“In the world today my Governor is already having his names in the Guinness Book of Record as the first person that recovered from COVID-19 within Five days and by seventh day, he was already having meetings with his executive. Na wa o.”
Being the transcript of the Interview of Senator Buhari Abdulfatai representing Oyo North Senatorial District for the 2nd term in the Senate with Isaac Brown on Fresh FM COVID-19 Situation Room (Weds,6tkh May 2020 @ 10am).. Excerpts:
HE IS AGAIN HERE LIVE FROM ABUJA, DISTINGUISHED SENATOR BUHARI ABDULFATAI, GOOD MORNING SIR
Good morning Isaac, good morning Oyo State. Ajisebi Oyo laari o! Oyo kii sebi Baba Enikookan, good morning everyone.
ISAAC: I’M SURE YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING US ON COVID-19 SITUATION REPORTS FROM OYO, THERE WAS A CASE OF A VEHICLE COMING FROM KANO DESPITE THE FACT THAT BORDERS ARE LOCKED AND CLOSED BUT INTERCEPTED AT OUR BORDER HERE IN OYO! THE PASSENGERS WERE ACCOSTED AND ISOLATED SOME WHERE HERE IN IBADAN JUST YESTERDAY, THE RESULTS CAME OUT AND FOUR OF THEM WERE TESTED POSITIVE TO COVID-19. AS I SPEAK WITH YOU NOW, SOME HAVE GONE. NOBODY SEEM TO BE AWARE OF THEIR WHEREABOUT.
Isaac, let me be honest with you, I’m worried and scared because we are in a very dangerous situation now particularly in Oyo! They should be in the second stage. The second stage is the most dangerous stage of corona virus. That’s the transfer and transmission period where you mingle. Unfortunately all along, we did not lockdown in Oyo. So, anybody that wants to travel from corona affected area have conceived the idea that if he’s able to escape two States and reach Oyo, he’s going to have a free day. The earlier, the better for us to take a hard decision by locking up our borders. Let me tell you something that happened 300years ago.
An infection broke out in Marseille and a ship was quarantined. Stupid decision of a Mayor of Marseille not to quarantine again and release the ship, a whole town of Marseille perished. What the government did then was that they built a wall around Marseille so that they would not be able to transfer it to other cities. Despite that some people were able to maneuver themselves and go back. Luckily they were able to curtail it. If 300years ago it happened and they were able to do this, why can’t we take a firm decision to safe the rest of us especially at this stage, at this period. Look at where you said those people were coming from, KANO. Kano arguably or stupidly, nobody knows. The rate of death in Kano is more than what we’re seeing in the paper and it has already moved to Jigawa and Sokoto. Yesterday alone, Sokoto recorded 80 people buried, Kano, 110, Jigawa, 19. Look at what El-Rufai was able to do, he had blocked entry. You can go through their bush if you’re passing but entering Kaduna through is tough, it’s very tough! We know there will be some stubborn people like the four you mentioned who have ran away. Only God knows where they have gone to. May be they are in somebody’s house there. You can now see the effect. Something vital here is that transferring it is very dangerous, you said they were five in the car, how are we sure that the fifth person too is free from the disease? That one has gone, only God knows how he’s going to affect numerous other with the virus!
ISAAC: DISTINGUISHED SENATOR, YOU’RE FROM OGBOMOSO, FROM THE MOMENT NEWS BROKE IN OYO CONFIRMING COVID-19 CASES, IT BEGAN IN IBADAN AND NOW WE HAVE IT IN YOUR PLACE, OGBOMOSO, WE HAD FIVE CASES TWO DAYS AGO, WE HAD ANOTHER FIVE YESTERDAY, NOW WE HAVE 33 ACTIVE CASES BUT TECHNICALLY WE HAD 29 THAT ARE ON GROUND AS WE ARE GETTING REPORT SOME PROBABLY HAVE RAN AWAY, HOW WILL YOU ACCESS AND SUM UP MEASURES TAKEN BY GOVERNOR SEYI MAKINDE THIS FAR? HAS HE BEEN PROACTIVE?
