Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will be ruthless during his second term in tackling security issues in the country.
The President, a former military Head of State, spoke at a special interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Monday night as his first civilian administration winds down.
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According to him, the Inspector General of Police alone cannot do everything, as he depends on state Commissioners of Police (CPs) and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to achieve results.
“I will persuade the police and the judiciary to be hard and where I discover that they are not hard, I will try and trace who is responsible for the slowness in terms of commanders of police upward,” President Buhari said.
“The IG alone cannot do everything, he has to depend on commissioners, the commissioners have to depend on DPOs.”
When asked how he intends to tackle insecurity since, despite the degrading of Boko Haram, kidnapping for ransom is an issue now threatening the peace of the country, the President said: “I feel very bad indeed because there is a failure of neighborhood security in the sense that those who are perpetuating these atrocities against communities and against the state and the country come from somewhere in Nigeria, their neighborhoods know them and we have traditional rulers.
“And then the police of course are in the front line. There are police in every major town or city in this country. I think they were not given the uniform and the rifle to impress anybody but to secure the people. I think the community leadership and the police to some extent have failed this country.
“…The assurance I can give to Nigerians is that I will continue to do my best,” he said.
Asked to rate the performance of Service Chiefs and other enforcement agencies in the face of rising insecurity, Buhari said: “You see, all my life I have gone through all these. I did virtually all the staff and command appointments from platoon of 32, 36 or 40 people or whatever it is to division. It was on record that I was the only officer in the Nigerian Army that commanded three out of the four divisions then. The first division in Lagos, second division in Ibadan and the third division in Jos. So, the security relative to the time I was in command has really gone down.
“I cannot claim to know what was happening after I left the military the way I left. But definitely I didn’t know person to person all the service chiefs I picked; I depended on records and reports. And when we have a case of emergency I don’t think it is the time to start disorganising or organising the military or any law enforcement agencies as such. You have to take your time to do it because these are institutions… and every Nigerian depends on a strong centre. We have no state police, we have no state army, air force or navy. So those people know more than ordinary Nigerians that the centre has to hold for them to have security, both material and physical security. If they allow the centre to collapse, automatically they are the one leaving.”
When pressed on whether he was satisfied with their performance despite giving them all that they required, the President said: “I use very high standards; I told you I did all the command and so on, from second lieutenant to general and commands all over. I am still expecting more but I am thinking of what happened between 1999 and 2014, I suspected a lot of things went wrong, including accountability and efficiency of the military and law enforcement agencies.”
On what he intends to do differently, the President said: “I will try to make the police and the judiciary much more efficient. As I told the police and a lot of people, the police are at the front line; as I said, there is no town where you do not have a police station. They are supposed to be on the front line for law and order. The only thing closer to the people than the police are the neigbourhood itself. People know in some communities if people steal, they know from which family the person is from, or the criminal elements. This is what I expect the Nigeria Police to achieve, absolute community security, to know the criminals around and so that they can straight ahead arrest those who commit certain crimes and get them prosecuted.”
On if Nigerians are likely to see more of General Buhari than President Buhari in the last leg of his administration, he said: “It will make sense. We are making noise that we want more people to come and invest their money, who will bring his money when his general manager or so will be affected. So all those screaming for lack of jobs and so on because we are not attracting capital investments, they should blame themselves for not cooperating with law enforce agencies to get the criminals among us, the abductors and the 419ers. They live with them, they know them, they can’t accommodate them and then blame government for not building factories. The government cannot build all the factories required and employ all the people and produce all the goods and services. What the government should do is provide security and convince entrepreneurs both from abroad and within to invest, employ people to produce goods and services. What the ordinary people should do is expose the people, the kidnappers and the the thieves.”
Asked if Nigerians are likely to see more of a ruthless Buhari, the President said:“Well, all those who call me ‘Baba Go Slow’ they will see whether I am slow or fast.”
He advised those with questionable character to behave themselves or run as his second term begins.
He said: “Well, it is up to them. If they stay they know what will happen to them. They better stay and behave themselves or the better run.”
Meanwhile, the President scored both Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara “very low on patriotism, saying “I think a culture was developed in the National Assembly that they should dictate the terms. I think it was wrong, I think it is the executive that dictates the terms and take it to the legislature that will examine it and agree or disagree with it.
“But when they go around posing as the government and not the exacutive I think there is a problem. I spoke personally to the Senate President Saraki and the leader of the House Dogara, they could not deny it. I told them how do they feel to hold the country to ransom for seven months without passing the budget. I told them personally they are not hurting me they are hurting the country. So really in terms of patriotism I rate them very low.”
Asked if the frosty relationship affected the performance of his government, he answered: “Yes. But it is the constitution that says we have to go through them, there is nothing I can do. But to hold a budget for seven months cannot be justified if you really bother about your country.”