own friend looking for the same position also with Babangida. You remember Babangida was also trying to run with Mal­lam Aliyu Gusau. So, I took sides with Aliyu Gusau. Eventually Babangida gave up. Aliyu was under pressure that he should drop his candidature so that there will be a consensus from the party so that the candidate would come out unopposed and we said no. We told Aliyu Gusau that even if you’re going to get one vote you will have to run. I was one of those who insisted that he will run even if he is going to get one vote. To prove this dictatorial tendency in the party, already no doubt there was formal dictating in PDP. I said no you will run and get zero, but you will run in the primaries. They switched off the light, took off the boxes and eventually they came and said ooh, Obasanjo wouldn’t have won, Umaru had won. So, there’s no disunity in the North. I can assure you…

    You said you didn’t support Baban­gida because he had been president, but Buhari was once President and you supported him. I am trying to establish this issue of…
    (Cuts-in). I told you why. No, I don’t want to. He was president before. I didn’t support Buhari. I didn’t support anybody. I told you just two minutes ago that I said the only person I will support is when he emerges from the primaries of the party as the one chosen but let it be hopeful that, that party will give us a candidate of northern extraction. That is why when they tried to reach us to see whether all these candidates should sit down and agree on one of them without having to have primaries, we opted out of that arrangement. We said no, that each one of them should be given a chance to go and test his popularity particularly since PDP has denied us a candidate. We then said we will move to support whichever party that can give us a candidate of northern extraction. That is what we did. So when PDP said they want to die with Jonathan, we said okay fine; go and die with him, but we will not support him. There are very many good people within the PDP who could have won the election.

    How many of you are in this NEF?
    Aaah! Numberless!

    Numberless because …(general laughter).

    Some people say only four of you are members of the NEF?
    Well, if this four are enough to make all the things that are happening now, so be it. (general laughter). Our loudness during that election was deliberate. When I was assigned this thing initially I said no because I don’t want to run into disagreement with people. Please take it, they said no, you are the one, so that is it. So, all the others were willing to say what Ango said is enough and that’s how we went for the last four years.

    Those who opposed your stand in the last elections acknowledged your wealth of experience, your knowledge and that you are a respected person, but that you are a politician in the camp of those creating problems for the North. How would you react to that?
    No, If I’m creating problems for the North I wouldn’t have been able to gather with others to gal­vanize the North to vote the way they did. If I was that trouble maker for the North, I thought I would have dispersed them rather than bringing them to­gether and thank God they came together and did what they have to do for this change in government to take place. I think really if you as a journalist un­dertake an assessment of what we did at that time, critical analysis help people see themselves and see others. They said do unto others what you want others do unto you. As I told you, right from the beginning I was PDP and, in fact, I ran Obasanjo’s campaign.

    But you have been in and out of Obasanjo’s camp. What is the problem?
    I went out of Obasanjo’s camp because we dis­agreed. At a point, Obasanjo saw himself as a su­preme being. Myself and Dr. Dele Cole and many others were his special advisers, but when he wants to speak on what you know especially on your dis­cipline, Obasanjo would not honour it like me who was appointed special adviser on food security. I worked with him since 1970s when he was chief of staff, supreme headquarters. We disagreed quite a number of times on the advice that he would not accept. I relinquished my position when I be­came dissatisfied with the system and he later ap­pointed another set of advisers and told them that their advices must not be accepted.

    What kind of man is Obansanjo?
    We are friends, and I met him in 1976 when he was chief of staff, supreme headquarters, He called me from ABU to go and investigate Gen. Samuel Ogbemudia and former Kano State Governor, Al­haji Audu Bako’s farms. We became friends with Obasanjo up to the time we became political as­sociates. I was among the people that formed Afri­can Leadership Forum during Obasanjo’s regime. Obasanjo is a very competent person with talent and ability to work. He hardly left files to sleep on his table when he was head of state or president. In fact, I must grant him this honour. But at the same time, he can be mischievous. He is pragmatic and a schemer. I have not spoken with him for the last 13 years, but I still respect his abilities when he was a president despite my accusations against him for mischievous activities.

    The North seems to have been invad­ed by the APC as it is. Is there a way that things can be reversed?
    You see, foreign army doesn’t win wars in un­known territories. So if you take APC in this style as foreign party which appeared and took over the law and everything, is it a wrong conception? APC was selected to fight and became a trusted party in the North. There was a general discontent in the North such as mismanagement of governance, abuse of office. So APC found a situation and capitalized on these lapses. We in Northern Elders Forum, though ACF worked with us, have been with defined objec­tives that power shift is desirable particularly on the basis that there was inequity and injustice against the North, based on infringement of an agreement. This also provided a fertile ground for APC to emerge and win election within 18 months after formation.

