President Muhammadu Buhari has said that leaders who undermine the economy by denying workers their benefits, while stuffing personal accounts with public funds will not escape the current anti-corruption dragnet.
The president stated this when he received All Progressives Congress (APC) delegation from Benue State, led by Sen. George Akume, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari said the Federal Government’s bailout to states and Paris Club funds were basically to alleviate the sufferings of the people, describing misappropriation as unjust and unfair to workers.
He said, “I honestly don’t know how people sleep when workers have not been paid. The workers have to pay rent, buy food, send their children to school and they have health care to take care of. I assure you that my main interest is all Nigerians in all parts of the country.
“Therefore, if anybody who tries to create any impression that I prefer any group across ethnicity or religion let him dare me by being caught red handed stealing public funds. I will deal with him.’’
The President told the APC delegation that the Federal Executive Council had been monitoring the plight of workers across the country and utilisation of the bailout and Paris Club funds by some states.
“I thank you for your courage to come and see me. This visit has resuscitated our morale,’’ he said.
President Buhari said the Federal Government had made significant progress in diversifying the economy, by investing in agriculture and encouraging more individuals and entrepreneurs to go into farming.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon become self-sufficient in feeding its citizenry.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with the resources at our disposal,’’ he added.
The president listed ongoing road, rail, seaport, airport and power projects as hallmarks of his administration’s commitment to improving lives.
According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria will be further motivated to work together and support all interested Nigerians to take up farming on commercial scale.
He noted that the killings across the country, including in Benue, Zamfara and Taraba, were carried out by “ungodly’’ people who had no religious or ethnic inclination.
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“We know about herders. The ones we knew carried sticks, and sometimes cutlasses to cut foliage for their cattle.
“We now have people who carry AK 47s and pretend they are herdsmen.
“We are working hard to secure our borders. We are going to see how the old cattle routes can be opened. We will control movement. Please beg our people to be patient,’’ he said.
The President pointed out that security personnel were already uncovering the network of the killers and arresting them.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Akume, said the narrative in the state about the Federal Government was fast changing to something positive.
He revealed that more people had since discovered the good intention of President Buhari to secure lives and property, and alleviate poverty.
“Your Excellency, Mr. President, we know your commitment to Nigeria. We know how much you love the country and will be ready to die for the good cause,’’ Sen. Akume said.
Akume, a former governor of Benue State, told the President that APC members had started sensitisation and mobilisation of voters for the 2019 elections, noting that more had accepted the party and its manifesto in the state.
He commended the President for the flag-off of the dualization of the Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi road, urging that more attention be paid to the Makurdi-Otukpo road and the water projects in Gboko and Otukpo.
“You have worked hard to stop herdsmen and farmers clashes in Benue. It is important to note that many people used religion and ethnicity to score cheap points. Religion was used in Benue for sinister purposes,’’ he added.
On corruption, Sen. Akume said the President had made significant difference by tackling perpetrators.