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OBITUARY: Junaid, Russian-Trained Neurosurgeon And Fearless Critic Who Accused Dasuki Of Sending People To Steal From Him

Dr Junaid Mohammed who died at the Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Centre in Kano, due to health complications.

By Taiwo George and Lexzy Ochibejivwie

The popular English playwright William Shakespeare averred in his play As You Like It that, ”All the world’s stage/And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances.” In one of the sobering statements ever made about death and life, Shakespeare bears our mind to the truth about reality. All humans certainly have a part to play in this world and this part certainly must come to an end someday. And so it has been for one of Nigeria’s most passionate, most objective, most consistent and, of course, most dominant social critic – Dr Junaid Mohammed who died at the Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Centre in Kano, due to health complications. One of his sons said the result of the test conducted on him showed he was negative of Coronavirus.

Better known as Dr Junaid, until he took his last breath, he was an advocate of good governance and responsible leadership. As arguably one of the most gifted and experienced politicians in Nigeria, he was clearly the voice of reason, pitching tent with ordinary Nigerians in many cases. Dr Junaid was fierce and fearless, and took it as a responsibility to speak truth to power whenever and wherever necessary. His words drove daggers into the hearts of the high and mighty. He said it the way he wanted it, caring less about whose ox was gored.

OPPOSED THE EMIRATE SYSTEM

It was Aristotle, the great Philosopher, who said: “Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend”. This fittingly describes Junaid in many ways. In an interview he granted the Daily Trust in 2020, the deceased revealed his mind about the revered emirate system. He said he did not believe in the system, but will not advocate for its abolition, if the people still respect it, if it is not a massive drain on a state’s financial resources and if it does not constitute itself into a cog in the wheel of progress.

KNOCKED FORMER KANO EMIR

Former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II
Junaid supported the dethronement of Sanusi

Talking about the emirate, one of the persons Junaid didn’t spare the length of his tongue is Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, 11, former emir of Kano. Many critics of the former emir were not bold enough to speak publicly about his removal, but not Junaid who defended Sanusi’s dethronement by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

“I endorsed his dethronement because I believe it was the only way out given the circumstances he pushed Kano into. The people who are his real masters in the South have been encouraging him. It is a matter of public record. It is out there in the public space. He should never have been made the Emir of Kano. Why? He is reckless. He is ignorant of our culture because he never stayed long in Kano. If you don’t know the culture of a people, you can never be their traditional leader. He never knew anything about Kano,” he had said in an interview.

He further narrated how Sanusi attempted to introduce him to Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. Here was what Junaid said: “The first time I heard the name of El-Zakzaky, it was from Lamido Sanusi, who was trying to introduce me to El-Zakzaky. Now, the rest is history. Look at the kind of mayhem El-Zakzakky causes.”

Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria

It was not just Sanusi that he went after in the class of the elites. From Lawal Daura, former Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) whom he described as a thug to Gen Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.), whom he referred to as a “selfish businessman.”

He expatiated his point: “Everything he (Danjuma) does, it is not the national interest that dictates what he says or what he does. It is his own selfish business interest. And I know there are issues in which he wanted his own interest and the interest of the people he claims to represent, even though that is not the case, and he wanted that to be executed or to be allowed by the government of the day. And this is not the first time. It happened even under Obasanjo and other leaders. I am not surprised he is saying what he is saying.”

Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd)

Junaid added that: “Those who claim, and that includes Danjuma, that the present government is out to dominate them in Mambila Plateau or in Taraba or wherever and others who say the government is out to dominate the southwest, they are talking nonsense. They are being unfair. They are unjust. I have had issues of a fundamental nature with Buhari and his administration. But I have never claimed that Buhari is out to dominate anybody, even those who are neighbours to his hometown in Daura and to his home state. I have never claimed that he is out to dominate people.

“The issues I raised had to do with, not even religion or tribe. It had to do with what I call nepotism. So people should be very careful about what they say. But if they want the country to burn to ashes, let us begin. Danjuma has more at stake. The whole of the things I own, apart from my house, I can put them in one car and drive off. Those who have assets and billions of money all over the world are the ones asking for trouble, let there be trouble. We will see who will shout first,” he had said in an interview.

