PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI
With the Nigerian elections coming up next month, Arise TV News and it’s sister organization, THISDAY Newspapers have begun holding a first of its kind series of one-on-one presidential debates to help voters learn more about the two forefront presidential candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. The first to participate in this voter education activity, exclusive only to THISDAY Newspapers and ARISE TV News channel is President Muhammadu Buhari, the incumbent President and flag-bearer of All Progressive Party (APC) who preferred the inclusive recorded session instead. The team consisting of the Chairman/Editor in Chief of Arise TV News and THISDAY Newspapers, Nduka Obaigbena, Eniola Bello, Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Kayode Komolafe, Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Managing Director of ARISE TV News, Segun Adeniyi, Chairman of THISDAY Board and former spokesman for late President Umaru Musa Yar’dua, Bolaji Adebiyi, Daily Editor of THISDAY Newspapers, spent 90
minutes with the President in a no-holds barred interview focused on issues like lapses in security, fight against corruption, the economy, poverty alleviation and infrastructure deficits.
President Muhammadu looked much healthier and relaxed, as he tackled the questions thrown at him no matter how hard, which in itself, will enable Nigerians see him in a clearer light, observe his body language and gauge his confidence level on the job. This defining moment will no doubt inform Nigerians with the knowledge they need to decide who best to vote for, which is the sole purpose of this exercise. Nigerians, no doubt, eagerly await the next leg of the one-on-one Presidential series coming up with former Vice-President, and the flag bearer of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
THISDAY Style has provided an exclusive courtesy of Assistant Editor- State house correspondent, OMOLOLU OGUNMADE reports...
In 2015 you campaigned on a tripod of restoring security, improving the economy and fighting corruption. Three years on, how will you assess the journey?
Thank you so much. It is insecurity first and I explained that we would help secure the country to manage it properly. The second agenda is the economy and the third is fighting corruption. On the economy, the youths constitute over 60 per cent of the population and a lot of them are unemployed. Potentially, they are very big dangers to the country.
Of course, on corruption, I was constrained to go public in recent times. So many times on the problem of corruption, I have challenged any of the elite to check in Europe, United States and Asia; to check what Nigeria was getting from 1999 to 2014, the 16 years of the PDP. Oil production was 2.1 million barrels per day and oil price was over $100 per barrel. It went to $143 per barrel, but when we came, it collapsed to $38, $48 per barrel and was also oscillating between $48 and $58 per barrel before it picked up. I also went to the Central Bank. I said ‘any savings?’ The governor said ‘no savings.’ This is what we inherited and you know the state of infrastructure more than I do – the poor condition of the roads, the rail was killed. Whatever way we can get money, that is why we are by fighting corruption.
Let’s take it one by one. Let’s start with insecurity. The North-east was a major problem when you took over as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. You have repeatedly said that the insurgents have been technically defeated. However, in the last few weeks, killings and raiding of communities had resumed. What is the problem? Why has the military been unable to fight Boko Haram as they should? In Zamfara State, the the governor called for emergency rule; and in your state, Katsina, the governor complained few weeks ago that kidnappers and robbers have put the state under siege. In Benue, in Plateau, in Kaduna there are incessant killings. Why have you been unable to address these?
From the main one that you mentioned in the Northeast, Boko Haram used to occupy 17 local governments mostly in Borno and Yobe States but now, physically, they are not holding any local government. They indoctrinate young people mostly boys and make churches, mosques, motor parks and markets their soft targets. This you know because you are reporting it yourselves. There is really what I can call fatigue in the military but there has been a warfare on terrorism.
You talked of Zamfara, Benue, you didn’t mention Taraba. You see, the problem that you the press can help to solve is to ask for responsible reportage. The reason is this, the number of people killed in Taraba and Benue are not up to the number of people killed in Zamfara State but then, what the leadership of Taraba and Benue were doing, because I went through newspaper articles, they were giving it religious or ethnic tone. This was very unfair to Nigerians.
Original herdsmen used sticks and cutlasses occasionally to cut foliage and give to their animals. But these ones are having AK47 rifles and people refuse to reflect on the demise of (Muammar) Gadaffi. Gadaffi was in power for 43 years, at some stage, he decided to recruit people from Mali, Burkina Faso, from Niger, from Nigeria, Chad and from Central African Republic. These persons, we were not told were electricians, bricklayers but were trained to shoot and kill. But when the opposition in Libya and Sudan succeeded in killing him, we encountered some of them in the Northeast and they are all over the place in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger. You know it. That is our problem.