No! In fact let me be honest with you. At the risk of thinking one is playing politics, one needs to be very careful and brutal with the truth and let people know what we’re facing. Compare the decision Seyi Makinde, Governor El-Rufai, Governor Bala of Bauchi are taking, they all claimed they were tested positive within two to three days interval! In my own opinion, I believe Governor Seyi only had severe catarrh. It’s not corona because if it were to be corona, he wouldn’t have been taken decisions that were very porous. Look at what El Rufai said in the third paragraph of his speech after the first, second and the third test! He said ‘ I don’t wish my worst enemy to have this’.
He continued ‘ I was in hell in the first five days of this incident’. Meanwhile, the first five days all over the world has been identified as the worst period. That was the time our own Governor dramatically came back and said he had been tested negative. Please, please, let’s be serious with this thing. We’re talking of pandemic, we’re talking of the lives of people here! It is very important we take it serious. When I heard about the OGBOMOSO incident, I was very very worried not only because of OGBOMOSO, I was worried because of what is happening in Oyo. It has gone to another to another town. OGBOMOSO is the largest city in Oyo State after Ibadan. Definitely I should be worried. Imaging the case of the Togolese, they came in through another border. All these places are my senatorial district. Definitely, I should be worried. There are times, one will have to take critical decision. It may be hard. Let me be honest with you, who loves to be quarantined, isolated or lockdown but we are not talking of an individual but generality of people in a society. We’re talking about the nation. All these are sacrifices. Even as people are saying they don’t have food to eat, those who have the food don’t want to be locked-down.
ISAAC: FROM WHAT YOU HAVE JUST SAID NOW! ARE YOU SAYING YOU’RE NOT IMPRESSED WITH GOVERNOR SEYI’S MEASURES VIS A VIS PARTIAL LOCKDOWN, SKELETAL BUSINESSES DURING THE DAY CURFEW IN THE NIGHT, SOCIAL DISTANCING,
Let me give you an example. Georgia and Ghana locked down totally. Later they gave partial lockdown. Immediately they relaxed, their cases doubled in Ghana and triple in Georgia. So, they went back to total lockdown. We didn’t lockdown at all. We didn’t.
We all saw that things are going on. We are monitoring it. It was business as usual. Why are we deceiving ourselves? This disease is not a joke but the fear is that, if it boomerangs, the people that locked down, to arrest the first stage, they were able to do test and then identify people who have the virus among them talk less of we that don’t have anything at all. You just have the statistics, five two days ago, five yesterday, today, we don’t know yet! The moment you don’t lockdown, people will carry the virus from one community to the other. It’s scary, very very scary.
ISAAC: YOU JUST RAISED AN ISSUE CONCERNING AFFLICTION OF OUR GOVERNOR BY COVID-19, I’M JUST WONDERING FOR A GOVERNOR WHO HAS BEEN PAYING WORKERS’ SALARY AS AT WHEN DUE DURING THIS PANDEMIC, EVEN WHILE ON ISOLATION HE WAS ABLE TO RAISE A SOLID TASK FORCE HEADED BY PROFESSOR ALONGE. HE DOMICILES DIAGNOSTIC CENTER IN OUR STATE. HE HAS ALSO INCREASED OUR TESTING CAPACITY, WE HAVE THESE EXERCISE GOING ON AT ADAMASINGBA, 10,000 IS THE TARGET. I JUST WONDER WHY YOU WON’T LAUD GOVERNOR WHO HAS DONE ALL THESE
Isaac Brown, you need to help us when we are in position. Stop flattering us. When was the issue of paying salary becomes a means of solving COVID-19? In the first two years of Governor Ajimobi led government, he didn’t even pay workers salary regularly, he paid 13 month salary as well. So, why are you using that as a yardstick? What are you talking about?
ISAAC: WHAT I WAS SAYING IS THAT DESPITE THE CHALLENGES, HE WAS ABLE TO ACHIEVE ALL THESE?
