Says Buhari fit to contest in 2019, awaits Nâ€™Assembly report on Maina Insists AGF can explain
continuous detention of Dasuki, el-Zakzaky
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The presidency on Monday put paid to any hopes of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the 2014 National Conference (Confab Report), clarifying that it has no confidence in the report of the conference which it said was a tool to buy goodwill from certain parts of the country.
This is as it said President Muhammadu Buhari is fit enough to seek re-election for the presidency in 2019, despite the ill health that has plagued him since the beginning of his tenure.
The presidency also disclosed that it is awaiting the outcome of the investigations by the National Assembly on the circumstances of the return and reinstatement of fugitive former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reforms Task Force, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, into the civil service, before taking a definitive action on the matter.
These details were revealed by presidential spokesmen, Mr. Femi Adesina, Mr. Garba Shehu and Mr. Laolu Akande, when they appeared on THISDAYâ€™s sister network, Arise News Channel, yesterday morning.
Adesina, who is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, said the All Progressives Congress (APC), which Buhari is a member, already indicated that it has no confidence in the conference, right from the time it was convened.
Adesina said this is response to comments by former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, that he could not implement the report because it was submitted in the twilight of his administration.
Jonathan, speaking in his goodwill message at the Integration Summit Roundatable in Abuja last Sunday, said the report holds the key to reshaping and consolidating the necessary common grounds and shared values, needed to move Nigeria forward.
But Adesina said the ex president could have implemented the recommendations of the report, if he really wanted to.
â€œRight from the beginning of the confab, the APC had said it didnâ€™t have confidence in it. The good thing is that it (APC) made itself clear on that. Between the time when the conference submitted its report and the time when that government ended, the then president could have implemented it if he wanted.
â€œI know that it is in the papers today, he was explaining why he didnâ€™t implement it but the government could implement the report if it wanted, if it was not strictly a political tool just to buy goodwill from certain parts of the country,â€ he said.
Also speaking on whether the president would contest in 2019, Adesina said only the president himself can provide an answer to that.
â€œThe president is the one who answer that question, and a time will come when an answer must come,â€ he said.
Adesina also tackled the disobedience of several court orders ordering the release from detention of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), and the Head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Maintaining that the administration of Buhari is one that thrives on strict adherence to the rule of the law, Adesina said the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, is in a better position to offer perspectives on why the men have not been released.
â€œThis administration respects the rule of law. If there are some cases that constitute issues, the best person to address those issues would be the AGF. He would be able to tell from the perspective of law, why those cases are different. But as far as we can see, from practical examples, verifiable cases, the president respects the rule of law,â€ he explained.
Adesina also talked insinuations of perceived silence from the president on the herdsmen attack in different parts of the country, stating that Buhari already gave marching orders to the heads of all security agencies to tackle the menace.
He also defended the recent launch and public presentation of the book on Buhariâ€™s achievements: Making Steady, Sustainable Progress for Nigeriaâ€™s Peace & Prosperity, a midterm scorecard on the President u Buhari administration.
â€œThere are some who say the president has not done anything, and if they continue to trumpet it, some people may be deceived. That is why we decided to do an encyclopedia of his achievements,â€ he said.
The book, Adesina added, provides information on the achievements of the government in the three focal areas of security, economy and anti-corruption.
Garba Shehu was however more emphatic on the presidential bid for 2019 without categorically clarifying whether or not the president would contest the presidential election.
â€œ That is the perfect answer (Adesinaâ€™s response) but if you ask that question; is he good enough, is he fit enough? I can tell you the president is very well and good enough to go,â€ he said.
Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, also indicated that Buhari is waiting on the National Assembly, before he takes a definite action over the scandal and embarrassment caused by the controversial recall of Maina. The matter is currently being investigated by an adhoc committee of the Senate.
â€œMaina, yes, is a sore point. As we speak, the National Assembly is also investigating the issue. It would not be reasonable if the president is judgmental or rushes into judgement on this matter. Supposing, something comes from the National Assembly asking him to do this or that, that would be awkward, if he had already determined this matter. This government, like all governments, has to work together as one: the judiciary, executive and Legislature and that is what you are seeing,â€ Shehu said.
He also debunked insinuations that the president is slow to act on corruption allegations involving his associates, explaining that under a constitutional government, the president has no powers to stop anti-graft agencies from carrying out investigations, or to stall such investigations.
â€œIf there is a failure to get it done, please ask the agencies,â€ the presidential spokesperson said, added.
â€œNo government has taken the fight (anti-corruption) this far, as this government as done. There has never been as many number of convictions, there has never been as much recoveries of funds, there has never been so highly placed people undergoing trial in the history of this country. â€œ
All the President can do is allow EFCC do their job, they make arrests, they charge to court, it is removed from his hands, he cannot tell them what to do,â€ he added.
Garba also speaking on Boko Haram, said 90 percent of the job has already been done, and the pockets of attacks being reported are regular when terrorism is being tackled. He however expressed optimism that the attacks would stop all together with the pressure being sustained by the military.
The spokesman to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, who briefly featured on the show, had earlier said the administration is committed to economic development of the country and ensuring that its poverty alleviation programs touch the lives of Nigerians.
He listed the School Feeding program, N-Power program, Loan scheme and conditional cash transfer as programs that are making impact, with plans being made to expand them.
â€œThe president has maintained a useful interaction with the private sector including a quarterly presidential briefing, economic management team, the industrial competitive council with people like Dangote (Aliko) and Peterside (Atedo). A lot of ideas are coming up on how to do PPP, in the areas of infrastructure, developing a kind of blue print on how to get the private sector to do some of these things,â€ he said.