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.”