THE SAMBO DASUKI BOMBSHELL

Junaid didn’t care ‘one bit’ about Dasuki’s detention under Buhari. Dasuki was detained for over four years

An interviewer’s delight any day, any time, Junaid shared a rare encounter he had with Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

“Sambo Dasuki was part and parcel of the group under a military government who made it a habit to arrest people without any reason. I was a victim of that kind of reckless abuse of power. Aliyu Gusau, who was in the previous government the NSA, then later, the so-called co-ordinator of national security and Dasuki were the masterminds of my arrest.”

He recalled: “I was taken during Ramadan while I was fasting. I was taken to Zaria and then taken back on the excuse that the car was not in good condition. Then I was taken out in another rickety car, driven to Ajaokuta, and from Ajaokuta, I was driven to Ondo State. I was kept in detention in Owo.” Junaid continued:
“Sambo Dasuki assigned people to me even when I was in detention. And they were stealing my documents, giving them to him and he was taking the documents to Babangida. It was when Babangida got pissed off with the whole process that he told Dasuki off.

The ever-daring Junaid

“Babangida said Doctor (referring to me) has the capacity to abuse me face to face. So, don’t bring his letters to me. In fact, the issue that drew Babangida’s anger was a letter I wrote to late Gen. John Shagaya who was then minister of internal affairs.” At this point, he said: “Babangida said John was my friend and John knew that Junaid was my friend. So why should you bring his personal letters addressed to a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council? And of course, when he finally took the letter to its destination, to then Col. Shagaya. Shagaya gave him an earful:
“So, if you live by treachery and abuse your power, you are likely to go down by treachery and abuse of power. I don’t sympathize with Sambo Dasuki one bit,” he had said while responding to a question that had to do with the incarceration of Dasuki by the Buhari government.

Junaid was not one who fondles the truth. He was mature, both in thoughts and actions. He understood the nature of Nigeria’s leadership and Nigerian leaders, and never gave any thought to massaging the ego of politicians, so as to score some cheap political points. He was a well dignified person who never begged for political appointments, and in very many cases he exhibited the highest and purest form of consistency. Junaid was a man who showed admirable level of contentment with what he had. He was not parochial in the least, and was also in every way refined in the things that pertain to the human race. In many cases and across many fronts, he exemplified the saying that ”only the test of fire makes a good steel.”

BUHARI’S MILITARY COUP ENDED HIS LEGISLATIVE CAREER

Although he was known as a trenchant critic of government, a politician and an elder statesman, not many knew him as a Medical doctor. Born in 1948 in Dala, Kano state, Junaid studied Medicine at the Old Soviet Union, and later specialized in neurology in the United Kingdom. As one who had a passion to serve humanity, he ventured into fulltime politics, and became a founding member of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in 1976, under the leadership of late Mallam Aminu Kano. He thereafter became a member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, during Nigeria’s Second Republic in 1979. He represented Kano under the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), and served as a Minority Leader. Junaid’s presence was well noticed in that House, until a military junta led by then Major Muhammadu Buhari put an end to the activities of the Second Republic in December of 1983.

As one who believed that one can make impact in and out of government, Junaid presence was massively felt after he left the House. He would comment on sensitive and topical national issues, with incontrovertible facts, and in a manner laden with passion. Junaid was a man who dearly loved his country and stood firmly on the part of truth, equity and justice. For so many years, he practically was a watchdog. He criticized Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, providing to them, in many cases, practicable solutions to pressing national challenges. When Buhari became President of Nigeria, he criticized his approach to handling national security and picking political appointees. He has criticized Buhari in so many ways, but it is perhaps his view that the president is the most nepotistic leader he has ever seen and experienced in his lifetime will forever remain etched in our memory. In January 2021, Junaid averred that President Buhari’s approach to appointment is grossly lopsided and nothing short of a travesty of leadership. He said that 99 per cent of President Buhari’s appointments are not based on merit.

