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At Chatham House, Buhari unveils strategies against Nigeria’s woes

By Adamu Abuh, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja), Seye Olumide (Lagos) and Emmanuel Akinwotu (London)
26 February 2015   |   11:41 pm
• PDP decries his preference for London speech to debate • Party lauds Jonathan for visit to troubled spots FOR the umpteenth time, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) yesterday assured that any person found indulging in corrupt practices would not be tolerated in his administration.   In an…


• PDP decries his preference for London speech to debate • Party lauds Jonathan for visit to troubled spots

FOR the umpteenth time, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) yesterday assured that any person found indulging in corrupt practices would not be tolerated in his administration.

  In an address delivered to guests at Chatham House, London, he assured that if elected, he would lead the way, with the force of personal example. 

  In the speech entitled: “Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition,” Buhari who is the leading challenger to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28 poll promised that he would open up the economy to incorporate the haves and the have not through the effective utilisation of the country’s resources.

  Decked in a dark caftan and cap to match, Buhari described the rescheduled March 28 election as a defining moment that had great implications beyond the democratic project and beyond the nation’s borders.

  Reiterating his stance that any form of extension, under whichever guise, would be unconstitutional and would not be tolerated, he said that the postponed elections must not only hold on the rescheduled dates, but should be free and fair.

Tackling graft 

On corruption, he said: “There will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. 

  “The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference. But, I must emphasise that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.”

Refocusing the economy 

Continuing, he contended: “In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, in reforming the economy, use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programmes in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.

  “As a progressive party, we must reform our political economy to unleash the pent-up ingenuity and productivity of the Nigerian people thus freeing them from the curse of poverty. We will run a private sector-led economy but maintain an active role for government through strong regulatory oversight and deliberate interventions and incentives to diversify the base of our economy, strengthen productive sectors, improve the productive capacities of our people and create jobs for our teeming youths.

  “In short, we will run a functional economy driven by a worldview that sees growth not as an end by itself, but as a tool to create a society that works for all, rich and poor alike. On March 28, Nigeria has a decision to make. To vote for the continuity or failure or to elect progressive change, I believe the people will choose wisely.”

  He described claims of economic prosperity and growth under the President Jonathan-led administration as more of paper growth, adding it was a growth on account of mismanagement, profligacy and corruption that had not translated to human development or shared prosperity. 

On insurgency

  On the Boko Haram insurgency group, Buhari said that it was unfortunate that the menace had sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, due to the untimely death of more than 13,000 of Nigerians.

  Claiming the President Jonathan-led administration did little to contain the Islamists group, he said under his presidency, Nigeria would not only be a secured place, it would regain its stabilising role in Africa.

  He said: “What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former Head of State, has always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.

  “You all can bear witness to the gallant role of our military in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and in many other peacekeeping operations in several parts of the world. But in the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentives to tackle this problem. The government has also failed in any effort towards a multi-dimensional response to this problem leading to a situation in which we have now become dependent on our neighbours to come to our rescue.

  “Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa, and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunition to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.”

  Responding to questions from the audience, Buhari said that it would be unfair of him to grant amnesty to Boko Haram because of the several lives and property that have been destroyed.

  Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described Buhari’s speech in House London after refusing to participate in a presidential debate in Nigeria, as unfortunate and a disrespect for Nigerians.

  In a statement issued by the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation media director, Femi Fani Kayode, in Abuja yesterday, it was pointed out that

  “It is amazing that a man that refuses to participate in a debate in his own country is so ready to go to a foreign country to sell his message in a desperate attempt to curry favor with the people of that country.”

  The statement further reads: “We wonder whether General Buhari told his foreign audience whilst he was in London how much he loves Boko Haram.  We wonder whether he told them that he once said that he believes that ‘’an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north’’ and that the Boko Haram terrorists should be appeased, pampered, resettled and paid allowances.

  ‘‘We wonder if he told them that he was once nominated by Boko Haram to be their spokesman and representative during proposed negotiations with the Federal Government. We wonder if he told them that he was the one that ordered and organised the violent injecting, crating and disgraceful kidnapping of a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the name of Alhaji Umaru Dikko from the streets of London 31 years ago when he was in power.”

  Fani-Kayode who described the appearance of Buhari at Chatham House as stage-managed added: “We shall state our views about General Buhari’s stage-managed show of shame at Chatham House at a later date; and, at that time, we shall go into far more detail.

  For now, all we can say is that it is truly pitiful that a former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria believes that it is more important to win the hearts and minds of the British than it is to win the hearts and minds of the Nigerian people.

  General Buhari can run to any foreign country in the world to say anything that he likes but at the end of the day the decision as to who will lead Nigeria as from May 29th this year will be determined by no one else but the Nigerian people. The game is on here and not in London. “

  In another statement, the PDP said Buhari’s appearance at Chatham House, London‎ was targeted to secure a desperately needed endorsement of the international community, stressing that “but the world is hardly fooled by theatrics of desperation.”

  National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said in the statement yesterday in Abuja: “That stage may have lifted the badly deflated morale of the members of APC but the vanishing performance is incapable of redeeming the forlorn fortune in the bad sale the APC flag bearer is in the March 28, 2015 presidential election.

  ‘‘We wish to urge General Buhari to quickly channel his message and energies home, meet Nigerians who are choking up with questions on his capacity to lead. He may realize ultimately too, that politics in this instance is local and shall be decided locally. The ultimate endorsement lies with the people of Nigeria.”

  It added: “We wish to commend President Goodluck Jonathan for boosting the moral of our gallant soldiers with a visit today to Baga in Bornu State and Mubi in Adamawa State. His able leadership has resulted in the huge successes recorded by our Armed Forces in the fight against insurgency.”