Friday, 26 June 2015

Buhari and Me (4)



Buhari and Me (4)
Continued from two week ago…
Buhari: Well, I think I have already answered that question partially. I said my vision is that we must work according to the constitution, whether you’re a councilor, an LG chairman, a governor or president. And this thing to me is very clear. All this uhm… you’re right in a way… all this abuse of office, money getting missing, contract of 1million to be made 5milliion, and the contractor who was made to sign for it, when he realizes, he will refuse to do the contract according to the agreement because nobody can afford to take him to court; he will say “ok, this contract I signed is for 5million but I was given 1million”. So people get away literally with murder in this country because of lack of accountability. But we cannot say nobody can correct it. I told you, under a different system an attempt was made to correct it and we are hoping that under the democratic dispensation, people will attempt to go by the law. For example, there was an IG of Police who, during Obasanjo regime, after three years, was able to mobilize more than 17billion naira for himself. Thanks to the EFCC that time, he was successfully prosecuted. Now, that’s how it should be… and it should not be just on rare occasions for people to be called to account. It should be the norm.
Me: But people don’t come out with their own credentials, they continue to ride on the personage of Gen Buhari. What have you done about that?
Buhari: ‘Am afraid – and I think I’m getting tired of criticizing the Nigerian electorate – I think it depends on the electorate. If somebody wants to be the councilor of Kaduna North LGA, there are people who’ve been there; they know him. It’s up to them to make sure that, from whichever party the person is, if he’s not a good person and cannot be trusted, he shouldn’t be voted. Instead, they just go there and deal with somebody who just emerges (from primaries). So they allow a crook who stole money to go hire thugs and terrorize everybody in the constituency and, may be, hire people to snatch ballot boxes, to stuff them somewhere, in a village head’s house and go to the collations centre and he’s announced winner. And people know all that! And they know he’ll say goodbye from that day until the next election…
Me: (cut in): So you’re saying that regardless of the picture of whomever they have on their poster, the electorate should be active…
Buhari: (cuts in) Yes! Kano did it. Bauchi did it. They also did it in Lagos…
Me: You were in a meeting with the President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, this Tuesday past and the papers reported that amongst other things discussed was the need to hold credible elections, come 2011, devoid of rancour and violence. Now, given the motions on ground by the government, i.e. the new electoral act and INEC under Jega, do you see that happening, at least at the level of elections credibility?
Buhari: Well, this is what all Nigerians hope, I believe including your very self. Uhm… I saw the speculation even before I saw Mr. President. I was invited for breakfast (it was Ramadan period) and that is what I went for… straight from my car to the breakfast table and back to my car, and I drove away. And there were about twenty people; there wasn’t any private discussion between me and Mr. President. But commenting on free and fair election, I was encouraged when he went to the US. He talked to Obama, he talked to CNN, he promised a number of things, among them, he promised he will make sure there will be free and fair elections in Nigeria; and that there will be improved security – all these kidnapping and assassinations – he was worried about it, he mentioned it. He was worried about unemployment and he was worried about corruption. And when he came back he relieved (Maurice) Iwu; I celebrated (general laughter in the studio). It would appear Mr. President was serious. And then when Jega was recommended – he had never met Jega from Adam, according to him – he approved it and Jega got there. And from what I saw in the press, across the country people had respect for Jega because of his antecedents. So to be fair to the President, he has been on course and when they (INEC) wanted that money – 87billion – whatever it is, and the signing of the electoral act, that was again done against the pressure of time, time which was between now and 15 January when the general elections will start… so really, to be fair to the government, though under pressure, they have been trying to convince Nigerians that, this time around, the government is serious; they want free and fair elections. The rest again is left to the Nigerian electorate; let them go and deliver their constituencies; they shouldn’t be always complaining and I think I must have been tired of going to court (laughter).
To be continued…

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