President Muhammadu Buhari did not pretend about certain issues and individuals that annoyed him in 2016. BAYO AKINLOYE compiles 10 things that got under the Nigeria’s number one citizen’s skin for The Punch.
Governor Ayo Fayose
“Every one of my trips can be politically or economically assessed. I recall that the first trip I had was to go to Chad and Niger. The trip was mainly because of Nigeria’s security.
“I have not seen any frivolous journey that I undertook. I understand that the Governor of Ekiti State (Ayo Fayose) said that every trip I make costs Nigeria at least $1m. I do not know how he worked that out. But every trip that I have made, there must be economic and political reasons that justified them. Those who do not see it the way the government sees it have the right not to agree and say whatever they like. But we will try and give them the appropriate reply.”
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room. So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition, because in the end I have succeeded. It’s not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.
“I am sure you have a house. You know where your kitchen is. You know where your living room is, and I believe your wife looks after all of that, even if she is working.”
“The corruption we met at personal and institutional levels was unbelievable. Corruption was turning into a culture. After we came in, people started realising the truth. Nigeria will either kill corruption or corruption will kill Nigeria in the long run. It has not been easy for another party to come in and get things done properly, especially with the new economic reality of $37 per barrel of oil, against the $100 for the period, and there was no savings, no infrastructure on the ground.”
“On the fight against corruption vis-à-vis the judiciary, Nigerians will be right to say that is my main headache for now. If you reflect on what I went through for 12 years, when I wanted to be the President, I attempted three times and on the fourth attempt, through God and the use of technology, it was possible for Nigerians to elect an APC candidate as President.
“I am worried that the expectation of the public is yet to be met by the judiciary with regard to the removal of delay and the toleration of delay tactics by lawyers. When cases are not concluded, the negative impression is given that crime pays. So far, the corruption cases filed by government are not progressing as speedily as they should in spite of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 essentially because the courts allow some lawyers to frustrate the reforms introduced by law.”
Niger Delta militants
“We are trying to speak with their leaders, to know how many groups there are. And, we are also working with the oil companies. The militants engage in sophisticated sabotage, using skills they had gained from training either by the government, or the oil companies, to vandalise installations deep in the sea. We need to understand who the real agitators are, and engage (in dialogue) with them, so that confidence can be restored in the region. The Niger Delta situation is more complex, since the militants have no central command, and some of them are mere extortioners.”
“I advised against the issue of national conference. You will recall that ASUU was on strike then for almost nine months. The teachers in tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet that government had about N9bn to organise that meeting (National Conference) and some (members) were complaining that they hadn’t even been paid. I never liked the priority of that government on that particular issue, because what it meant was that the discussions on what the National Assembly ought to do was more important than keeping our children in schools. That is why I haven’t even bothered to read it or ask for a briefing on it and I want it to go into the so-called archives.”
Indigenous People of Biafra/Nnamdi Kanu
“Those looking for Biafra have a tough job. A lot of them that have participated in the demonstrations were not born and didn’t know what people like us went through (fighting Biafra) by walking from the northern border to initially Abakaliki, then coming back and starting from Awka to Abagana and to Onitsha. We lost our friends and relatives; about two million Nigerians were killed. They thought it was a joke, so I think they have a problem.
“I assure them (Niger Delta militants) that the saying by Gen. (Yakubu) Gowon (retd.) that to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. In those days we never thought of oil; all we were concerned about was one Nigeria. So, please pass this to the militants that one Nigeria is not negotiable and they had better accept that. Nigerian constitution is clear as to what they should get and I assure them there will be justice.”
“I am going to bore you with what we met. I know that I am being accused in the papers of passing the buck, but passing the buck is sometimes absolutely necessary to remind people who take things for granted. When we came in, I screamed to high heavens because I had promised a lot while seeking votes. I asked, ‘where is the savings?’ There was no savings. There was no infrastructure, power, rails, roads, there was none. What did we spend the money on? I was told (on) buying food and petrol.
“Where were the billions going? We conducted a study and found out that the oil marketers were committing fraud on at least one-third of what they were importing, which was about 25 per cent of our foreign exchange. I have bored you with this long explanation because there are things that could be hidden from you by those that have mismanaged the country in the last 16, 17 years.”
“I assure all Nigerians and friends of the country, once again, that my administration will not rest on its oars until the ungodly terrorist sect (Boko Haram) is totally eliminated from our country. As peace gradually returns to the insurgency-ravaged north-eastern states, the Federal Government will continue to work diligently to ensure the rapid and full reintegration and rehabilitation of all internally displaced persons, including orphaned children in the region. We will also sustain and strengthen ongoing actions to protect children more effectively from violence, child-labour, child-trafficking, forced marriages and other related offences.”
“Some bureaucrats removed what we put in the proposal and replaced them with what they wanted. I have to look at the bill that has been passed by the National Assembly, ministry by ministry; to be sure that what has been brought back for me to sign is in line with our original submission.
“I am waiting for the 2017 budget to be brought to us in council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it. They (corrupt people) don’t want to reflect on the situation in which we are, economically. They want to live the same way; they simply want business as usual.”