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We’ll Fight Graft, Boko Haram Together

As the D-Day for the promised all-out battle against insurgency and graft draws near, the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, has solicited the cooperation of Nige­rians in prosecuting the war.

And, like a true general, he has renewed his vow to lead the cam­paign.

Buhari, who spoke on Thurs­day in an interview with the Brit­ish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) cautioned however, that the war against corruption may take some time to win consider­ing the 16 years rule of the Peo­ples Democratic Party (PDP).

“We are asking Nigerians for their cooperation. They shouldn’t expect miracles to happen a cou­ple of months after we’ve taken over because the destruction took so many years; 16 years of the rul­ing party’s rule of this country. I believe the country will give us the opportunity to do our best, to pick our priorities, and work as hard as we can.”

The President-Elect also hint­ed that his anti-graft war would recognise neither sacred cows nor party affiliations.

The interview read in part:

Were you surprised when Pres­ident Goodluck Jonathan called to concede defeat, to congratulate you, because that is a new thing here in Nigeria?

Well, I am not surprised be­cause I think he has been talking to the international community, especially the United States, Eu­rope and in particular Britain. And I think he is respectful of those countries and their lead­ers. I feel it was not something ex­traordinary that, as Commander-in-Chief (they told him that) he should allow the rule of law to take its course. Let the Nigerian election be conducted according to the law. They asked him and I think he gave them his undertak­ing. And I think he did his best.

Now, the big work really starts. You’ve made a lot of promises to Nigerians. Have you thought about how you will go about ful­filling these promises?

I think I wouldn’t have made the promises if I don’t know how to go about them. But we identify three fundamental problems, that is, insecurity … which everybody knows, and then lack of employ­ment caused by corruption. And then corruption itself.

How are you going to tackle that beast, Boko Haram? Are you going to offer peaceful negotia­tions, or are you just going to hit them hard?

Well, hit them hard with what? Boko Haram, by the 14th of February when we wanted to have the election which was post­poned, were, according to the gov­ernment’s calculation, in charge of 14 local governments. These are local governments out of 774 local governments. If for five, six years the Nigerian law enforce­ment agencies, including the military, could not secure 14 local governments out of 774, how can I promise a miracle when I come (in)? But with the cooperation of our neighbours – Cameroun, Chad, Niger— and the interna­tional community and the com­mitment we are going to get from the military, I think it will take us a much shorter time to deal with them.

You mentioned corruption, that it is entrenched in Nige­ria. Some people will argue that even within your party, there are many people who are as corrupt as some of these people who you say you are going to fight, who are outside your party. Are you ready to tackle corruption to its fullest?

I made that promise and I hope you and Nigerians will give me the opportunity to see wheth­er my effort will be good enough or not.

Meanwhile, the All Progres­sives Congress Presidential Cam­paign Organisation (APCPCO) has described as misleading and unfounded media reports that Buhari has pledged to end the scourge of Boko Haram insur­gency within two months.

In a swift clarification, through a signed statement in Abuja on Thursday, Mallam Garba Shehu, APCPCO’s Director of Media and Publicity said:

“His Excellency the President-Elect is still waiting to be sworn in on May 29. After the ceremony, he would need time to study the security situation and plan stra­tegically with the security chiefs as to the way forward. Time is of the essence here. Therefore, Pres­ident Buhari didn’t and wouldn’t peg the decimation of terrorism from the country’s territories to just two months.

“The General was unequivo­cal about cleansing Boko Ha­ram from our land; he would do a good job of it by giving a final permanent push to rid Nigeria of unscrupulous elements,” Shehu stressed

He continued: “The President-Elect said that much to the world media including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Cable News Network (CNN). He never put a time-frame to when he would eliminate terror­ists, and it would be unfair and mischievous for someone to as­cribe to him what he hasn’t said.”

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