You asked what I have done about it. You will find out if you ask the Inspector-General of Police and the governor of Zamfara State that we virtually changed all the officers that served for more than two years in Zamfara State and we did a lot. There are issues that I can’t go public on as the commander-in-chief because it will affect the morale of the men in the front whether they are soldiers or policemen.
The situation in the Northwest or the Northeast is relatively better. But kidnapping got worse from Kaduna to Port Harcourt, from Lagos to Maiduguri and we are doing something about it. The kidnappers are organised. They are damn selfish. What they want is to get people who succeed. They either kill their parents, spouses, children and make a lot of money. We are doing our best to track them using technology and using committed Nigerians who will report to us. I’m not defending security challenges but you know that after 16 years of PDP, with the resources that I just mentioned to you, there is so much of resources at their disposal and they will do anything to use those resources at their disposal to discourage this administration but I thank God because Nigerians are understanding and the leadership of this administration is doing its best under the circumstance and we assure Nigerians that our priorities remain the same.
Why have you not changed the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police. One, they have reached the end of their tenure and two, with heightened insecurity across the country, they are not doing their job effectively.
Well, I accept responsibility for that. But I assure you that I am not afraid of the soldiers or the police but my understanding of security is that when we have an emergency situation, we have to be careful in tampering with the heads of security. This is one of my personal experiences. I had been a governor. I had been a minister. I had been a head of state. I had tried to come to this office three times. I was able to come the fourth time.
So, really, I measure the options critically. When we are in the emergency situation, if you remove the service chiefs, if you don’t wait for appropriate time to do it, you will create a competition in the service. There are many officers in the service, but only one man can become the Chief of Army Staff. Only one man can become Chief of Air Staff. Only one man can become the Inspector-general of Police. Don’t forget that it is this administration that appointed all of them.
I didn’t know any of them really. I followed the records and I thought that I picked the best men. Of course, their performance may be a bit
I ask you, where were the elite when there was irresponsible expenditure of public money? Why did they tolerate it? Educate the people and see their reaction. Where were the elite when these people were taking the money? The Nigerian elite are supposed to know how much the country is earning, where it is going. Why did they accommodate irresponsible expenditure of the 16 years of PDP?
disappointing, but I accept responsibility for not changing them. But my reason is based on my own experience. I think in handling the heads of military services, one has to be careful because you don’t know the ambition of those coming up.
You said there was fatigue earlier. Don’t you think that these service chiefs are tired?
It is those officers that are in the trenches. Of course, you can recall that at a certain stage, I told them to move the operational headquarters to the Northeast. It is good that you arrange retraining before changing them.
They are doing it but these things, they are the types that you don’t go public about. Some of them haven’t seen their families for six months. So, this question of morale may be correct. It may be the wife that is taking care of the children. But it is something that must be done properly. If you don’t do it properly, then you will start blaming the leadership.
What of the Inspector-General of Police? He is not only ineffective, he has become partisan and the impression out there is that you are only keeping him there for election purposes?
I have accepted responsibility. I don’t think I am afraid of him and I don’t think I have organised a roadblock to say that I will lose some part of my revenues if I remove him. I will take action.
For almost four years now, we know that oil price has plunged. You have stated many times the state of the economy, how you met an empty treasury. However, criminality is high among the youth. We will like to know what you have done on the economy because unemployment has moved to 23.1 million. How are you going to assure Nigerians that you will fix the economy should you be returned for second term?
Thank you very much. I think the administration was lucky. We prayed too hard to God. In our own case, we were very lucky in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the rain was very good. I am sure that you know that we virtually achieved food security. You especially who are responsible for informing Nigerians, you may have failed in my own opinion to fully appreciate what was happening and what we did in agriculture. We made fertilizer available and we are producing it locally. We work together with another African country, Morocco.
Secondly, I called the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the governor of Central Bank. I spoke with them but what we inherited from the colonialists is no longer viable. You take a family, maybe they have 15 hectares. If they want a loan to buy fertilizer to enhance their agricultural input, they have to get a surveyor to survey their land and take it to the bank as collateral to get loan. In the past, they might tell you from this tree to that tree is my own and not in terms of metres.
