Buhari’s critics are not fair to him, says Isyaku Ibrahim
As the countdown to the first anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration draws near opinions remained diverse among Nigerians on whether the President has the capacity to deliver on the many promises to Nigerians.
The President himself seemed not oblivious of the expectations of Nigerians of his administration, when, in an address to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), when he reminded his critics that he still had three years to be on the saddle assuring once again that he would not fail Nigerians.
With the government just settling down after it got its first budget passed by the National Assembly only last week, a development, critics see as not good enough for the country. For instance, a former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa believed that Buhari administration has shown lack of capacity to solve Nigeria’s socio-economic problems of the country.
However, Malam Isyaku Ibrahim, another First and Second Republic politician, however, disagreed with critics of the President, noting that those criticizing the President for not performing were not asking the right questions about the present administration.
In an interview, Ibrahim said Nigerians were not being honest with themselves, when they were expecting the President to perform, when in actual sense, he (Buhari had been handicapped by paucity of funds.
According to him, “You don’t ask somebody to perform when he comes in and meets nothing. The treasury was empty and nobody bothered to find out what Buhari met in the treasury of this country. They should tell us whether he came in and met some money in the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) or other forms of reserves of this county.
“Such critics should quote the figures in which Buhari came and met. Buhari met an empty treasury, nobody is asking that question. They are only asking about performance, what will he perform with?“
Comparing the current situation to the Second Republic, Ibrahim said the transition was neatly carried out and in line with the provisions of the constitution by the military.
He said he participated fully in the Second Republic, where he promoted the Presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. “When we won the election, the military were sincere to hand over. So with the result announced, every week, they would call the President-elect, Shagari to brief him from various ministries because I knew every week, he would go and meet them.
“So by the time they handed over to Shagari, he knew the situation of the economy of the country, because everything was properly done in accordance with the constitution. But with Buhari, up to 28 May 2015, Jonathan was still giving letters of appointments for people; he was still awarding contracts knowing fully that there was no money. Some of our problems are because we don’t have Transitional Act in our constitution like Ghana, Kenya and United States.”
“When you have a Transitional Act, the moment they announce the outcome of an election, if the President has won his election, the following day, the outgoing government would call the incoming government so the President-elect can send his team to start working with the outgoing government, to know the exact position of the economy of the country and so on, that didn’t take place in Nigeria.”
Reminded that there have been reports of recovered monies from some of the public office holders in the past, Ibrhaim said, “Yes, there have been recoveries, but how much?
“Nigerians should ask the question of how much was recovered and not the question of performance first. They should challenge government to tell them how much has so far been recovered, that is a legitimate question. Perhaps what they have recovered is nothing to talk about. For instance, they are telling us about Abacha’s loot, how much did the previous government recover from that loot? Nobody is giving the account.”
Does he believe the President will record any breakthrough in the fight against corruption? The politician said it was unfortunate that Nigerians have allowed only the President to be the lone fighter against corruption and other forms of crimes.
“In the first place, Nigerians allowed only Buhari to be fighting against corruption. You as a journalist you know that last week, in Brazil, when they were accusing their leadership of corruption, everybody was on the street fighting, but in Nigeria, have you seen anybody saying we have to join Buhari to fight against these corrupt people?
“But the Nigerian politicians of today don’t love their country any longer. Now in the National Assembly, you can imagine the concept of constituency project allowance, it is only in this country that I hear that kind of rubbish.”
The veteran politician said in comparing the Nigerian political system with the United States Presidential system where Nigerian democracy was copied from, nobody could come and speak of constituency allowance, because “You as a Congressman, either as a Senator or a member of House of Representatives, are there to make laws.
“There are three arms of government, yours as a legislature is to make law. If you are making law you cannot possibly sit down to be an executor of the law. How do we come about the constituency project? Is it in our constitution?
“If we do, all these complaints shouldn’t have been there, because the outgoing government should have said so far this is what we are leaving behind for the incoming government, but they did not give us the figures, and you Nigerians did not care to ask them.”
For him, the problem, which, the country faces today, was as a result of the fact that the elites have adopted a crooked means of doing things. According to him, “We the elites in Nigeria are intellectually dishonest we don’t care about our common people, everybody is to himself.
“This is the only country that you hear a civil servant has N10 billion in his account. He sends his children abroad; meanwhile, he got everything free, more especially in the Southwest, where our great leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo came up with the programme of free education. So you were given an opportunity to get free education, and now you don’t want to give the other people the same opportunity that you were given because we are not caring people. If we are caring, we can do a lot.
Ibrahim took a swipe at some of Nigerian politicians, who, he said had lost touch with the people, especially at the grassroots. In particular, he said some state governors do not take the issue of education seriously to the extent pupils still sit under trees to study in some states because they have no classrooms.
“So I can’t understand a Nigerian having millions of dollars of billions of Naira and he is not helping anybody, he keeps the money in the water tank, or on the roof where nobody has access to or in a soak away?”
He was optimistic that with the recently passed budget by the National Assembly, Ibrahim predicted that Nigeria and indeed, Nigerians would begin to witness better days because with its implementation, there would be impact on the economy soon.
His words, “I’m sure by the mid term, that means in two years, because we have just spent about one year, so by 2017, you will see a lot of differences and with the goodwill which he has restored to our image, nobody is talking about that aspect. The most important thing so far that we have achieved is the restoration of the confidence of the international community, the image and the respect, which we are now enjoying.
“When you go out of the country they won’t see your green passport as a criminal tool any longer because at least you have a leader and that is number one and we should congratulate him and not to criticize him because he is basically honest. He has integrity; you cannot take that away from him. So that is a great achievement as far as I’m concerned.”
Ibrahim is pained that Nigerian politicians have fallen short of all the indices expected for the growth of the country, stressing that politics was about belief, conviction, commitment and loyalty and that these were what made politician worth their names.
According to him, “From my young age, way back in 1958, that was the year I joined politics, I was in one of my great leaders, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s campaign team in 1959. We toured all over the country. So I learnt a lot, I learnt to be a politician because politics is belief, it is conviction, it is commitment and it is loyalty. Those are the four cardinal principles of politics. Therefore, you cannot be a politician when you don’t believe in anything. So the most unfortunate situation now is that 90 percent of the so-called politician don’t believe in anything, the only thing they believe in is to come and steal. So flowing from that, I don’t believe I have colleagues.”