Monday, 9 May 2016

TRENDING SATIRE: 'I Will Give Better Life to Nigerians on N6.06trn Budget of Change' - President BUHARI BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/CNNiReport Journalist North America

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ME: 'Mr President, you have just signed into law the 2016 Budget, which you termed Budget of Change, why did it take this long before you have to sign it bearing in mind that millions of Nigerians are suffering?'

President BUHARI: To start with, let me explain to you that the executive has never been the cause of the delay. Nigerians know the truth. The problem had all the while been the Parliamentarians in National Assembly, the Senate, to be precise, who kept pandering with figures, injecting figures that we never included. The Senate earlier came out with different figures that were trending all over the social media which were not true. I told them (Senate) that was not our budget. I stood my ground since I will never ever be part of any illegality. At last they did the right thing which was why I eventually signed the 2016 Budget into law.
(Paused few seconds). By the time we begin to implement this budget of change almost immediately, Nigerians will appreciate my service and dedication to this country the more because my government will make life beautiful to Nigerians and will offer them better living conditions. The budget is intended to signpost a renewal of our commitment to restoring the budget as a serious article of faith with the Nigerian people. This Administration is committed to ensuring that henceforth the annual appropriation bill is presented to the National Assembly in time for the passage of the Act before the beginning of the fiscal year.Through the 2016 budget, aptly titled "Budget of Change’’, the government seeks to fulfill its own side of the social contract. The Budget I have signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of N6.06trn. Further details of the approved budget, as well as our Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, will be provided by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning. In designing the 2016 budget, we made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy despite the huge decline in government revenues from crude oil exports. This is why we decided to enlarge the budget deficit at this time, to be financed principally through foreign and domestic borrowings. All borrowings will however be applied towards growth-enhancing capital expenditures.

George Otumu now
ME: 'His Excellency, millions of Nigerians hold the opinion that Nigerian economy is almost at the point of collapse. No money in circulation, no light, no job. How will this your Budget of Change put food on Nigerians table and save the economy?'

President BUHARI: I know the pains Nigerians are going through daily. Don't forget that it is when light is about to break that you witness the thickest darkness.

ME: 'Mr. President, you are talking in riddles. Can you hit the nail on the head so Nigerians at home and Nigerians in the Diaspora will know your plans for them and the nation?'

President BUHARI: George, I am a very thorough, disciplined retired military man, even though I am a great democrat. We are experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our Nation. I want to commend the sacrifice, resilience and toughness of all Nigerians young and old who have despite the hardships continued to have hope and confidence of a great future for Nigerians. But permit me to say that this government is also like none other. We are absolutely committed to changing the structure of the Nigerian economy once and for all. We are working night and day to diversify the economy so that we never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country. So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use.

We intend to create the environment for our young peoples to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology. Despite the current difficulties we will work extra-hard to achieve our revenue projections. Our revenue generating agencies are coming under better management and are being re-oriented. The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is expected to contribute significantly to improving transparency over government revenues. I cannot promise you that this will be an easy journey, but in the interest of so much and so many we must tread this difficult path. I can assure you that this government you have freely elected will work with honesty and dedication, day and night to ensure that our country prospers and that the prosperity benefits all Nigerians. I can assure you that Nigerians will no loner pass through this pain again.

ME: 'Mr President, I need to bring to your knowledge that there are various burning national issues that I need to lay before you so Nigerians can hear directly from you regarding your positions. Recently, there were reports of how some Fulani Herdsmen wrecked havoc on Abia, Benue, Delta and Enugu States killing hundreds of people, raping under age girls, setting houses ablaze which led to lawlessness and commotion. Many Nigerians expect that you could have issued a statement immediately reports emanate on how those blood-thirsty Fulani Herdsmen were committing genocide, but you kept quiet' (Interjection by Mr President).

President BUHARI: Otumu, Otumu, Otumu...listen. How many times have I called you? I am a pragmatic leader who takes his time to get to the root of every problems. I don't confront problems in a fire-brigade approach. I have looked critically at the situation. No tribe or ethnic region in Nigeria is greater than the other. I am the President of the whole of Nigeria which comprises every tribes, ethnic groups in 774 local governments in Nigeria. I don't condone lawlessness or illegality under any guise. We are determined to secure all Nigerians and I have told the Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies, in very strong terms, to deal decisively with the attackers.

I have expressed my personal condolences to the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, the people of Ukpabi Nimbo and all other communities that have suffered fatalities and other losses from the recent attacks. I assured the Bishops that I acted with deliberation and moving methodically to implement my change agenda for the good of the country. We need to rebuild our institutions methodically, we need to change the way we do things. My administration is working very hard to fulfill all the promises I made to Nigerians. My greatest motivating factor now is the desire to bring positive change to Nigeria. In the last 10 years, crude oil sold for more that $100 per barrel, but Nigeria did not save. That is why we have found ourselves where we are today..