So, I called the Minister of Agriculture. I said you have to do one thing. We want to go back and do what we were doing in the in the First Republic. You remember Awolowo’s Co-operative. It was the most successful development policy then. I said ‘go and read about it and go and see how you can give farmers loans – soft loans without interest as long as the village head can say this family has got this land, that will be their collateral and then, you give them loans,’ and this succeeded in what we did in 2016 and 2017 and 2018. I’m sure that you have felt it. We don’t import rice virtually any more. We have stopped importing rice and we even export grains. But we want self-sufficiency in maize so that chicken feeds can be made locally. We have made tremendous progress in agriculture and some of the issues of unemployment have been addressed through agriculture.
I encourage you to do some study on how much we have done in agriculture and people are less dependent on oil now and we have succeeded in persuading the militants (in the Niger Delta) that constitutionally are entitled to 13 percent derivation. With 13 percent derivation there, we can do production. They can’t claim that they must be given everything. I have a lot of respect for those who did our constitution. They did a lot of work. So, I am persuading the militants to try and understand and accept the 13 per cent derivation in the constitution. The rest belongs to the country. But what are people making trouble for? I sit here and wonder, what were they doing for 16 years? Did you know what was happening? Did you know the condition of the road from here to Onitsha, from here to Port Harcourt. The last we saw (road rehabilitation) was in Abacha’s time.
Now, we are doing the roads. We are doing the rail. In power (sector), we are working on gas from Mambila to Plateau with what is available to us. So, I will recommend that you see the governor of Central Bank and the Minister of Agriculture and most importantly, (Babatunde) Fashola, the Minister of Works, Housing and Power and tell you how much of money out of what we have that we are dedicating to infrastructure which we think will provide employment, provide the industrialists with facilities to employ people. I think that if you try to compare what we have done from the time we came in till now with the resources available, I think you should be here to cooperate with me.
Your comment on food security with due respect, actually contradicts what we have. If we have achieved food security, we will not have the large unemployment rate that we have. Agriculture is the largest employer of labour, not manufacturing. If we have achieved self-sufficiency in farm produce, we will not have the rate of poverty that we have. It is an incontrovertible fact that Nigeria has taken over as the poverty capital of poverty of the world. So, how would we have achieved food security when we have 64 million people living in poverty? So, there is a conflict in what you have said.
Well, there will be a conflict because you have the figures and I have the facts.
Figures are facts.
I am telling you. That is why I recommended that you see the Minister of Agriculture and the Governor of Central Bank. How much money
I assure you that all the assets, houses and hotels belonging to those we interrogated and arrested have been sold. Their bank accounts were frozen and the contracts given to their companies were sold and I instructed that all the money should go through the TSA. I think you should tell the people what we have done so far with loot recovery. We are still trying to recover hundreds of billions of Naija stuck in Europe and America.
Nigeria was being allocated to import rice, to import other food items and how much we are spending now on food importation? It will be impossible if we look at the improvement on our money in terms of what the Central Bank has done. Our foreign reserves by which other nations assess our currency, when we came in, was $24 billion, but now it is $43 billion.
I think some of these questions, if you get to the Central Bank, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Works, Housing and Power, they will answer them with facts and figures because they will tell you where we were when we came, where we are now and what we have been able to do with the resources available to us. To be fair to this administration, this is the best we can do and people will understand because they are ones who know what is happening. Last year there was heavy flooding in Bayelsa, in Kogi and in Kebbi. But notwithstanding, Nigerians are very resilient. They bounced back and we had relatively good harvests. And I am assuring you about this good harvest.
This is one of the greatest successes of this administration. People are going back to the farm. If you borrow money from the Ministry or Central Bank and went to the farm and after harvest, you give the money, nobody asks you for balance but if you borrow money from commercial bank, they will be chasing you around because your certificate is with them.
Despite your administration’s social investment programme, poverty rate is still very high. If you are re-elected, what will you do differently?
What I will do differently is to encourage the people to go back to the land, seek for loans from the Central Bank and from the Ministry of Agriculture so that they can produce more because I assure you that people have realised that by going back to the land, farmers are no longer looked down upon.
They are being respected and as I told you. From personal experience, we are very happy with what farmers are doing. Look at the efforts we made in fertilizer. We have stopped importing some fertilizer now because we are getting the raw materials from Morocco and we have got the gas here. We have got so many fertilizer factories on ground and we are getting it half the price it used to be. They are available virtually in all states. So, I think we have made some progress.
