The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in this interview with OLALEKAN ADETAYO, speaks on the increasing opposition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s second-term bid, among other national issues
The Peoples Democratic Party has repeatedly accused the present administration of deliberate clampdown on the opposition. How will you react to this?
The accusation is laughable in many ways. The word ‘clamp down’ can only apply in a tyrannical and autocratic regime; not in a democratic dispensation where the rule of law exists and judicial autonomy is upheld.
Besides, it is not in the character of President Muhammadu Buhari to persecute anyone. However, Mr. President has no soft spot for corrupt people and crass opportunists who would resort to name-calling whenever they fall into the steel claws of the law for crimes they had committed against fellow countrymen. The President has no apologies for allowing the anti-crime and anti-corruption agencies do their jobs without sparing any sacred cow. Whatever they call that doesn’t count. Those who commit crimes must be ready to face the law.
In a country blessed with plural political parties, I don’t understand why one out of many claims to be the object of persecution. Those who have not been in power or abused power cannot be probed. It is common sense that government should be accountable and responsible.
It is therefore obvious that officials of an administration that ran the country aground and threw everyone and everything into recession deserve to answer salient questions.
The recovery of huge sums and numerous properties at home and abroad from key players in the previous PDP government attests to the integrity of President Buhari and his administration’s distaste for sleaze and corruption.
There is the belief that the present administration’s anti-corruption war is selective. Those who hold this belief say corrupt persons join the ruling party to escape prosecution or to be given a safe landing. Why is this so?
It is unbelievable that some people would prefer hearsay to facts which are meant to be sacred. Misconceptions and fake news have sadly taken the front seat of our national discussion. No anti-fraud agency can handle all cases at the same time. Some become top priority due to the magnitude of offences committed and availability of evidence to prosecute the suspects.
Moreover, how can an administrator set out to employ divide-and-rule (tactics) as a strategy for national governance? That would have been a recipe for calamity. Nigeria’s diversity and heterogeneity cannot allow for such. Democracy and its tenets of freedom of speech and association would not condone outright abuse of power.
Those who accuse the APC-led government of selective justice or favouritism towards their party members do really miss the point. How many of such people have explored the whistle-blower opportunity to present substantial evidence to back their allegations, in order to spur prosecutors into action. Most times, the allegations stop at the level of noise-making and blowing of hot air. During this period, members of the party have been in court over one charge or the other. You will be shocked to see the number of senior APC members with cases in courts who sit with the President in party caucus meetings and this President, as you know him, won’t interfere with matters before a judge, neither would he instruct any investigative agency to stop doing its work. There is no room for sacred cows in President Buhari’s lexicon. But it will be foolhardy to punish those that are innocent in the eyes of the law. That apart, false accusation is also punishable in law. Thus, the onus of proof is on those who allege to submit concrete evidence against suspects. The APC is not a safe haven for criminals and outlaws. Such accusations are in the fertile imagination of political adversaries.
Many individuals and groups, including former Nigerian leaders and the Catholic Church, have advised the President not to seek re-election. Is he in any way considering this advice?
Our President is not the oldest in the world. Neither is he incapacitated mentally or physically. Therefore, if the constitution says he is entitled to two terms, why must he throw away the chance to consolidate and expand the plans he has for the greater good of the greater majority of Nigerians?
As for those advising the President not to seek re-election, they are entitled to such opinions, but no man can take away the inalienable rights of an individual from him or her without consent.
Besides, the teeming population of Nigerians, who love the change agenda of PMB and are daily urging the President to continue for stability and unity, must also be listened to. So, President Buhari will not be fair to dash their hope and aspiration. Mr. President, as a genuine statesman and patriot, would not want to abandon ship shortly after exiting the country from a parlous and painful recession. The President has declared his intention to continue to offer good leadership to the nation, and so it shall be.
On the $16bn power projects, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said presidential aides should read his earlier response to the case and educate the President in the language he would understand. As a presidential aide, what is your reaction to this?
With due respect to the former President, no story is complete without a chance of hearing from the other side. The wisdom of the late prominent playwright and essayist, Chinua Achebe, comes handy here. He once wrote that “until lionesses become historians, the story of hunting will always make heroes of hunters.” Mr. President is not given to much talking. He asked, “Where is the power?” Truly, if $16bn was drawn from the national treasury towards power supply, how many Nigerians would accept it as money well spent? More so, as uninterrupted power supply is still an El Dorado best imagined.
By the way, a retiree does have a lot of time at his disposal to dramatize his feelings and should be allowed to enjoy just that. It is not in the character of President Buhari to insult or denigrate others. Like a soldier in the war front, President Buhari really does not have the fleeting moment to bother about mosquito bites and political innuendos. He is focused on fixing the wrongs of the past and placing Nigeria on a new pedestal of equitable growth and development.
Buhari’s open support for Adams Oshiomhole’s aspiration to become APC chairman is believed to have contributed to the crisis in the party. As the party’s leader, is he supposed to be partisan in such an open manner?
Politics is a dynamic discipline and very interesting too. Not too long ago, many people frowned on the President, a converted Democrat, staying away from the leadership tussle in the National Assembly. Some even said Mr. President was not a proper politician. This time around, President Buhari should be permitted to exercise his political right to association and freedom of choice. This does not, in any way, take anything away from the rights of others to lobby members or contest positions. The President is just one person. The beauty of democracy is in citizens’ participation and it is ingrained in the constitution of our country.
