From: Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said when it comes to the fight against corruption, one can never satisfy Nigerians.
President Buhari said this, in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire, last Tuesday, during an interactive session with Nigerian community, ahead of his participation at the just concluded 5th African Union-European Union (AU-EU) Summit.
President Buhari’s administration has been accused of being selective and political in its anti-corruption war with some Nigerians, suggesting that for it to succeed, there is need for some fundamental reforms in the system and the way the anti-graft agencies are being run to make them become more effective and efficient.
The President who recalled how ruthless he was as a military Head of State, by locking those suspected to have stolen public funds in prison until they proved they were innocent, said the democratic dispensation does not allow him such liberty.
He said that compared to his first coming in the 1980s, today everyone is seen to be innocent until proven guilty and yet Nigerians are accusing his government of being slow in the fight against corruption.
According to President Buhari, “I’m assuring you that the good news you hear from home is the same that you hear from all over the world that we are not doing too badly in trying to secure the country, in trying to improve the economy, to get jobs for people and in trying to deal with corruption.
“I have said it that this is my second time like Gen. Obasanjo. When I came as a young man and in uniform, I arrested former ministers and governors and put them in Kirirkiri. All of you know Kirikiri. I told them that they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent and it didn’t bother me because I was a youth and in uniform so I didn’t care about anybody.
“But now that I am back, everybody is innocent until I can prove them guilty. And at the same time the same Nigerians are saying we are too slow. So what can you do really? You can only try but I am telling you that you can never satisfy our people back home.
“You know, when I was young and ruthless as a soldier I did what I did, somebody came, locked me up and gave them back their money and their houses. I went back into politics and after trying three times and ending up in Supreme Court, the fourth time God agreed and here I am.
“But when I came, what I found out is terrible. It is absolutely terribly but I’ll keep on doing my best because I volunteered to come, I have come, I have met what was on the ground and I hope I will make an impression.”
The President regretted that during the oil boom era no meaningful infrastructure was built hence his administration is struggling to keep its campaign promises with the fall of oil price to as low as $28 per barrel from an average of $100 between 1999 and 2014.
According to Buhari, “We are lucky in Nigeria that we have been able to survive 2016. Honestly, I told some people close to me that I was thinking of which country to run to if things got out of hand.
“Between 1999 and 2014, I have said it several times in Nigeria, Nigeria has never got so much revenue like it did at that time. But then when we came the price of oil went down to $28 per barrel from an average of $100 per barrel at the production rate of 2.1 million barrel per day. So multiply 2.1 million by $100, that is what Nigeria was getting from 1999 to 2014. But when we came the price came down to $28. I went to Central Bank to look for money and they said there was no money, only debts.
“And the infrastructure – the roads, the rail, power that you have been talking about, nothing was absolutely done. So really, God hears the prayers of His servants and the last three raining seasons were good. We were very lucky I would have absconded.
“I mean how could we have faced Nigerians and tell them this is what you have been earning from 2.1 million barrels per day from 1999-2014 multiply by $100 it even went up to $143 and then came down to about $70, $80 but when we came it fell to $28, then to $37 and then oscillating between $30 and $50. So it was amazing but God came with His help.”