President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reaffirmed federal government’s commitment to tackling Nigeria’s challenges, saying, however, that “fixing Nigeria’s problems is a responsibility of all Nigerians.”
Buhari made this assertion at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington D.C. while briefing representatives from the institute and others from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Atlantic Council, National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute and International Foundation of Electoral System on his hopes for Nigeria and his administration’s commitment to tackling Boko Haram in the north-east.
Buhari said that his administration had put strategies in place to empower the Nigerian Armed Forces to ensure that they win the war in the shortest possible time.
He stressed that defeating the Boko Haram was a major priority of this administration, as the terrorists’ activities had stifled progress and undermined the security of the nation.
The Nigerian leader told the gathering that the Nigerian government had provided about $21 million for the take-off of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to enable the countries involved to jointly combat terrorism, adding that insurgency had made Nigeria live in fear.
He said, “Nigerians have lived in fear for far too long. The impact of insurgency and material causes of insurgency in my country and to my people are unacceptable. We are confident that we will defeat terrorism in our country and our region.
“Defeating Boko Haram and finding a durable solution to the underlining causes of insecurity in Nigeria are therefore the major priorities of this administration. Nigerians understand that terrorism stifles progress and undermine the stability of the society.
“The government that I lead is committed and will do whatever it takes to free Nigeria from the menace of terrorism. No matter how long it takes, we will reclaim every inch of Nigeria’s territory under the control of the Boko Haram,” President Buhari said.
He reiterated that his administration was aware of the challenges ahead of it.
“It will be a long and bruising struggle, but it is a fight we are in to win. Failure is not an option for us and we do not contemplate it.”
He further appealed to the United States executive and legislative arms of government to examine how their government could provide Nigeria with far more counter-terrorism assistance, noting that “the longer we delay, the deadlier the Boko Haram gets.”
Fight Against Corruption Is A Full-time Job – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will maintain zero tolerance for corruption and that the fight against the menace is a full time job that the federal government will sustain.
Speaking during his historic visit to US President Barack Obama in Washington D.C., he said that one of his basic objectives is to improve the quality of governance to ensure it is responsive, inclusive, transparent and accountable.
“We must win and sustain the trust of the people with governance. The fight against corruption is a full-time job that the federal government will take with sustained result,’’ he said.
“I have also maintained zero tolerance for corruption. I am even more committed to fighting this enemy decisively because I am convinced beyond doubt that the much needed impetus for our country’s survival is held back by corruption. I will not allow this to continue.”
On the outcome of the 2015 general election, he said that the critics of the nation and ‘dooms day’ prophets got it all wrong.
He said that the patriotism and commitment of Nigerians brought a result that showed the world that Nigeria’s electoral process had improved tremendously.
He commended his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan, for his uncommon display of statesmanship that set the pace for Africa.
Buhari is in the United States for a four-day visit and had held talks with President Barack Obama which centred on terrorism, economic development and other issues of interest to both countries.
Buhari stressed that there was much work to be done to improve the process, including the use of technology in the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
He however urged the National Assembly to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral laws to provide stiffer penalties against all forms of electoral malpractices in the country.
Buhari also thanked civil society groups, which, he said, had contributed immensely to the growth of Nigeria’s electoral process, and expressed confidence that the electoral body in Nigeria would apply the lessons learnt to improve its work.
Oil Theft: Jonathan’s Ministers Penned Down For Prosecution – PMB
President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed that relevant agencies in the country are currently compiling evidence of massive looting and stealing of Nigeria’s crude oil by some former ministers and top government officials for the prosecution of those found culpable.
He said that, already, some leaders of the developed countries across the world where the stolen oil monies are being stashed have been contacted to help Nigeria freeze such dubious accounts.
The president, who stated this while responding to questions from members of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in the United States and Canada at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. on the third day of his four-day official visit to the U.S., added that the ministers and government officials were stealing one million barrels of crude oil per day.
