In the last one week, Islamic scholar and medical doctor, Ahmad Gumi, has been trending on social media, essentially because of his critical dissection of the stewardship of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last two years.
According to Gumi, in the interview granted ‘New Telegraph’ newspaper, excerpts of which are being circulated widely on WhatsApp, the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), are too divisive.
“The kind of leader that Nigeria needs at this critical time is the one that can pacify. Not one that will show that he is clean and the other person is dirty. No. He should show that we are all dirty, let us all come and clean ourselves.
“So, the so-called clean party which has the broom, who is it trying to sweep? It is so antagonistic. It is so provocative that it has divided the country. If your house is also dirty, you cannot clean someone’s house.”
Before some people begin to dismiss the Sheikh as “corruption is fighting back”, which is the default mode of the operatives of this administration whenever they are called to account.
Gumi provides a sociological explanation of corruption in Nigeria and why fighting such a problem requires a coherent strategy which he believes is lacking under the current dispensation.
While I disagree with his thesis, I nonetheless find some of his summations quite fascinating, even if a bit simplistic.
“Truly, corruption is crippling our progress and we are underdeveloped because of it. But I am very sorry to say that that corruption is the secret of the unity of Nigeria.
“When you see a Hausa Muslim, a Yoruba man, whether Muslim or Christian, and an Igbo Christian together in a room joking and laughing in peace, (you must) know that they are getting money.
“If they are not getting money, then OPC will come, Biafra will come; all kinds of insurgencies will start coming out. But once they are getting money, they will be quiet because they have something in common.”
In advocating a gradualist approach to fighting corruption, Gumi argues that it is the only way out of the hypocrisy that defines the efforts of the current administration which are not only counterproductive but also, according to him, may be at the root of the problem we have in Nigeria today.
“Yes, you have to tackle corruption but in a subtle way. Fighting it shouldn’t be a slogan because it will boomerang and fire back at you. This is because, your own people will be caught in the act and you will keep quiet.
“There was a time that the president was in Dubai, asking the government to stop Nigerians from buying houses there. Then he suddenly discovered that the people who brought him to power have houses there.”
Apparently of the opinion that the administration is not handling the Niger Delta situation very well, Gumi cites the example of ‘Tompolo’ who has been declared wanted on allegations bordering on corruption.
He believes that the government ought to be pragmatic enough to understand that it would be more beneficial to have Tompolo as a friend than as an enemy.
On the way forward, Gumi says there are invaluable lessons to learn from the United States President, Mr Donald Trump. “In the formulation of policies, we should follow Trump’s example.
“Trump was so anti-Islam but when he went to Saudi Arabia, they gave him the sword of Wahabiyya. In actual fact, there is nothing like Wahabiyya but let’s assume it exists, Trump took part in a traditional dance that signifies the capturing of territories.
“After capturing territories, the ancient Arabs used to dance and thank God for the victory. It’s a war dance; a victory dance. Trump had to hold the sword of Jihad and danced with the Saudis because he wants their money.
“What I am trying to say here is that Nigeria, whether we like it or not, needs the cheap energy of the South-south region. So, we should dance with them. Don’t formulate a policy whereby they will be your enemies.
“Look at Trump swallowing all his pride to go to Saudi Arabia and beg for forgiveness. This is where people who created and configured APC made a mistake. They should have formulated their policies in such a way that they don’t divide Nigeria.”
There are many things to disagree with in Gumi’s interview which speaks to several national issues. But it is difficult to fault his patriotism and grasp of the challenges that currently plague our country.
Much more importantly, it is clear that he can see beyond the narrow ethnic and religious divides being erected by politicians in Nigeria today.
It will serve the presidency and the APC well to listen to him.