Nigeria will be made to work for us all, says Buhari
The shape of things to come
IT is a difficult time for Nigerians, as you all know. I have said it in the past that in the last 16 years, Nigeria has never realized the amount of revenue it received. A barrel of crude oil rose to about 140 dollars and has crashed to about 50 dollars now.
During these 16 years, we know some big companies that used to employ a lot of Nigerians and give them training facilities like the Nigeria Airways and Nigeria Shipping Line, but where are they now? Even the Nigeria Railways is managing to be on paper with some refurbished engines moving from Lagos to Ibadan and a few other places. If you go to their stations all over the country, you will realize that they are in a terrible shape.
The important thing in a country with a huge population of youths with more than 60 percent of them under the age of 30 who are unemployed is that you need these institutions to give jobs and training to Nigerians. It is very disappointing that the PDP government virtually failed to use those resources to make sure that the economy continue to grow in a sustainable way.
I think the worst thing is the lack of accountability and the terrible budgetary system. Imagine that over 90 percent of Nigerian budget is on recurrent.
How can you sustain development in a developing country like Nigeria with only about 10 percent of your income? Things just have to change.
There must be more money available for infrastructure, for investment, in getting the factories back, employment and getting goods and services for the population. I think the sins of PDP will be coming out for several years to come.
On the gale of defection to the winning APC
I think that this is mainly a question meant for the party. I wish chief John Oyegun was here to answer you because we have a system. Just because I am the Presidential candidate and the President elect does not mean that the system has allowed me to usurp the power of the party executive.
But certainly, in a multi-party democratic system, fundamentally, it is the number that matters for the people. But for the party, what matters is the ability to manage the number so that the majority will have its way so that there will be justice.
No matter what the remnants from the PDP would remain by May 29, I assure you or I assure them through you that there will be justice in APC. For those that are coming into the APC, I have no fear because we have our party structure. The fact that you were a party chairman or you were a minister before you join the APC is irrelevant.
We can only appreciate the fact that you remain relevant in your immediate locality. But when it comes to the centre, there is some equality in the way the government will handle you. If we win majority of members of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly in the states, it means that it is with the agreement of their constituencies that the Federal Government has the power that it has. If the Federal Government is insisting on accountability and being responsible, even if they go back to their constituencies, there is nothing they can do about the decision of the government.
We are banking on that. I will give you an example of my state, Katsina. In 2011, the CPC won all the senatorial seats and 13 out of the 15 House of Representatives seats but they lost the governorship. Who did the election? Did people from space come to conduct the election? That is the bad thing about lack of cohesion in a party. Leadership at all levels must work in concert. Otherwise, what Katsina state suffered, any state or the centre can suffer it.
Those who were Chief Executives from local government to state levels will be encouraged to work together. So, those that are coming in, I hope they will accept that they are coming to join those who succeeded and they should cooperate with them. They can’t come and say that because they were once Ministers under PDP, they will join APC and become Ministers the following month or so. I don’t think that it will be acceptable even by their constituencies.
On the expected war against indiscipline and corruption
I will mention how it came about when I was a Military Head of State. When we had our first Supreme Military Council meeting and the governors were appointed, in my office, it was only late Tunde Idiagbon and I. We discussed and we agreed that the main problem of Nigeria was indiscipline.
That if we can get majority of Nigerians to accept the need to be disciplined whichever level they are, we will make a lot of progress. I could recall that I advised that we should go to the Ministry of Information because there were a lot of people with First Degrees, Masters and PhD who are Sociologists and Criminologists and who are just warming their seats. We felt they should get together and come up with a programme that will last for years and not just for six months and then fizzle out. That was how we came about War Against Indiscipline (WAI). It was very well thought out. It was a military system.
But we are in democracy now and people want a lot of freedom. But if they see the restraints in advanced democracies in Europe and America, they will realize that discipline is forced on people. There are things that, no matter how much you want to do them, you cannot do them. I think that we have suffered enough as a people and I think that people are more prepared to behave themselves now.
