President Muhammadu Buhari has alleged that those who stole the nation’s wealth are behind the Niger Delta militants blowing up oil and gas installations in the oil-rich region.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said the president made the allegation while interacting with Nigerian professionals in New York. Adesina said the professionals comprised top flight aeronautics engineers, physicians, I.T experts, a Judge, a top policewoman, entrepreneurs, professors, and many others.
Adesina said the parley provided Buhari opportunity to bring them up to speed on how and why Nigeria got into trouble.
This Day reports that the president was said to have assured them that with all hands on deck, including the best brains in the Diaspora, the country would bounce back in the shortest possible time.
The president said: “Those who stole Nigeria dry are not happy. They recruited the militants against us in the Niger Delta, and began to sabotage oil infrastructure. We lose millions of barrels per day, at a time when every dollar we can earn, counts.
It is a disgrace that a minimum of 27 states, out of 36 that we have in Nigeria, can’t pay salaries. “We got into trouble as a country, because we did not save for the rainy day. For example, between 1999 and 2015, when we produced an average of 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, and oil prices stood at an average of $100 per barrel, we did not save, neither did we develop infrastructure.
Suddenly, when we came in 2015, oil prices fell to about 30 dollars per barrel. “I asked; where are the savings? There were none. Where are the railways? The roads? Power? None. I further asked: What did we do with billions of dollars that we made over the years? They said we bought food. Food with billions of dollars? I did not believe, and still do not believe.
“In most parts of Nigeria, we eat what we grow. People in the South eat tubers, those in the North eat grains, which they plant, and those constitute over 60 per cent of what we eat. So, where did the billions of dollars go? We did a lot of damage to ourselves by not developing infrastructure when we had the money.
“Talking of our military, they earned respect serving in places like Burma, Zaire, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and then, suddenly, that same military could no longer secure 14 out of 774 local governments in the country. Insurgents had seized them, calling them some sort of caliphate, and planting their flags there; till we came, and scattered them.”
Buhari said that he raised the morale of the military, changed the leadership, re-equipped and retrained them, which earned the support of USA, Britain, and some other countries. The president said: “They helped us, and today, the pride of our military is restored.
Boko Haram ran riot, killing innocent people in churches, mosques, markets, schools, motor parks, and so on. And they would then shout Allahu Akbar. But if they truly knew Allah, they would not do such evil. Neither Islam, nor any other religion I know of, advocates hurting the innocent. But they shed innocent blood, killed people in their thousands. Now, we have dealt with that insurgency, and subverted their recruitment base.
“But I prayed so hard for God to make me President. I ran in 2003, 2007, 2011, and in 2015, He did. And see what I met on ground. But I can’t complain, since I prayed for the job. In the military, I rose from 2nd Lieutenant to Major-General. I was military governor in 1975 over a state that is now six states. I was head of state, got detained for three years, and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which had N53 billion at that time in Nigerian banks. “God has been very good to me, so I can’t complain. If I feel hurt by anybody, I ask God to help me forgive.
He has done so much for me. “After 16 years of a different party in government, no party will come and have things easy. It’s human. We need quality hands to run Nigeria, and we will utilise them. I will like to welcome you home when it’s time.
But I’ll like you to be ready. “I am very pleased with this meeting. Wherever you go in the world, you find highly competent and outstanding Nigerians. They not only make great impact on their host countries and communities, their financial remittances back home also help our economy, particularly at a time like this, when things are down.” The statement said all the Nigerian professionals pledged to contribute their quota towards re-launching their fatherland to a new dawn.
Buhari Appeals for Urgent Global Humanitarian Action in North-East
Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday appealed to the international community not to further delay or downplay the need for humanitarian intervention in the North-east and the Lake Chad Basin.
He said: “It is time for collective global action to invest in the people of Nigeria’s North-east and the Lake Chad Basin region,” the president told a high-level event on “The Humanitarian Crisis in the Lake Chad Basin: A Turning Point,” in New York, on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71).
“We are renewing the call for re-dedicated international action to end the humanitarian needs of victims and address the root causes of terrorism itself,” he said at the event jointly-sponsored by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the African Union, the European Union and the Orga- nization of Islamic Cooperation.”
Buhari noted that the complexities and severity of humanitarian crisis across the world had increased in recent times, resulting in devastating repercussions.
He said: “Political and socio-economic structures as well as the growth trajectory of many countries have been negatively affected leaving traumatised populations. The dual impact of Climate Change and terrorism cum insurgency has created deeper implications for peace and security, social harmony and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
While commending the Multi- National Joint Task Force for degrading Boko Haram, he said that the Nigerian government had been fully responsive to the urgency to save innocent lives, protect victims of Boko Haram atrocities, guarantee stability and facilitate the resumption of normal social and economic activities in the North-east of the country.
“The Government of Nigeria is not overwhelmed by the enormity of this humanitarian challenge. Rather, we remain resolute in defeating terrorism in all its forms.
According to him, Nigeria has been providing food support, reintegrated healthcare, shelter, psycho-social support and access to water and sanitation amenities for those in need.
He said: “We are also engaging highly respected community and religious leaders to discourage vulnerable youth from being radicalised.” Buhari expressed delight that displaced persons have begun to return to their communities in Konduga, Mafa, Benisheck and Ngala in the North-east.
On the missing Chibok schoolgirls, the president said that the unfortunate incident had remained in “our national consciousness,” adding that the administration “is working hard to ensure the release of all Nigerians held captive by Boko Haram, including the Chibok girls. We are ready to ensure their swift rehabilitation, reintegration and the continuation of their studies once returned to their families.”