Jamiu Abiola, is the son of slain Alhaja Kudirat and Bashorun MKO Abiola. In this interview, the Shettima of Borno, who wrote a book on his father titled ‘The President Who Never Ruled’ is optimistic that if this administration pays close attention to international developments, it would place Nigeria on a vantage position for monumental development that the next generation will be proud of.
AFTER the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhamadu Buhari, what does June 12 mean to your family?
June 12 has always mean a lot to my family. But with time, it became more associated with pain following the death of both mother and father. However, immediately after the presidential declaration, pride to a large extent has overtaken the pain in the hearts of many of us. We now see truth in the concept of light at the end of the tunnel or good things coming to those who wait. On a personal note, the quest for the date to be recognized was beginning to border on obsession. I wrote the book entitled ‘The President Who Never Ruled’ in English and Arabic solely for this purpose and I gave away over 5,000 copies. My hope was that my father’s victory would be acknowledged and now that day has come.
Many perceived the declaration as a gimmick by the cabal in President Buhari’s administration to win his second term bid, what is your thought on this?
Many people are too cynical which is why they would think that way. President Buhari is as transparent as humanly possible. People like him only do what they feel is right so there is no question of political gimmicks. I don’t think it is healthy for us as a society to adopt a constant belief that someone must always be taking us for a ride. Thinking this way makes it difficult, if not outright impossible to appreciate good things when they come.
Has anything changed from the way you feel your father who this administration described as a martyr of our democracy would have run his government?
Not really. My father and this president primarily have the same objective. They both aim to make life easier for the masses. Maybe my father might have resorted more to privatization as a means of employment-generation but the approaches of both men, if not strikingly similar, would have certainly met at the junction relating 50 people-oriented programmers like the school feeding being carried out by this administration, along with its N-Power programme. All in all, it is the result that counts and, looking at how Nigeria was in 2015, President Buhari has done an excellent job.
The Coronavirus came with many lessons to the global communities and Nigeria in particular, do you think this administration is learning anything from it?
From the onset, the president has made it clear that all lives count. Without a doubt the lessons learned from tragic experiences in wealthier and more developed nations must have been the source of his decision to lock down the states initially hardest hit: Lagos, Ogun and the FCT. So the answer to your question is yes. We as Nigerians though must build up on this because government guides and we either heed or disregard. Rules relating to staying safe must be complied with and conspiracy theories should be disregarded.
COVID-19 is real and no one is being taken for a ride. If your father was given his mandate, what do you think his driving force would be contrary to how this administration is being run with regards to the allegation levelled against it by renowned Professor Wole Soyinka on nepotism, skewed appointments in certain sectors like the NNPC?
I am not aware of this statement you say is credited to the learned Nobel laureate but I do know that certain newly-released details illustrate that the South-West tops the list of appointments made by this administration. As regards the NNPC, having served the organization for over a decade, I can tell you that tribalism is not a factor in the selection of senior personnel but competence is the determining factor. This is something I know for a fact as I have long had direct dealings with senior NNPC staff from all over the country and still do.
Amid the clamour for power shift to the South, do you foresee a progressive governance after this administration devoid of tribal war?
Tribal war? Where did that come from? June 12 has come to stay and has put behind us any prospect of tribal tension if we remain true to its ideology of complete tribal harmony. As the president stated in his 2018 June 12 address, it is time for us to focus on the positive outcomes of June 12. So if we listen to his clarion call there will hopefully be another administration towing the same progressive line as this government.
What is your advice to the Buhari administration in paving the right path for a better Nigeria the next generation would be proud of?
I strongly believe our government should continue to pay close attention to international developments. The global scenario today will soon produce long-term winners and losers. By paying close attention government will be better capable of placing Nigeria at a vantage position to take full advantage of recent monumental geopolitical developments. This will produce a better Nigeria for the next generation to be proud of.