A factional leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano State, Hussaini Mairiga, has made a startling comment which might not sit well with the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
Maringa, one of the three factional leaders of the ruling party in Kano state, during an interview with The Punch, revealed that the government of ‘former President Goodluck Jonathan is better than their government.’
The APC Chieftain, who stated that it is natural for any political party to make its mark from the first year and the second year in power, lashed out at the current administration for not living up to expectations.
Read excerpts below:
You were recently quoted to have described President Muhammadu Buhari as a failure. Why did you say that?
Yes, because all Nigerians felt that as soon as Buhari came to power, they would feel some relief after the hardship from the immediate-past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. But from all indications, Jonathan’s Government is better than our government. Meanwhile, the prices of all goods and services in Nigeria have gone up, particularly essential commodities. Each time one buys a product from the market and goes back the second day; one will notice that the price has drastically increased. . It’s indeed failure to him and us, the APC members and followers of the party. The painful aspect is that we turn a blind eye when our own is doing something wrong. Each time the President goes wrong, it’s better to tell him right away than to wait until he leaves government before cataloguing his misdeeds.
Some Nigerians agree with you but some people have accused you of making the statements because your sources of illegal wealth have been cut off by the President. Is that what this is all about?
Those blaming me for speaking the truth should tell Nigerians what I have done wrong. As long as I live, I will not stop speaking the truth. However, I must make it abundantly clear to my critics that I am a bona fide Nigerian. I am a businessman, I am popularly known as Mairiga (dealer in clothing). Anybody, who knows me, identifies me as Mairiga, as well as a farmer. Nobody will describe me as a stranger in Nigeria or a smuggler. I am not an oil smuggler but simply a farmer and a seller of clothing materials. As a pious Muslim, I must always speak the truth, no matter whose ox is gored. As long as it is the truth, I must stand by it. And if anybody sees me doing something wrong, I will appreciate they make efforts to caution me from my misdeed.
You recently advised the President to open the borders because people are hungry. Some people say it will only make us remain backward and that we have relied on importation for too long. They say you must have been benefitting from illegal smuggling.
As soon as Buhari mounted the saddle of leadership, he closed the borders and ordered Nigerians to go back to the farm. My question is how can you tell people to go back to the farm without the machinery they need to do that? I remember that the Federal Government introduced a programme known as ‘Back to Farm’’. However, prior to the commencement of the rainy season in Kano State, no farmer had been given one kobo for the commencement of the programme. Fertiliser currently costs N10,000 per bag or a little more. My question therefore is how can somebody have the borders closed and tell you to go to farm without fertiliser and farming tools? Does he want the masses to die? Before the President passes an order, it is reasonable for him to put some palliative measures in place, which he failed to do. During Buhari’s administration between 1983 and 1985, they used to exchange oil for rice and essential commodities, which is called trade by barter. He has not brought anything for the people to eat but he has hastily closed the borders. Do you want the masses to perish from hunger? Is the President not eating in Aso Villa? Also, is the President’s wife not eating? My argument is that before the President closed the borders, he should have put palliative measures in place. The truth is that people are dying by instalments in their houses because of hunger and starvation following the current harsh economic realities.
How can Nigeria develop and be self-sufficient if they open the borders, while Nigerians continue to depend on imported products?
I am not telling people to continue to rely on imported products but my argument is that before closing the borders, the people should have been supplied with all the necessary essential commodities, including fertilisers and other things required. After one year, there is a tendency that they will start to stabilise, then the President can comfortably close the borders. I am not saying that it is improper to close the borders but if you fail to provide the basic necessities for the masses, there is therefore no justification to close the borders. The Federal Government’s policy to close the borders is not wrong but there should be an arrangement to stabilise the system, particularly in food sufficiency in the entire country. As long as there is no food, there is no moral justification to close the borders and stop food from coming into the country. That policy is wrong. There should be stability in food supply or sufficiency in the nation. Where there is no food, it would be unjustifiable to close the borders and stop food from coming in. There must be food sufficiency for everybody before the closure of the borders. However, the policy is good because Nigeria should rely on its internally-generated products and that has to be done when there is stability in basic necessities of life.
Are you trying to score cheap political points with your recent criticisms of the President as some people are wondering why a member of the APC would be publicly criticising a leader of the party?
Yes, those people do not know who Hussaini Mairiga is. I have been with President Buhari since 2002, when he veered into politics and I am still his supporter and follower. I will therefore not close my eyes and overlook his other side because he is the President of the nation. He is a human being like me and was given power by almighty Allah, and by tomorrow, Allah may bring him down. Any person who is an administrator that I follow, I must tell him whenever he goes wrong. Certainly I will not start criticising him after his tenure in office. I have to tell him the truth and I often call my friends in government on phone for them to advise the President on what Nigerians are actually facing. I also personally call on phone but they often refuse to respond to my numerous calls. The truth is that I was a member of the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (now defunct). Speaking from my experience, I observed that the party executives always hid the truth from Buhari because they wanted to get something from him. But as for me, I am not lobbying for any position from him and therefore, I have to tell him the truth, no matter how bitter it is, to enable him to right his wrongs.
Don’t you think criticising him now is premature since it is a new government that is trying to restructure?
What is the big deal about a new government? It’s indeed the tradition of any political party to make its mark from the first year and the second year in power, as the third and fourth years are for politicking and rigorous campaigning. As a result-oriented politician, the first and second years are enough to make headway, while the remaining two years are for politicking. Based on this reality, I have no alternative but to talk to Buhari and tell him the truth. Even if I am victimised for doing so, It is okay as long as I am fighting for the Nigerian masses. I would not mind stepping on toes as long as I am speaking the truth.
But is it fair for you to describe Buhari as a failure when he has not even spent two years out of his four-year tenure?
What I am emphasising is that the Buhari-led administration is almost one and a half years old and it has about six months more to attain two years in office. My argument is that after two years in office, political campaigns will be flagged off. President Buhari therefore has barely six months to achieve something in order to take Nigeria to another level. I am worried by the situation and that is why I have to tell him the truth to enable him correct it. In essence, every politically-elected government to has two years to perform. After the first and second years in office, the third and fourth years are used by politicians to seek and clamour for juicy positions. At that time, politicians will hardly concentrate on governance.