Buhari scores low at townhall meeting, insists cattle must move freely
Nigerians have scored President Muhammadu Buhari low on his performance at a town hall meeting tagged ‘The Candidates’ organised by the MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with NTA and DARIA Media in Abuja on Wednesday night.
Answering a question on the niggling herdsmen-farmer crisis across the country, the president blamed states especially Benue that are opposed to free movement of cattle, wondering where they want the cattle to go. He showed his contempt for ranching when he explained that he has asked his minister of agriculture to go to the archives and study why the cattle were allowed free passages across the nation via grazing routes and why such cannot be allowed today.
“A state like Benue has said they don’t want movement of cattle but the cattle are already in Bayelsa so where should they go from there, to jump into ocean?”
The President was supported by vice president Yemi Osinbajo who had to intervene on some occasions to broaden the perspective of the President’s answers.
But Nigerians seem not to be impressed by the president’s performance. On social media, some Buhari supporters blamed the organisers for the perceived poor performance of the president even as they insist that his performance will not stop them from voting for him.
“This type of live programme should not be allowed again”, fumed a Buhari supporter in his Facebook post. They should have prepared our leader ahead of the event”.
President Muhammadu Buhari waxed strong against corruption. He urged persons or organisations with any evidence of corrupt practices against members of his administration to come forward with such evidences to him for prompt action.
President Buhari was fielding questions on the allegations that the government’s anti-corruption crusade was skewed against a section of Nigerians, and that members of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) with questionable credentials were being protected by the government.
The Moderator of the programme Kadaria Ahmed, specifically cited the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal, who was relieved of his appointment over allegations of corrupt practices, but was not prosecuted, instead he had been seen campaigning for the president.
However, President Buhari said: “That is not fair criticism of the government. I do not think there is anybody that is being pointed out as corrupt in this dispensation which we looked the other direction.
“I told you why I have to be careful; the public should help us, if there are strong allegations that are backed up with evidences, bank accounts, names of companies floated and contracts awarded.
“Then we will take them before the courts through the EFCC and ICPC; and we have to trust the system and allow them to complete investigation.
“If we just take people in as we did during the military and lock them up, the present democracy a multi party democracy does not approve of that.
“If you accuse any person, you have to provide evidence in court for him to be prosecuted. So, if there is strong allegations, the government may decide to ask people to go, like in the case of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, we asked him to go.
“The matter is already before the EFCC and I believe that a directive has been issued to charge him and all persons who have cases before the EFCC.’’
He reiterated that his administration would not tolerate any form of corrupt practices from any quarters, saying those making allegations should be able to provide evidence why the accused should be prosecuted.
On whether he will accept the outcome of the forthcoming general elections, President Buhari said even though he was optimistic of winning the election, he would gladly accept the results.
The president narrated how he accepted the results of previous elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011 even after challenging the results at the relevant courts.
He said: “It won’t be the first time I will lose election.
“I tried 2003 and I was in Court for 13 months, 2007. I was in court for 18 months in 2011 and went up to the Supreme Court. I sat down and said; `God Dey’, and for the fourth time, God and technology helped me.’’