By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA— Investigations into the circumstances of an alleged $20 billion missing from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, will be a priority for the incoming administration, the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), said yesterday.
Receiving a delegation of political stakeholders from Adamawa State, Buhari also expressed shock at the treatment of the military by the outgoing Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, government, describing it as among the worst atrocities of the party on the nation.
Buhari, at the event, also reaffirmed his campaign promise to make the economy, security and corruption as the major agenda of his incoming administration.
The delegation of stakeholders from Adamawa State, led by the Governor-elect, Senator Jibrilla Bindow, comprised Senators-elect, House of Representatives members-elect and other political chieftains from the North-East states.
Earlier in his remarks, Bindow had tasked Buhari to put infrastructure, insecurity and youth unemployment at the top of his agenda once he is sworn in.
On missing NNPC’s $20bn
Noting the response of the outgoing administration to the allegation of the missing $20 billion raised by former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi, the president-elect, who spoke in Hausa said: “I heard that some people have started returning money; I will not believe it until I see it by myself.
“Imagine a situation where the former CBN governor, who by God‘s grace, is now the Emir of Kano, raised an issue of missing billions of money, not in naira but in dollars, $20 billion.
“What happened, instead of investigating whether it was true, they simply found a reason to remove him. So, these are the issues we are talking about.
“This issue is not over yet. Once we assume office, we will order a fresh probe into the matter. We will not allow people to steal money meant for Nigerians to buy shares and stash away in foreign lands.”
Bastardization of military
Buhari also reiterated his campaign promises of ensuring adequate security in the land.
He accused the ruling PDP of bastardizing the Nigerian military, which he said rendered it ineffective.
He recalled the lofty feats achieved by the Nigerian Army in foreign lands, wondering why it had been very difficult for it to curb the menace of Boko Haram in the North-East to the extent that some 14 local government areas would be lost to the insurgents.
Boko Haram issue is not religious but pure terrorism
He stated that it had become obvious that the issue of Boko Haram was not religious but pure terrorism against the nation and the people.
He said: “I thank God for your visit. From what he (leader of the delegation) has said, this problem of Boko Haram, it is now evident, is not a religious problem. It is pure terrorism.
“I said it earlier, all the religions we practise, both Islam and Christianity, do not support terrorism. So, to go and kill people either in the mosque or in a church, market, motor park or to go and slaughter children in the school, anyone who commits such a crime either does not know what Allahuakbar (God is great) means or does not believe in it. This is terrorism. It is our hope that God gives us the power to end this.
“Because of the Boko Haram crisis, some of our fellow Nigerians from the North-East don’t know where their parents are. Some don’t know where their children are, their houses have been burnt, their cities like Bama, Michika, Mubi Madagali and the rest of them were distroyed.
“I urge you to be patient and ensure that anything that will benefit our nation receives your support. We will try our possible best and ensure that we repair hospitals, schools, roads and ensure that we get drugs in our hospitals, books, and other equipment.
Priority to security, economy, corruption
“The 16 years of the PDP has further impoverished the people, and it was the PDP, not the APP, not the CPC, not the APC.
“The three things we in the APC will give priority to are the issues of security, the economy, and the war against corruption. These are three things that affect all the states in Nigeria.
“We hope that like I have been hearing over the radio that we have regained most of the territories captured by Boko Haram, we thank God. But among the worst atrocities committed against Nigeria by the PDP is what it has done to our military.
“It is our military that went to Burma, the same army that when I was commissioned second lieutenant, I did not spend three weeks before I found myself in Kinshasha (in Congo), then (the civil war) in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, then to say Nigerian soldiers failed to retake 14 local government areas out of 774.
“For me, who served in the military, I find it incomprehensible except if I go there to find out the reason for this. The kind of leadership brought upon us by the PDP whether it is documented or not, it can never be forgotten in our history.”
The president-elect also pledged to show concern towards unemployment once he is inaugurated.
He said: “On the issue of unemployment that you talked about, I went to 35 of the 36 states of the federation. I went to some states about six times. I went for town hall meetings in Kano, Lagos and here in Abuja. I met with religious leaders in churches of all denominations, everybody is involved.
“From the airports to the streets we saw youths running after our vehicles sweating, some walking the whole distance to wherever we were driving to, whether they went to school or did not go to school, they don’t have jobs.
“This is the biggest problem we have in Nigeria today. Because of this, apart from security challenges, the next thing is to find jobs for our youths.
“Our youths form 60 per cent of the population in Nigeria. Without jobs, these people, who are still bubbling with energy, will constitute a danger to this nation. If our youths don’t get jobs, we will not enjoy our stay in this nation.
“But one of the things we can use to fight poverty in Adamawa is the abundance of arable land that you have.
“Where I come from (Katsina State), the Sahara (desert) has eaten into the land and our populace that was not opportuned to get formal education became private guards because there is no more land to farm but for you in Adamawa, you are blessed with land and water for agriculture. Because of that, within the next four years, we will do our best.”