49 INSIDEPOLITICS

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Okupe: Okupe:

to do with Fu­lani herds­men? There is more fun­da­men­tal mat­ter here, and the ear­lier the gov­ern­ment looked into it the bet­ter. Un­for­tu­nately, the gov­ern­ment is headed by a Fu­lani and tends to pro­tect the im­age of other Fu­la­nis that they are not killers and get prej­u­diced in what they do. But there is no need to pro­tect what is not true. If there is any­thing to pro­tect, it should be the lives and prop­er­ties of Nige­ri­ans. Im­pres­sion is be­ing given that it is Fu­lani peo­ple that are in­volved in the may­hem. So gov­ern­ment must try as much as pos­si­ble to re­move this toga, other­wise it will not be in the in­ter­est of ev­ery­body.

DT: What do you say on the pres­i­dent spend­ing ap­pro­pri­ated funds for the pur­chase of Tukano he­li­copters?

In fact, the pur­chase of the he­li­copters was some­thing that orig­i­nated from the Na­tional As­sem­bly. It was when a team from the United States vis­ited the Na­tional As­sem­bly that this idea was bounced from their dis­cus­sion. There are those who de­fend the gov­ern­ment on ac­count that there is a Supreme Court judg­ment that de­clared the Ex­cess Crude Ac­count as an il­le­gal ac­count. There­fore any with­drawal from it should not fol­low le­gal process, as far as I am con­cerned it doesn’t make sense. Two wrongs do not make a right. If you say it does not need to fol­low le­gal process, why then did the pres­i­dent re­cently write to the Na­tional As­sem­bly to put it in the bud­get? As far as I’m con­cerned, that is an ad­mis­sion of guilt. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and the leg­is­la­tor is al­ways frosty and this is not pe­cu­liar to Nigeria.

DT: How would you rate Pres­i­dent Buhari’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and his 2019 re-elec­tion bid?

The fact that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has not done well is ob­vi­ous and I am not go­ing to do overkill. Pres­i­dent Buhari came in on a very high eth­i­cal stan­dard that he is a man of in­tegrity, he will fight cor­rup­tion, quench the in­sur­rec­tion in the North­east and pro­vide good gov­er­nance. But the gov­ern­ment has failed on all the four pedestals. But I found it a bit dif­fi­cult to judge him be­cause of my back­ground as a trained med­i­cal doc­tor. I have suf­fered life threat­en­ing ill­ness my­self and un­der the con­di­tion, noth­ing else mat­tered to me ex­cept my sur­vival. When a man that is so sick like Buhari doesn’t do well, I find it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to con­demn him be­cause of my back­ground as a med­i­cal doc­tor. Per­haps if things were the other way round, he may have per­formed bet­ter. If he spent 150 days out 360 days in the hospi­tal, that is re­ally se­ri­ous. I will not stand here and con­demn a man that went through life threat­en­ing ill­ness.

On the plat­form which he came in, he has failed woe­fully. But my mind is telling me that the man is not that bad and that the prob­lem he has is his ill health. That is why I wrote an ar­ti­cle and ad­vised him be­ing a great man that God has been very kind to not to con­test for sec­ond term. All his pop­u­lar­ity, rep­u­ta­tion and cult-like fol­low­er­ship will pale to noth­ing if he re-con­tests and his health fails him. I wish him well and I pray that God will give him strength in this re­main­ing pe­riod of his ten­ure to fin­ish well and end well. But he will be stretch­ing his luck too far if he at­tempts to go be­yond that.

Buhari should as­pire to end as a fa­ther fig­ure in this coun­try and I will per­son­ally ap­plaud him for that. I will even can­vass that ev­ery­one should put par­ti­san­ship aside and sup­port him to fin­ish well and give him a grand exit. We do not have any fa­ther fig­ure in this coun­try. All our lead­ers have ei­ther de­stroyed them­selves or we de­stroyed them. Let us pre­serve Buhari as his­toric legacy. But Buhari’s am­bi­tion to go for a sec­ond term and con­tinue in of­fice will be a threat to the ex­is­ten­tial well­be­ing of Nige­ri­ans and cor­po­rate ex­is­tence of the coun­try.

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