Buhari Breaks Silence On Alleged Lopsided Appointments, Speaks On Chibok Girls Whereabout
President Muhammadu Buhari has defended the appointment of what he described as his “long-suffering” associates who have been with him since his days at the All Progressives Party (APP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Speaking in a BBC Hausa service interview on Tuesday, the president denied that he was specifically favouring his own geopolitical zone over others, in his choice of political appointees.
“This is the nature of Nigerian politics. If they will do justice to me, as an elected Nigerian president, let them look at the constitution a Nigerian president works with; there are people who will closely work with me that don’t need to be taken to the senate,” he said.
“If I select people whom I know quite well in my political party, whom we came all the way right from the APP, CPC and APC, and have remained together in good or bad situation, the people I have confidence in and I can trust them with any post, will that amount to anything wrong?
“I have been with them throughout our trying times, what then is the reward of such dedication and suffering? They did not defect because of positions, they did not involve themselves in the pursuit of personal gains, and they accepted their fate throughout our trying moments. What is wrong if I make you the secretary (to the government of the federation) because I have confidence that things will go normal?”
The president also gave an update on rescue efforts on the abducted Chibok girls, confirming previous reports that some of the girls had been forcefully married off to leaders of the sect. He also said that although surveillance work showed that the girls were still in Sambisa, they were in scattered locations and might have been mixed with girls and women kidnapped at other times.
“They have scattered them, and are being guarded at dispersed locations,” he said. “Most of the girls are Christians and were forced to embrace Islam. And the sect’s cruel leaders have married some of the girls, obviously against their wish. Others have been left to practice their religion but their condition could hardly be ascertained. Both ground and air security personnel in the Sambisa forest could spot where the girls are, but since the insurgents have also kidnapped housewives and other women, no one could say whether they mixed them or how they dispersed them.
“But efforts are being intensified and as people know, the three neighbouring governments of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger are helping us since these suicide bombers are now going to their areas and detonating the bombs in mosques and other places.”
Buhari identified NNPC as Nigeria’s main corruption headache, saying: “The biggest area of stealing of Nigeria’s funds was through NNPC, which is the apex oil selling corporation. That was why we dissolved their board and brought someone who knows the oil sector very well, but who is not from NNPC and entrusted him with the leadership of the NNPC.
“And instead of the eight major departments, four were liquidated and four continue to exist. This is because, for the past 10 years, the crude oil stealing has been going on using some vessels. By law, their owners, captains and where they are taking the crude must be known. So the method for the crude oil stealing was that those involved shipped the crude through smaller vessels and then transfer the crude to the larger vessels at distant location in the ocean, before they head to other countries.
“Some of them carry the crude but later change the destination. So our new approach is to get support from European countries, the US and China. Those doing the bunkering, you need to know the amount first and the banks they deposit the monies, etc. These are the things we are doing presently. And you know, those developed countries are strict on evidences and you have to show the evidences of such cases before they can assist you.”
“If you recall, during the military regimes, such people were arrested, thoroughly interrogated and arraigned before the courts with evidences. But that is impossible now. It is democracy and even the foreign countries, where the monies are being taken to, practice democracy. The companies involved in buying the crude and the banks that kept the monies would be identified so that we would determine whether they are Nigerians or not; whether the stolen crude and its quantity was actually taken from here, sold with the Nigerian name and how what accrued to Nigeria was diverted.
“So, the situation is a complex one, but we are getting support from governments of those countries, including their security agencies. When we get the relevant documents, we would bring them (culprits) back to our courts and try them. We would then show the evidence to the world that the crude oil they traded was actually stolen or shipped with Nigerian name but [they] later changed the papers and took away the money instead of depositing them into the Central Bank of Nigeria.”