As much as you said you are doing a lot in agriculture, people are afraid to stay on their farms now because of the violent activities of herders and cattle rustlers. How are you addressing this challenge?
I have told you what we have been doing. I think the law enforcement agencies must be more efficient in dealing with abductors, cattle rustlers. Again, it is what we can find out from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. I called him and said I knew that there used to be cattle tracks and grazing areas and this was in the First Republic and any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to stray into somebody’s farm was arrested. The farmer would bring the estimated cost of the damage done to him and the cattle rearer would be asked to pay. If he couldn’t pay the money, his cattle would be sold. But because of oil, everybody rushed to the city to drink oil. There is political instability in the land but we have gone back to the land and we are not regretting it.
Critics have accused your administration of selective justice because once politicians being prosecuted defect to your party, they suddenly become saints and so people believe that you have not been firm in the fight against corruption.
That one too, I will have to illustrate it with the nasty experience I had in this country. When I came in the military uniform, I was much younger than this. You know what I did. I’m sure you read about it. I got the president, the vice-president, the governors and ministers and took them to Kirikiri and said you are guilty until you are able to prove yourself innocent and we had a number of committees to investigate all those that were arrested and what they took were taken away from them except a junior Minister of Education from Jigawa State Biliaminu Usman, he is late now and Adamu Ciroma, a governor of Central Bank and Minister of Finance.
These two people were the only exceptions. But what happened? I too was arrested and detained and those who stole public funds were given back the money. How many Nigerians raised their hands? Now, I come back, I’m trying to go through the system and you are calling me Baba go slow, what else can I do? Mr. President, are you saying that you are satisfied with the fight against corruption?
I have to stop you. I didn’t say so. When I was trying to be in a hurry, I too was arrested and detained. If you don’t know it, I know it because I was the one who suffered... You know more than I do but I assure you that whenever we have the time, I think I will have to ask the EFCC to give you the number of assets recovered and the amount of money. That was why I said they should introduce the use of Treasury Savings Account (TSA) so that all the money coming to the government would go through one account so that what is going in and out will be seen because there are some ministries and agencies with so many bank accounts.
I assure you that assets, houses and hotels belonging to them were sold. Their bank accounts were frozen and the contracts given to their companies were sold and I said all the money should go through the TSA. I think you should tell the people what we have done so far with loot recovery. Hundreds of billions of Naira that are stuck in Europe and America, we are still trying to get.
The question is on the selective application of justice in the fight against corruption. The impression is if somebody is close to you, you will close your eyes no matter the amount of money he has stolen once he defects to your party. Godswill Akpabio for instance was under investigation but since he came to APC, his sins have been forgiven him.
Well, thank you very much. I want to assure you that I will not spare anybody. I don’t think Akpabio, whatever he did when he came to APC, that I said he should be left alone. I can’t remember asking the EFCC, ICPC, the police to spare any corrupt person unless I don’t have the facts and I told you what I went through when I tried to try everybody spontaneously. I haven’t told anybody to spare Akpabio and I challenge you to provide evidence.
Your body language
Why should they watch my body language?
The Chief of Army Staff is not there because he is from Borno. The Chief of Air Staff is not there because he is from Kano. The Chief of Naval Staff is not there because he is from the South-South. Even in Ministries, you just don’t change Permanent Secretaries like that because of the places they come from or their faces.
It is up to Nigerians to decide who they want as President but I assure you that I have warned the police and other law enforcement agencies that they must respect Nigerians. Nigerians must be allowed to choose who they like. I have been asking Governors in the last six months to do voter education because every ordinary Nigerian is an important person as he has one vote and I have one vote. Let them feel important. Let them use it for their own understanding.
There has been a lot of criticism about your appointments into the security agencies, that they were lopsided. Do you think this is a fair criticism?
Well, all I know is that the service chiefs, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, I appointed them when I came. The former IG of Police left and this one was appointed. I know that there is a quota system but then, if you are a field officer, in the military especially where I served, for many years, you don’t promote people by their states of origin. If you do it, you are going to have the shock of your life. It will affect the morale of others that they will become deficient and it will affect the country.
I had told you about the appointments of service chiefs that you have to be careful about who you appoint. You have to be sure of their loyalty. You have to be sure of their commitment to the administration, their acceptability by the command and the service and that will be determined by their training and experience. It is a very sensitive issue.