Hold on Isaac, the challenges are everywhere. Let me give you another instance, look at the Borno State Governor Zulum, despite having limited number of cases in his State, look at what he has done. When you’re doing the right thing, always put us on our toes.
ISAAC: IS THE GOVERNOR NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING SETTING UP ONE OF THE BEST TASK FORCE & DIAGNOSTIC CENTERS
Hold on! Let’s assume Olodo was not built by somebody, where would he have used? May be he would have sent you people out of Fresh FM and use the station as isolation center! What are you talking about? That’s why I said, don’t flatter us, criticise us, let us know the truth. Wherever we are lacking, we shall work on it. You said somebody pays salary, is he not expected to pay salaries of our people who are working for the State? Is he supposed to be slapping them? So what are you talking about relating payment of salary to COVID-19? Let me give you an example, Governor Wike by tomorrow is placing the State on total lockdown again by tomorrow! So he had charged everyone to buy what they need! El Rufai ordered for total lockdown for 30days. The truth is that there are times, you take action and decision based on what is on ground for the benefit of majority. I just gave you a narration of what happened 300years ago stupid decision of the leader of Maasel wiped off the whole community.
ISAAC: YOU HAVE NOT RESPONDED TO THE FACT THAT THIS GOVERNMENT HAS RESPONDED TO OUR TESTING CAPABILITY AS WE SPEAK?
Testing capability that is testing only 1000 people out of 7million? We are not 100,000 in population! We are not 1million people for your information.
ISAAC: WON’T YOU COMMEND HIM THAT WE CAN NOW DO THE TEST IN OYO? HE HAS PUT A TESTING CENTER AT UCH!
For given us the testing center, well done but my own concern is approach. It’s wrong! The cogent point here is that we need to lockdown and know who are the people we are testing! You know the orientation in this country, people don’t really believe in things like this unless there is a drastic measure. Look at Kano, they are paying dearly for it now.
ISAAC: THE WAY YOU ARE TALKING SIR, I’M ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED THAT YOU MAY NOT BE IN TANDEM WITH THE DECISION TO ASK WORKERS TO GO BACK TO WORK. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN THE ORDER AND THE SAME THING IN OYO
Even the Federal government. Look at what they did. Two weeks total lockdown plus another two weeks. They now said, let’s relax and have the report of the second stage, then get back to Nigerians. If there are needs for it, we can still go back. It happened in Georgia and Ghana.
ISAAC: WHAT ABOUT OYO?
No. We didn’t do any lockdown in Oyo! It has always been I don’t want to be offended! Let me remind of the first Prime Minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, said and I quote “Make sure you always put people who have ideas in power because in most cases those people in power don’t have ideas” So, one must have an idea of what he really wants to do. This is the time we test Governors or anybody in position if they really know what they are doing. The time of crisis not the time when everything seems naturally normal.
ISAAC: FOR A GOVERNOR WHO IS TRYING TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN ECONOMIC REALITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH, DON’T YOU WANT TO GIVE IT TO HIM THAT GOVERNOR SEYI MAKINDE HAS STRUCK A BALANCE?
Balance between what? You must first have sound health before you talk of economy. If you’re improving the economy and people to enjoy it are dead, have you achieved anything? No you’ve not! We have alternative to economy, do we have to health?
ISAAC: SO, YOU ARE AVERSE TO ANY CADER OF WORKERS RESUMING TO WORK IN THE STATE?
No! It’s not yet necessary because in the first instance, we did not do lockdown. So we don’t really have the figures of people who really have the virus. You’ve scared me again this morning by saying two days ago five persons were tested positive and the same recorded yesterday while four have ran away! For the one tested negative, what about if after two days he is positive! This is somebody that has been mingling with large numbers of people in a society. I’ve been on television and reading a lot monitoring this pandemic across the globe for the past four weeks. I’m sorry, I’m not a Doctor but I can explain myself very well. So listen to Governor Bala of Bauchi, Governor El Rufai of Kaduna and then you shall know that my own Governor just had severe Catarrh
ISAAC: ARE YOU DOUBTING THAT GOVERNOR HAD CORONA?
