As Presidentent Muhammadu Buhari approaches one year in power, many people have taken him to the cleaners, based on his approach to the economy, politics and international relations. During A recent interview with Daily trust The APC National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni Speaks On Some Of The Issues.
Read excerpts from his interview below:
Sir, Nigerians are alleging that the APC-led administration has done little to reduce economic hardships. What is your take on this?
It is sad that Nigeria has to pass through these hard times at this moment under the APC-led administration. It is equally sad that the economy is weak, owing to the dwindling oil prices, which is our major source of income. The difficulty is over bloated by the damage done to the economy and infrastructures in the last 16 years when, as a nation, with buoyant economy, we failed to maintain and improve on the existing infrastructures. The players at that moment engaged in massive stealing of the nation’s commonwealth, whose colossal consequences we are forced to pay now. I have heard people saying we have been shifting all the blames to the previous government. The truth is that
some people are ignorant of the scale and quantum of destruction done by the previous regime to the
economy and the polity. Not quite long, prominent Nigerians and renowned professionals predicted hard times for the country because of the damage inflicted. They cautioned government on the massive looting of the nation’s treasury and the decay in infrastructures, with a strong warning to redress the situation.
In 2011, the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi ll, then, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, warned Nigeria to address the abuse on the economy, saying if nothing was done, Greek economic meltdown will be a child’s play compared with what awaits the Nigerian economy. He said unless the system was sanitised, the US dollar will rise against the Nigerian Naira astronomically, and government may not be able to pay salaries. In January 2015, the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, during his re-election campaign, paid a courtesy visit on the emir of
Ilorin, where he emphatically told Nigerians that “Nobody can fix Nigeria in four years.” The former
president knew very well the volume of damage done to the economy under his watch to have made such a statement. Interestingly, it was only when the APC-led administration came on board that the true picture of the damage and challenges emerged. And the challenges repeatedly snowballed as the days go by. In fact, it was out of President Buhari’s tenacity and experience that the machinery of government did not collapse completely and salaries are being paid promptly. In the face of these challenges, the president is rebuilding a new Nigeria that will serve the common man, a system that will block leakages, stop abuse of public trust and end the culture of looting national treasury. We are also mindful of the fact that in the course of this national rebirth, corruption will definitely fight back, and that is what we are witnessing today in the oil and power sectors, as well as in government circles where inconsistencies were deliberately created in the national budget. These challenges are temporary, we will definitely surmount them and build a prosperous future for the country.
People are worried that the president has refused to sign the budget and the year is running out…
Let me tell you that as soon as the president goes through the budget and finds it satisfactory, it will be
signed into law and government will be legally and financially empowered to execute projects that would impact positively on the lives of Nigerians. The beauty of it all is that the president saved a lot of money, over N3 trillion, which is an unprecedented feat and is still saving every day. The APC-led government will not renege on its campaign promises.
Don’t you think it would have been better if the president had signed the budget document and, thereafter, make supplementary proposal, instead of engaging in an endless squabble with the National Assembly?
This is the type of president every citizen should be proud of. I wish you will recall the inconsistencies,
errors, additions and padding that were deliberately done to the budget, shortly after the president presented it to the National Assembly. You will, as well, imagine the embarrassment caused to the president, the federal government and the APC as the ruling party. Now, the same document was brought back to the president in bits and pieces, and you want him to assent his signature to legalise everything, including those he had not seen in the budget details? Are you really fair to him and would you see him as a serious person if he had signed the budget? If Mr President had signed the budget summary and, thereafter, inconsistencies and errors emerged, just as we witnessed, who do you blame? The propaganda about his approach to governance is just to coerce him to relax and he will never relax until things are done right. The insistence to have the complete budget document is to ensure that Nigeria has a document that is truly a policy guide, a realistic budget that has interest of the people.
Buhari has refused to devalue the Naira and some people believe the action is aggravating difficulties because the economy is at a standstill. What would you say on this?
Nigeria is an importing-consumer nation. From food to clothing, cars, tricycles, bicycles and even toothpicks are all imported into the country. Now, tell me, when you devalue the Naira against the dollar, which you use to import these commodities, whose interest are you serving? What this means is that Nigerians have to pay higher rates to get the commodities. And while we pay through the nose for the goods, we are equally creating more employment opportunities to the exporting countries, developing their economy at our expense. And the worst part is that we would continue to discourage local production. In countries like China, which exports goods to other countries, they can afford
to devalue their currency to boost trade and make people buy more from them. Buhari is carefully adopting the China model by strengthening our bilateral relationship with them. China needs raw
materials to oil their industries and we have them here in abundance.
Now, let’s look at the protracted fuel scarcity and power outage issues. These are two key areas to national development and they have really caused legitimacy crisis for the APC-led government. Do you really sleep with your two eyes closed?
Well, you will recall that immediately after Buhari took over the mantle of leadership of the country, we
recorded improvement and stability in fuel and electricity supply. The moribund refineries came back
to life and queues at the petrol stations disappeared. Most cities enjoyed almost 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply. After some time, economic saboteurs started vandalising pipelines and this affected the two sectors. However, the government is strategizing and is coming up with solutions that will stand the test of time.
With recent discordant tunes from your party, is the APC divided?
No, that is not true. The national chairman, myself and the two officials mandated to speak on behalf of the party always speak in conformity with each other. The party leadership enjoys good support and loyalty from our members, irrespective of their positions. It is an act of mischief and a deliberate ploy to mislead the public that there is division in the party.
Hope you enjoy the interview ? So What do you Think ?