THE presidential election has come and gone and President Muhammadu Buhari now has a second term. What is your take on this development considering how keenly contested the election was?
President Buhari’s re-election victory has confirmed that Nigerians still prefer him to any other person at this crucial time. He will be in power for another four years by the grace of God. It was a hard-fought victory and we in the APC see the result as a support of our economic, political, and social policies. And I want to assure Nigerians that soon, this victory will translate into tangible economic development that will be evidenced by improvement in the lives of Nigerians.
Nigerians have a lot of expectations as this government moves into another term. Many have said they expect the president to pay greater attention to the economy. Somebody recently pointed out that Nigeria’s population growth rate is not commiserate to our economic growth. This is affecting the standard of living and allocation of resources in the country.
The issues of unemployment and poverty too are being talked about. Then people want stable foreign exchange rate, among other things. Nigerians want the electricity problems to be addressed and many want the President to do more in the area of education. Not forgetting the millions of Nigerians urging the federal government to continue its clampdown on corruption. These are the reasons Nigerians voted for Buhari again and he is ready to do even more.
The election was no doubt a tough contest. How, in your opinion, did APC got Buhari re-elected?
The victory is definitely the product of excellent team work on the parts of all APC leaders, chieftains and members. We worked hard and thank God that the good people of Nigeria believe in us. Immense recognition must go to the National Leader of our party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the Co-Chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council.
Tinubu has once again, with this victory, showed the world that he is the grandmaster of Nigerian politics. The opposition tried to play up some propaganda, but with the likes of Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, Boss Mustapha, and a lot of others galvanizing the party into proactive moves, it was easy for the APC to show Nigerians it was all lies.
All over the country, people are elated at the news of the re-election of Buhari to serve a second term as the president of the country. Even Nigerians in Diaspora have expressed confidence that President Buhari’s second term in office will usher in renewed period of prosperity for the country. So, I have no doubt in my mind that better days are ahead for us all.
Nigerians, by voting for APC at the presidential election, revealed their firm belief in his ability to steer the ship of the country for a second term. With their votes, the voters across the country expressed optimism that Buhari government will continue to serve Nigeria diligently. The victory is definitely a confirmation that Nigerians feel cheated by the PDP which held power for 16 years and did nothing to better the lives of the people.
But do you sincerely think the President can up his game in his second term given the complaints by some Nigerians over his first term?
Right from the very beginning of its first term, the Buhari administration has focused on infrastructure projects in the country. This administration identified the need for infrastructural development and raised over N100 billion from Sukuk bonds to rehabilitate roads. Buhari has been carrying out key rail projects like the Lagos Ibadan rail line, and many others across the country before his re-election.
I think we should be talking about his intention towards the Second Niger Bridge, Mambilla power project, our own fourth Mainland Bridge and Lagos Calabar coastal railway and many others as projects we should be expecting in the second term. I have told those saying some projects will be abandoned now that he has won a new four-year term to be optimistic. Buhari does not make political statements. He will not abandon any project.
Very importantly, in its second term, I am sure this administration will continue to improve on the ease of doing business within the country. We must appreciate earlier steps like improving electronic processes at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and providing visa on arrival for foreign investors. This is one of the many efforts the government has done and I am sure they will build on it.
You sound so optimistic. Is it that you didn’t hear the president say the days ahead will be tougher?
President Buhari’s well deserved victory is a sign of acceptance from Nigerians and I have no doubt that the next level of policies will favour Nigerians. The people voted for President Buhari massively irrespective of some deception by opposition leaders who tried to pitch the people against the President by raising false alarm about economy and security. It is the same people who are twisting what the President just said to mean something else.
The President didn’t say it the way some people are trying to twist it. He explained himself very clearly and I perfectly agree with him. The 16-year misrule of the PDP, just as President Buhari explained when he made that statement, will make the next four years tough for Nigerians. We have said this many times but it is the truth. PDP wasted the country’s resources while in power. Some people ate Nigerian’s today while in positions yesterday.
This is what President Buhari was saying when he said that due to the level of corruption perpetrated during the PDP era, his second term in office would be tough. Also, the country witnessed terrible infrastructure decay in spite of the huge resources earned during PDP’s leadership. So, for any administration willing to turn these things around positively, tough decisions will be inevitable.
The statement has created fear in the minds of many Nigerians. Is this justified?
Not at all! Such fears are unnecessary because the tough decisions will surely be in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians, especially the majority masses. This government has right from the onset, proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is for the people and not for a few elites. So, everything that it will do, in my opinion, will be in the interest of the ordinary Nigerians.
One thing I am sure of is that steps will be taken to improve living standards in the country. Let us look back at the first term of Mr. President. The ban on rice and fertiliser importation was one of the tough decisions taken by the government. But it yielded positive results because it helped boost local production and we are able to raise the number of rice farmers across the country. Also after we banned the importation of fertilizer, the product is now available and cheaper.
The President also said anti-graft institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses, Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau will be strengthened to continue the fight against corruption. I support this wholeheartedly because like Buhari said, it is better to prevent corruption instead of spending a lot of money prosecuting corruption cases.
Yours have always been a voice for the women and youths, what do you think they stand to benefit in this administration?
While appreciating those who worked hard for his re-election recently, President Buhari specifically acknowledged the significant role played by women and youths and said his administration will not disappoint them in the next four years. I heard that with my ears and as usual, I believe Mr. President does not make political statements. I am banking on his words, so I expect a better deal for women and youths in the next four years.
During the campaign, and even after the victory, just as we were celebrating his re-election, we in the APC demanded for more women and youth representation in the next cabinet that will be formed by the President and the party. Happily, President Buhari promised us that more women and youths with integrity and interest of Nigeria will be considered for appointment to the next cabinet.
You returned to the APC and curtailed your former party, the PDP in Oshodi-Isolo, its erstwhile stronghold. Why are you so confident APC is the right party for your people?
When I rejoined my people in the APC last year, I said I am back in the party. And when I say I am back, I am actively back. I am enlightened now and better informed about the things I didn’t know about the PDP here in Lagos and across the country. So, it is correct to say I went into this election better informed than before. I have been the one delivering Oshodi-Isolo to PDP. Now, I am the one that prevented them from winning the area.
Election is a contest. It is a game of numbers and we will do it with all our strength to deliver back to the party all the slots and mandates we took from APC to PDP during the 2015 election. Like I said when I left the party, PDP is now dead in this council, no more opposition. This council is completely for APC now. I pledged my loyalty and I walked hard for the party.
My sojourn away from the party was based on principle just as my return to the party was encouraged by the same principle of supporting only good things that will be beneficial to Lagos. A lot of principled persons, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my leader and brother, encouraged me to return home and join in the struggle to save Lagos from being overrun by those who want to pillage our collective patrimony.