If it were to be Corona, I know what the symptoms are. None of the symptoms of corona was displayed.
ISAAC: BUT HE WAS TESTED POSITIVE?
ISAAC: NCDC confirmed it
No! NCDC came publicly that they were not the one that tested Governor Seyi Makinde! He was tested probably by Professor Alonge! NCDC reportedly on Channels they did not test Governor Makinde. Whatever I tell you, I’m 100% sure because I’ve taken my time for the past four weeks monitoring everything happening in States and Countries across the world.
ISAAC: DO YOU AGREE THAT DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE WAS IN ISOLATION CENTER, THE WHEEL OF GOVERNANCE WAS STILL VERY ACTIVE?
Let me tell you where they even have the best, the CNN reporter for New York was tested positive, he was interviewed and after six weeks, he sent out the video, he said for the first five days, he didn’t know where he was. So, if somebody is tested positive to Corona, the narratives will be different from all what Governor Makinde said. After five days, there should be another test! In the world today my Governor is already having his names in the Guinness Book of Record as the first person that recovered from COVID-19 within Five days and by seventh day, he was already having meetings with his executive. Na wa o.
ISAAC: DISTINGUISHED SENATOR, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, SENATOR ABDULFATAI BUHARI, LET’S GO TO THE NEED TO CUSHION THE EFFECTS FOLKS ARE GOING THROUGH! FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS INTO CASH TRANSFER FOR THE POOREST OF THE POOR. THEY ARE ALSO ROLLING OUT GRAINS AND I’M SURE YOU ARE AWARE OF THE HAPPENINGS IN OYO STATE AS REGARDS THE RICE MEANT FOR US IN THE STATE. FROM THE INFORMATION WE GATHERED RECENTLY, THE STATE GOVERNMENT WILL ROLL OUT OWN PALLIATIVES TO THE POOREST OF THE POOR IN OYO, 120, 000 HOUSEHOLDS IS THE TARGET. YOUR TAKE ON THIS SIR?
Well. On the Federal government palliative, nobody from my own Senatorial district has informed me that he has received anything! Beautiful enough, I’m even a member of the committee on poverty alleviation in the Senate, till now we are still fighting on the issue. Yesterday, I was with the Director to ask for the exact time they will be moving to South West including my own State. He’s given one excuse and another. I’m appealing to Oyo people, I know most of them have not received theirs. They are all going to get their own very soon.
Secondly, on the Rice you mentioned. I have three issues here, Federal government gave us 1800 bags of rice. That’s three trailers. I just bought three trailers too, a trailer is about 15million naira. That’s 45million for the three I bought. One thing I don’t like is that when we have serious issue at hand, we don’t politicise it. You don’t politicise issues. When people praise you, your performance should speak for you. Isaac Brown, listen very well, you got 1800 bags of Rice, the same quantities were given to Osun and Ondo. Suddenly, after taken your delivery, you now brought out four bags, not 10, not 20, not 100 claiming that they were spoilt. Agreed! But why didn’t the State government show us the remaining 1796 bags that are also spoilt.
My Governor is an Engineer, he knows what is called plus five minus five margins of errors! I’m not arguing that some of the Rice were not spoilt, but if he wanted to argue, he could have used his own money to buy another sets of Rice, showed us the one he bought and reference the one brought by the Federal government with genuine proof that all the Rice were spoilt. Four days later after the threat to return the Rice, another agency donated some ambulances. The State government took the ambulances. Why didn’t they say that the vehicles didn’t have spare tires, Jacks and other things? They should have done that and returned the ambulances too. I knew all these because I’m a member of the committee for that agency and I knew how many the agency sent to each State of Federation. On issue like that, everybody is selfish. You tend to know how many are going to your State. If he wanted to do politics with the palliatives, he could have disclosed that four days ago, they gave us bags of Rice, today they sent ambulances so that people won’t die. That’s why you don’t need to be a feeding bottle Governor! Let’s concentrate on issues at hand. When politics comes, we know how to handle that situation too. Let’s wait till 2022. Concentrate and be focused. When the incident happened. I called the high ranking member of his cabinet, I wouldn’t want to mention names because Nigeria, you know when you mention names, you have created another problem for the person. I said look, why did you guys allow your Governor to make this kind of mistake. I added by saying that during our time, in case Governor took some decision and policy that was considered wrong, I can mention four people, Bayo Ojo, Myself, Deolu Akande, Lowo Obisesan, we would go and meet our principal, Oga let’s look at this your decision and analyse it critically. He would listen and after his approval, we would then see the effect of coming together.
