President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari has said that the sins committed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while ruling Nigeria will continue to come out for a long time.
Buhari also spoke on the challenges posed by the Boko Haram sect and the tenure expiration of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Attahiru Jega.
Read excerpts of his interview with journalists, as published by Vanguard on Sunday, April 19, 2015, below:
There has been an influx of defectors from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to your party, APC, since after your victory at the polls. Many think the development may destabilise the APC. How do you intend to manage the situation?
I think this is a question meant for the party. I wish John Oyegun was here to answer you because we have a system. Just because I am the presidential candidate and the president-elect, I don’t think the system has allowed me to usurp the power of the party executives. But, certainly, in a multi-party democratic system, fundamentally, it is the number that matters for the people. But for the party, what matters is the ability to manage the number so that the majority will have its way and there will be justice. No matter what happens to the PDP by May 29, I assure you or I assure them through you that there will be justice in the APC.
A new government, which you will head, will soon be inaugurated. Can you tell us what criteria you will be using in selecting those who you will work with?
It is a difficult time for Nigerians as you all know. I have said it in the past that, in the last 16 years, Nigeria has never realised the amount of revenue it received. The price of a barrel of crude oil rose to about 140 dollars and then crashed to about 50 dollars. During the 16 years, we know what happened to some big companies that employ a lot of Nigerians and give them training facilities like the Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line.
Even Nigeria Railway is managing to be on paper with some refurbished engines moving from Lagos to Ibadan and a few other places. If you go to their stations all over the country, you will realise that they are in a terrible shape. It is very disappointing that the PDP government virtually failed to use those resources to grow the economy.
I think the worst thing is the lack of accountability and the terrible budgetary system. Imagine that over 90 percent of Nigerian budget is on recurrent. How can you sustain development in a country like Nigeria with only about 10 percent of your income? Things just have to change. There must be more money available for infrastructure, for investment in getting the factories back, employment and getting goods and services for the population. I think the sins of PDP will be coming out for several years to come.
To some extent, the general elections are seen by many to be credible. Will you try to retain the INEC Chairman to build on the successes recorded even though he said he wouldn’t accept another term of office?
I think Prof. Jega knows exactly what to do. He has already said that he is not going to accept a renewal of his tenure in June. I believe that he has learnt enough and will submit a comprehensive hand over notes some of which he seems to have written. At the last National Council of States meeting, he submitted a document of INEC activities right from the 2011 general elections to date with attachment showing the personnel trained, acquisition of election materials, the distributions, security, among others, and I don’t think that such that report can be faulted.
There are speculations that looting of public treasury is ongoing in the land. What do you intend to do to check this problem?
I will like to work within the system because we believe in it. I have just told you about three governors and the battle they have with law enforcement agents in their states. People must not benefit from being lawless. You can’t be in a position by virtue of the Constitution, subvert the Constitution and continue to enjoy the privileges offered by the Constitution. I don’t think that will be acceptable by the APC. So, whether you are in the opposition or government, you have to behave yourself. I think that is the way we can make progress.
APC preaches transparency and accountability. But a lot of people with apparent questionable characters are moving into the APC. Don’t you think they will also pollute the APC?
For those that are coming into the APC, I have no fear because we have our party structure. The fact that you were a party Chairman or you were a minister before you joined the APC, we appreciate the fact that you remain relevant in your immediate locality. But when it comes to the centre, there is equality in the way the government will handle you.
So, those that are coming in, I hope they will accept that they are coming to join those who succeeded and they should cooperate with them. They can’t come and say that because they were once ministers under PDP, they will join APC and become ministers the following month or so. I don’t think that it will be acceptable even by their constituencies.
There have been reports that you promised to end the Boko Haram insurgency within two months, but your media team reacted saying you never said so. Can you now set the record straight?
I think I am too experienced in internal security to give two months deadline on Boko Haram. I don’t think I would have made that mistake because I tried to look at some of my experiences even when I was in uniform with the rebels from Chad when I was GOC in Jos and with Maitatsine. So, for me to say that when I come into office, I will get rid of Boko Haram in two months, I don’t think I would have made that statement. I didn’t.
As I have mentioned on several occasions, we that have, at one time or the other, wore Nigeria military uniform felt terribly embarrassed that for six years, the military couldn’t bring order to 14 out of 774 local governments in the country after Burma, Zaire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Dafur where Nigerian military earned respect internationally for their performance.
To fail to secure 14 out of 774 local governments. I still can’t reconcile myself with that disgrace. We will try and work with our neigbours such as Chad, Cameroon and Niger who are fighting Boko Haram for us. Look at Chad helping Nigeria or Niger, or Cameroon itself. This nation has been humiliated by the PDP. God willing, with our experiences, we will quickly marshal support and we are asking Boko Haram to pack and go.