President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that he is wholly behind the choice of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
This is contained in the president’s written responses to questions posed by Bloomberg News.
Asked if he plans to endorse a candidate for president and if so, who? Buhari said “Yes. I will endorse the APC candidate for president.”
Also, in defence of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emeifele’s presidential bid, President Buhari said Emefiele was a victim of accusations because as apex bank governor he follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy
When asked if he was concerned about the debate around the central bank’s independence following the governor showing interest in running for president, he said, “The CBN governor is appointed by the President. But this appointment is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate.
“Ultimately, it will be for the CBN’s board of directors to determine whether a CBN governor’s actions have fallen foul of the laws in place to ensure he can most effectively carry out his duties.
“But there is a subtext to the accusations. Because the governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labeled political. But the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again.
“Instead, the governor is following an alternative economic model that puts people at the heart of policy. Nigeria should be free to choose its development model and how to construct our economy, so it functions for Nigerians.”
When asked why he refused to heed the call by the World Bank and IMF to remove the fuel subsidy and to unify the exchange rate. President Muhammadu Buhari said “most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now? What is good for the goose is good for the gander!.
“What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things. My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year. After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable. Boosting internal production for refined products shall also help”, he added
The president showed optimism around forthcoming projects and stated that Nigeria’s exchange rate was able to handle shocks.
He said “Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board. The exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that can suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens. As we step up domestic production – both in fuel (enabled by PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.”
Buhari also backed the Central Bank’s controversial foreign exchange management, saying there would be no change until the naira is no longer susceptible to external shocks.
“We leave Nigeria in a far better place than we found it,” Buhari said in an interview with international news outlet, Bloomberg.
“Corruption is less hidden, for Nigerians feel empowered to report it without fear, while money is returned; terrorists no longer hold any territory in Nigeria, and their leaders are deceased; and vast infrastructure development sets the country on course for sustainable and equitable growth”, he said.
Nigeria has been in and out of two economic recessions under Buhari’s watch, with economic output shrinking by more than 20 percent since 2015.
The average growth rate under the outgoing president is less than the average population growth rate of 2.6 percent and that has caused poverty to spike in the country of 200 million people.
The president also insisted that western allies must designate the outlawed Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) as a terror group.
“We urge those same international partners to take additional steps costing them nothing, by proscribing another group – IPOB – as a terrorist organisation.
“Their leadership enjoys haven in the West, broadcasting hate speech into Nigeria from London, spending millions lobbying members of the US Congress, and freely using international financial networks to arm agitators on the ground. This must stop”, he added.
President Buhari also stated that his administration is the only one in Nigeria’s history to implement a solution to decades-long herder-farmer conflicts, exacerbated by desertification and demographic growth.
“The National Livestock Transformation Plan, putting ranching at its core, is the only way to deplete the competition for resources at the core of the clashes.
“Governors from some individual states have sought to play politics where ranches have been established, but where they have been disputes have dramatically reduced”, he stated.
Speaking on the spate of killings over blasphemy in the country, he said “No person has the right to take the law into his or her own hands. Christianity and Islam, our two Great Faiths and their Great Books have far more in common than they have apart.
“Nigeria has a long tradition of tolerance that we must draw on, and we must strive to find common ground. What comes out of this tragedy is to cherish what we share, while at the same time respecting our differences.”