About two years ago, I made some remarks in Hausa that some senior civil servants who are Directors either at the State or Federal cannot educate four children because the level of education has gone down so much. Those that can afford to will rather send their children to Ghana or Sudan and those who can afford it more send theirs to America and Europe because the educational system in Nigeria has virtually collapsed.
Therefore, we feel that by voting APC into power, Nigerians are placing confidence in us. On security, economy especially unemployment and corruption, I believe that Nigerians will give us the understanding to make sure that we get our priorities correct. Education is going to be very important because when you educate the people, you solve half of your problems as there is a level that an educated person will not accept.
But when people are sentenced to illiteracy, when they are exposed to all manner of social vices such as ethnicity and religion so that people don’t move forward, they are used to fight themselves and remain in poverty.
On earlier pledges to declare his assets publicly
I made a statement that has not been correctly captured by the media. I said that our generation, from the late Head of state, General Murtala Muhammed, made sure that those who had appointments declared his or her assets and this was later articulated in the constitution.
It is up to government to make sure that those who borrow money to build a house and end up with another house somewhere else with 50 bedroom and 20 living rooms to explain to Nigerians how they get the money. I could recall that I declared my assets three times.
First was when I got my first political appointment as governor of Borno State; secondly, when I was leaving government to go to the United States War College. I declared my assets then because I was closing my political chapter then technically. I could recall that General (David) Jemibewon was the Adjutant-General of the Nigerian Army then. I had to declare my asset, deposited it there to be taken to court before I was allowed to proceed to the United States for my course. The third one was when I became the Head of State.
From General Obasanjo down till now, those of us that were in the Supreme Military Council, Council of States, Executive Council and even those who were Permanent Secretaries, at the time we got our appointment, the courts should be made to produce our declarations.
So, all these noise about people being rich and nobody is saying anything about it could still be handled. Why can’t you prick the conscience of the existing government or are some of you (journalists) part of the cover up?
On the two-month period to end Boko Haram
I think I am too experienced in internal security to give two months deadline on Boko Haram. I don’t think I would have made that mistake because I tried to look at some of my experiences even when I was in uniform with the rebels from Chad when I was General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Jos and with Maitasine. So, for me to say that when I come into office, I will get rid of Boko Haram in two months, I don’t think I would have made that mistake. I didn’t.
As I mentioned on several occasions, we that have at one time or the other wore the Nigerian Military uniform felt terribly embarrassed that for six years, the Nigeria Military couldn’t bring order to 14 local governments out of 774 local governments in the country after our exploits in Burma, Zaire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Dafur where Nigerian military earned respect internationally for their performances. I still cannot reconcile myself with the disgrace of the failure to secure 14 out of 774 local governments of Nigeria.
We will try and work with our neigbours such as Chad, Cameroon and Niger who are fighting Boko Haram for us, which is the first thing we should have done. Look at Chad helping Nigeria or Niger, or Cameroon doing it for us.
This nation has been humiliated by the PDP. Nigeria has been humiliated by PDP. God willing, with our experiences, we will quickly marshal support and we are asking Boko Haram to pack and go.
The Transition Committee
We have started discussing about it. Personally, I will make sure that it is not too big because if it is big, they will start thinking of how to influence the choice of ministers either for themselves or those they want to be ministers.
But my hope and my idea is to get knowledgeable and experienced technocrats that are really patriotic to study the handing over notes by Ministries and make recommendations. I want them to be completely detached people who are patriotic Nigerians who are knowledgeable and experienced. If we get majority of politicians involved, it will lead to a lot of row and we may end up with inconclusive recommendations that are not very helpful in our condition.
When I get it ready and before it is published, I will show it to the leadership of my party and the terms of reference as well as the time limit and the result of their work, we will quickly study it before the inauguration so that before we are sworn in, we get into action.
I think there is less disruption today (last Saturday) than it was during the presidential election. I hope that it was as a result of the bandwagon effect because APC had the upper hand during the last election.
