For political watchers in Nigeria, it is common knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari has been described by aides and party chieftains as operating a leadership style that makes him avoid interviews, urgent national broadcasts and effective communication ultimately.
Due to this rigid position on issues, he’s largely been absent in person or unheard of amidst burning political developments; prompting questions on his health status, capacity to lead and actual location. This perception has been further worsened in recent times with a new culture of press statements and tweets issued by media aides which in most cases, made simple issues complex and provoked outrage.
It is in light of these, that the much-anticipated Exclusive interview with Arise News garnered huge attention from Nigerians who waited impatiently for the session and have been reacting to the answers provided.
Here are 10 things we noted from the interview:
- If the current three-tier system is truly followed, there won’t be problems.
“Well, virtually local governments have actually been killed. You know it. The there three tiers of government – the Federal, State and Local Government; you know it. If they are been followed properly, we won’t have all these social problems.
“The problem is -the local government are just virtually been killed. And this is not good from this country, because those who became the local government chairmen are being compromised. If your local government is say, entitled or supposed to receive N300m. A letter is been prepared for you that you have received N300m, and [then] you are given N100m!”
- The First Republic (1963 -1966) model of cattle routes and grazing areas is the President’s solution to the menace of herdsmen.
“What I did was [to] ask them to go and dig [up] the Gazette of the First Republic when people were obeying laws. There is cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes [refers to] when they are moving up country, North to South, or West to East, the cattle goes through there.
If you allow your cattle to stray into any farmer’s farm, you are arrested. The farmer is invited to submit his claims. You are made to pay if you can’t , you are cattle will be sold.
“People were living with themselves. And in the grazing areas, they built half dams, put wind mills and in some places, even vertinary department so that the herders are limited. Their route is known, their grazing area is known. If there is any problem, to the locality is known.”
“So I asked for the Gazette to make sure that those who encroach on these cattle routes and routes should be dispossessed and try to bring some order back into that [place]. The problem is trying to understand the culture of the cattle rearers.”
- “I was almost overwhelmed the insecurity situation in the North West”
“In the North East you know what’s happening, in the South South, you know. I too was almost overwhelmed by the by what’s happening in the North West but we are treating them as criminals now.
“They are experiencing a lot of casualties. They would not say it because they don’t want you to demoralise their recruitment constituencies. But they are suffering a lot casualties. You know that.”
- The Buhari administration is giving the fight against insurgency in the North East low publicity based on strategy
“We are giving it less publicity because we don’t want to make them aware that we are taking them head-on. But I think those who are in the field know. They’ve been suffering a lot of casualties. And we stopped mining (for example) in Zamfara State and expel the foreigners.
We are talking to the government. Although he’s not in the federal government party. But we want to secure Zamfara, Sokoto, and so on. And you mention Katsina and so on.”
- We don’t want to be in trouble, we are already in enough trouble
“We told them [Service Chiefs] that if we keep people away from their farms. They are going to starve and the government can not control the public. If you allow hunger to permeate the whole society, the government will be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
We are already in enough trouble. So we warned them; sooner than later, you will see the difference.”
6. Bandits, Cattle Rustlers and Kidnappers in the North West will be treated in a language they understand
“The problem is the North West. The same people, same culture, killing each other, stealing each other’s cattle…”
As I said, we are going to treat them in a language they understand. We have given the police and military power to be ruthless, and you watch it and in a few weeks, you will see the difference.”
7. The President was told the #EndSARS protests was about a regime change
“Well this question was answered during the #EndSARS. Remember, the young people who wanted to march here and remove me?”
8. The level of poverty in Nigeria is unimaginable
“I think we have a problem of unemployment. A lot of youth [are] looking basically for what to eat, not even to talk of accommodation or others. The level of poverty is almost unimaginable. This is our problem.”
“Those who really keeping in touch with what we are doing know the difference between the time we came in and now. The people of North East and South South are the best judge for the performance for this administration because they know that they are in and they know the condition now.”
9. Fighting Corruption is more difficult for President Buhari under a democratic system
“Corruption is very difficult under this system; even under the military system. Luckily, I’ve experienced both occasions. When I collected people and put them in prisons and say they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent and put [up] investigation panels based almost in all the geo-political zones for people that held positions.”
Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, and Heads of Parastatals. Because then people don’t get into position until they declare their assets…They are faced with the very statements of their assets. If they cannot explain, the balance is taken away from them. But what happened” I myself was arrested and detained and they were given back what they looted.”
“I will not change but the system here. Those who have the money can take SANs, first class lawyers [and] a case will take 10 years.” Doing something in the immediate effect is not possible.
10. The government doesn’t give much publicity to party members eased out of their position having been found guilty of corruption
“I assure you inspite of the problem we are having with the system. Whoever we’ve correct intelligence, that he’s not being very accountable we ease him out. We don’t give it too much publicity.”
“But I assure you, those who are holding responsible position knows that we don’t tolerate corruption.”
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.