    How do you describe PDP in the North today?
    Timid, chaotic and in disarray through their own fault. I can make an admission here that having been part of PDP history, I told some PDP officials what to do to win elections, but they could not accept my ad­vice. I told them to go and tell Jonathan he would not win election. But you cannot sacrifice the wishes and commitment of members for the ambition of a single candidate of the presidency. They will have them­selves to blame. I also told some PDP governors to tell Jonathan that he would not win the election. Let him sit with you to identify somebody that he prefers to run for an election who can give Buhari serious tough time in the contest. The governors said no. The Office of the National Security Adviser was pump­ing money into the campaign, thinking that money is the solution to the problem. You see, I left PDP long ago but I still know a lot about their problems. Now, I don’t belong to any party’s board of trustees; so I enjoy a greater freedom. What I know is I worked for an interest. Any political party that works against our interest, we go against it.

    Is it possible that some PDP members worked against Jonathan?
    Yes, it is possible many PDP members worked against Jonathan especially those who felt Jonathan was fighting the North. They pretended that they were working for him but actually they were taking cover in their respective villages.

    Before we started this interview, you said you want to talk about the way things are going. How frustrated are you really?
    My frustration has to do with the management of success. I think Nigerians worked hard to achieve success in the last elections but I am sure from what you hear everyday, that this success is being im­properly managed because when you hear too much complain particularly from the common man, you begin to worry. Sometimes, you have to explain to them because the level of understanding of grass­roots is not the same with enlightened persons like me. For example. I admit that there were lots of de­struction done by the Jonathan administration rang­ing from stealing to vandalization of public property at the different levels. Individuals stealing trillions or billions. In fact, this is absurd to the extent that you have to sympathize with the Buhari government. I have never thought that such kind of stealing could take place in Nigeria when the country is facing seri­ous economic challenges. So, Nigerians should be more patient for the situation to be rectified espe­cially for those voters who were expecting magic.

    What is your thought, generally, on Buhari’s administration?
    Well as I have said, Buhari as a person, he re­spects people from various angles. I could respect him as a president, a simple man, he respects public trust. But then a tree cannot make a forest. It requires other trees to make a forest. So, I sympathize with Buhari’s administration from a point of view be­cause he is committed to his job. But the question is: has Buhari got the complement or the right people to handle the public trust? He requires a strong vi­brant team to handle the multifaceted challenges of the country. In my view, the team has not been put in place, but I hope he will do that as soon as possible.

    Do you know that some Northerners don’t believe in the Northern Elders Fo­rum?
    Yes. But whoever is in contention of our activi­ties, should meet us in the field of political activities. If somebody feels that we are doing things against his political interest, he should challenge us in the field of politics. I am 78 years. I don’t look for ap­pointments and I have never lost any election in the history of my contest. I have always won my elec­tions.

    Is there any generational gap be­tween Northerners of the Sardauna era and those of the present generation?
    Yes, there is. If there is not that gap, the North would not have found itself in the present socio-economic and political quagmire. A house without a good leader is a broken house. A family without a good head is an unstable family. You hear every day the name of Sardauna who died 50 years ago, but there has been no action on Sardauna’s lega­cies. What happened was that Sardauna died but his legacies are in shamble. Although some succeeding leaders in the Nort. exhibited high quality leadership as much as possible close to that of Sardauna even though certain things, constitutionally and structur­ally had not changed in the North, North was one entity in 1966. It had a premier in Kaduna, house of chiefs and every administration in Kaduna. But changes occurred with creation of states by Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Other good leaders and politicians like Mallam Aminu Kano, Mallam Yahaya Gusau, Chief Sunday Awoniyi also copied Sardauna’s style of leadership and politics. Sardauna, like Chief Oba­femi Awolowo, Chief NnamdiAzikiwe managed resources of their region prudently with little money. The generational gap has resulted in the money poli­tics, not in good leadership qualities that are based on trust, honesty and responsibility. Sardauna died with­out a personal house in Kaduna or Sokoto. So also Tafawa Balewa did not have a personal house. We are working hard to get young men to succeed us.

    What advice can you give President Buhari?
    (Long pause) If I were to advise Buhari; first, I will emphasize that he should keep his focus in terms of his ideals and qualities as a leader of people. Here it incorporates honesty, fairness and justice to all people. I will like to remind him that he is lead­ing a complex country with a complex history in its diversity, which desires to become a united country. The contradictions are obvious. You sometimes hear comments on contradictions of this aspiration of unity, which unfortunately, fall back on primor­dial, ethnic, religious and geopolitical grounds. Buhari should maintain that he belongs to no one but all Nigerians by exhibiting justice and fairness. Thirdly, he should find good Nigerians, not those opportunists or sycophants. He has to be very care­ful with ‘yes sir’ people. He should find people that he may differ with in their thoughts or criticisms so far they are constructive or objective. It is only these people that can correct your mistakes. Selections of this kind of people constitute the major problem of president Buhari presently. Buhari should be care­ful about Nigerian politics especially the politics of the merger of APC, who are in the government to pursue their selfish agenda. Buhari should not be too rigid on permanent friends and enemies. He should be very careful with sycophants both in his cabinet, party and National Assembly.

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