Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Washington DC
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that President Donald Trump of the United States of America was given wrong information on recent killings in Nigeria, describing those behind the report as ‘mischief-makers’.
According to President Buhari, the information that Christians were being killed in Nigeria was untrue as similar incident that happened in the Benue Church, where two priests lost their lives, also happened in the South East and the North, where the herdsmen were alleged to have been behind the killings.
President Buhari disclosed this when he granted interview to Aliyu Mustapha Sokoto of the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa Service, in Washington DC.
The President, who began by saying his engagements with his American counterpart were just discussions and no agreement was signed, however, said their discussions centered on the killings in Nigeria, farmers/herdsmen clash among others.
Asked what other agreements Nigeria and US had apart from the jet fighters, President Buhari said, “Not agreements, just discussions. The first one is the information being given to them that Christians are being killed in Nigeria; but what happened in the Church also happened in the South East and the North and they just say it is herdsmen that are killing them.
“Those making these allegations against the herdsmen know that herdsmen as we know them only carry sticks, going about with guns is a new thing and those making the allegations knows that conflict between farmers and herders has a long history even before we were born.
“Therefore, it is wrong to say the conflict is between Fulani and Tiv or other tribe like in Taraba. What of Zamfara where more people were killed than in Taraba and Benue put together. People need to understand that it is mischief that makes people to bring in religion or ethnicity.”
President Buhari, who gave reasons why he honoured Trump’s invitation, again recalled how President Barrack Obama’s administration refused to allow Nigeria buy weapons to prosecute the war on terror.
He continued, “The US government understands the importance of Nigeria in Africa and the world at large. Got instance, during Obama era, we tried to get some jets to help us in the fight against terrorism in the north east which was declined.
“But as soon as President Trump came into office, he gave the green light and advised us to make funds available. He said the US will sell the jets to us; we had each approached Brazil and the UAE, but they told us that based on the agreement they had with the US, they cannot sell or give anyone these jets until the US agrees; but the US refused at the time until the arrival of Trump who granted out request and gave us price.”
Asked other measures in place to curb this menace of insecurity, he said, “Measures being taken is to increase the number of police officers and to equip them well.
“I have asked the Police to recruit 6000 more personnel and that they should recruit across the 774 local government areas in the country instead of going to motor parks and markets to just pick people anyhow.”
On State Police as demanded by state governors, President Buhari said, “I want the Nigerian Constitution to be consulted first and see what it says. If it says they should be allowed, then they should be allowed but don’t forget the number of times did we have had to release money to states in the name of bailouts to enable them pay salaries.
“How many states are able to pay their workers in time? And you want to add the police to them? People should look at this matter very well.”
Asked if he was not convinced about State Police, President Buhari said, “No I am not convinced. We should have solved the current insecurity in the north east and south south by now. Can the states be able to shoulder the burden if the Police?
“You cannot just give someone guns and ammunition, train him and refuse to pay him, you know what will eventually happen.”
Asked other measures he was taking to curb corruption aside TSA, bribery and the likes, he said, “Well there is no any other measure other than to ensure that whoever is arrested is prosecuted for all to see.
“We should have had a lot more arrests and prosecution by now; EFCC has done a lot; they will investigate and send accused persons to court and Nigerians would be adequately informed.
“Those who are saying we have not done enough in that regard are right. What we don’t want is to take people to places where the judges may not be able to convict them appropriately.
“Now we will select those who will dispense justice well and give them time and necessary evidence such as the bank balance and properties owned by these individuals in comparison to their wages.
“They will be asked how to prove how they acquired the difference, otherwise, everything will be taken away and they will be prosecuted.”
On the fears that he plan to deal with offenders and the measures are the administration plans to take, he said, “By the time we set up these special courts and prosecute offenders, I am sure citizens will know that we are serious. Those who embezzle public funds should be ready to face the consequences.”
On his controversial statement on youths during the commonwealth meeting, President Buhari said, “You know they say we are over 180 to 200 million people in Nigeria and 60 percent are the youth below the age of 30.
“In the north for instance, most have not attended school or they abandoned halfway. If not because we had favourable rainfall in the past two seasons; most of them have no job, just idling away.
“People like them even if they go to the South for instance, what they will make will not be enough to even pay their rent not to talk of feeding, clothing and transport back home.
“That has not been explained enough and you know the media, especially the Print are simply doing whatever they like.
“We had two successful farming seasons, people went to farm and did very well, but no one is talking about that; only insults.
“That is why the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed had to respond to the letter of insults released by Obasanjo. We spoke about it and I asked him not to respond but he refused and said he would just respond by stating the situation we met the country, where it is now and what was done in between and the monies we are getting.
“Recently, I had to come out and state that from 1999 to 2014, anyone who carries out a study here in America or Europe or India will know that we were producing 2.2 million barrels of crude oil daily at a price of at least $100 per barrel.
“In those 16 years of PDP rule, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million x $100 every day, every week, but when we came on board, the price fell to between $37-38 and hanged around $40-50.
“I went to the CBN; -the governor of CBN is here-and asked him how far and he said nothing was left apart from debts.
“I said but this is what the country made? And he said yes, he knew, and I asked him where is the money? All gone. Nigerians know that there were no roads or rail lines, there was no power, despite the billions of dollars spent. Only God will judge this thing.”
Asked what he was planning to do differently as he seek re-election, the President said, “We have not even finished what we are doing now. Insecurity is still a problem. The worst thing that Boko Haram are doing now to get small girls, hypnotize and put on explosive devices in them to go and detonate in Mosques, Churches, motor parks and markets and kill people.
“However, they are not able to take over any territory now, although, even today, I read in some newspapers that Boko Haram are still holding territory. Well they may still be somewhere in Sambisa Forest, but the Nigerian Army have prevented them from coming out.”
On how he relaxes, he said, “I don’t get to listen to music but I find time to rest. When I was a General, I give orders, but bow, I receive orders. The Doctor is here, he always insists that I eat well and rest. That is why many are surprised how quickly I recovered,” he concluded.