‘Nigerians set to reap dividends of good governance’

Shehu..The first 100 days

WHEN the President visited the United States, he did say that he does not believe in celebrating 100 day because such activities are fraudulent and that he will not engage in deceit. That is why he went to his Daura hometown. If Nigerians have anything to say about it they should say it. I can assure you that the President will hear. But there will be no special activities about that. Nigerians will decide whether there is anything to show or not.

Without meaning to blow our own trumpet, I just left a town hall meeting in Suleja that was organised by the BBC and I took my notes.  The ordinary Nigerians are praising President Buhari for security in the country and some of them scored him 90 percent and above. Tailors there who used to open shops for two hours in three days can open their shop for up to 20 hours a day and some of them are saying that sometimes they have 24 hours uninterrupted power supply. I think this is an opportunity to clear the useless claim by the PDP that it is the work of Jonathan that President Buhari has come to claim credit for.

The records are there with the Ministry of Power. All the records are there. They are saying power has improved because it is raining season. Let me say that none of the hydro plants has added any megawatt. What is going on is that, like the Americans will say; there is a new Sheriff in town. People are taking their cue from the fact that there is a no nonsense President who has taken over the administration of this country and his body language sends the message. Nobody is blocking gas pipelines, the gas is flowing and there is better management and everybody is standing up to do the right thing.

Better management also means better engagement. Whether it is the host Community or youth groups who are undermining things, they are now looking at an administration that is selflessly serving the country for the sake of the country. This is the thing that is responsible for the improved power supply. No hydro station has increase output. The gas is flowing because people are sitting up.

At the town hall meeting, somebody said they drove from Suleja to Yola and back without any policeman or soldier stopping them to ask for bribe and the same thing happened on the way back. There is now an environment that has been generated by the presence of Buhari in Aso Rock. Whether anybody like it or not, it has changed things and we are feeling safer and when people go to sleep they are comforted by the fact that there is somebody who will bolt the door. All these things about security are happening because the soldiers themselves believe that a caring leader is leading them. Citizens are feeling that the pressure of insecurity is going away not because Boko Haram has been eliminated completely but because of the work that has been done. The management that has been brought to bear on the nation’s security is reassuring.

The PDP wants to take away our attention. They issued a statement saying that there is corruption going on even with Buhari in government. Maybe they are alerting President Buhari that the men they left behind are still continuing with their old game because Buhari left everybody behind. In that case, maybe we should watch out and do something about that. So, the country is being managed properly and competently. That is where we are.

On Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) heading the NCS

Well, I don’t know because the President didn’t talk to me on this. Let me ask you one question. Do you, in all sincerity know Col. Hameed Ali? If you do know him, how many of his types do we have in this country? This is the man who many probably felt should have gone to head the EFCC. But looking at the critical place of the Customs in the economy of this country, you need somebody like him. After oil, the next revenue spinner for the government is the Customs.

In these few days we have been listening to briefings, I have seen people flying ideas that Customs revenue can be tripled and that there are ideas that can lead to the revenue being tripled on the basis that corruption is eliminated. I think that Col. Hameed Ali brings a rear breed of reputation that will be difficult to find. There might be a few people in the Customs that deserve the seat, but maybe they are too low in rank to warrant this appointment. I think the President has done the best thing anybody can do for the Customs and for the economy of this country. Otherwise, smuggling will ruin Nigeria.

Look at what is happening in the textile industry in Aba, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano and Gusau.  There was a time when they used to employ about 400,000 people. All the textile companies in the country today can no longer employ more than 30,000 people. We have more Nigerians in need of clothing today than those so-called glorious days of the textile industry.   This is just one example. Look at the issue of rice. Ebonyi, Anambra, Niger, Osun, Kebbi, Sokoto and Kogi have been brought together by the President and given the marching order to produce the rice needed of this country. The rice industry in this country has failed because cheap Asian rice is being dumped here. The President did not ban importation because that would have offended World Trade Organisation (WTO). What he has done is to say if you want to import rice go and source your dollars anywhere you can get it. But the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other banks will always supply to manufacturers who want to bring in spare parts, equipment and employ Nigerians and for those who want to pay for medical bills abroad and maybe for school fees. By that action, the scope of import has been significantly reduced and that will encourage local production.

Allegations of cash crunch in the system

I don’t know anything about cash crunch.  Perhaps the more competent people are the bankers. I should think that there is more money now going to the people because the local farmer who could sell his produce because nobody was buying will now sell their goods. The tailor who does three hours a day because of lack of electricity can now do 12 hours a day and that will fetch him more money. The revival of the economy is a process that will take a long time. It will not require government opening the vault and bringing out money and give to people. It is a working economy. Look at the businesses in the North East that were closed for a long time because of lack of patronage because of lack of security. Now, if you go to Yola it is booming there, the same thing with Gombe.  Even in Maiduguri, you will be surprised at what you see. In spite of the threats that hang over their heads, nightlife is resuming. This is what will bring money to the hand of people because they do business and work to earn money, which they spend. So, I don’t think there is any Buhari thing that anybody can say has brought cash crunch. It is the imminent failure of the economy that the government has tried to solve. I assure you that were it not for some of the measures that the President tried to take through the CBN, maybe you would not know the naira by now. The collapse would have been disastrous.

On the missing Chibok girls

To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he would bring back the girls on the second day of his of his administration?  What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and situation of things and then act. Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa forest is being degraded right now.  The bombing is done in a careful manner to avoid certain locations of interest as far as Chibok girls are concerned. Please take note of what I am saying. I am not saying that the girls are here or there. But there is better intelligence now. In fact, Sambisa forest is under observation 24 hours in case somebody decides to move those girls from point A to point B. If there is any movement that is suspicious, we have drones, unmanned air crafts that fly around the place at night and during the day, the men takes over and fly the aircraft. In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the President on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls. I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen. But it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them.

On allegations that anti-graft war is selective

In all the years under Jonathan, how many high profile convictions did you get? But this is the era of change. This question would have been okay in 1984 when Buhari came to government in Army uniform. What they did then was to look around and sent to jail all those accused of corruption. We all chose democracy and democracy has due process. Even if it is your wish that those accused of corruption should be jailed tomorrow, President Buhari will not do that because he wants to follow the due process of law because the constitution protect the right of every Nigerian.

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