President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said leaders who undermine the economy by denying workers their benefits while stuffing personal accounts with public funds would not escape the current anti-corruption dragnet.
Receiving an All Progressives Congress (APC) delegation from Benue State led by Senator George Akume, Buhari said the federal government’s bailout to states and the Paris Club funds were basically to alleviate the suffering of the people, describing misappropriations as unjust and unfair to workers.
“I honestly don’t know how people sleep when workers have not been paid. The workers have to pay rent, buy food, send their children to school and they have healthcare to take care of.
“I assure you that my main interest is all Nigerians in all parts of the country. Therefore, if anybody tries to create any impression that I prefer any group across ethnicity or religion let him dare me by being caught red handed stealing public funds. I will deal with him,’’ he was quoted in a statement issued after the meeting by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina.
The president told the APC delegation that the Federal Executive Council had been monitoring the plight of workers across the country and utilisation of the bailout and Paris Club funds by some states.
“I thank you for your courage to come and see me. This visit has resuscitated our morale,’’ he said.
President Buhari said the federal government had made significant progress in diversifying the economy by investing in agriculture and encouraging more individuals and entrepreneurs to go into farming, pointing out that Nigeria would soon become self-sufficient in feeding its citizenry.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with resources at our disposal,’’ he added, listing ongoing road, rail, sea port, airport and power projects as hallmarks of his administration’s commitment to improving lives.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria would be further motivated to work together and support all interested Nigerians to take up farming on commercial scale.
He noted that the killings across the country, including in Benue, Zamfara and Taraba, were carried out by “ungodly’’ people who had no religious or ethnic inclinations.
“We know about herders. The ones we knew carried sticks, and sometimes cutlasses to cut foliage for their cattle. We now have people who carry AK 47s and pretend they are herdsmen.
“We are working hard to secure our borders. We are going to see how the old cattle routes can be opened. We will control movement. Please beg our people to be patient,’’ he said.
The president pointed out that security personnel were already uncovering the network of the killers and arresting them.
In his remarks, Akume, a former governor of Benue State, said the narrative in the state about the federal government was fast changing for the positive as more people had discovered the good intentions of President Buhari to secure lives and property, and alleviate poverty.
“Your Excellency, Mr President, we know your commitment to Nigeria. We know how much you love the country and will be ready to die for the good cause,’’ Akume said.
He told the president that APC members had started sensitization and mobilisation of voters for the 2019 elections, noting that more had accepted the party and its manifesto in the state.
He commended the president for the flagoff of the dualization of the Abuja-Keffi-LafiaMakurdi road, urging more attention on the Makurdi-Otukpo road and the water projects in Gboko and Otukpo.
On corruption, Sen. Akume said the president had made significant difference by tackling perpetrators.
In an interview with newsmen after the meeting, Akume blamed the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom for the clashes between herders and farmers in the state.
“When you talk about herdsmen and farmers clash, it’s a story going good bye. Have you heard of farmers/herders clashes in Benue again? No. We know those who were behind that, government was behind that. I am talking about the state government through the Livestock Guards, they knew what was going on,” he said.