2019: Nigerians should blame past leaders for their poverty, not Buhari – Ojukutu


Nigerians have been implored to support the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari to enable him consolidate on his present achievements. Giving the advice in an interview with Saturday Sun, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu said President Buhari deserves support for his re-election bid because he has not only been doing well but has also been taking Nigeria in the right direction. She described political leaders ganging up against the President as failed politicians who will be disgraced by the outcome of the 2019 polls. She spoke to TUNDE THOMAS.

How would you assess the state of affairs in the country because some Nigerians are saying things are getting too tough and suffering becoming unbearable?

The problems of Nigeria didn’t start today. Some of these things have been long coming. But unfortunately the man, Buhari who decided to put us on the straight and narrow path that will restore Nigeria’s lost glory is the one being blamed for everything now, and the people who ought to support him by letting Nigerians know that some of these things are not Buhari’s making are not doing their job.

Today, you hear some Nigerians saying different negative things about Buhari like some will say Buhari has come, and poverty has come to afflict Nigerians, but this is wrong. Those saying this kind of things are being unfair to Buhari. The problem has been there before Buhari became president. If Buhari had not come into office that time he took over as president, Nigeria would have gone bankrupt. If Buhari had not become President in 2015, Nigeria would have become a failed state by now.

Are you saying that it is unfair for Nigerians to criticize Buhari over the hardship and suffering they are facing?
Nigerians should stop blaming Buhari. He is working and saving Nigeria from a lot of problems but unfortunately he doesn’t have the right machinery to portray to members of the public what his government is doing. Instead of telling Nigerians about what Buhari is doing and has achieved, what his handlers have been doing is to say PDP has done this or that or responsible for this or that. They should leave PDP alone, and explain to Nigerians what Buhari is doing, what he has done, and why he has to do certain things in certain way. By pointing to PDP or keep on referring to PDP, Nigerians will say Buhari and APC are looking for excuses to cover up their inefficiencies.

They should leave PDP alone. Although it is true PDP added its own to Nigeria’s problems, but some of these problems also predated PDP. They have been there for a long time and it is just that these problems are manifesting now. If you look at Nigeria’s history, we have gone through many phases. Even the military also has their own share of the problem.

Although when PDP came in, they didn’t help matters. It was as if they don’t know how to do it. Mediocrity in leadership has been the bane of Nigeria’s economy. We don’t have strong foundations. Our problem didn’t start today so we should stop blaming Buhari. It is only a pity that Buhari’s managers have not managed him very well. At times, within APC the ruling party itself, they act in opposition to one another. You see the Presidency doing one thing, and you see the National Assembly being controlled by APC doing another.

Again when the Presidency is doing whatever it wants to do especially to fight against corruption, you see these forces within APC rising against Buhari again. So there is no harmony in APC.

With this scenario of APC you painted, don’t you think it will have effect on President Buhari’s re-election bid in 2019?
Definitely it will have an effect but not to an extent that it will jeopardize Buhari’s re-election. The election will be tough but Buhari will win. The average Nigerian still appreciates Buhari as a man of integrity. Average Nigerians are not buying all those things some of his opponents have been trying to use against him. Average Nigerians have not accepted all those claims that these things or those things have been done or are being done by those close to him.

Among the grassroots, Buhari is still highly respected. The common people are hungry quite alright but by the time you ask them which one they prefer between somebody that will give them bread and somebody that will teach them how to make bread, they will say they prefer the person that will teach them how to make bread.

Then many people now are no longer waiting to be fed. Everybody now wants to be an entrepreneur, the economy is forcing many Nigerians to become innovative. Many Nigerians are now putting on their thinking cap on how to survive and interestingly there is no candidate that can match Buhari’s quality and records of past achievements. Buhari still remains the candidate to beat. The election in 2019 is going to be interesting but I believe Buhari still remains the candidate to beat.

Are you now saying that it will serve Nigeria’s interests better for Buhari to go for a second term?
Yes, that is my position. That’s what I believe. It will serve Nigeria’s interests better for Buhari to go for a second term so that he will be able to consolidate on what he is doing now. But it is unfortunate that there are still some people who are not on the same page with Buhari, that are working with him inside his administration. If these people can close ranks and work with Buhari with one purpose, it will be very great for Nigeria. Buhari is taking Nigeria in the right direction. He deserves our support.

But some Nigerians have talked and complained about President Buhari’s style with some saying that he is too rigid and inflexible on certain issues, what’s your take on that?
Buhari should maintain his style. If he bends the way some Nigerians want, then corruption will set in. When you start compromising, then corruption sets in. Buhari should remain focused. He should not be distracted.

Some will say that there is no administration that is fool proof on corruption, I agree but there are some that are really barefaced corrupt administrations but I like Buhari for not compromising on the war against corruption.

Now, we don’t have the practice like in the past where Ghana-must-go bags full of money were being taken to members of the National Assembly to give to lawmakers to induce them to pass bills. It is barefaced corruption. But thank God that Buhari is not involved in that kind of evil practice. We should give kudos to Buhari for stopping that kind of corrupt practice. Thank God that Buhari would have none of such evil practice.

