Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for the way he is ripping Nigeria apart and the method he is employing in fighting corruption. In an interview with Sahara Reporters, Gumi accused President Buhari of not making the unity of Nigeria a priority and that this has given birth to agitation by different regions.
He said: “The government should have formed a Government of National Unity right from the beginning. For example, tell the South-East to bring whoever they trust to represent them in the government. The South-West brought Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as running mate; he was not the choice of Buhari.
“The same way that you did with South-West do with the South- South and South-East. This is what I mean by Government of National Unity because if the militants believe that they are represented well in the government, they will allow the oil to flow.
“If the crude oil flows, our refineries will work. The President needs to listen; he can’t afford to be adamant anymore. He should listen to knowledgeable individuals and not sycophants who supported him. Nigeria is for everybody. It is not for any single political party or the President.
” On President Buhari’s order that Niger Delta militant bombing pipelines be crushed, Gumi said it was not the best way to deal with the situation.
“How can they deal with the militants in the first place, when they are holding the nation’s umbilical cord? You are fighting Boko Haram in the North, and you want to fight the militants in the creeks. You don’t fight on two fronts at the same time. That was one of the reasons why Adolf Hitler failed in the Second World War. The government should sit down with them and ask them the reasons for their agitation.
“Don’t forget; they were embittered that their man Goodluck Jonathan was defeated. Their argument now is, ‘if you hate our man, then leave our oil.’ No section of the country has the solution of Nigeria’s problem.
“So, everybody should be brought on board. Even if the South-South brings Government Tompolo as their man, we should accept him, so long as they trust him; so that we will have stability.
“A military solution is not the best option in this circumstance. Former President Umaru Yar’adua could swallow his pride as president and negotiate with the militants. Jonathan also did it. But a military man cannot do it because it will hurt his ego. But if he doesn’t do it, he will kill the nation.
” Sheikh Gumi said Buhari was treading a precarious path as president because there is a tussle between the rich and the poor and his fight against corruption needed a new dimension. He insisted diplomacy is the right way to handle corruption so rich people would pump money into the country.
“Buhari’s coming into politics has accentuated the class struggle in Nigeria. The antagonism between the rich and poor can sometimes be more dangerous that religious differences. I saw this class struggle coming because the masses will always rush to Buhari because they believe that he will bring justice and food on the table for them. They want him to emasculate the rich for them; he either does it, or they will categorise him as a failure.
“So, once you put a leader in that kind of situation, then you are already introducing a class struggle into the already compounded problem. In addition to our tribal problems, our religious differences, and the North/South divide, there is now a class problem because the talakawa just want to see the rich imprisoned. And if they are tasking the president to do that, and if he does not do it he is a failure, then he will definitely fail because he cannot do it.
“So, the kind of leader that we needed at that time was one who will pacify the rich and still have the confidence of the poor. By so doing, the rich will help in building the economy by setting up companies that will generate employment.
“That is why the Prophet (SAW) said that you can get with leniency what you can never get by force. He said that when leniency enters anything, it decorates it. And strictness, violence blemishes and destroys the beauty of whatever they enter.
“So, what you get with diplomacy, you cannot get with violence. If you want to deal with corruption in Nigeria, you have to deal with it in a diplomatic way. No one should be afraid of returning the money that they have looted. But when the poor is always rating your administration by the number of people you have caught, then you are in trouble because you cannot catch the big ones.
“Because if you do so, you will destroy your government and if you don’t catch them, the poor will say that you have changed. The president is even fighting the war on corruption the wrong way. When you fight corruption, it will naturally fight back. Corruption has become an international institution. You will hear foreign leaders condemning corruption, but they are engaging in it because their countries benefit from it.
“So, the President needs to tread carefully in fighting corruption with the way things are now because it will frighten the upper class of the society. It will put them on pause, and this is not healthy for a developing economy like our own.
“You need the rich to infuse money into the system and fund projects. For example, I went to a fundraiser for an Islamic school. Big men came, but not a single one donated a Kobo, not even a pledge because they may be asked where they got the money from.
“So, there is fright, and this is hurtful to the economy. The war on corruption should purely be a law and order issue. Right now, if EFCC invites someone, the next day it is in the newspapers. “The damage this kind of thing causes to people’s reputation is very severe, especially if they are found to be innocent.”