What do you have to say about the call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari over the poor state of health by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State?
As you are aware, we are passing through a very difficult time in our nation and we have a lot of challenges:political, economical, social, cultural and what have you. This is what many great nations of the world have passed through before getting to their point of greatness and Nigeria will not be an exemption. We must see this time as a trying period for Nigeria and by the grace of God, we shall overcome. So, this is the time to preach love, this is the time to love embrace one another, preach peace especially about more of the things that unite us as a people and not about the things that will divide us.And this calls to question, the recent statement credited to Governor Fayose over the health of the President. I want to advise that Fayose’s statement should not be regarded. It is baseless and there is no substance for that information. What he said is not right. It is uncalled for and that is simply heating up the polity.In our culture and tradition, we do not play politics with people’s lives and anybody can be sick, anybody can be in the hospital and so, making such categorical statement which is unfounded that our President is on life support, to the best of my knowledge, is a statement of hate. That is a cheap talk and Nigerians should not regard it. What we should do right now is to pray for the President and wish him well. Anybody can be sick. Even as he is sick out there, many people have been sick in Nigeria. So, we should not politicise this and play politics with people’s lives thereby hate and confusion in the system.Moreover, the country is stable. The Acting President is doing a beautiful job, meeting up the daily duties of the President and there is no vacuum so, there is no cause for alarm. We must, at this point give every support to our President and we are hoping that very soon, he will come back and join us.President Muhammadu Buhari suffered a lot during the campaign when he was running for president. His health should be left only for God to decide. It is not for man to decide his fate. President Buhari came into power under unusual circumstances to defeat an incumbent president which is very uncommon in our checkered political history but he did did so and I believe that is not the making of any man of God. So, I believe his health is in the hands of God and nobody should play politics with it.This is my advise to Nigerians. Let us focus on major issues that concern us as a nation. On that note, I appeal that everyone should disregard that statement. Mr. President will soon be back to commence daily duties.On the issue of unity struggle in our country and different comments and opinions, people expressing their different opinions as regards Nigeria’s unity, well, we have all agreed that Nigeria remains a united and indissoluble country. But we must never take this unity of Nigeria for granted. We are better off as one and as a bigger nation. We are going through problems but these problems do not mean there cannot be surmounted. I salute all Nigerians.We are urging for the unity of this country than all those who request for division. We cannot afford to divide ourselves now. It will be an ill wind that will blow away any good.So I support that, the Governors’ Forum and the APC governors support the unity of this country. We have deliberated on it and we are all proud ourselves. None of us has spoken otherwise by asking for division of this country. So, Nigeria still remains united.But, one point is clear that we owe our youths and the future generation, a duty of care and we must bequeath to them legacy of unity and not legacy of division. We may have made mistakes as a nation, but let us begin to correct it. What is important now is that is not about ourselves, but our children and their children’s children.So, we should see Nigeria beyond this period and see Nigeria in view of 100 years to come. Only then will we appreciate the effort and amount of work before us that we must do to get things right and prepare the future for our children.
Fayose called for the President to resign. What’s your reaction?
Well, I have just said that even the speculation he is making is wrong, it is unfounded. And if anybody is to speak about the President’s health, Fayose does not have the qualifications to speak for the nation whether the President should resign or stay. It is not in our culture or tradition. We sympathise with those who go through pains of ill-health. At that time, we don’t wish them death, we wish them well. And the President’s office is properly taken care of by the Acting President of Nigeria until Mr. President comes home, continues his work and finish his term. But to say he should resign is cheap talk and does not make sense in anyway.
People say the President is being treated with tax payers money and that demands accountability and full disclosure of his health status to Nigerians. Don’t you believe that is necessary?
If there is an announcement that President Buhari, today, lacks money to treat himself abroad, believe me, more than 20 million Nigerians will contribute for his health. So, this is neither here nor there. You must understand what he represents and who he is. President Buhari naturally does not lack funds, he has never owned funds himself but people support him if need be. He lives for the people. He does not live for himself. Buhari must be seen as a great Nigerian who has made the most sacrifice in many ramifications.He is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we must honour our president. It is that office not just because of him. That office belongs to all of us.It is very funny when people try to bring down the office of the President thinking that they are bringing down Buhari. They are two different issues. On the issue of tension in the country, the Acting President has been holding consultations with all stakeholders but has left out Nnamdi Kanu who is a principal character in this whole episode.
Would you advise him to consult with Nnamdi Kanu?
On Nnamdi Kanu, you must understand the position of this issue and what has created this drama or the noise about this whole thing. Nnamdi Kanu was a breakout of MASSOB and he broke out of agitation.Nnamdi Kanu is a young man seeking relevance, agitating for whatever he believes in. What he stands for must be treated separately from the entire Igbo nation. The question is, does Nnamdi Kanu have the capacity to lead Igbos to war? Or lead me and the governors to war? So, I will stand now and Nnamdi Kanu will tell me to stand up, let’s go to war? So, sometimes, we over dramatise issues just to make a big deal out of it and that has been the big challenge.Like the gentleman that spoke for the Arewa youths, these are not more than 17 young men speaking for millions of Arewa youths and it doesn’t make sense because if you ask any Arewa youth now if he is part of this, he will tell you no. We don’t have the wisdom of narrowing things to the perspective about where they belong but we like to enlarge and create confusion.So, the issue of Nnamdi Kanu should be treated as a young man agitating and seeking relevance.
As your tenure winds down, what will you want to be remembered for?
A good governor that impacted positively on the lives of the people.I’m in this job not for the profit but for the honour and glory of the job. I want to leave a legacy. I want Imo people to miss me and they will definitely. Believe me, they have not seen such developmental works before now and they will miss it. The only problem I have is that anybody that comes after me and does not perform will be stoned. Because you cannot come to Imo State now and say you want to abolish free education from primary to university, they will not accept. I have spoilt Imo people believe me. You cannot come to Imo State and say you want to give them a single lane road when they are now used to eight lane roads in the city, they won’t accept it.You cannot come there and tell the children to go to schools that the floors are not tiled, they will not accept because all the schools have been rebuilt. I have rebuilt 450 schools. You can no longer take them to those ramshackle hospitals, those shanties they called hospitals because I have built ultramodern 27 to 200 bed general hospitals. You can no longer tell them those stories. All the infrastructure are there. You cannot tell them that there are criminal activities anymore and that your hands are tied, they will not accept it because we know how we brought Imo from unsafe to a safe place right now. And you can no longer tell our workers to dress shabbily, they will not, they will want to dress in their suits, ties and white shirts. So, Imo has changed, believe me.