From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has said that if another presidential election were to be held today, President Muhammadu Buhari would still win like he did in 2015.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who briefed journalists alongside the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina and Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Office of the Acting President, Laolu Akande, as part of activities to mark two years in office said Nigerians were happy with Buhari and would still vote for him despite whatever the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other opposition parties might be saying.
He said the confidence reposed in Buhari by ordinary Nigerians had remained unshaken because he was doing what they wanted.
This is even as Adesina said that it was unfair to expect the All Progressive Congress (APC) government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to solve Nigeria’s problem in two years.
He called on Nigerians to remain patient and give the administration time to fulfill its promises to them.
“We will have a lot more to fulfill. If anybody tells you APC has failed, tell them it’s too early in the day, we still have two years, it’s a four-year term,” he said.
The presidential spokesman said while people were at liberty to express their opinion but in as much a survey has not been conducted to back the assertion, it was not a popular position.
“The person that asked the question said there is a buzz in town… I am sure that you have not conducted a scientific survey that shows you that it is a popular position. People can always expresses their opinions, there is liberty on that but you don’t have a scientific survey that has given you the percentage of people that believed that the APC has failed.
“The second point is that when a government via a party is voted into office, it is voted for a four-year term under our own democratic arrangement. When you have spent two years, which is like a midterm, the first half of a game, you don’t then determine that it has succeeded or it has failed. No. You can be accused of being atomistic; using a small part to determine the whole. You can’t write the report card of this administration when it is just hitting the half way mark. That will not be fair.
“The term is four years and the promises are going to be stretched over that four year at period. Like the minister of transport said recently, APC did not promise to solve all the country’s problems in one year or two years. The mandate the party has is four years and it is pacing itself as it goes along, and I am sure that by the end of those four years, we will have a lot more to record. It is not by a sudden flight, it will not come by a snap of a finger but will the promises be fulfilled? Yes, I believe it will be fulfilled. This administration will take Nigeria far beyond how it met it. So, if anybody says APC has failed just tell them it is too early in the day because it is a four year-term and this is just two years. You don’t reach definitive conclusions in two years.”
On alleged coup plot, Adesina described the remark by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai as only ‘a routine’.
“The Army has spoken and let us take that position. What the Chief of Army Staff said was a routine warning that goes to military officers: ‘Don’t hobnob with politicians.’ And the army has explained the position, let’s take that position and not stretch it beyond what the military has said because they are the ones that can give us the definitive position and they have spoken on it.”
Speaking on on human rights records of this administration, Shehu said: “The Human rights records of this administration are impeccable, there are unimpeachable. I think we should avoid speaking in general terms. The thing to do is to pin point specific cases to buttress assertions that people make and then we can tackle them. As we speak to you now, we are not aware that the administration of Muhammadu Buhari is in breach of the constitution of Nigeria with regards to the protection of the rights of Nigerians. Journalists in this country ought to bear testimony on this, there is no single journalist that has been expelled from his duty because he has reported or failed to report, there is no single journalist who is in government detention because they have expressed some views that the government does not like.
“This administration is complying with the decision of the courts of the land. I assure that if anybody tries to do otherwise, the president will not allow him to get away with it.”
On the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (Shiite Movement) Ibrahim El-Zazaky, Shehu, said though Dasuki has been freed by the court on one or two charges, there were several more cases against him that he must answer to.
On the continued detention of a religious leader, El-Zakzaky, he said the Islamic cleric was in protective custody.
“El-Zakzaky is held for his own good. If you set him free, what do you think will happen on the streets?
“He’s not in a typical prison condition. He has the company of his wife and children. They can leave if they want. There is overall public good weighing against his release.”
Akande on his part explained that the Federal Government has set up National Coordination Team to review the criminal justice system.
“The truth of the matter is that our criminal justice system does need a profound and deep reform. The important thing is that this government is working on it. As a matter of fact now, the acting president has put together a national coordination prosecution team for all the prosecution trying to see how in the medium term we can bring some progress but also working on justice sector reforms on the long term on criminal justice system to strengthen both the investigation and prosecution at the courts. And I know it going to take a while for us to address it.”
On power deterioration in the country Shehu said: “It is also a mistake to say power has deteriorated under this administration because when we came in 2015, power generation was 3,324MW, it increase to 4,357MW as at August 2015, barely three months after President Buhari came to power and rose to the peak of 5,077MW in 2016, it was the highest power generated in the country. Presently, the average generation is about 3,000 this is as a result of vandalism of gas pipeline infrastructure and also low water in our dams. The power sector is also gaining gradually from the peace in the Niger Delta. Usually we experience low generation of power during dry season and this is not because of Buhari’s administration.