 

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah
Junaid endorsed Kukah’s comment that Buhari is practising nepotism

Junaid had said this as a response to Matthew Hassan Kukah – Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese – who had accused President Buhari of nepotism. Aligning partly with Bishop Kukah’s assertion, Junaid declared in an interview that:
“I have no problem with part of his (Kukah’s) statement, but I don’t believe he is historically accurate by saying that coups come about when Muslims or northerners find themselves being marginalised.” However, he agreed totally with Bishop Kukah that there is high level of nepotism in President Buhari’s handling of state affairs.
“But I have to admit that the core issue he raised about nepotism is real, and of course marginalization of some certain sections of the country is real and that nepotism is in favour of people that are close to Buhari, particularly his friends, cronies, relations and in-laws.”

Far back in February of 2019, Junaid was quoted to have said that President Buhari’s return in 2019 would end in disaster. When in December of 2016, President Buhari had declared that the stronghold of Boko Haram in Sambisa forest had been completely destroyed and the sect had been totally decimated, Junaid would hear none of this. In an interview he granted, just few days after the President’s declaration, Junaid vehemently opposed the President’s thought: “Boko Haram is still alive and well.”

Boko Haram: One of Nigeria’s worst nightmares

He stressed his point further: “I said and I repeat, Boko Haram is still alive and well. Even if they are not holding territory for a prolonged period in Nigeria, there is no denying the fact that they are still holding areas in the northern part of Nigeria, ditto in Niger Republic and part of Northern Nigeria. Whoever says they have been defeated is telling lies and taking diabolical liberties with a lack of the thorough knowledge that one is supposed to have before commenting on such matters.”

CONTROVERSIAL COMMENT ON 1966 COUP

Kaduna Nzeogwu: This is the man who led Nigeria’s first military coup

At the 2014 National Conference, Junaid was one of the delegates from Kano state. At this conference, he made a very controversial statement regarding the impact the 1966 coup had on the lives of people in northern Nigeria. In an interview he granted Sahara TV, Junaid pointed out that the “1966 coup is the reason why the North is today left with scoundrels, crooks and despots.”

He explained further: “From the time the Igbo stage a coup and decapitated the entire military, the North had never had decent leadership.”

It was perhaps why he said he would rather have Bola Tinubu as President of Nigeria, than an Igbo man to become the President of Nigeria. Junaid was a man whose thirst for change was unquenchable, which was why he threw his hat into active politics once again in 2019, when he was nominated by former Governor of Cross River state and Presidential flag bearer of the Social Democratic Movement (SDM), Mr Donald Duke, as the Vice Presidential candidate of the party. Before his nomination, Junaid was the Deputy Chairman of the party for the North-West.
Commenting in a tweet in 2018 on why Junaid was picked as his Vice Presidential candidate, Mr Duke said: “Dr Junaid Muhammed brings to the SDP Presidential ticket, geopolitical reach and acceptance, and in-depth the knowledge of Nigerian politics.” Mr Duke’s further tweeted that “Dr Junaid Muhammed is a well-known academic and on the political scene as a political warhorse/firebrand.

Former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke
Donald Duke, Presidential Candidate of SDP in 2019, picked Junaid as his running mate

He has served in several capacities at both the federal and state levels”. Although his party lost the election, he would not give up on his insistence that the Nigerian people deserve good governance. He was always agitated and displayed positive and encouraging passion towards the goings-on in Nigeria and the welfare of Nigerians. He was also mindful of the need to preserve the African cultural heritage. Many knew him as a man of deep conviction. He supports what he believes and believes what he supports.

On Thursday, 18th February, 2021, this quintessential statesman, this paragon of progress, this advocate of a truly better Nigeria, and this man of peace would go the way of all flesh. He was survived by a wife and blessed with four children. He would be greatly remembered for his verve, for his dedication and for his commitment to his country.
Rest on, Junaid, for indeed you fought a good fight.

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