ME: 'Mr President, that brings me to the next question of corruption which mostly involves elites and public office holders that are supposed to serve the people but serving their pockets. How are we sure that the implementation of the N6.06trn Budget of Change will not be squandered by kleptomaniac in some of the ministries?'

President BUHARI: We have put in place a strong mechanism, tracker to monitor the stage-by-stage implementation of the 2016 Budget. We know all Nigerians and members of International Community are monitoring us closely. Insha Allah, we will never fail Nigerians. For national security reasons, I will not go into full details of how and what we have done to catch and arrest any public official found to be stealing, misappropriating or squandering our collective wealth that is determined to bring smile on the faces of Nigerians. That may be possible in time past, but never again. Anyone caught will face the music and end in jail. I make no excuses as this Government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is determined to tackle headlong all socio – economic ills that have troubled our nation and we shall evolve solutions to emerging threats to our well being and the realization of sustainable development as well as growth anchored on equity and social justice.

I will be traveling on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 to London to participate in the international Anti-Corruption Summit which will be held in the British capital on Thursday, May 12, 2016. As an internationally recognised leader in the global fight against corruption, I will be playing a prominent part in the summit which will be hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron of Great Britain with many other Heads of State and Government in attendance. I am to deliver the summit's opening, keynote address titled: "Why We Must Tackle Corruption Together" at a pre-summit conference of development partners, the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Transparency International and other civil society groups on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Corruption is a cancer. It is a monster that we all must get rid-off collectively as a nation. There is never a development where corruption is prevalent or present. I hate corruption, since it is an enemy to progress. Thereafter, I will join other participating heads of State and Government at special plenary sessions on Exposing Corruption, Tackling Corruption and Driving out Corruption.

Before returning to Abuja on Friday, May 13, 2016 Insha Allah, I will be having a separate meeting with Prime Minister Cameron to discuss ongoing Nigeria-Britain collaboration in the war against corruption and terrorism, as well as other issues, including trade and economic relations between both countries.

ME: 'Finally, Mr President. What are you doing to ensuring all stolen funds of Nigeria Overseas are repatriated into the nation's coffer to speedily help Nigerian Economy?'

President BUHARI: Otumu, I want to really thank you for your thoughtfulness in this question. On May 5 in Abuja I urged the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to facilitate the faster recovery of Nigeria’s stolen wealth stashed abroad. I told the Executive Secretary of UNODC, Mr Yury Fedotov we are looking for more cooperation from the EU, United States, other countries and international institutions to recover the nation’s stolen assets, particularly proceeds from the stolen crude oil. It is taking very long and Nigerians are becoming impatient. My administration has worked very hard in the past 11 months to reverse the very negative global perception of Nigeria on corruption. Our genuine efforts to deal with corruption and drugs have earned us international respect and this has encouraged us to do more. We know that by fighting the scourge of drugs and corruption and rebuilding trustworthiness, integrity, good business practices, and imposing discipline on youths to avoid drugs, we are not doing a favour to the international community, we are doing a favour to ourselves. I have also promised that my administration will work with the UN agency to rehabilitate young Nigerians who have been misled into consumption of illicit drugs and drug trafficking.

ME: 'Mr President, I really want to thank you so much for this rare opportunity where despite your daily tight schedule, you have decisively dealt on various national issues that Nigerians are anxious about. Without sounding like Oliver Twist, what is your message to Nigerians in Diaspora, especially the Hausa community that are also doing greatly Abroad in their various businesses?'

President BUHARI: Nijeriya a wajen jihar, ciki har da Hausa al'umma kiyaye kirki, mutunci, da mutunci, kuma horo a matsayin watchwords. Ya kamata su ci gaba da za a rike da kyau image Nijeriya. Kuma ko da yaushe tuna cewa gida gida. Muna bukatar dukan su, su zo gida da kuma shiga da mu gina mafi Nigeria, inda kowa da kowa zai iya riƙe kansa high ba tare da jin kunya ba. Tare, za mu gina New Nigeria mu mafarki (Meaning: Nigerians in Diaspora, including Hausa community should keep honesty, integrity, dignity and discipline as their watchwords. They should continually be maintaining the good image of Nigeria. And always remember that home is home. We need all of them to come home and join us to build a greater Nigeria, where everyone can hold his head high without being ashamed. Together, we will build the New Nigeria of our dream).
George Elijah Otumu, thank you for this enjoyable interview all the way from United States of America. This administration is proud of you and every other Nigerians Abroad that are making the nation great. 

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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