Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jonathan was reluctant to leave power, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reflected on the activities surrounding the last general elections and concluded that his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan only conceded defeat reluctantly.
Buhari had before now hailed Jonathan for exhibiting the spirit of sportsmanship, which is often very rare among Nigerian politicians when they lose in a crucial electoral contest.

The president who was a guest on a breakfast show “Good Morning Nigeria” on the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, also evaluated his performance in the last two months lamenting that the challenges of insecurity, corruption and youth unemployment have undermined his resolve to immediately deliver on his campaign promises.
According to him, the United States of America as well as many world powers had put the then administration under tremendous pressure, a development which he said left Mr. Jonathan with no option than to concede defeat.
“…the US Secretary of State visited here before the elections, he saw the former president, INEC, the opposition too.

America’s stand was that they were not going to accept anything done in Nigeria outside the constitution of Nigeria and outside the Electoral Act.
“Now, you know what was done to threaten the last election, including threatening INEC by telling them that their security could not be guaranteed and they added six weeks extension to the time of the election.
“Luckily APC won and then reluctantly, the ruling party conceded and the rest, as they say, is history.
So really the Americans have shown concern, they spoke to the former president, INEC, the opposition and maintained the pressure throughout. The Americans were in agreement with Europe and Nigeria,” he said.

On reported under-dealings in the nation’s oil and gas sector, the President said the Federal Government was working assiduously to expose the persons behind the illegal activity. He promised that his administration would continue to update Nigerians on government’s investigation into the matter. He said government’s aim was to identify and prosecute all those found culpable.
According to him, the relevant shipping documents are being compiled for onward submission to countries of destination of stolen Nigerian crude oil. He lamented that up till July 10, Nigeria’s crude oil was still being illegally lifted by some government officials.

“We are going to make sure that those who perpetrated this crime against Nigeria will be faced with facts and be taken to our courts. We have got the cooperation of some of the countries that are the destinations of our crude and we are discussing with them.  “We have to maintain high confidentiality so that we don’t risk some of the people in Nigeria that are helping us to trace the destinations of this stolen crude and then the accounts where the proceeds are being paid instead of the Federal Government account.

“I do not think the NNPC knows how many accounts are there in which payments are made on Nigerian crude. The monumental fraud has been going on for a number of years, a lot of Nigerians cannot comprehend it,” he said.  He however dismissed reports that he was bent on unbundling the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, saying the best way to go about it would be to first establish the fact of the magnitude of the inexplicable way the corporation conducted itself.

“When we do that, we will be on higher moral ground to do whatever recommendations made to us,” he stated. President Buhari reassured that only patriotic, decent and experienced Nigerians would be appointed as ministers in his government. According to him, politicians and technocrats would make the list of nominees for ministerial appointments.

He said: “From what I have seen so far, we need really patriotic Nigerians – Nigerians that can work very hard, knowledgeable, experienced, committed Nigerians to be in charge of ministries.
“A lot of the institutions of Nigeria – important institutions were compromised. Everybody was for himself and God for all of us; it’s most unfortunate. “We have the people, educated people, experienced people but everybody seemed to be working for himself – how much he could get and as quick as possible.
“We have to look for technocrats and we have to look for politicians and certainly we have to look for decent people in this class to give them the responsibility of being in charge of ministries and important parastatals (agencies).”

On National Assembly leadership crisis, Buhari said as a democrat, he has to kowtow to the constitutional dictates of separation of powers.  He said the National Assembly has in the past 16 years evolved and therefore is capable of administering itself without any interference from other arms of government. “I have to be very sensitive to the constitution of the country.
I do not like to be told by anybody especially the legislators that I am interfering in their matter. There are three arms of government: executive, legislature and the judiciary. “Over the last 16 years, they have developed the system of choosing their leaders.

There is no way I can directly interfere. All I can do through the party is to appeal to their conscience that what I already observed, we should go over it as soon as possible. When I say we, I mean the APC. We cannot win the battle and lose the war,” he stated.  Recalling his recent visit to the US, the president expressed delight at the concern shown by his host and Europe on the situation in Nigeria.
“If you can recall, we based our campaign on three basic issues in the country; firstly, security, secondly unemployment, especially of the youth and thirdly corruption.

These are the fundamental issues that I tried to explain to G-7 on the invitation of President Obama (Barack).

“I went there and this was what I discussed with the President of the U.S, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and other organisations and NGOs in the US,” he said.
Buhari added that he has a full knowledge of what it would cost to rebuild the North East, which is being ravaged by Boko Haram.

On whether the Americans are now willing to sell weapons to Nigeria, the president said he has made his demands clear to them as well as Nigeria’s allies in Europe, expressing optimism that the country would get the right support in the onslaught against terrorists. He said Nigeria has also registered the support and cooperation of the US and other sympathetic countries that are keen to make sure the Gulf of Guinea is secured so as to make it difficult for crude oil thieves to load at the country’s terminals and illegally export.

“It is not that we do not have trained personnel; not that we do not have basic infrastructure but the problem is that in spite of the money allegedly spent on the operations, the air force is virtually non-existent.

“The aircraft are not serviceable, the helicopters are not serviceable and they are few. There is the need for the air force to conduct a reconnaissance and support the ground troops.
“The arrangement made by the former government will soon expire. We have made this clear to America and G-7 and we need their cooperation,” he explained.
-National Mirror

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