Just yesterday, may be as a result of my conversation with that person, they issued a letter, Oyo State is not fighting Federal government. What a medicine after death! What about if other agencies want to send something to us and then they said don’t take it to Oyo because they will say the drugs had expired.
By the time they wanted to send money to us, some people can say the State government will say the money is a counterfeit money! When it comes to politics, we shall do politics in 2022.
ISAAC: ARE YOU GLADDENED THAT OYO STATE GOVERNMENT IS ROLLING OUT THEIR PALLIATIVE NOW?
I’m waiting. May be what was delaying it before was that his picture has not been placed on the palliative. I wonder what you have been doing since Five, Six weeks ago! I’m sure, by the time we see it by weekend, we are going to see pictures! Omi Tuntun, Omi Funfun, Omi Pupa! Let’s wait and see what he’s going to provide and its quantity.
ISAAC: DISTINGUISHED, EVEN YOU. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, RAMADAN IS HERE, COVID-19 IS HERE?
Brilliant! That is where I’m happy. You should investigate and let people criticise me. I will appreciate that and from that I can learn. Criticism to me as a good politician makes you stronger if the person has a good heart and he cares for development.
ISAAC: SENATOR BUHARI, ENUMERATE THE PALLIATIVE YOU HAVE DONE?
I said it few minutes ago that for an individual to buy three trailers of Rice. I didn’t want to discuss it because I didn’t do that for politics so that I wouldn’t be a victim of what I’m accusing other people!
ISAAC: I’M AWARE YOU DONATED SOME HEALTH HARDWARES, PPE TO OYO STATE GOVERNMENT
When you were aware, why did you ask that question. Look, I didn’t do all those things for political reasons. I did them in order to make sure that I contributed to well being of people in Oyo State and Oyo North Senatorial in particular. That’s why you cannot see my pictures in any of the palliatives either the one donated to the State government or those distributed to my constituents in Oyo North.
ISAAC: YOU HAVE DONATED SIX TRAILERS OF RICE TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS IN ADDITION TO THE PPE DONATED TO OYO STATE?
Items donated were more than that. It was a duty. It is not only when you’re looking for votes that you go to people. A good politician must as a matter of responsibility relate with them. Situation now arrives that some of them can not afford to eat, it is true you cannot satisfy everybody but the little one you are able to do would be appreciated and God is going to reward you. If you have the resources and you’re given it to the poor, it’s a blessing! That’s my take.
ISAAC: WHAT WE SAW IN LAGOS AND ABUJA(Crowded Scenes)YESTERDAY POSED A LOT OF WORRY TO MOST NIGERIANS, YOUR TAKE SIR?
My take on that is very horrible! I said at the beginning of the programme and this is the time we take the issue very serious.
The second phase, the second stage of corona! I am praying and hoping that Nigerians will obey the rules by covering our nose, wash and sanitize our hands every time. It’s not necessary and compulsory that we all get sanitizer. We can use any soap to wash our hands frequently. In case anybody comes across the virus, all these activities will definitely kill it. Also, we should all avoid touching our nose, eyes, mouths and ears. We should all avoid picking something from those parts using our hands. With this a better and healthy society can be gotten.
