…admits his govt may have been hijacked
Former President Muhammadu Buhari has opened up on why he endorsed the controversial naira redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the now-sacked Godwin Emefiele as governor.
Buhari, in his first interview since he left office on May 29 this year, said he endorsed the naira redesign in the twilight of his administration in order to “protect his integrity and to show Nigerians there was no shortcut to success.”
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In the interview aired on the NTA on Monday, the former president also admitted that his administration must have been hijacked along the line. He, however, noted that his eight-year administration was able to stabilise the nation’s security.
Asked if he missed anything since he left office, about six months ago, he said that he “missed nothing” adding that he now has firm control over his time.
“I looked for the position, I was lucky I got it. I now can wake up when I like and come out when I like, I go to my farm and also do some exercise”
Reflecting on his achievements while in office, he recalled that he may not have achieved all his goals, but added that Nigerians must reflect on the conditions the nation was in when he assumed office in 2015.
“I would like Nigerians to reflect. What was the condition of the country when we came in, especially in the Northeast? Most parts of the Northeast were in the hands of what they called Boko Haram; whatever way they may want to interpret it.”
He recalled that the goals were to fight insecurity, revive the economy and fight corruption. “These were the goals I set for myself.” He recalled how Boko Haram had infiltrated several states, including Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja and other strategic places in the country. They were causing a lot of havoc. If there is no security, there will be no economy”
Buhari insisted that due to the success recorded in the areas of security, Nigerians have developed more interest in their country and are now investing more. He added that Nigerians were a difficult set of people to govern, maintaining that they knew the right thing to do, but would mostly refuse to do so because they thought they knew better than the person on the saddle.
The former president in his assessment of his cabinet and the integrity of many of the people who worked with him for the eight-year administration, said “It was their problem”, querying what the persons who criticised him fiercely had done at their individual levels to fight corruption.
When asked if he agreed that there was a cabal that hijacked his government, he said “It must have been”, but added that he wasn’t sure anybody flouted the rules and was allowed to ‘walk away’.
Buhari said he allowed people to do their jobs when he assigned tasks, stressing that if he was given the same chance he wouldn’t do anything differently under Nigeria’s current system.
Buhari, who also spoke on the Ethiopian/Nigerian Air debacle which continues to dent the image of his administration, said that if there was any shortcoming he had, it was giving people the free hand to do their work
Recall that Buhari’s administration had spent over N85 billion on Nigeria Air – the controversial national carrier, yet infrastructure across airports in Nigeria remains dilapidated.
Data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Compilation of Budgetary Allocations show that the Federal Government spent N85.42 billion on transaction advisers, working capital and consultancy bills for Nigeria Air between 2016 and 2023.
Despite the huge amount spent on the national carrier, the airline has not only failed to secure Air Operating Certificate, an approval granted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial flight operations but has also not secured a single aircraft for its operations.
But Hadi Sirika, the aviation minister under Buhari, later came out to declare that only about N3bn was spent on the ill-fated project
Buhari said he was still being ‘harassed’ by people who throng his home on a daily basis, noting that if the border with a nearby country was not closed, he would have escaped from Nigeria by now. He added, however, that he was glad he now wakes up anytime he likes. The former president said he doesn’t miss anything after leaving government.
“God gave me the opportunity to serve my country, but I did my best. But whether my best was good enough, I leave for people to judge,”
Buhari also said he was too preoccupied with local matters to be bothered with foreign issues as president. He said his biggest challenge was securing the country.
Buhari said he did not try to compete with Nigeria’s wealthy class by acquiring land, houses and cars during his time as Nigerian leader, explaining that it was the reason he was “living in peace” after exiting government.
He argued that some Nigerians attempted to set a trap for him by trying to ambush him with certain opportunities, but that he avoided the trap because he knew that once they knew he had been compromised, they would take advantage of the situation to milk the country. He added that they would rather become his boss.
Buhari stressed that he broke down publicly in 2011 after he lost the election because of his patriotism.
On the naira policy which was largely criticised, Buhari said: “Whether Nigerians believe it or not, we are an underdeveloped country. And in that sort of situation, there’s materialism and sometimes ruthlessly they didn’t care how they made the money.