The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, has said that Buhari will defeat all the former Presidents and heads of state, who recently asked him (Buhari) not to re-contest in in a presidential election.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida, are among Nigerians who have told Buhari to forget recontesting the number one seat next year.
Garba Shehu, who said that Buhari richly deserves a second term in office, said that rather than asking Buhari not to contest in 2019, the former leaders should come out and contest against Buhari next year.
Reacting to the call by the former leaders urging Buhari not to contest, Garba Shehu said “My response to them is that if they like they can come and contest against President Buhari. He will defeat them, all of them.”
On the belief by some Nigerians that President Buhari should not be talking of recontesting when there is hunger in the land, he said “With all the noise the PDP is making, even during their tenure as President did they give breakfast lunch and dinner to every citizen? Is there any country in which someone does not go hungry?
“I am not saying it is perfectly in order but they are just politicizing these issues. This is a government that has removed this country from the shame of food importation, every state of the country now is into rice production, and we are feeding not only Nigeria but west Africa.
“And the government is working on having respectable prices for food items, food inflation is coming down grossly. Everyone complaining of hunger should go and work. And you know that this is the only government that has introduced social investment schemes, we pay out now for the poorest of the poor, the least they will get is N5,000.and a lot of these job that are been created are from loans with little or no interest from the central bank, Bank of industry, Banks of Agriculture, Development Bank and the rest.
“So there is a lot going for people who really want to go out there to work especially in Agriculture.”
He also faulted those Nigerians who believed that it was a weakness for the President not to be able reshuffle his cabinet members since 2015.
He said “The President is the one who wears the shoes, he know where it pinches. if the president hasn’t sacked his ministers, it means that he wants to continue to work with them.
“Maybe those agitating for the sack of the ministers are also looking for a chance to come in to replace those who are there, in that case then they are driven by selfish motive.
“As president and commander in chief he reserves the right to hire and fire. For the fact that he hasn’t done that does not mean that he does not have the power to do that. I am sure if he wants do it, he will do it at his own pace and time but people who want to become ministers, how many minister can we even appoint in this country?
“I think people should just be busy. Let them go and start farming instead of sitting down to speculate whether they can be made minister or not.” he said.
Mallam Shehu also rated the administration high on infrastructural development.
According to him, no past administration has invested so much in capital projects like the current administration.
He said “Thank you for this opportunity and I want to say that the records are there for everyone to see that no government, no past administration in Nigeria has invested as much as we have done or let me say we are currently doing in infrastructure development.
“From day one when he took power, the president gave a target of not less than 30% of annual appropriation devoted to infrastructure development. Without infrastructure we can not lay the foundation for growth.
“When this administration came to power, between 95 and 96 percent of public expenditure was going into overhead cost leaving only about five or six percent for infrastructure. The allocation of 30 percent under this administration has led to tremendous improvement in the provision of infrastructure so far in the country. Now there is a lot of work going on, building new rail lines and the rehabilitation of the old rail system networks, roads are been done all across the country, you only need to drive around to see for yourself.
“The amount of work this administration has done on Roads i.e the expressway from Enugu to PortHarcout has not been done in the eight years of the previous administrations. We are hoping that within this year before the next election Lagos -Ibadan will be completed, it’s a lot of money, we are doing it Government is laying the sod now for the construction of a 6 lane road from Abuja to Kano.
“So there is so much that is going on in terms of that. We are doing power, you know that this administration has doubled availability of power in the country when we came in its stood at about 3,000 MWatts, we have hit 7,000 MWatts and we are doing more so it depends on what you are looking at.
“This is a government that has spent N1.3 Trillion In capital expenses under 2016 Budget and has also spent as much as that under the 2017 budget and it’s almost closing on records for last year which was N1.3 Trillion.” he said.
Asked if the farmers/ herders crises have not rubbished the administration’s goal of securing lives and properties, he said “The problem between farmers and Herdsmen predates the independence of Nigeria, if you read history you will see that farmers and herdsmen had fought for space in this country even British colonial rulers were here so this is not something new.
“I am not saying it is welcome but I think it is over amplified now, there is a media spotlight on it because the opposition cannot engage Buhari administration on any other issue other than this lacuna that they have found.
“They cannot discuss the war against corruption because that’s a very uncomfortable area for them, they don’t want to discuss issues of infrastructure with Buhari, they don’t want to discuss economic diversification which this administration has achieved a lot of success, today we have 12 million Rice farmers in this country, six million new jobs are been created in other sector by Agriculture alone, food import has gone down by 95 Percent, we are feeding ourselves.
“This year the government is planning a ban on rice importation. So we are doing so well moving from over reliance on oil to Agriculture and manufacturing.
“Therefore, I am not saying that it is okay that the farmers and herdsmen are fighting but we are doing a lot. You can see that the recent activity especially the military operation now in the North Central Section of the country has led to the recoveries of large quantities of weapon illegally held by militias and even herdsmen.
“So something is being done about it. I know by the time this is done with, I don’t know what else the opposition will be talking about.” he said
Speaking on the assertion in the social media that President Buhari is shielding herdsmen from prosecution and begging them to accept amnesty, he said “Well, I hope you also realize that the social media has brought a lot of good things to the world and it has also brought a lot of problems not only in Nigeria but everywhere in the world.
“Nations of the world are talking about regulations and control, this is happening in Germany in the UK even the US you see that a lot these technology companies are been fined for infringements that they cause.
“The thing is that there is a tendency to see things from a negative point of view when your point of view is shaped and colored by the social media.
“It’s always been heard that the default position of the social media itself is to be negative, so people have turned out to ignore grand reality and project images that are very negative.
Otherwise I wonder , this is an administration that has done so so extremely well and to a president who has sworn to an oath to defend the constitution and protect every life and property, it is very unfair and uncharitable to say that he will shield anybody, and In any case, the president controls only one layer of authority, what are the governors doing, is the social media also saying that the governors are protecting the herdsmen from the law, are they saying the local government are also protecting them?
“You see it has to take everyone at various levels of authority to shield somebody from the law in those circumstances, and the president himself, his passion is for the country, this is a president whose passion is not even for the office, even when everyone is asking him to go for a second term he is keeping quiet because his focus remains the nation and the problem of the country.
“Whoever is peddling these rumours that Boko Haram is being granted amnesty and so on I would ask them who doesn’t want to make peace with the enemy? In any case as it is proverbially said all wars end up in the Boardroom. You can defeat people technically in the field but at the end you must come to the conference room to resolve all issues.
“So if Boko Haram would lay down their arms and stop fighting and stop preaching that negative ideology , the country should be able to embrace them welcome all of them so that they continue to live normal lives and be useful to the nation.
“What that mean is that we will be saving cost, saving lives that are being lost through bombing, killing of service personnel and we will be saving money that we are using to procure weapons so that such money can go into services and infrastructure and welfare of the citizens of this country. It is a win -win situation.” he stated