ISAAC: WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE CONTROVERSY RAGING OVER THE VACCINATION & LOAN SWAP BILLS
The bill you mentioned is dead on arrival. There are bills you don’t even discuss it. We have six stages before passing a bill. You cannot. I repeat, you cannot stop a Senator or member of federal house of representatives from presenting a bill either good or bad. He will bring it for first reading. He will now convince us before it can move to the next stage. If it is not killed in second reading by the time it gets to the committee level, it will be killed, if not then at the public hearing stage, it will be killed. It it scales through all the stages mentioned above, the two chambers must concur before the onward forward to the president for his accent who can either kill or allow the bill to scale through. The process is a long one. Remember, few months ago, I came to you and you asked me about the social media bill. I said you should not worry yourself. It’s dead on arrival.
ISAAC: YOU DID!
There are a lot of people there who are very intelligent and know what is good for the country at a time or the other. I could remember yesterday, one of the brilliant senator I’ve ever seen stood up and said why are you people wasting your time over the vaccination bill back to the owner. In fact, it’s no longer in the National Assembly, it’s in his house. Everybody laughed. So, it’s nothing to worry about. I repeat, it’s dead on arrival.
On the internal borrowing. Sometimes, I don’t care and I don’t worry when we are borrowing especially for infrastructural development. What we are borrowing the money is a key. Take for example, an individual that borrows money for burial ceremony and another one borrowing the same amount for a sachet water’s factory! You can see they’re two different human being! What I care about borrowing is that it’s a long term one at a cheaper rate so that when you invest it wisely, the citizens would be the beneficiaries.
We saw a lot in the early 70s when everything was good for us. We didn’t invest it very well like UAE and Malaysia so, we are suffering to redirect our bearing and get it right. God willing.
ISAAC: ON YOUR RESPONSE TO VERACITY OF THE GOVERNOR’S COVID-19 STATUS, WE HAVE INDIVIDUALS WITH DIFFERENT IMMUNITY. THE FACT THAT HE RECOVERED QUICKLY MAY NOT BE A REASON FOR ANYBODY TO INFER OR CONCLUDE THAT HE NEVER HAD COVID, ANY RESPONSE TO THIS?
You know we have what is called procedural. We agreed in this country today that NCDC are the people who are testing Nigerians for COVID. COVID-19 is not something that somebody will go to hospital. If you go to private hospital, you will still be revered to them. I even said something that our Governor has written his names in the Guinness Book of Record. He is the only person I have known since this thing started that had the symptoms alongside two other persons. I repeat, if had not have severe catarrh but COVID-19, he had already has his names in the book of record. After three, four days, he had regained his health? Fantastic. In fact, if I were you I’ll gathered all the medications he said he took that healed him, get a trademark and start selling so that people can have the same immune like his and get better from the ill health faster.
ISAAC: THIS IS WHERE WE ARE GOING TO DRAW THE CURTAIN ON TODAYS PROGRAMME. THANK YOU SIR DISTINGUISHED SENATOR FOR BEING PART OF THE PROGRAMME. MY FINAL QUESTION IS THAT IS THE PPE DONATED TO OYO STATE GOVERNMENT THE FINAL THING YOU ARE GOING TO DO? OR YOU ARE STILL GOING TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE RELIEVE FUND?
Isaac Brown, Isaac Brown, leave my donation to me.
ISAAC: WILL YOU DO IT SIR?
I’m not going to tell you that. It’s between me and my God. Even the ones I did, when I did it, you didn’t know. I’m not doing eyes service. By 2022, you’ll see different postals from politicians. For this one, let me be. There are a lot of people that will donate and you will not know. That’s how it should be. The situation we are in now does not call for eyes service. It is a sober reflection and an assistance to humanity. Whatever anybody can do, let’s do it without making unnecessary noise.
ISAAC: WHEN THE NEWS COME TO ME, I WILL LET THE PUBLIC KNOW. THANK YOU VERY MUCH DISTINGUISHED SENATOR BUHARI ABDULFATAI.
You are welcome Isaac and thank you.
By Semiu Azeez