President Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed the insinuation that his government is being run by a cabal. He said being the person elected by Nigerians, he exercises his powers as the President.
The President described his relationship with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as “perfect” and also said the nation’s debt is not beyond its capacity to handle.
The President spoke in an interview by email granted to The Interview which was released at the weekend.
He said the low-confidence comments of a former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, on his administration had been proved wrong at the poll with his re-election.
On his relationship with Osinbajo, which is being speculated to be frosty, he said: “Perfect. Or has he complained to you?”.
On the cabal influence, he said: “I addressed this matter before. I was the one who went round the country on campaigns, and I was the one voted into office as President twice. No one else did, and no one else took the oath of office, and can exercise the powers of a President.”
He said he was not out to inflict hardship on Nigerians during his second term in office, saying he meant tough in terms of decisions to be taken and not in terms of hardship for the people.
“But those who love to twist everything attempted to change the meaning. But we are glad that those who know really know. No good leader should wish his people tough times at any time.”
Asked to react to feelings that the nation was over-borrowing, Buhari insisted that the debt rate is under control. “The feeling. That is what you say. Financial matters are explicit, and you don’t run them by feelings.
“Those who know, both nationally and internationally, say our borrowing vis-a-viz GDP, is under control, yet some people continue to comment without much understanding.
“But we continue to do what is needful, for the good of our country. All Federal loans contracted are directly earmarked for infrastructural projects.
“Those who are interested can check with various Ministries. Some of these loans are also self-liquidating. A win-win situation.”
Concerning how he will meet his target to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty, the President said it remains a goal he will work towards.
He said: “Always keep your eyes on the future, a future filled with hope. If you keep looking back, you may stumble and fall. We have announced our intention of starting the process of lifting 100 million out of poverty in 10 years, and we keep it ahead of us as a goal. We work towards it, and will hand over the baton to succeeding governments.
“Every positive Nigerian should wish government well. We must work on our GDP to be positively relative to our population. Our population potential is a great plus to us in our relations with the outside world. A prominent international magazine has recently forecast Nigeria to be the next major economic power.
“Unbiased international commentators see our enormous potential. But some blinkered Nigerians see nothing good in the government of their country and take delight at each turn to disparage us. But time and our policies will prove them wrong.”
He said Professor Doyin Salami-led Economic Advisory Council had been working quietly to assist his administration.
He said: “They don’t have to play to the gallery in doing their work. They don’t have to do it on the pages of newspapers, but rest assured that they are working quietly and efficiently.
“Results are what matter, and you will see their influence on our economic policies in due course.”
On the decision of The Punch to be refering to him as Major-General, the President said: “Am I not a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army? I didn’t just pick the rank in the streets, I earned it.”
He said the alleged low confidence rating of his government by a former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma had been proved wrong by his re-election.
He said: “And what is the vote of confidence of Nigerians in me, as expressed in the polls last year? That is what matters more, not the opinion of one man.”
Regarding 2023 poll, Buhari said: “It is often said that while statesmen think of governance, and how they can make things better for their country, politicians think of the next election.
“Elections, as necessary as they are in a democracy, must not consume our entire lives, times and resources. We must give space for the development of our country. I am 100 per cent concentrating on how we can move the country forward economically; how we can bring about peace and security to our country.”