President Muhammadu Buhari last night in Abuja stopped short of saying that losing the forthcoming February 16, 2019 presidential election would not be a big deal because he had lost same election three times before his eventual victory in 2015.
The president made this remark while answering questions alongside Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo from a television anchor, Kadaria Ahmed, at a town hall meeting, tagged: “The Candidates,” at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel in the nation’s capital.
Ahmed had asked the president if he would willingly concede defeat should he lose the forthcoming presidential poll.
But responding, the president said he had lost elections since 2003 until 2015 when luck smiled on him, noting that he had had to go to court to contest his proclaimed defeat in various courts of the land of the land to no avail during those periods.
“Well, it will not be the first time I would lose an election. I lost in 2003 and went to court for 30 months. I lost in 2007 and went to court for 18 months. I lost in 2011 and went to court for eight months, all the way to the Supreme Court. What they were doing at the time was to write marks and said anyone who disagreed should go to court. But God dey,” he said.
Also asked on why he seemed to be indifferent to the leaked video on how Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, was allegedly collecting bribe in dollars from contractors, Buhari said the matter was already before both the court and the Kano State House of Assembly and he would rather wait for the outcome.
“Aww, I don’t know how much technology they used. Thank God the court and the House of Assembkly are handling it. Hopefully before I go for campaign in Kano, the matter would have been resolved,” he said.
Also asked on his administration’s solution to the conflict between farmers and herdsmen, Buhari said there had been grazing routes since the First Republic and hence, the Benue State Governor ought not to merely banned grazing but also ought to make arrangements for grazing routes.
“We studied grazing routes from the First Republic. Benue Governor shouldn’t ban grazing but provide routes for grazing,” he said.
Buhari also accused state governors of allegedly compelling local governments to sign for allocations that ordinarily belong to them, only to dole out a fraction of such allocations to the councils after signing.
The president further alleged that the information at his disposal revealed that the governors could for instance, force the local governments to sign for only 25 per cent of their legitimate allocations while they proceed to pocket the rest.
“There is need for investigation as we learnt that local governments are made to sign for money allocated to them. We heard that they get only 25 per cent of the allocations while the governors take the rest. I expect the press to investigate this on behalf of the people to expose the governors,” the president said.
He therefore tasked the media to investigate this allegation and expose alleged corrupt acts and over-high handedness of the governors over local government funds.
Asked on whether he was frustrated by the war against corruption, Buhari said he was not frustrated by the war but only frustrated because some people are not cooperating with him in the war.
On the seeming indifference of the government to recent protests by soldiers who stake their lives in the fight against insurgency in the North-east over poor welfare, Osinbajo in his response, said any clear issue of relevant authorities short-changing soldiers by denying them their necessary welfare while on war front in the North-east would be investigated and culprits of such misappropriation would be prosecuted.
This question came against the backdrop of beliefs that the federal government seemed not to be bothered by recent cases of soldiers protesting their poor welfare in the hands of military authorities despite the billions of naira being budgeted for the war.
But Osinbajo said there was a process to follow if indeed such allegation was true, emphasising that suspects of such crime would be investigated and if found guilty, duly brought to justice.
Also responding to a question on the danger posed to the country in future by continuous borrowing by the federal government, Osinbajo said the country was not in any way in any danger because the country’s borrowing is lower than its gross domestic product (GDP).
He also said the borrowing was in the right direction because the loans are used for infrastructure development which he listed to include the second Niger Bridge and rail lines in different parts of the country.