But what happened in the South-South and the Southeast cannot be compared to what happened today. What I saw was that there was a few ballot snatching in some local government areas in Bayelsa and a few disruptions in Adamawa state, but that is nothing near to what happened two weeks ago. I don’t think it is up to 25 percent of what happened two weeks ago I think that after the elections, both parties, APC and PDP, will perhaps make their representations to INEC or the courts and then more details will emerge.
Definitely maybe because the turnout is much lower. From what I have heard, the turnout is much lower from what it was two weeks ago.
Maybe the people just wanted a president and once they got one, they just walked away. They are Nigerians and there is nothing we can do but to convince them that they have to use this weapon, which is the Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
I think we should allow INEC to give its comprehensive report. Meanwhile, as you mentioned in some of the states, especially in Rivers and Lagos, the two parties are slugging it out. I think we have to take our time and let us get as much report as possible in accordance with the Electoral Act. I personally want to be legal about this so that people will appreciate that we believe in a system.
What we need to do is to modify the system according to the law if we don’t like it and that no one should come out and do to the system whatever he likes. For what is happening in Lagos, I think that for whatever political reason, the PDP wants to have Lagos by all means. I have a lot of respect for the governor of Rivers State for his courage.
It has been a long time as you all know where at a certain time, the Commissioner of Police virtually hijacked the state and the governor was virtually sentenced to the streets fighting thugs without law enforcement agents to survive as a governor while the constitution made it very clear to all of us that the governor is the Chief Security Officer of the state.
So, a lot of unconstitutional and lawless acts of the PDP are on record and we intend to make the PDP understand it and make sure that according to law, those who are responsible for that are taken to the court and properly charged.
We are in this system because we believe in it and we want it to be stabilised because it is better for our country. If Nigerians have the confidence that their votes count, then they will mind their own business and I assure you that there will be much security in the country.
But when people feel that they are abandoned they will resist. I think that by nature, human beings are rebels especially in Nigeria. Unless you try and placate them, convince them and show them that their rights are respected, you will not have peace.
What we hear about the money that changed hands in this country, it would have been impossible for APC to win anything because we don’t have any treasury. There was no amount of money that could convince Nigerians this time around.
A lot of them took the money and did exactly what their conscience wanted them to do, while some even returned the money. Somehow, Rivers and Lagos were seen as strategic to the PDP.
Otherwise, how can APC have a marginal 100,000 votes over APC in Lagos, which is virtually the capital of the APC in the South-West? A lot of things will come out, but we want to do it basically on facts which can be verified and quantified.
How to handle election offenders
I will look for understanding and cooperation from the National Assembly when a change of the Constitution or Electoral Act is necessary.
So for me to make up my mind here and later try to lobby is out of it because some of them, if they are very hard, they will give me a tough time. I will say that I haven’t read all of the (Justice Muhammed) Uwais report; I have only read a few of the extracts from the papers. I think it is a good thing and we will encourage it.
But we need to get a comprehensive report from the field. The running battle from Rivers, Southeast and the rest of the south-South, especially by governor Amaechi, Rochas Okorocha and governor of Edo state with INEC officials and law enforcement agencies including the Army is remarkable and I think it has to be totally exposed so that Nigerians will know which of the law enforcement agencies and at what level are undermining the Constitution of Nigeria because the Electoral Act is derived from the constitution of the country.
In the future, those who are in position will know that they are not beyond the law. I think that is what will bring more stability into the system.
In view of that, I will try and work with the National Assembly to make sure that we do something about it. I will like to work within the system because we believe in it. I have just told you about three governors and the battle they have with the law enforcement agents in their states.
We discussed and adviced them to try and document these things legally so that it can be taken before the court and we will make sure that we register the cooperation of the court so that people who work against the law are prosecuted, especially those who have lost their immunity. This is the best way to stabilize the system.
People must not benefit from being lawless. You can’t be in a position by virtue of the constitution, subvert the constitution and continue to enjoy the privileges offered by the constitution. I don’t think that will be acceptable by the APC.
So, whether you are in the opposition or the government, you have to behave yourself. I think that is the way we can make progress.