- President: I’ll continue to go after looters
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has described the parlous state of the nation’s economy, particularly, the inability of 27 out of the nation’s 36 states to pay salaries shameful.
He said it is even more disheartening given the revenue that accrued to the nation from crude oil sale. He vowed to continue his war against treasury looters.
“This is a disgrace to Nigeria. It is a disgrace that up till now, most of the states cannot pay salaries. What happened to all we have gotten over the years? We look up and down, left, right and centre, what have we saved? There was nothing because we developed a consumption culture that we were not supposed to develop,” he said.
Buhari who spoke yesterday when he met with State House Staff from 12 departments said the only way the nation can get out of the ugly situation was to return to agriculture.
“You know we have gone through a lot of change over the past year. We met 42 ministries and we found out the economy cannot take it because of the ineptitude in place. We have turned ourselves to a mono-economy depending only on oil. Most people threw away their farm and solid minerals equipment and rushed to the city to be get oil money and enjoy.
“What used to be an average of $100 from 1999 to 2014 went down to $30. What should concern us and the rest of the Nigerian elite is how we can continue to sustain ourselves in terms of materials and security,” he said.
He vowed to sustain the onslaught on looters of national treasury for as long as he remains in office.
“All fraud must stop. This exercise (anti-graft war) will continue as long as this leadership is here. Whoever takes anything that does not belong to him or that he is not entitled to, will be documented taken to court. This is the only way I think we can bail ourselves out. We are determined to rehabilitate our country for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.
“I have never in my life from class monitor to this place twice in different forms believed in corruption. In what we are doing if we had made mistakes along the lines, the country would have been further backward than this. But we won’t touch anybody who did not touch public funds.”
The President noted that though the insecurity in the Northeast was abating it was unfortunate.
“The insecurity in the Northeast which the army has made a lot of remarkable improvement no matter what anybody wants to say. Unfortunately, the other unstable part of the country, the Niger Delta, with their myriads of organizations that are competing over which one can do more damage to the country and the oil companies and oil wells. For how long are we going to do this?
“It is not easy to preach change when people are used to something from 1999 till now. The change must take place because when we were used to getting $100 par barrel…this reflects on the economic predicament the country finds itself. This has affected the morale and integrity of people who bother to ask what is happening to their country.”