By Ayo Kehinde
President Muhammadu Buhari
In an exclusive interview with ARISE TV, broadcast on Thursday morning, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari spoke on many issues including worsening insecurity in the country, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, alleged lopsided appointments by his administration, Boko Haram and Twitter Ban.
Here are highlights from the interview with Arise News host Tundun Abiola, Reuben Abati, Arise News Chairman Nduka Obaigbena, and current head of the editorial board of ThisDay, Olusegun Adeniyi,
On Twitter Ban and IPOB
He declined to comment on when the ban on microblogging site, Twitter will be lifted.
When asked by a team of ARISE reporters during the interview when he intends to lift the suspension on Twitter, Mr Buhari said he was keeping his plans to himself.
On IPOB he said: “… Even if they plan to exit, they have no access to anywhere. The way they are spread all over the country, having businesses everywhere, having property. I think IPOB does not understand what they are doing. In any case, we will talk to them in the language they understand. We will organise the police and military to go after them…”
Rail Construction to Niger Republic
Buhari disclosed that the reason behind the construction of rail and road projects connecting the neighbouring Niger Republic, was business and good neighbourliness: “it’s imperative that Nigeria has a very good relationship with her neighbouring countries for the sake of security.
According to him, with the discovery of oil in the Niger Republic his administration wants the country to take its products for export through Nigeria, rather than through Benin Republic.
On lopsided Appointment:
President Buhari defended his choices for appointments, saying that those he appointed into offices in his administration have been on merit.
He stated for example that the choice of Major General Farouk Yahaya as the country’s new Chief of Army Staff was because he had passed through the training and ranks and was a former theatre commander, Lafiya Dole
“They trained in Zaria or Abeokuta, they come through the ranks and because they served under all the circumstances, the crises and everything and they gradually rise to the status.
“And you think, you will just pick somebody just to balance up. These positions have to be earned. There are people who have been there for 10 to 15 years.”
On Insecurity: Governors Cannot Sit Back After Winning Elections and Expect People fo Their Jobs for them”
Buhari hit out at some state governors demanding they sit up and handle the worsening insecurity in their respective states.
He said that the governors who are having security issues in their states should not just sit back after winning elections and expect people to do their jobs for them.
He advised that governors revert to the traditional ways of tackling insecurity by involving traditional institutions that are very effective and community leaders at the local level.
According to the President, the governors should be able to tackle these security situations because they have “very effective traditional institutions” and security systems at the state and local levels.
On Boko Haram: ‘You Can’t Kill Innocent People and Say God is Great’
Buhari said he has ordered the country’s military and police to be ruthless with terrorists in the country and deal with them in the language they understand.
Mr Buhari said the order to the military and the police will yield the expected results in a few weeks time. According to the President, if the terrorists keep people away from their farms, the country may soon have food shortage and scarcity.
According to him “you can’t kill innocent people and say God is great”.
President Muhammadu Buhari says he is working towards the return of open grazing in the country as was practiced in the first republic where herders plied designated grazing routes to move their cattle across the country.
The Nigerian leader said he gave the directive to the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
According to him Nigerian herders move their cattle with nothing more than a stick.
He said Fulani herders seen with sophisticated AK-47s were from as far away as Mauritania and Central Africa Republic and other parts of the Sahel areas where people in the region rush to Nigeria.
Power Rotation in APC
Let’s allow the party to decide. We started from bottom up. The party committee has from now till end of this month to come with a strategy for general elections. Those who want to be president, they better join APC
On Making Nigeria Attract Foreign Direct Investment
You remember (during the End SARS protests) the young people who wanted to march here and remove me? Tell the youths, if they want jobs, they should behave themselves and make sure the environment is secure so people can invest. Nobody will invest money in an unstable environment.
Nigeria’s Debt, Diversifying the Economy and Infrastructure
Ask the previous governments who earned more from oil where the money and/or infrastructure is. We are building roads and rails. No country develops without infrastructure. Did you ask those before me what they did with the money they earned? There have been a lot of waste.
What Next After Office?
I’ve never abandoned my farm. When I leave office, I’ll go back there and keep myself busy. For now, I’ll keep trying to convince Nigerians that I mean very well. I want to make sure Security, Economy and Fighting Corruption, there are visible changes. On security, we’ve done well all over the country, just the North West is trying to overwhelm me.
On Border Closure & Corruption
We are impressed with Nigerians who went back to the farm. We made sure our neighbours especially Niger Republic understand it. The Niger government cooperated with us. (Fighting) corruption is very difficult under this system (and even under the military system). But in this system, doing things with immediate effect is not possible because those who have the money can hire first class lawyers and cases may take 10 years. I assure you, despite the problem with the system, if we have correct intelligence that someone is not accountable, we ease them out. Those in top positions in my government know this.