A die-hard supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari who served as deputy director of the president’s campaign, Nasiru Halladu Danu admitted that there are a few bad eggs in the administration but was optimistic that the law would soon catch up with them. He spoke to Kuni Tyessi who presents the excerpts:
Several years after independence and transition from military to civilian, Nigeria remains underdeveloped. Where did we get it wrong?
It is a matter of leadership. The first, second and third reasons are centred on leadership. With the right kind of leaders when we keep searching and pushing, and giving the right people the opportunity to serve, our problem will be history. The change we are looking for will come in full force and now we are in the process. Nigeria is changing for good.
Are you saying that the present economic hardship is part of the process of being on the right track?
For the past 16-20 years, we have had a mixed kind of leadership. there were good and bad leaders. Nigeria’s situation can be likened to that of a man and woman accepting to get married out of love, but before marriage, they have to go through different phases of understanding. After marriage, reality sets in and if God blesses the union, the woman will give birth to their first baby and the process is accompanied with pains, discomfort, physical and hormonal change and several others. The end of the process which climaxes with the birth of a baby brings happiness to the family and the experience is soon forgotten. We have gone through so much as a nation and we will still go through more if we don’t want temporary solutions. If you look at this government, you will see that it has long-term solutions. Starting from the issue of insecurity which had ravaged not just the North-east but almost every part of the country. You cannot tell me that the operation crocodile smile has not worked in the South-east. You cannot say that Boko Haram has not been defeated by at least 95 percent from where we are coming from some three-four years ago. The insecure environment is the most vulnerable and we were here and we saw how barracks owned by the military and other places were attacked. Even the Inspector General of Police was attacked in his own headquarters. We saw how the United Nations headquarters was in disarray and how nobody was safe. We have seen the barricades even in Abuja, and how some security outfits had to block their roads. All of these were the fear of Boko Haram and insecurity. Buhari’s promise during his campaigns of which I followed him to every nook and cranny of the country was that he was abreast with the situation of the country and was committed to fighting and securing it. He said we would work on the economy. This administration battled with so many things in its first year of administration. Today, there has been successful operations of the EFCC which is no drama but real and with people keeping millions of dollars in their homes. Civil servants, service chiefs and top Supreme Court judges are being prosecuted in our life time. We have a leadership that is saying nobody is above the law. Whichever way you look at it, everybody is being careful now, corruption-wise and you know why? It is simply because we have a president that is not corrupt and will not compromise for even his son. He is a good president surrounded by good people. There might be bad ones but it’s just a matter of time, the law will catch up with them.
Do you subscribe to the view that EFCC is being used for sinister motives?
So far, with the level of performance of the current chairman, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. At least it’s too early to pass judgement. They should be allowed to carry out their investigations. All over the world, investigation takes time. They are professionals and must be given time. Mr. President is someone who belives that people must do that which is right and believes in the rule of law. That is why you see some of these things will have delays because we are used to doing things as usual but now, things have changed. There has to be a proper investigation and besides, we have freedom of information. The picture you have painted is one out of a thousand. How about their other operations? How about convicted service chiefs and civil servants who have billions in their accounts which we all know does not belong to them? Is it President Buhari that planted the monies in their houses or bank accounts? It is time for us to take anti-corruption serious. It is real, change has come. Nigerians need to understand that this is the best opportunity for our country and there is the need for us to pray for Mr President’s health and for his success. His success cuts accross all geopolitical zones and it is the success of all in Nigeria and beyond because the success of Nigeria determines the success of every other African country with a population approaching 200 million. Religion has never been our problem and will never be. Checkout the corruption and looting going on whether in the oil and gas sector, or construction and lands, or whatever, you will never see that the loot was shared in the church or mosque because it is a matter of figures. People throw numbers around and both Muslims and Christians are fully involved and they all have pastors and imams around. Corruption has been legitimised such that we don’t even know the difference between a corrupt person and upright person.
Do you think the president has a firm grasp on his cabinet, going by what his wife alleged about a cabal and the hijacking of his team?
Obviously, I believe he has full grasp of his administration. Who is doing the new appointments? Who is occupying the office of the Commander-in-Chief? Even when he was not around, who asked Prof. Osinbajo to act? Who gave him the full backing? Nigeria is the only country where people play politics with even religion. So Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and I stop there.
When will Nigerian youths become leaders of tomorrow as the country continues to have grey-haired men as our leaders?
I also used to think the way you think but after some time, I realised that leadership is not all about sentiments. It’s about choice of the people. If you are 100 years old and the constitution allows you to rule, you are free to contest and lead because it is your right. However, Nigerians were looking for a saviour and someone who would come and look at the track records of everybody. Among all the aspirants that contested for the primaries in APC, Buhari was the oldest, no doubt, but he was also the most experienced and I challenge anybody in Nigeria to fault his integrity. He was one time governor of the biggest state in Nigeria, one time Minister of Petroleum, one time GOC, one time PTF chairman and one time Head of State. Despite all these, you cannot find even one filling station that belongs to him. Even when he was overthrown, there were no corruption charges against him. I challenge anybody amongst his co-contesters who has his kind of track records. He contested three times and won in the fourth. He believes so much in the youths of the country. Is Rotimi Amaechi an old man? What about Hadi Sirika? What about Minister of the Niger Delta, Heineken Lokpobiri? Suleiman Adamu of Water Resources and several of them? So he can only give the jobs but cannot force anyone to do it. Going by the constitution, he will make sure that all the tools needed for you to succeed is made available. So the young are carried along in this government and even when you look at the manifesto, the N5,000 that was promised the youths and unemployed was been criticised by many who opined that the government cannot live up to it, but what is happening today? Things are getting better. There is change of attitude everywhere. Is it in the police force or military? Their dignity is back and security has improved. Is it in terms of infrastructure? The Yar’adua and Jonathan administration played their notable roles but he has taken it to the next level. Everybody is doing his/her best because there is competition. The president is the leader of the present change and he is leading by example. So we are in a phase of change and it’s real. So join the train.
As an APC chieftain, what is your reaction to the imbroglio between executive and legislative arm of government?
I will not say that it is an ego problem because what is happening between the two arms of government happens everywhere all over the world. Simply put, it is democracy in action and nothing more. Both must disagree to agree. APC will deliver and we are already delivering our promises. Both arms know their constitutional duties.
We have a leadership that is saying nobody is above the law. Whichever way you look at it, everybody is being careful now, corruption-wise and you know why? It is simply because we have a president that is not corrupt and will not compromise for even his son. He is a good president surrounded by good people. There might be bad ones but it’s just a matter of time, the law will catch up with them