The President-elect, Maj General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has given insight into how the incoming administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) plans to deal with the many economic challenges confronting the country when it assumes office on May 29.
Buhari while lamenting the downturn in the oil market and the continued loss of more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily through alleged official connivance, said the new administration would focus attention on agriculture and solid mineral development as alternative sources of generating revenue for the country.
He also spoke on the positive reaction of the international community to his victory at the polls, saying that even the United States President Barak Obama had expressed relief during a telephone conversation.
“One of the relief I got was the telephone call from the President of the United States. I could feel the relief in their voices because they are people of conscience,” he said.
Buhari, who stated this when a delegation of northern elders led by a former Nigeria’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Maitama Sule, paid him a congratulatory visit in Abuja yesterday, noted that the state of affairs with regards to the economy and other inherited problems demands a careful and gradual approach to be able to stabilise things.
“In the economy, we have to quickly turn to agriculture and mining because that is where you can do the quickest work and earn results. In other areas, you need to study them and dust all the books and studies and get people, experienced people, committed people and technocrats to come and help the government and identify priorities so that with what is available to us, we can quickly make our people realise their hope for the government they have chosen,” he said.
He asked for understanding by Nigerians to enable him and his team wriggle out of the inherited problems, adding that there is need to first tackle insecurity and unemployment in the country before anything can be put in place including stabilising the economy.
He told the northern elders that as representatives of the people of the north, they should go and persuade their constituents to understand that it is not possible to change the state of affairs overnight.
“We picked three fundamental problems. The first is security. The country has to be secured before anything can be put in place and then the economy. The fact is that more than 60 per cent of the Nigerian population are youths and most of them, whether they have been to school or not are unemployed and this is the biggest danger if we don’t know it.
“So, there must be jobs for these people as quickly as possible for us to even enjoy the relative peace. So, security, getting job for these people and putting the infrastructure in place especially power is vital,” he said.
Speaking on the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) rule, Buhari regretted what he described as the state of mismanagement of the nation’s resources which was more than twice what the country earned between the time of its amalgamation in 1914 and 1999.
“You can imagine what is happening in the high sea where up to 400,000 barrel of crude oil which we rely on is stolen everyday with the full cooperation of those who are supposed to protect it.
“What you will do now, you represent the whole north, the biggest message is to try and persuade people that it is not possible to change the state of affairs overnight, it took 16 years and for those 16 years you also know more than myself that Nigeria earned revenue more than two times what it earned from 1914 till then but you know we used to have Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Railways and others but where are they now? Where are the infrastructure? That is how technically the PDP has dealt with Nigeria in the last 16 years.
“The fuel price has gone down and 90 per cent of foreign exchange we rely on come from that. So, you have to convince your constituencies that you have virtually arrived at the wrong time and that they have to temper their expectation with some justice towards the leadership. I think whatever has to be deployed especially in the churches and mosques, this is the quickest way to communicate this to the ordinary people.
“I think the message you should pass to the churches and the mosques is to continue to remind them of what I said in all the states I visited that security is important. The country has to be secure for anything to take place, and the the economy,” he said.
While reading the address of the northern elders, Sule urged Buhari not jettison his sense of justice and fair play.
He reminded Buhari of the feat he performed while as Head of State, saying that Nigerians would not expect anything less from the incoming administration.
Sule, who ended his address with a prayer and shedding tears, urged Buhari not to succumb to pressure but to step on toes if need be in order to salvage the nation.
“Yes, you (Buhari) were a military man. I’ve always said it that when you were a military leader, you instilled discipline into our society. You fought corruption and you gave Nigeria a sense of direction. I am sure you will not compromise your principle but you’ll bring justice, wisdom and diplomacy. I’m sure you’ll not compromise your principle.
“I know it was easy when you were a military leader and what made it easy was justice. With justice, you can rule Nigeria well. Justice is the key, irrespective of tribes, religion and race, justice must be done to whosoever deserves it. Power can remain in the hands of an infidel if he’s just and fair but it will not remain in the hands of a believer if he’s unfair and unjust. Behind every crisis anywhere in the world is injustice and the solution to that is justice.
“Mr President-elect sir, we know what we have gone through, I will ask you not to discriminate against any part of Nigeria but I’ll urge you to do justice to all parts of Nigeria. Justice that will bring about peace and stability that’ll lead to the development of Nigeria.
Forget about religion, colour and development. They are people of conscience because they have reached a stage where they have stabilised their society and they are relatively secured both materially, physically and otherwise.
“They know we are in danger. Everybody was saying that Nigeria is going to the dogs in 2015, but even beyond our expectations, we have managed to go through and we thank technology for PVC and card readers because the whole exercise of writing the result, announcing them and asking losers to go to court does not make any difference. Those who defended the PVC and card reader made this change possible.
“Now we are inheriting all the problems especially in the North-east, I am sure you must have heard or seen the children recovered from Sambisa forest, only children and women remain all other persons have been got rid off somehow. Some have been taken to Adamawa, a whole generation are being denied education, health care, infrastructure,” he said.
Source: This Day