At 72, there’s limit to what I can do alone, says Buhari
‘How I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor or just a few years after
• To reopen botched $9.7 million arms deals with Zuma, xenophobic attacks
APPARENTLY determined to fulfil his campaign promises, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration would work assiduously to make the country safe, manage the economy well, create employment and fight corruption.
The President, who made the remarks when he met Nigerians resident in South Africa, however, admitted that at 72, there were limits to how far he could go in tackling the country’s many ills alone without the support, encouragement and prayers from Nigerians.
Speaking extempore, he also vowed to stop at nothing in confronting insecurity, corruption in the polity and even the public perception of his personality as well as the recent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, where so many citizens lost their property and other belongings.
And in pursuance of one of the kernels of his programmes, which is to fight corruption, Buhari will meet the head of leading global watchdog on corruption, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), to see how billions of dollars in oil revenue leakages can be curbed.
Head of the Oslo-based EITI, Clare Short is expected to meet the President or Vice President this week, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI revealed.
Short’s visit is to explore ways of helping with long-term reforms. The initiative sets global standards for openness in the natural resources industries.
To earn enough funds to fulfill its campaign promises, a rights group, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has urged Buhari to begin the recovery of all revenues in the region of N2.32 trillion that have accrued to the Federal Government from the extractive industries.
Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, said that this amount if verified, is more than 50 per cent of the total expenditure in the 2015 annual budget. “It is also 10 per cent more than the allocation for recurrent expenditure, 75 per cent of the provision for capital allocation and about 65 per cent of the fiscal deficit in the annual budget for the 2015 fiscal year.”
Last week, Executive Secretary of NEITI, Zainab Ahmed had said that over $7.5 billion between 1999 and 2011 was still needed to be recovered from oil and gas companies in Nigeria.
Speaking on the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the President said he and other African leaders have received briefings from the country’s leader.
“I’m told there are 83 Nigerians in prison. I don’t know what they have done but I spoke to the President of South Africa this afternoon, (yesterday). He wants to come to Nigeria. There are issues he knows we have to talk about, I will certainly talk to him. I hope our ambassador will send a comprehensive report about the court cases, about those who lost properties during the disturbances. And at that time I will attempt to ask him about our $9.7 million (arms deal), which was not correctly transferred.
“Government is determined to secure the country, manage the economy, create employment and fight corruption. Some articulate writers have said if we do not kill corruption in Nigeria, corruption will kill Nigeria. This All Progressives Congress (APC) administration intends to kill corruption in Nigeria. We will do our best, I assure you.”
“How I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor or just a few years after, then as a young man, now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do alone. But what brought me here I think mainly is because I love this country. I was in the war front for 30 months during our civil war, I lost a lot of loyal people to me, I lost a relative and a lot of Nigerians did too,’’ Buhari said.
The President lamented the wrong public perception about his person, noting that he had made his contributions to the development of the country, but regretted that his contributions were limited to only the period he served as the chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the administration of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
He said: “I was the governor of the North Eastern State comprising six states of Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe, then under Obasanjo, I was the Minister of Petroleum for three and a half years, then Head of State, then chairman of PTF.
“They chose to remember me only as chairman of PTF than as a former Head of State, than a governor or a minister of petroleum. In spite of the fact that it was during my time that I signed the contract for Warri Refinery, Kaduna Refinery, laying more than 3,500 petroleum and gas pipelines, built more than 20 depots, we got the tankers off the road, we saved lives, we saved fuel, we saved the road itself. However, from 1999 till date, PDP has messed it up. That is why Nigerians decided to