…Say 400,000 barrels of oil stolen daily
…Northern Elders urge fairness to all
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari has given an insight into how the incoming administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) plans to deal with the many problems confronting the country when it assumes office on May 29.
While lamenting the downturn in the oil market and the continued loss of more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily through alleged official connivance, he said the new administration will turn attention to agriculture and solid mineral development as an alternative source of generating revenue for the country.
Buhari also spoke on the positive reaction of the international community to his victory at the polls, saying that even the United States President Barak Obama had expressed relief during a telephone conversation. “One of the relief I got was the telephone call I got from the President of the United States. I could feel the relief in their voices because they are people of conscience,” he said.
Buhari, who stated this when a delegation of Northern elders led by a former Nigeria’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Maitama Sule paid him a congratulatory visit in Abuja on Sunday, noted that the state of affairs with regard to the economy and other inherited problems demands a careful and gradual approach to be able to stabilize things.
“In the economy, we have to quickly turn to agriculture and mining because that is where you can do the quickest work and earn results. In other areas, you need to study them and dust all the books and studies and get people, experienced people, committed people and technocrats to come and help the government and identify priorities so that with what is available to us, we can quickly make our people realise their hope for the government they have chosen,” he said.
He asked for understanding by Nigerians to enable him and his team wriggle out of the inherited problems, adding that there is need to first tackle insecurity and unemployment in the country before any other thing can be put in place including stabilizing the economy.
He told the northern elders that as representatives of the people of the north, they should go and persuade their constituents to understand that it is not possible to change the state of affairs overnight.
“We picked three fundamental problems. The first is security. The country has to be secured before anything can be put in place and then the economy. The fact is that more than 60 percent of the Nigerian population are youths and most of them, whether they have been to school or not are unemployed and this is the biggest danger if we don’t know it.
“So, there must be jobs for these people as quickly as possible for us to even enjoy the relative peace. So, security, getting job for these people and putting the infrastructures in place especially power.”
Speaking on about the 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party’s rule, Buhari regretted what he described as state of mismanagement of the nation’s resources which was more than twice what the country earned between the time of its amalgamation in 1914 and 1999.
“You can imagine what is happening in the high sea where up to 400,000 barrel of crude oil which we rely on is stolen everyday with the full cooperation of those who are supposed to protect it.
“What you will do now, you represent the whole north, the biggest message is to try and persuade people that it is not possible to change the state of affairs overnight. It took 16 years and for those 16 years you also know more than myself that Nigeria earned revenue more than two times what it earned from 1914 till then but you know we used to have Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Railway and others but where are they now? Where are the infrastructures, that is how technically the PDP has dealt with Nigeria in the last sixteen years.
“The fuel price has gone down and 90 percent of foreign exchange we rely on come from that. So, you have to convince your constituencies that you have virtually arrived at the wrong time and that they have to tamper their expectation with some justice towards the leadership. I think whatever has to be deployed especially in the churches and mosques, this is the quickest way to communicate this to the ordinary people.
“I think our message you should to pass through the Churches and the Mosques is to continue to remind them of what I said in all the state I visited that Security is important. The country has to be secure for anything to take place, and the the economy.
While reading the address of the northern elders, Maitama Sule urged Buhari not jettison his sense of justice and fair play.
He reminded Buhari of the feat he performed while as Head of State, saying that Nigerians will not expect anything less from the incoming administration