In Zamfara, I had to direct the IG to move all officers that had been there for more than two years. So, removing the service chiefs or the IG, you can make your observation but it will have consequences. The Chief of Army Staff is not there because he is from Borno. The Chief of Air Staff is not there because he is from Kano. The Chief of Naval Staff is not there because he is from the South-south. Even in ministries, you just don’t change permanent secretaries like that because of the places they come from or their faces.
Do you have anything against state police and/ or the use of mercenaries so that we can flush out criminals?
State police? I have my problems with the police and I told them that with my experience, they are supposed to be on the front line. Now, until Nigerians see soldiers on the street, they don’t believe they are safe. That is not good for the police. I told the police this some months ago. Now, when we came in, there were states that were not paying salaries. We had to do what we called bail out twice. Up till now, there are some that owe workers up to six months. When you cannot pay the salary of N18,000 minimum wage, you want to increase it to N30,000. My budget speech was not secret. I read it out. Where do we get the money?
The police are a major security organisation. Allowing the states to have police may be of no effect. I congratulated the governor of Lagos State when he started the neighbourhood police. It is a good thing but Lagos State is richer than the federal government. How many states now can’t pay salaries? Then you ask them to go and set up the police. You give a policeman uniform and gun and you don’t pay him for six months? I don’t want to see another battle.
Now, mercenaries. I told you earlier, I was in front at the civil war. God spared my life. I think I am so patriotic the way I interpret issues. I don’t like to ask South Africans or anybody to come and fight for us. I don’t like it. With about 190 million of us, we cannot mobilise to fight insurgents from getting into our country? What is the use of our number then and the resources? I feel very strongly about it. I am not saying I will not consider it but it will take time before I get convinced about why we cannot have the military and the police to flush out insurgents and abductors.
You once said you wished you were younger in handling the challenges of your office. On return from your medical vacation, you did say that you had never been that sick. Do you think you are healthy enough for the rigours of the campaign, considering your age and health situation? Do you think you have done enough for Nigerians to trust you with another four years?
I will ask you again to do an in-depth study of where we were in 2015 when we came in and where we are now on security, economy wise, the three things we campaigned on and find out what we have done. The first thing I told my party was that if the party nominated me, I would contest. I don’t want diversion of interest because of the amount of time that Nigerians spend in talking. If I didn’t say so, the number of people that would come out within the party that they would contest, only God would know and they would divert attention from serious issues but mercifully, they decided to leave the party.
Up till now, having lost count, there are 91 parties. Fortunately, a lot of them don’t have money to pay for the contest. I think 48 or more have the money. So, I think I am strong enough to go and campaign. It is up to Nigerians to decide but I assure you that I have warned the police and other law enforcement agencies that they must respect Nigerians. Nigerians must be allowed to choose who they like. I have been asking governors in the last six months to do voter education that every ordinary Nigerian is an important person and he has one vote and I have one vote. Let them feel important. Let them use it for their own understanding.
What do you think are your chances of winning?
I consider that with what we have done in 2015 till now with the resources available to us, I think we deserve another chance. That is why I ask Nigerians and also ask you to use your institutions to do some research and find out where we were, where we are now and where we are going. The three things I mentioned, I believe we could do better.
We intend to do better but security is number one. I said it from day one, the country has to be secured to be provided for. The country has to be secured and those doing abductions, I hope God will give them the senses to realise what they are doing to the country. Nobody can invest in the place where there is no security.
INEC Commissioner, Amina Zakari was part of the election that you lost in 2011 and was also part of the one you won in 2015. There is however a controversy that she’s your niece. What is your exact relationship with the woman?
I saw her trying to explain herself. She was appointed by former President Jonathan. Is Jonathan a Hausa/Fulani man? And you said she was there when I lost election. So?
But is it true that you were the one who recommended her?
No. Not at all. All the past presidents from the time that I came out of detention to the time that I came here, none of them asked me to submit any recommendation either to his cabinet or for
any appointment. None of them asked me to bring a name. We have no blood relationship but she is a complete Nigerian. Did you study History in the university? Then, you would have known about Fulanis and the indigenous people they met here – the Hausas and the Kanuris and so on.
Othman Dan Fodio came and overran virtually the Hausas but some other modern colonialists came. They reinstated them. In my town, they reinstated the Hausas. I am from a Hausacontrolled area. She is from a Fulani controlledarea. If that is blood relationship, I accept it.
