NAN The newly unveiled National Carrier, Nigeria Air has the potential to boost the nation’s economy if professionally managed, expert says. Prof. Hassan Oaikhenan of the Economics and Statistics Department, University of Benin, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Friday. Oaikhenan advised the Federal Government to ensure…
•Junaid Mohammed, Shetima are broke blackmailers
Former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Engineer Mohammed Lawal, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances of winning 2019 presidential election are very bright. Speaking with VINCENT KALU, after the President indicated his interest to run for second term, Engineer Lawal, noted that Buhari has delivered on his campaign promises and has done excellently, given the situation he finds himself. He described some of Buhari’s critics like Arewa youth leader, Yerima Shetima and Dr Junaid Mohammed as empty shells with no political relevance and always looking for money.
President Buhari has declared to seek re-election, what are his chances of winning?
His chances are very bright, based on his achievements, especially on the economy in the past three years, even though there are attempts by a section of the press to under report the achievements. There were challenges, and to surmount these challenges, you have to know what the right people are saying. There is no doubt that if we want to take Nigeria out of the woods, we have to make some sacrifices. You know human beings, some are very appreciative of the efforts of the governments, and some are of the view that the problem was Buhari because they are used to getting everything a la carte, at the expense of the country. Now that the government is talking about the welfare of the generality of Nigerians, some few groups who believe that Nigeria is for them and it should remain like that are not happy and they are fighting back, and we know it is not going to be easy, but since the majority is with us, we shall come out triumphantly.
Will his declaration not affect governance, as everything is geared towards winning next year’s election?
That is one good thing about Buhari that I like Nigerians to know. The usual thing in Nigeria is that during the elections and campaign periods, governance stands still, this time around, and to show that Buhari is different, governance, viz a viz delivery of democracy dividends will even be pursued vigorously.
Remember the budget has not been passed, and the people responsible for its passage are still dillydallying and playing politics with it. We make budget to enhance the social wellbeing of the people; we do budget in order to enhance and ameliorate the condition of the generality of the people.
If the budget is not passed and implementation begins, it means you never realised the impact of what you are doing against the country and the common people. This is an issue well considered to ensure that the policy of the government viz a viz the diligent budget implementation is done with dispatch. But the people who should pass the budget are making sure that it is not done because so many of their interests are being checked, and the government wants to ensure that a large number of the population benefits from the government programme, instead of a few people. Like I said, it is not going to be easy. In the budget of 2017, about N1.3 trillion was not realised in terms of the IGR, and this was money needed to fund the budget, yet the government is trying its best. The shortfall in IGR is not the fault of Buhari or anybody else; it is the global economic situation, which also affected the country.
The North, which is the support base of Buhari seems to be depleting, as the leader of Arewa Youths has said the President won’t get the support of Northern youths, while Dr. Junaid Mohammed has also cautioned against voting for him. How can he then win?
As a politician, I need the single vote of everybody. However, Shetima is not a northern youth leader. He is a zero leader. Is he not in Lagos with you people; he doesn’t live in the north. Nobody knows him, and nobody takes him serious. Which Arewa youths is he leading? It is the media that is promoting him. He is nobody and nothing in the north. He doesn’t command even any significant group in the north that can do something to upset Buhari. He is a zero youth leader as far the North is concerned. He is an opportunist; he saw the IPOB issue and took advantage of it to make himself relevant. I doubt if he can mobilise the northern youths to vote against Buhari.
I respect his vote and his co-travellers, but let them not deceive anybody that they have the capacity to swerve the north against Buhari. They are used and can be used to cause problem. Junaid used to be a prominent politician in Kano, not in the North. Sometimes ago, he came to Buhari and said he wanted to work with him; he was welcomed as a politician who was then relevant. When he came, we discovered that he had problem, which is ego and economically, he was completely down, and he was getting out of touch with reality in Kano and Nigerian politics.
Overtime, he was demanding for money and we didn’t have money to meet his outrageous demands. In 2014, many people predicted rightly that Buhari would win, and he came back, and we welcomed him, and he abandoned him mid term because Buhari couldn’t satisfy his demand. Juniad’s case is because he is not in the government, and so can’t see anything good about the regime. He is the most inconsistent northerner ever.
Obasanjo who is writing letters, kicking against Buhari’s second term bid was the same person spending money prosecuting his third term bid. Governor Fayose said he contributed N10 million for the third term, but he didn’t deny it. He collected money from the governors for this project. These are the types of people fighting Buhari.
When he was the presidential candidate of CPC in 2011, he said he would only run for one term, now that he wants to go for second term, don’t you think this will cast doubt on his integrity?
Different situations or problems require different solutions and different strategies. He said it in 2011, which is not 2015 or 2019. He said it when he was in CPC, which was just about Buhari and his party men, but now he is in APC, which comprises ACN, CPC, PDP, ANPP and a faction of APGA. It is not left for Buhari alone, it is collective efforts of all the members from these different parties, who had sacrificed their lives to come together to form APC. CPC is different from APC. Different problems require different strategy and approach.
The stock market lost billions immediately Buhari declared to run, is this not an indication of rejection?
They are trying to say that the business community did not welcome the announcement. Who are the people trading? Most of the people trading in the stock markets are those who stole money from the government during the PDP rule of 16 years. They were the people trading, and immediately the announcement was made, they were shocked and started pulling out their money because they used the stock market to launder their money.
What will you use to market Buhari, against the background that some people hold the view that he didn’t deliver on his campaign promises?
From the economic indicators, there is great improvement in the economy of Nigeria. We should know that we were in the 16-kilometer deep hole sunk by the previous PDP regimes, and it would be hard to come out from such abyss within two or three years. It is not possible. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), say we are on the verge of coming out of this deep hole the PDP threw the nation into. He has performed wonderfully well, given the economic brigandage the 16-year rule of PDP.
They threw this country into a deep hole of 16 kilometers, and when we came we met Nigeria there – deep down 16 kilometers well, and we are trying to come out. We have been sweating to bring the country out from the deep well, and we thank God that we are on top. Price of oil was at its lowest level, selling at about $25 per barrel, but during their time, oil was selling for over $100 per barrel, they didn’t save anything. Agriculture was at zero level during their time, and look at the quantum of loot discovered and recovered.
We are now on the ground level from the deep well, and the World Bank as I said earlier has applauded the management of the economy and said we are out of recession and that there is good prospect, and if we continue like this, we are not only going to smile, but rejoice.
On security, look at Boko Haram that was everywhere. They terrified Kano, Abuja, Niger states. They bombed police headquarters in Abuja, and other police formations across the country. They bombed United Nations building in Abuja. One side of Borno was in their hands and one side of Adamawa was also in their hands.
In those areas you can’t freely go to mosque to pray for fear of Boko Haram attack.
Is it the same story today? This is a big achievement. Because there is a fracas in Benue and cult killing in Rivers, some people want to make a political capital out of it. Nobody can deny that this government has done very great in the area of security, except mischievous people, who lost in the previous dispensation.
In the area of corruption, no president has confronted corruption like Buhari. Go to any sincere person, he or she would applaud Buhari over the unprecedented success he has recorded in corruption fight.
Look at the way he sanitized the judiciary; look at the number of judges facing corruption charges. Look at the amount of money recovered. As he is fighting corruption, corruption is fighting back. If people are not being jailed, is it his making? People are making noise in the media because we are keeping quiet; very soon, we will change the narrative.