Can we then say that’s why he has been having running battle with members of the National Assembly on some issues?
May be. Somebody was joking the other day that apart from the normal allowances they gave the lawmakers that the National Assembly has now become a dry land, that things that were flowing before have stopped under the Buhari government. I also like the whistleblower policy introduced by the administration.

The policy has helped to checkmate corruption. It has helped to promote probity and accountability, and the whistleblower policy is one of the reasons some people don’t like Buhari. Those corrupt Nigerians hate Buhari for introducing that policy. Many people are afraid of the whistle blowing policy and things are now being done the proper way. It is not that Nigerians don’t like doing things the right way but just that many are not educated on how to do things the right way.

If Buhari’s administration owes Nigerians anything, it is for the government to continue telling Nigerians and also enlightening them on how to do things the right way. It is by telling Nigerians and also enlightening them on how to do things the right way that Nigerians will appreciate what Buhari is doing.

What is your take on 2019 general elections because a lot of prominent Nigerians including clerics have been saying a lot on this?
All I’m praying for is that the election will not result in anything that will send or throw some of us into diaspora. The election should be peaceful. There should be no violence. Those taking part in the election, as candidates should jettison thuggery and violence. There is no need for us to engage in violence over elections.

In 2019 we should allow Nigeria to be. Then the way the social media has been reporting events in the country is also capable of heightening tension, the social media people should watch it. We don’t want war in Nigeria. 2019 should not be a do-or-die affair.

On the issue of insecurity, especially continued killings in the North and the Boko Haram attacks, some Nigerians have urged federal government to find urgent solution to the problems warning that failure to do so might even put 2019 general elections in jeopardy, what’s your view on that?
The killings have to stop. Government must have a way to curtail it. I want to believe that this present government has no hand in the killings, and what Nigerians need to understand is that there are some insurgencies that are not easy to put down or contained.

I also believe there are people who are hell bent on making life difficult for Buhari, and the tendency is to believe in that since Buhari himself was quoted as saying at one time when he lost election that he would make Nigeria ungovernable, so it might be pay back time for him by those who want to pay him back in his own coins. I feel that some people might want to pay him back. Although Buhari then made that pronouncement to make Nigeria ungovernable when he lost the election that time but he didn’t unleash any violence on Nigeria, but his opponents are capitalizing on his verbal statement then to make life difficult for his administration today.

One thing that Nigerians must understand is that there are too many interests upset by Buhari’s emergence as president, and these people are not going to keep quiet. Some of Buhari’s policies like BVN, TSA have become a big threat to many vested interests. But Nigeria needs some of these policies being introduced by Buhari for us to move forward as a nation. Buhari is promoting transparency and accountability in governance, but some Nigerians especially the corrupt ones are not comfortable, and they are the ones giving him headache.

Buhari has stepped on many toes but the question Nigerians should ask themselves is this, all these Buhari is doing,is he doing it for himself? Why is Buhari stepping on many toes? Is Buhari a sadist that just wants to make life difficult for Nigerians? But he is actually working in the interest of Nigeria. He is working to secure the future of Nigeria.

To stop these killings, if there is need to ask for international support, he should not hesitate to do so. He should also do internal investigation whether there is internal collusion that is making it difficult to contain the insurgency. Buhari should beef up the nation’s security. It is possible to tackle insurgency before 2019, what is necessary is for Buhari to do all the needful.

How do you see the alliance being proposed by about 38 political parties to confront Buhari and APC in 2019?
What is the antecedent of those involved in the alliance? What are they bringing to the table that can make them say that Buhari is a failure and that he should go? Which success can these people point to as being their achievements? None.

But your former party, PDP is also involved in this alliance talks …
And so what? PDP failed Nigerians when it was in power. All these people talking of alliance are narrow-minded people. They are selfish politicians. All these people that are talking of forming an alliance against Buhari, what did they achieve when they were in power? These people had all the opportunity to make Nigeria the greatest in the world when they were in power but they blew it. They failed Nigerians. This alliance against Buhari will fail.

What are these people talking of alliance against Buhari going to do for Nigeria again? When they were in power, they didn’t live up to expectations. They didn’t do anything to transform Nigeria. They were failure.

I’m sure Nigerians will reject these people because Nigerians won’t like those who failed them before to come back again. Buhari has made a lot of revelation to us about how these people looted Nigeria, and he is blocking all those avenues through which these people have been milking Nigeria, and they are not happy with him.

2019 general election is going to be issued-based, and if you tell me not to vote for Buhari, then tell Nigerians and me what you have to offer. These people opposing Buhari have nothing to offer. Were they not there in power before? And when they were in power what did they offer Nigerians? Nothing. They were a bunch of failures.

But Buhari has also really has to step up, especially he and APC should do more on enlightening Nigerians about his achievements. They should let Nigerians know they are working. Buhari needs to let Nigerians know what he and his administration is doing. He is doing a lot to transform Nigeria but the man has been quiet about highlighting his achievements.

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