In your party, in some states such as Ogun, Imo, Zamfara; even in Rivers, we have a candidate campaigning and we have another candidate who left your party for another party but is still campaigning for you. All your sons are fighting. The second question is this. Are you going to have the same team, same process if you are re-elected? Members of your team, some have done well, some have not done well. Is there going to be a new process in appointing them? If yes, has the process started? So, let’s start from the political side. Some of them have adopted you. So, you have not lost anything.
My adoption, I hope it is not for their selfish reasons. The important thing is that the party has been very impartial. There are three processes – direct, indirect and consensus and the party ought to be able in each state to choose one of the three that it agreed with but all the same, how can a governor sit and say, ‘you will be governor. You will be deputy governor. You, go to Senate. You, go to House of Assembly?’ It’s been extremely serious. The party has been very fair. I don’t know why you the elite will not educate the people. Those who cannot respect them should be voted out.
But you are encouraging them.
No. I have told the police and the law enforcement agents that if anybody tries to rig this election, I will deal with them.
But you are encouraging anti-party activities. Take the case of Ogun State for instance, the guy had been here to see you twice.
Is it not his state? Is it not for the people not to vote for him? I don’t tell people what they should do. Vote for the people that are qualified by your conscience to be voted for.
The second part of the question, if people want you to come back, they will like to see that on May 29, there are changes. If you are re-elected, are we going to wait for another six months before you constitute your cabinet?
No. You will not have to wait that long. Maybe that is the reason I haven’t sought to make any cabinet change. Someone brought a paper and said I had not been fair to the South-east. I took the paper. I told him that when I won the election, I studied the votes that I scored from all the geopolitical zones. I said I got 198,000 and something, from the whole of the South-east which virtually any of the local governments could give me up country but I took the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Minister of Science and Technology from the South-east. These four, I never knew them from Adam but from seven states of the North, I chose ministers of state who are under such ministers. How fair do you want me to be? So, I threw him away with his paper.
You have kept referring to the Nigerian elite in this interview. Is it that they are very critical of you or it is because you have majority of your supporters among the masses?
Exactly. You have answered the question. I told you my grudge against the Nigerian elite. I challenge you to check the records from Europe, Asia and America. This country was getting 2.1 million barrels per day at over $100 per barrel. It went to $143 per barrel but when we came, it collapsed and I told you that I went to the Central Bank and said, ‘oya, this is what is happening. Why?’ I refused to remove him (CBN Governor) because he had to give account of what had been happening. The rail was killed. There was no power.
About 2.1 million bpd x 100 x 16 years, yet there was no provision of infrastructure. The rail was killed. But see what we have done from May 29, 2015 till now with what is available. I ask you, where were the elite when there was irresponsible expenditure of public money? Why did they tolerate it? Educate the people and see their reaction. Where were the elite then when these people were taking the money? The Nigerian elite is supposed to know how much the country is earning, where it is going. Why did they accommodate irresponsible expenditure of the 16 years of PDP?
Are you convinced that N18,000 minimum wage is what a Nigerian worker deserves?
I can only try to answer you by giving you facts. The facts I want to give you is that there are more unemployed Nigerians than the employed. Two, these states they couldn’t pay the minimum wage. There are states owing up to six months salaries now. You even know more than I do. In the private sector, there is no problem. If you can’t pay, you retrench but can the state government, the federal government and the local government afford to create more unemployment?
I think it is better to get N18,000 than to get nothing. This is what I believe. When I presented the budget, I thought I was very sincere. I told them what we were earning. How we are going to spend it because of infrastructure or the economic perspective of it. What is the essence of the elite’s criticism of my budget? We ought to do much better honestly. What are the areas you feel you are most challenged in this election apart from your zone, the Northwest, people you think will vote for you.
You know that you had inadvertently answered the question. I think more of the ordinary people than the elite. I think about the ordinary people. I believe that the ordinary people feel the impact of my effort especially the farmers because the farmers, the money they get from the Ministry of Agriculture and Central Bank, once they get the money, they pay back.
I consider that with what we have done with the resources available to us from 2015 till now, I think we deserve another chance. That is why I ask Nigerians and also ask you to use your institutions to do some research and find out where we were, where we are now and where we are going.
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI & NDUKA OBAIGBENA, CHAIRMAN/EDITOR IN CHIEF, THISDAY GROUP & ARISE TV NETWORK