For the second time in as many days, President Muhammadu on Friday spoke to Nigerians via an interview with the Nigeria Television Authority where he once again took questions on a wide range of issues.
Some of the highlights of the interview are published below…
#EndSars Protest and destruction of government properties
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday revealed he told Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to tell residents of the state to trek following the massive destruction and burning of BRT buses that trailed the #EndSARS protest.
Buhari said he told Sanwo-Olu when he visited shortly after the protests that the federal government didn’t have the funds to replace the burnt buses.
Buhari said, “Look at the #EndSARS incident in Lagos. The previous governor of Lagos state bought 200 buses to complement the transportation in Lagos. And he built a complex. But they went and burnt them.”
“The present governor made an album and came to see me. I said ‘Thank you very much’. I took the album, put it in my archives and I told him to tell the Lagosians to walk, because we don’t have the money.
“After an administration bought over 200 buses, for some people to come and burn it? So, let them walk.”
-Nigerians forgetful easily— those accused of corruption still win elections
On the issue of corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians are forgetful, given that most of the people accused of corrupt practices still go on to win elections.
He further stated that democracy has provided an excuse for corrupt persons to still find relevance within political settings.
“When I was a bit younger, in uniform, when I came, I arrested president, vice-president, governors, ministers, commissioners, and put them under restriction or detention, and told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. Now, this is opposite – democratic system, as people would like to believe,” he said.
“We put investigation panels, virtually based on the present geopolitical zones. For those who held positions and because it was a law for people to declare their assets when they become governors or ministers or commissioners or head of security agencies, they were investigated. Those that cannot explain the extra resources they have in terms of assets and in the banks were asked to surrender. Eventually, I was arrested and detained, and they were given back their loot. So, this is Nigeria.
“Nigerians, I think, are very forgetful. I’m very pleased that the majority of Nigerians think that this administration, under the circumstances, are doing their best. But people who misappropriated funds, a lot of them were elected members whether at the state or federal level. And their base still values them.
“You can accuse them or try to prove that when they were elected members of the House of Reps and they are given ministries and so on, they had only one house and maybe a wife but now they have several houses may be in Abuja, maybe in Lagos, so, really, if you try to work out their legitimate salaries, vis-à-vis their expenditure, you will be embarrassed.”
The President also said there was the need for the establishment of specialised courts in the country to hasten the trial of corrupt politicians.
-On the performance of his administration
Assessing his performance in the last six years, the President said that his administration has “not done very badly”.
He asked Nigerians to be fair to his administration in making judgement, adding that people should consider what was being produced in terms of crude before his administration came into power.
He said, “I want Nigerians to be fair to this administration. They should reflect seriously on the time we came in, especially in the north-east and south-south.”
“Where are we now in terms of resources? How much are we producing? The previous administration before we came was producing 2.1 million per day at 100 American dollars per barrel.
“When we came in, militants in the south-south were unleashed on this administration and production went down to half a million barrels per day, and then in the market, oil price collapsed.
“I will like Nigerians to reflect on these in terms of resources and time, and I believe that we have not done very badly.”
-On sponsors of terrorism
President Muhammadu Buhari described those financing terrorism in the country as relevance seeker, stating that any individual apprehended for financing acts of terror will be dealt with and made to face the law.
According to him, most of those financing terrorism in the country are wealthy individuals that are no longer in government.
Buhari further stated that it is unfair for Nigerians to say he’s not being tough on bandits, adding that majority of Nigerians understand him and are appreciative of his efforts to secure the country.
To hand over a secure, confident, prosperous Nigeria
Buhari reiterated that the youths must cooperate with his government to improve security in the country.
“It’s in your interest to ensure Nigeria is secure,” he said to the youths.
-Not satisfied with the economy
President Muhammadu Buhari explained that he is not satisfied with the performance of Nigeria’s economy, but added that he is working with the entire machinery of government to improve on it and increase foreign direct investments in Nigeria.
“I am not satisfied (with the economy). That’s why I’m trying to make sure we persuade foreign countries to allow their multinationals to develop more confidence in Nigeria and come and invest,” he said, adding that such “will give us employment, and give us goods and services.”
Buhari said Nigerian elites should understand that he needs more time to secure the country, build the economy and fight corruption.
According to him, the #EndSARS protests in October last year also impacted negatively on the economy.