Two things, among many, that caught my attention recently were Sheikh Gumi’s acerbic attacks on President Buhari and his administration. The attacks, although usual and wrapped in the same sanctimonious innuendos and deliberate ignorance, were a new low coming from a revered Islamic cleric of Sheikh Gumi’s standing and status.
In one of the attacks which was unleashed when receiving a courtesy visit by “Prophet” Isah El-Buba of Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministry International, the Kaduna-based revered Islamic Cleric said that the 2019 general elections was the worst ever conducted in Nigeria since its return return to democracy. While at it, Sheikh Gumi also noted that most Nigerian politicians are not educated, perhaps, as a silent reference to the half rested ridiculous case of President Buhari’s certificates on which basis former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, PDP’s presidential candidate and Shiekh Gumi’s preferred candidate in the 2019 elections, is seeking to sack and replace President Buhari as president.
The other attack was Sheikh Gumi’s admonishing of President Buhari’s administration for closing Nigerian borders; a decision taken with a clear motive to enforce approved international business protocols to halt, reverse and protect Nigeria from foreign economic invasion which has effectively seen to Nigeria’s avoidable relegation to a pitiable dumping ground of the world; importing as little as toothpick, matches and pencils the effect of which is evidently clear in the carcasses of abandoned factories that otherwise would be the solution for the ever growing menace of unemployment in Nigeria in its complete sense. Sheikh Gumi’s major area of concern in this regard is the banning of rice importation through land borders.
It’s not my intention to educate anybody on the logics of the border closure much less, somebody of Sheikh Gumi’s background and exposure. For those genuinely deficient, the logics of the border closure are contained in every elementary economics text book cheaply available in bookshops. Even cheaper, these logics are available with a simply click on a computer. My intention is to highlight the discrepancies and inconsistencies contained in the two misleading attacks.
Let’s first deal with the 2019 elections that Sheikh Gumi claimed to be the worst since Nigeria’s return to democracy. I wonder what yardstick the cleric used to arrive at this decision. Was it by sampling public opinion or by sifting through media publications that are as diverse as Nigeria itself? Whichever, how does the cleric forgot the heavily rigged 2007 elections that were generally accepted as heavily flawed even by the major beneficiary, late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua?
Would Sheikh Gumi say, with all sincerity, the 2003 elections that saw Obasanjo’s second term was better than the 2019 elections he gave the trophy? In which sense was the 2019 election worst than those before it? Is it in the sense of giving relevant agencies the free hand to perform their duties or in the sense of not opening the vaults of CBN to sponsor the rigging of an incumbent back into office as was the case with the $2.3 billion security funds used by PDP to rig Jonathan into office? These are questions Sheikh Gumi must answer to validate, justify and make sense of his claim.
Sheikh Gumi is a highly educated Nigerian, a medical doctor and an Islamic scholar of repute at that. I expect more objectivity from him. His condemnation of President Buhari’s policy on rice importation leaves enough room to debate his sincerity and motives. The cleric cited Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s food imports to convince Nigerians of the legitimacy of unregulated rice imports in Nigeria yet, without citing the peculiarity of the Saudi situation that could support food import and the Nigerian situation that could not.
Even more interesting, Sheikh Gumi’s didn’t say if Saudi Arabia would allow fuel import into the kingdom under the terms he wishes to have Nigeria open its borders to allow goods it could produce abundantly locally. How could the logic of self-sufficiency and enhanced foreign reserve be lost to anybody. Perhaps, Sheikh Gumi is not aware that even a handful of kola nuts are being confiscated in Saudi Airports from visitors going into the Kingdom. Just as there are rules to be observed before one imports kola nut into Saudi Arabia, so are there rules to be observed before one import rice into Nigeria and, if we don’t condemn Saudi Arabia for banning kola nut import, we have no moral or economic justification to condemn Nigeria. There are protocols for international trade and without first condemning these protocols, it’s unfair to condemn Nigeria for enforcing them.
In any case, Sheikh Gumi got it all wrong. Nigeria did not at any time ban rice import into the country. It only restricts such imports to its sea ports which is very reasonable given the porosity of our borders and the complacency and complicity of government officials manning these borders. This would give Government maximum control and ensure what is being shipped into the country is in absolute compliance with trade agreements Nigeria is obligated to. Nigeria cannot ban rice import in the sense Sheikh Gumi painted it.
To prove the correctness of President Buhari’s decision and the unreliability of Shiekh Gumi’s position, one couldn’t help but appreciate the reinvigoration of Nigeria’s agricultural sector and its complete value chain. Nigeria is clearly recovering its feet to reclaim its forgotten status of an agricultural giant from the embarrassing and disrespectful status of a consumer nation as reduced by successive administrations that refused to take the bull by the hone as Buhari is doing today.
Does it make sense that Nigeria is importing rice from Thailand; empowering Thailand’s economy, creating jobs for its youth while unemployment is ravaging Nigeria and turning its youth generation into a rich pool of dormant and active criminals? Incidentally, unemployment is one of the easy topics Sheikh Gumi pick each time he feel the urge to attack Buhari. How he’s yet to see the connection between the illegal rice importation he’s admonishing the government for banning and the embarrassing unemployment rate that’s turning Nigeria into something indescribable.
By the way, I’m sure recent reports about the astronomical reduction of domestic fuel consumption —- down to about 50 million litres per day from about 60 million per day before the closure of our borders — would convince Nigerians about the correctness of President Buhari’s decision. On this alone, Nigeria is saving about N1 billion daily being the illicit gains hitherto being made by smugglers and unscrupulous government officials. These savings would go a long way in resolving the squalor Sheikh Gumi and other Nigerians are complaining about.
Sheikh Gumi couldn’t have missed the resurrection of our rice milling factories with new ones springing up and blossoming where none exist few months ago. Sure, Malam would agree the survival and growth of these factories is entirely rested on President Buhari’s ability to nurse them to maturity by protecting them from being suffocated by their well grounded foreign rivals with whom they stand no chance of survival at least for now.
The sum of it, Sheikh Gumi is a man very angry with President Buhari for reasons that are cloudy. Sadly, he’s allowing his personal sentiments to becloud his sense of judgement and obstruct his responsibility as a cleric and a moral guide for many Nigerians. This is not debatable considering how he passionately argued the corruption cases of former Governors Yerima, Yero and Bafarawa of Zamfara, Kaduna and Sokoto respectively. He went far as justifying and legitimizing the billions they were accused of stealing when they held sway as governors for no reason other than to hit President Buhari. It’s truly time for Sheikh Gumi bury the hatchet especially as elections for this lap have been won and lost by the winners and the losers.