Why did the President spend $496m to procure fighter jets that won’t be delivered until 2020 when same money can be used for productive activities that could make an impact in the lives of Nigerians?
Matters bordering on national security are not subjects for public discourse. And it is like that all over the world. Sophisticated military weaponry and combat gadgets are of high technology that requires time and space to manufacture and customize to the needs of clients. Tucano jets are not tricycles that one can easily buy from the shop.
We are all witnesses to what obtained in the past when no advanced country was prepared to sell arms and ammunition to Nigeria. That actually prolonged the war against the Boko Haram insurgents and caused the country precious lives and property.
Since Mr. President’s first role is to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria and cater to the welfare of Nigerians, he did the needful by purchasing those badly-needed war equipment. And he deserves accolades for that. After all, no business can thrive or survive in the absence of peace and tranquility.
There have been several calls for the removal of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Why is the President still keeping the IG?
President Buhari takes his time to choose his aides. And once that is done, he allows them free rein to operate. He gives them the wherewithal to do their jobs. However, the President commands respect and loyalty from his team. Everyone knows that they cannot taint the integrity of Mr. President without concomitant punishment. He is aware of the powers of his office and knows what to do in dealing with situations of appointments or dismissals. Mr. President is a patient leader who does not do things on impulse.
What will you be telling those who believe that President Buhari is too old to seek re-election?
President Buhari isn’t the oldest man at the helms of his country. What the constitution says is that a man that is fit mentally and physically has a right to contest an election. President Buhari has been certified fit and he still has the unfinished business to improve the lots of Nigerians. Age is not the issue, but a man with a kind heart to do good for the people.
Source: The Punch
FFK commends Osinbajo for overhauling SARS, demands justice for IPOB members and Nnamdi Kanu
Former Aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has commended vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, for ordering the overhauling of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS.
Posting via his twitter handle, FFK called on the acting president to also bring to justice, those that have in the last three years, ”killed IPOB members and abducted its leader, Nnamdi Kanu”. See his tweets below.
National Assembly release official statement saying no date for resumption has been picked
Read the official statement released this morning below.
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The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, have directed that we inform all Senators, Honorable Members and the public that a date has not been set for the reconvening of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2019 elections budget request forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari onJuly 17, 2018.
The leadership of the two chambers had met and agreed to reconvene to consider the proposal this week before which a meeting between the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC must have held on or before Monday August 13, 2018.
The joint committees were also expected to meet with the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, Loans and Debts on the Eurobond loan request after which two reports would have been ready for presentation in the two chambers.
However, no such meeting had taken place yet as a result of which both Senate and House of Representatives cannot reconvene as there is no report to consider.
Until the Committees have a ready report for the consideration of the two chambers, it will be most irresponsible to recall members from recess especially those that may have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.
1. Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Senate President
2. Turaki Hassan
Special Adviser (Media and Public Affairs) to Speaker, House of Representatives
”We have uncovered fresh plots by APC to arrest Saraki, Ekweremadu” – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it has uncovered fresh plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency to use compromised security agencies and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to invite, arrest and detain Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. The party made this allegation in a statement released by its spokespernson, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The party in the statement, says it has also unraveled fresh facts confirming that the pressure by the Presidency for the reconvening of the Senate is out of a sinister motive and not for any emergency in the approval of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 election.
The fresh plot to detain the two presiding officers is part of renewed design to keep them out of circulation, ahead of Senate resumption, so as to enable the heavily induced APC senators, who are now in the minority, to throw up two of their members as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively on the excuse that Saraki and Ekweremadu failed to show up for proceedings in the Senate.
The party said that the new plot to cage Saraki and Ekweremadu, in devilish rehash of the Tuesday July 24, 2018 hostage-taking and invasion of their official residences by security agencies is coming after the August 7, 2018 failed attempt to use security forces to take control of the leadership of the Senate.
Apart from plots to arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu, the PDP in its statement, says it has also been made aware of plans to use the EFCC and security forces to clamp down on their family members, including their wives and siblings as well as close associate, all in the effort to weaken their resolve.
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Moreover, investigations by the PDP further confirm that the insistence of the APC-led Federal Government on the emergency reconvening of the National Assembly, ostensibly to consider INEC’s budget for the 2019 election, is part of APC’s thicker plot to execute their premeditated ‘coup’ on the leadership of the Senate.
PDP was further informed that contrary to claims by the APC and the Presidency, INEC actually submitted the budget to the presidency since February 2018, only for the Presidency to submit it to the National Assembly in July when the legislature was already going on recess; with a view to enmesh it in a needless controversy.
Furthermore, the PDP counsels Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to stop acting saint, as Nigerians are aware that he is part and parcel of the actors behind the sordid developments playing out in the National Assembly.
The PDP invites Nigerians and the international community to note the activities of the APC and the Buhari Presidency, which have continued to put the unity and stability of our nation as well as our hard-earned democracy under serious stress.
In all, the PDP cautions the APC and power mongers at the Presidency to know that Nigerians have seen through their evil intentions and will continue to firmly resist them by standing for democracy and the unity of our nation at all times.” the statement read
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