President Muhammadu Buhari has described as mischief any attempt to label the upsurge in killings by suspected herdsmen in Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and others as religiously or ethnically motivated.
In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Radio Service in Washington, United States of America, the President said that he had ordered fresh and more diligent recruitment of 6,000 new personnel into the police to boost security operations in the country.
Reviewing his meeting with his American counterpart, Mr. Donald Trump, the President said: “We had discussions. The first one is the information being given to them that Christians are being killed in Nigeria; but what happened in the Church also happened in the South East and the North and they just say it is herdsmen that are killing them.
“Those making these allegations against the herdsmen know that herdsmen as we know them only carry sticks; going about with guns is a new thing and those making the allegations know that conflict between farmers and herders has a long history even before we were born.
“Therefore, it is wrong to say the conflict is between Fulani and Tiv or other tribes like in Taraba. What of Zamfara, where more people were killed than in Taraba and Benue put together. People need to understand that it is mischief that makes people to bring in religion or ethnicity,” he said.
On prevailing insecurity in the country, Buhari said that one of his solutions “is to increase the number of police officers and to equip them well. I have asked the Police to recruit 6,000 more personnel and that they should recruit across the 774 local government areas in the country instead of going to motor parks and markets to just pick people anyhow”.
On the measures to stem the tide of corruption in the country, the President said that “there is no any other measure other than to ensure that whoever is arrested is prosecuted for all to see. We should have had a lot more arrests and prosecution by now; EFCC has done a lot; they will investigate and send accused persons to court and Nigerians would be adequately informed. Those who are saying we have not done enough in that regard are right.
“What we don’t want is to take people to places where the judges may not be able to convict them appropriately. Now, we will select those who will dispense justice well and give them time and necessary evidence such as the bank balance and properties owned by individuals in comparison to their wages.
“They will be asked to prove how they acquired the difference, otherwise, everything will be taken away and they will be prosecuted,” he said.
He defended his recent remarks in London where he lamented that a lot of Nigerian youths had remained uneducated and idle while waiting for freebies from government, even as he blamed the media for resorting to insults instead of explaining his points properly.
“They say we are over 180 to 200 million people in Nigeria and 60% are the youth below the age of 30. In the North for instance, most have not attended school or they abandoned halfway. If not because we had favourable rainfall in the past two seasons; most of them have no job, just idling away.
“People like them even if they go to the South for instance, what they will make will not be enough to even pay their rent not to talk of feeding, clothing and transport back home. That has not been explained enough and you know the media, especially the print, are simply doing whatever they like. We had two successful farming seasons, people went to farm and did very well, but no one is talking about that; only insults”, he stated.
He again lamented that the former ruling party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), left the country high and dry despite the huge earnings from crude oil exports during its time in power for 16 years.
He stressed that “recently, I had to come out and state that from 1999 to 2014, anyone who carries out a sturdy here in America or Europe or India will know that we were producing 2.2 million barrels of crude oil daily at a price of at least $100 per barrel.
“In those 16 years of PDP rule, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million x 100 everyday, every week, but when we came on board, the price fell to between $37-38 and hung around $40-50. I went to the CBN – the governor of CBN is here – and asked him how far and he said nothing was left apart from debts.