President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday accused previous administrations of lacking imagination in the management of the economy.
‘‘Sometimes, I wonder about those who can afford to send their children abroad for studies and yet continue to sabotage the economy, I wonder what kind of Nigeria they want their children to return to and work. There is a lot of lack of imagination.”
‘‘If you are working for the country, then you should not be misappropriating and misapplying public funds the way people did,’’ the President said.
President Buhari specifically expressed his anger at the mismanagement of Nigeria’s economy, through alleged fraudulent electricity projects and misuse of revenue earned from oil.
The President while receiving members of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) led by the Comptroller-General of Customs Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa, described previous administrations as people who had “no love for the country.” The President queried the huge funds previous regimes said they committed to the power sector, and challenged the leaders to ” show proof” of where the funds were deployed.
President Buhari urged Nigerians to remain vigilant and ensure that only ‘‘people of conscience are in-charge of governance at all levels’’, as the nation prepares for general elections in 2019.
‘‘I challenge anybody to check from Europe, America and Asia; between 1999-2014, Nigeria was producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil per day at an average cost of US$100 per barrel and it went up to US$143.”
‘‘When we came it collapsed to US$37 – US$38 and later was oscillating between US$40 and US$50.”
‘‘I went to the CBN Governor, with my cap in my hand, and asked if we had savings. He told me we had only debts, no savings. Some of the roads were not repaired since the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) days.
‘‘I do not care the opinion you have about Abacha but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on. We also touched education and health institutions.”
‘‘One of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than US$ 15 billion on power in Nigeria. Where is the power?’’ the President said.
The President noted that under his watch, the 2016 and 2017 budgets recorded the highest appropriation and releases in capital projects, with over N2.8 trillion disbursements in two years.
He urged Nigerians to reject those bent on dividing the country along religious and ethnic lines, warning that they do not mean well for the country.
‘‘I have said severally that we do not have any other country than Nigeria and we will remain here and salvage it together.”
‘‘We have nothing to regret. Absolutely nothing. God has given Nigeria everything. We are rich in human and material resources. Let us keep on praying to God to put people of conscience in-charge at all levels,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Ali said the group and majority of Nigerians are passionate about a second-term for President Buhari because of his integrity, honesty, love and patriotism.
He noted that President Buhari has entrenched fiscal discipline and prudent management of resources, improved the nation’s security and delivered on his promise to revamp agriculture, as a major revenue earner for the country.
But as Buhari railed against previous administrations, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign if he cannot end the continued killings in the country.
Supo Ayonkunle, CAN President said this yesterday at the National Christian (Ecumenical ) Centre, Abuja during the mass preceding the peaceful protest by Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja over the killings in Nigeria, particularly the recent killing of two priests and some lay faithful in Benue State.
Ayokunle noted that the security of lives and property was the primary responsibility of government and if any government failed in this regard as noticeable in Nigeria, it is left with no option but resignation. Ayokunle who was represented by Steven Adekete noted that the church in Nigeria has been in perpetual mourning for a long time and condemned the spate of killings across the country.
“The President has said to us he will continue to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and her citizens but this has not been done. The question we are asking is that if they don’t know those who have been killing us, then they should resign.
“The people who have being killing us are not invincible. They are human beings. They move about. They are known. Enough is enough. The killing of ministers in the house of God cannot be acceptable by God and the Church in Nigeria. We will continue to demand for justice,” the Christian leader stressed.
Similarly, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Anglican Communion in Nigeria asked the Federal government to be sincere and rise up to its constitutional duty and protect Nigerians from senseless killings by herdsmen.
Okoh said forming of committees is meaningless at this time as the Nigerian military is capable of quelling the humanitarian crises if given right orders and reminded the government that it has a contract with the people which must be fulfilled by both parties.
“We have the Nigerian Army, Air force and Navy if given the right order, they can go to the bushes to fish out these people and disarmed them. If they do not take away arms from these people, we are not safe. The idea of forming one committee here and there is useless,” Okoh maintained.
Also, Catholic faithful joined by other Christian denominations dressed in black attire across Nigeria Yesterday converged at designated places for peaceful protest over incessant killings in the country.
This was as the pope representative to Nigeria (Papal Nuncio), Archbishop Antonio Guido led about 50 Bishops to Benue State for the mass burial of 2 priests and 17 parishioners killed by armed Fulani militia last month at St. Ignatius Mission, Mbalom in Gwer East Local Government.
All Catholic Dioceses across the country held masses and peaceful protests in solidarity with the Makurdi Diocese. In Abuja, the faithful defied the morning rain and trooped to the National Christian (Ecumenical) Centre for the mass and prayer for peace in Nigeria which was followed by a peaceful protest.
John Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja represented by the Auxiliary Bishop, Anslem Umoren in a homily reminded President Buhari of his inaugural covenant with Nigerian:” I belong to Nobody and I belong to everybody, ” hence the need to give protection to all countrymen.
The Bishop Umoren, however, warned Christians that the current tribulations should not dampen their spirit but they should be rather strengthened as those who died for Christ do not die in vain but for a divine purpose.
The Auxiliary Bishop on behalf of the Archbishop who was in Makurdi for the mass burial led the protest from the National Ecumenical Centre to Our Lady Queen of All Nations Pro- Cathedral, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists during the protest, Mike Omeri, former Director General National orientation Agency said the protest was solidarity against violence and not against one religion or the other but to ensure that Nigerian citizens, irrespective of their status are given protection by the government.
“These protests across the country means that government should listen. The day government stops to listen, then they are inviting other things and I don’t know what that could be but government should listen to the people.
“This violence is beyond religion because we have had series of demonstration across the land. Something is happening, government should listen and they should stop insulting Nigerians when they respond to issues of crisis like this,” Omeri stated.
Tony Ailemen, James Kwen, Stella Enenche, Laide Akinbode-Oriere, Abuja
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