Lamenting that some of the affected former ministers and officials were involved in illegal sale and diversion of crude oil monies belonging to the federal government to private accounts abroad, Buhari vowed that his administration would trace the accounts of individuals who stashed away ill-gotten oil money, freeze, recover the loot and prosecute the culprits.
He said, “We are now looking for evidence of shipping some of our crude, their destinations and where and which accounts they were paid into and in which countries. When we get as much as we can get, as soon as possible, we will approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the money in the accounts be taken to Nigeria.
“The amount of money involved is mind boggling but we have started getting documents. We have started getting documents where some of the senior people in government -former ministers – planted as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrels per day on their own.
“We have started getting those documents. I assure you that whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from ministries, departments, Central Bank, we will ask for the cooperation of those countries to return those monies to the federation account; and we will use those documents to arrest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians. Corruption in Nigeria has virtually developed into a culture where honest people are abused.”
Buhari said unlike what obtained during his tenure as federal commissioner for petroleum under military regime when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had only two traceable accounts before paying oil proceeds into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), “now everybody is doing anyhow.”
He said that his administration was carefully studying the issue of oil subsidy, saying that he would not be a party to taking decision that would further impoverish Nigerians in the name of removing oil subsidy. According to him, if subsidy was removed, the cost of transport, housing and food would escalate and the average worker would suffer untold hardship.
Specifically, the president expressed scepticism over the existence of oil subsidy.
“Who is subsidizing who? But people are gleefully talking, ‘remove subsidy’. They want petrol to cost N500 per litre. If you are working and subsidy is removed, you can’t control transport, you can’t control market women, the cost of food, the cost of transport.
“If you are earning N20,000 per day and you are living in Lagos or Ibadan, the cost of transport to work and back, the cost of food (would go up). You cannot control the market women; they have to pay what transporters charge them.
“If there is need for removing subsidy, I will study it. With my experience, I will see what I can do. But also I’m thinking; more than half of Nigerians virtually cannot afford to live. Where will they get the money to go to work, how can they feed their families, how can they pay rent? If Nigeria were not an oil producing country – all well and good. Our refineries are not working. We have a lot of work to do.”
I’ll Go Slow And Steady – PMB
Asked when he would constitute his cabinet, the president said, rather jocularly, that the question was haunting him around the world even to the point that at home he had been given a nickname for his perceived slowness. He, however, observed that not even the PDP during all the years it ruled the country ever formed a cabinet within the first four months.
“Within the past two weeks I’ve been asked when I’m going to form my cabinet. And in some quarters they are now calling me `Baba Go Slow’.
“I am going to go slow and steady,” he declared, and solicited the patience of Nigerians to allow the new administration “put some sense into governance and deal with corruption.”
Buhari further told the Nigerian community in that country that he would study the Diaspora Bill with a view to signing it into law as they requested.
He counseled those Nigerians in the Diaspora scrambling for government jobs and appointments back home in Nigeria to suspend their ambition, saying the nation’s economy was in a shambles and would take his administration about 18 months or more to resuscitate it.
He, however, promised that some of them would be engaged by the federal government as consultants to enable them contribute their quota to the nation’s development.
All those who spoke at the interactive session expressed their readiness to assist the APC-led administration to achieve its campaign promises to Nigerians.
The president had earlier met at the same venue with a group of young professionals in the United States and assured them of his government’s resolve to fight corruption, remain steadfast and invest heavily in education which, he said, was the answer to taking the youths out of poverty and ignorance.
I’ll Lead By Example – PMB
President Buhari made this known in Washington D.C. during a conversation organized by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
The president said: “I will continue to maintain my zero tolerance for corruption, and that decision will be more reinforced especially now that I am president. I will lead by example to make sure that the future of Nigeria is secured.”
He further stated that democracy would help to make Nigeria just, developed and stronger, stressing that his administration would build a strong economy for democracy to survive.
