Saturday, 31 October 2015

Nigeria is broke, Buhari declares

President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that Nigeria is indeed broke. He said that the country is at the moment strug­gling to pay workers salaries even as he says he wants to be remembered as a Ni­gerian president who fought corruption to a standstill, assuring Nigerians, who are not involved in corruptly enriching themselves with public funds, not to be afraid.

President Buhari said in the coming days he would have to prune the number of min­istries so as to be able to pay salaries. He’s saying this barely 24 hours after the Senate confirmed 37 ministerial nominees he sent to the upper chamber of the National As­sembly for confirmation.

Speaking at a press conference after the India-Africa Summit, which took place in New Delhi, India, President Buhari said he would not lose sleep over criticism that he was being selective in the fight against cor­ruption.

One of the main talking points at the one-day summit in New Delhi, was the provision India had made for African coun­tries. The nation said it had set aside over $10 billion grant for African countries.

Wooing investors, President Buhari as­sured Indians and the international com­munity of his administration’s commit­ment to sustaining efforts aimed at making Nigeria an envy of all. He urged them to avail themselves of the conducive environ­ment that would be created for investments to thrive.

Responding to critics of his adminis­tration who claim he was too slow in ad­dressing economic and infrastructural chal­lenges facing the country that’s yearning for urgent development, Buhari said “they call me baba go slow, but I will go slow and steady”.

He called on the elite to encourage him to get whoever had compromised his posi­tion and the trust given to him. President Buhari told the gathering that he remained resolute in the fight against corruption and would want to be remembered for that when it is all said and done.

His administration has three main focus – security, economy and the fight against corruption. But he has roundly been criti­cised by the opposition Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) as being selective in the fight.

On whether there will be an extension of a three-month deadline given by his ad­ministration to flush out Boko Haram from Nigeria’s north-east, the President said that the target was to get rid of terrorism and not about meeting deadline.

See excerpts of interview:

How much have you recovered so far in your fight against corruption and how do you feel when people say you are be­ing selective?

I can’t tell you off hand how much we have recovered. For those who accuse us of being selective, if they are not involved in corruption, they wouldn’t have been saying that, they would be the ones to encourage us to get whoever that has compromised in his position of trust. Those who are not cor­rupt should even encourage us to do more. I’m not selective. But whoever that is cor­rupt would be given up for prosecution so that Nigerians will know we are serious about this fight.

The three months target you gave the military to flush out Boko Haram, if they don’t meet the target would there be an extension?

The main objective is to get rid of Boko Haram whether it is within the time you gave to the military or outside it. We main­tain cardinal objective and we would sup­port them.

The PDP and APC in the NASS have been polarised following the confirmation of your ministerial nominees. Does that bother you?

This is teamwork. I didn’t work with the Presidency alone, I have to defend all the three chains of government from all parts of the country and we cannot work outside the constitution, it must be a cabinet representa­tive of each state. We cannot afford votes for all ministers, some may not be successful ministers, but they would sit in cabinet, be­cause that is what the constitution says, and we cannot operate outside the constitution.

Are you reducing the number of min­istries?

Of course, the country is broke

There are talks that your government is too slow in addressing infrastructure?

Where is the money? You must have known that the Federal Government has to help 27 states out of 36 to pay salaries. Nige­ria cannot pay salaries; the Federal Govern­ment itself has to summon the Governor of Central Bank on how it could pay salaries, not to talk of projects, agreements we signed with other countries on counterpart funding and so on.

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