President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that he doesn’t care about those who call him ‘Baba go slow’
According to him, he doesn’t want to make the mistake he did as a military Head of State when he was so much in hurry.
Now, he said he is going slowly to survive.
The President was responding to questions during a town hall meeting with the Nigerian community in Dubai.
“So, whoever calls me ‘Baba go slow’, I’m very cautious of historical antecedent. Since I was in a hurry, I was locked up, I’m going slow so that I can survive.” Buhari stated
According to him, one of the reasons Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom left the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was because he could not stomach what he (Buhari) explained to him on the farmers/herders clashes in his state.
Buhari said that he explained to Ortom that the cattle rearers and settlers problem in Nigeria was older than himself (Buhari) not to talk of him (Ortom).
Buhari said “But those of you who are neighbours to cattle rearers, Nigerians cattle rearers use to carry only sticks and their machetes to cut foliage for the cattles. But these are cattle rearers with weapons like AK47.
“But the problem is that you can hardly identify the difference between cattle rearers from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria Chad, Cameroon and other cattle herders. They look the same but I was accused of not doing anything about those operating locally but I took the governor on this and this is one of the reasons he left our party for another party.
“Because I told him the cattle rearers and settlers problem in Nigeria is older than myself not to talk of him and at first republic, there were cattle routes, they put infrastructures and even veterinary.
“But the so-called politicians because they are so much in a hurry to make money they acquire some of these lands and turned them into their private farms.
“So, if you are a cattle rearer or you know about cattle like myself, the herders now pass through anybody land to find water for their cattles to drink. I told Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture to look at the Gazette of the first republic to get the cattle routes and get the grazing routes and re-establish them so that we can reduce this incidence. Some of you here know the efforts we are making.” he added
On what to expect on his next level, Buhari said “I’m sure you are informed group of Nigerians. You know we campaigned on three issues in 2015: security, economy and fighting corruption. I explained so many time where we are, what we have been able to do with resources available to us from that time till now.
“The next level is to consolidate whatever we have done initially and 2023 it makes common sense that in order to manage an outfit, whether a nation-state or organisation, you have to secure it.
“We all know how many local governments the Bko Haram were occupying. People among you that are from the North-east know now that they are not holding any local government. They were holding 17 out of the 774 local governments; they are not holding any now.
“They have reverted to indoctrinating young people, mostly girls and arm them with explosives and send them out on soft targets like churches, mosques, market places motor parks and so on and after blowing up the place they will say Allah Akbar.
“We told them they don’t know what they are saying because God made everything good. You can’t kill innocent people and say God is Great.
“You either don’t know what you are saying or you don’t believe it. We are trying our best not only in physically in dealing with the combatants but in trying to rehabilitate those left behind in the internally displaced persons camps and we have a commissioner there who is supposed to look after them.
“I hope he had the time to look after them. So, the next level is to consolidate on our success. Now to the north-west, the bandits there and the conflicts between herders and farmers and so on and so forth.” he said
The President disclosed to the group that his administration has taken action on the illegal mining taking place in Zamfara State which is being linked to the banditry in the state.
He said “We have taken action about it. We said that all mining activities should be closed and the expatriates participating, should go back to their countries, we have enough problems. So let them go back.”
On health of workers and occupational hazards in oil and gas industry, Buhari said “There are standards, there are rules. I used to be in the petroleum sector for three and a quarter years under Gen. Obasanjo, there are rules.
“You can’t take Nigerians on paper, it’s when it comes to practical application of what is on paper, this is where you have problem with Nigerians.
“But when you look round, there are rules, there are committees and it depends on the leadership of a particular institution or place. If the leadership has the time and commitment to do his job, then there are rules and regulations by which he can go and efficiently run that organization or institutions.
“But a lot of Nigerians, they will commit to memory all the paperwork, and then they will proceed to do what they like personally. So I assure you that the health of workers is clearly defined in each of the institutions especially the dangerous ones like oil rig operators and so on.
“Then, anybody who is wounded as a result of mismanagement or bad instruments, there are enough laws to prosecute that institution and get money or payment for those who have been wounded. It is up to the ministries responsible to maybe develop how they can go round and ensure that people are going by the rules.” he added
On treasury looter, Buhari said “I ‘bark but I cannot bite, Baba go slow,’ I have once ruled this country, some of you know that once upon a time I came in uniform and what I did was to arrest from the president downward. The president, Vice President, the governor’s and ministers, other than the president and the Vice President, the others, I put them in Kiri-Kiri, and I told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.
“And you know subsequently what happened- we put about six tribunals base on the geopolitical zones, and those who were ministers and governors were asked to justify what they have in the banks and physical on the ground relative to their legitimate earnings. There were only two Nigerians then to my knowledge who were found to be very Honourable, both of them are dead now: Biliaminu Usman, a junior minister, from Jigawa State, and Adamu Chiroma, a minister of finance and governor of central bank.
“They were incredible Nigerians. But you know what happened, eventually, I myself was arrested, I was put in detention for three and a quarter years, luckily for me, I was not stupid, I didn’t take anybody’s money, so there was no bad publicity for me because they couldn’t find anything against me.
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“Eventually I was released, and that was why I made up my mine since the bulk is partisan politics, I joined the partisan politics. You also know what happened, I tried three times, and I managed to succeed the fourth time.
“And the three times I tried, 2003; 2007, and 2011, I ended up in Supreme Court. All the time, I was claiming that I was actually the person who won the election but I was rigged.
“But because I was in the opposition, I never won any of the cases until God brought technology- Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and so on.
“The fourth time, before they realize it, I won the election. So there was nothing anybody could do.”
The President explained that even though some Nigerians see him as ‘Baba go slow’, he did loot the country.
“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot. People have to be proven guilty before they are locked up. All that I have to do is to tell the police, and DSS that somebody has so many houses, he has so many investment and his salary is this.
“Recently, the EFCC placed an advert in some of the national newspapers and showed how much was recovered in term of fixed asset and money.”
He added “But what this administration did is to encourage Treasury Single Account (TSA), where government revenue goes to. If you see how the money goes in, then when it goes out, you can follow it.
“Before everybody was doing his own thing. You had ministry with 20 accounts. The office of the Auditor General of the Federation or the Accountant General cannot follow it.
“So, when we came we said there must be TSA, all government revenues must go there and from there you can trace where it has gone to. It’s a very unpopular decision but I feel relieved that people have to account for whatever they manage.”
The President said that his administration is investing more on research and development.
He said the Government is coming up with a policy to take the full advantage of the resources of the country to get first class equipment in Nigeria institutions and to train and retrain teachers.
On diversification, he said “What we did is to try to encourage agriculture. Fertiliser made available at the half price it used to be. We encouraged people to go back to land. The response was excellent.
“We have virtually achieved food security, we have stopped the importation of rice. The money we have saved in foreign exchange in hundreds of millions of dollars, not even in naira. We are putting that into the infrastructure.
“As you know the roads, some of them were not rehabilitated since what used to be the PTF. From Abuja to Onitsha, from Abuja to Port Harcourt, back and other roads. Equipment in hospitals and other institutions. I was forced to go to public so many times. What Nigeria was earning between 1999 and 2014 from crude. Production was 2.1m barrel per day, the barrel of Nigerian crude was $100 per barrel, it went up to $143.
“So, Nigeria was earning 2.1m times $100, times 16years. But look at the condition of our infrastructure when we came; the roads, the rail was killed and you know there was no power.
“I think one of the leaders of those administrations made a slip tongue by saying that they spent $16bn, not naira on power. But, where is the power and where is the $16bn. Maybe eventually by the end of this term will get at it.