Saying that the major work to make Nigeria a better place is in the hands of Nigerians themselves, Buhari also made it known that the international community could only assist, but the major work will be done by Nigerians
He, however, urged the opposition parties to begin to see themselves as parts of the struggle to get Nigeria back on the track of progress.
On Boko Haram, Buhari said he would be visiting Cameroon on July 29, 2015, for meetings on how to make Nigeria and its neighbours free from terrorists that are killing people every day.
He gave the assurance that his administration would win the battle against terrorism as a result of the support of the Nigerian people who reposed confidence in him and voted him to power.
“And we will not derail from the original plans to tackle insurgency to standstill,” he noted.
Buhari further said that his administration is improving in terms of cooperation and coordination with its international partners to be able to fight Boko Haram.
Pleading for assistance, the president said: “We want the US to give us the necessary assistance with little strings for us to be able to tackle Boko Haram effectively.”
He, however, acknowledged that winning the battle against terrorism would require him to create jobs for jobless people, improve the quality the quality of governance, be as accountable as possible, and sustain the trust of the Nigerian people.
“Nigeria understands that terrorism will slow down development but I am fully committed, no matter how long it takes, to free Nigeria from the insurgents,” he vowed.
On the last general elections, Buhari stated that the contributions of all the US agencies to the success of the elections were well documented, adding that their abilities to call spade a spade to the last administration were appreciated.
“Due to the general perception of the world about Nigeria, the country was not expected to make it during the elections but we thank God that we made it.
“The peaceful conduct of the last elections in Nigeria attests to the fact that elections can be conducted freely, fairly and bloodlessly in any part of Africa,” he remarked.
The event was moderated by Ambassador Johnie Carson, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria and currently a senior advisor to USIP president.
Again PMB Rejects Same-Sex Marriage
Attempt by the United States government to convince President Muhammadu Buhari to repeal the same sex marriage prohibition law failed yesterday as the Nigerian president stood his ground that such practice would not work in Nigeria.
LEADERSHIP gathered reliably that Buhari told the U.S. officials straightaway that the issue concerning the anti-same sex law was something that was beyond him even as Nigeria’s leader.
Confirming this development, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, tweeted in his twitter handle that “the same sex marriage issue came up at the joint session of Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs, not in direct talks with Obama.”
He, however, tweeted further that “talks shifted to another matter once PMB emphatically stated Nigeria’s stand on same sex marriage,” adding that “the issue was not pushed.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had last week said that the US government would make another case for the Nigerian government to repeal its law against same-sex unions.
According to her, the US had adopted the protection of the rights of same-sex people as part of its foreign policies, even as she vowed that Washington would continue to mount and sustain pressure on Nigeria and other countries to reverse their laws against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) community.
Thomas-Greenfield had said, “As a government, it is one of the highest priorities and strongest values that discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is wrong. We believe human rights should be available to everybody.
“As a policy, we will continue to press the government of Nigeria as well as other governments which have provided legislation that discriminate against the LGBT community”.
Denying that the pressure mounted on Nigeria to reverse the anti-gay law amounted to interference, she noted that Nigeria and Uganda had the hardest legislation on the gay community.
“This is very much a work in progress, but I think you will agree with me that the law in Nigeria really went far in discriminating against this community, but also people who associate with them. So, we will continue to press the government, to press the legislature to change these laws and provide human rights for all Nigerian people regardless of their sexual orientation,” she said.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan last year signed the same-sex marriage prohibition bill into law, banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships in the country, a development which sparked global condemnation from the United States, Britain and some other countries.
The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.
But the Nigerian government had maintained the law was not as draconian as a Ugandan bill passed by parliament earlier which punishes “aggravated” homosexual acts with life in prison, noting that the law in Nigeria is a reflection of the people’s highly religious and conservative belief system.
Culled from http://leadership.ng/news/448883/fixing-nigeria-is-a-collective-responsibility-pmb