By Jonathan NDA-Isaiah , Chibuzo Ukaibe, Tunde Oguntola and Tarkaa David
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not name his favourite candidate to succeed him in 2023.
The president spoke in an interview on Channels Television which aired yesterday.
According to him, he prefers to keep the identity of the candidate to himself as revealing who he is may put hurdles on his path.
Asked what comes to his mind when he hears PDP, the president said; “PDP! Failure!”
When asked, “2023 elections, what comes to mind?”.
The president replied; “It is not my problem!”
On what he thinks about the youths, the president said, “I wish when they go to school, when they work hard, when they have a degree, they don’t do it thinking the government must give them a job.
“You get educated because an educated person is certainly better than an uneducated one, even in identifying personal problems. So, education is not just to hang on to the government to give you a job.”
The president also stated his readiness to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill after the National Assembly makes the necessary adjustments.
He, however, said such changes must include the addition of consensus and indirect primary options to the mode of selecting candidates for elections, as against the initial mandatory direct mode as contained in the bill he declined to sign.
He said, “All I said (is that) there should be options. We must not insist that it has to be direct; it should be consensus and indirect.
“There should be options; you can’t dictate to people and say you are doing democracy. Give them other options so they can make a choice.”
Asked if he would sign if the lawmakers effect the change in that direction, he affirmed, “Yes, I will. I will sign.”
On the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Buhari said he would not intervene to secure his release because that would be interfering with the work of the judiciary.
“There is one institution that I wouldn’t interfere with; that is the judiciary. Kanu’s case is with the judiciary but what I wonder is when Kanu was safely in Europe, abusing this administration and mentioning too many things, I thought he wanted to come and defend himself on the accusations.
“So, we are giving him an opportunity to defend himself in our system, not to be abusing us from Europe as if he was not a Nigerian. Let him come here with us and then criticise us here. Nigerians know that I don’t interfere with the judiciary; let him be listened to.
“But those who are saying that he should be released, no, we cannot release him.”
When asked about the possibility of a political solution, Buhari said, “There is a possibility of a political solution. If people behave themselves, all well and good, but you can’t go to a foreign country and keep on sending incorrect economic and security problems (sic) against our country and thinking that you would not account for what you have been doing. Let him (Kanu) account for what he has been doing.”
President Buhari also insisted that his administration had done so much in tackling the country’s security woes.
“If you ask anybody from the North-east, there were a number of local governments that were in the hands of BH or ISWAP. None of these local governments now are in their control.”
“Within the last four weeks, there are improvements in the North-east and North-central,” Mr Buhari said.
“Virtually all parts of the country are facing one form of security challenge or the other.”
President Buhari also rejected the notion of state police as the solution to the nation’s mounting security problems, appearing to express fears that it may be abused by state governors.
Responding to a question on the issue, President Buhari said: “State police is not an option. Find out the relationship between local government and the governors. Are the third tier of government getting what they are supposed to get constitutionally? Are they getting it? Let the people in the local government tell you the truth, the fight between local governments and the governor.”
The president advocated a bigger role for traditional rulers in bringing peace to communities as, according to him, the royal fathers know who is who in their localities.
On farmers/herders clashes in the country, the president wondered why there should be such clashes among people that used to coexist peacefully.
He said, “For example, there were two governors that came to see me about problems – Oyo state and one other state – because the herders were in their forests but the animals were going into the neighbouring farms and eating the crops. I said, as far as I know, the farmers and herders have been co-existing in Nigeria for generations.
“Let them go and ask the local leadership what has gone wrong, why the break in communication between the local leadership and the herders.”
Speaking on the traditional rulers, he said: “The role of traditional rulers must not be undermined, because in their areas they know who is who, even by families, not to even talk of individuals. So, we have to revert to that system for us to have effective security in the localities.”
The president had previously expressed his reservations about the idea of state police.
Asked about his view in an interview in May 2018 about the governor’s demand for state police, he said: “I want the Nigerian Constitution to be consulted first and see what it says. If it says they should be allowed, then they should be allowed but don’t forget, how many times did we have to release money to states in the name of bailouts to enable them to pay salaries?
“How many states are able to pay their workers in time? And you add the police to them? People should look at this matter very well.”
Speaking further on why he was not convinced about the idea, President Buhari added: “No, I am not convinced. We should have solved the current insecurity in the North-east and South-south by now. Can the states shoulder the burden of the police?
“You cannot just give someone guns and ammunition, train him and refuse to pay him; you know what will eventually happen.”
When asked if he was aware of the numbers of Nigerians who find it difficult to feed on his watch, the president said, “I’m absolutely aware of it, but like I said, look at the vast population of Nigerians, only 2.5 percent of the land is being cultivated. We realised this rather too late, but we have to go back to the land.”
Ayu Faults PMB’s Stand On State Police
Meanwhile, the national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Iyorchia Ayu has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that state police is not an option suggests that the security situation in the country may not change.
Ayu also criticised the President for pushing the blame for the incessant killing of farmers by terrorists on locals along grazing routes.
He stated this while responding to Buhari’s interview on Channels Television yesterday evening.
A statement from Ayu’s media office quoted the PDP national chairman as saying: “It appears the continued killings in some localities of Nigeria, particularly in the North, and more specifically in President Buhari’s home state of Katsina may not may not matter, hence, the need to have a security system that feeds on local intelligence and nuances, which the federal police cannot adequately provide, is not an option to our president.”
He went on: “Watching President Muhammadu Buhari on Channels TV during the interview session was a gratuitous waste of time because there was nothing new coming from the president.
“As has been said by many before now, to expect anything new from our President would be a misplaced and unfortunate expectation.
“From the economy, to insecurity, killing of innocent farmers by terrorists (which some erroneously term farmer/herder clashes) and other sundry issues, President Buhari honoured his calling as a president who has nothing new to offer.
“He again repeated the impotent argument regarding killing of farmers by terrorists, reminding Nigerians of grazing routes.
“Well, what the President failed to reference is that the herders plying the grazing routes before neither carried AK47s, nor did they engage in raping of women and despoilation of the assets of those along the routes.
“Mr President’s position of saying the locals should be asked what went wrong flies in the face of reason and contemporary realities.
“Tied to that but not limited in scope is the issue of insecurity and a re-organisation of the Nigeria Police to accommodate present, peculiar, environmental and social challenges.
He said to the president it appears that continuing the same process while expecting a different output and outcome is the best way to go.
“We ask, is he comfortable with the killings in the land while the status quo persists?”
The PDP chairman urged Nigerians to remind the President that people evolve and societies evolve, stressing that being trapped in a time capsule of the past about State Police is not an option Nigerians are willing to accept from him.
On the economic front, Ayu said nations of the world who enjoy the benefit of direct foreign investments (DFI) ensure that their countries are safe for investors to pour in their resources.
He added that no amount of propaganda will obviate the realities on ground and which embassies and foreign missions observe.
“Therefore, to ensure that investor confidence is restored, a safe environment must, of necessity, be created.
“Our government is trapped in the mentality of believing its own lies that Nigeria is better today than it was under the PDP.
“To those who share this fallacy, we ask: Would they wish for their lives to be like Nigeria under this present regime? The lives of Nigerians today tell the true story.
“The more Buhari promises to lift Nigerians out of poverty, the poorer Nigerians become. To further dwell on the entire interview would be to waste valuable time.
“But we implore Nigerians not to relent because hope is on the way and, like one writer said, hope is better served as breakfast and not dinner, as the APC regime of President Buhari is doing, promising El Dorado in the dying days of its tenure,” he said.