By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — The president-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari, yesterday, lamented that the out-going administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to provide the in-coming government with all the necessary information needed for a smooth take-off next week, particularly on how to tackle the current fuel scarcity in the country.
The President-elect spoke on a day the Senate directed its committees on Petroleum Resources ( Upstream and Downstream ) to immediately commence investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the fuel crisis in the country.
The Senate directive was sequel to the motion by the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, who had called on the lawmakers to pay serious attention to the fuel crisis that had created great hardship for Nigerians at the moment. Senator Ningi wondered why a country that has abundant oil resources should face the kind of biting scarcity that had increased the suffering of Nigerians.
But the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, noted that since the Deputy Senate Leader raised the motion under personal explanation, the senate would not debate it but would rather approve his prayers.
Senator Ekweremadu said: “Ningi’s prayers are simple and straightforward. He is asking us, as representatives of the people, to direct our committees on upstream and downstream, to find out what is currently going on in the oil sector and possibly find a way of addressing it.
“In that regard, we now ask our committees on Petroleum Resources ( Upstream and Downstream), to find out what is going on and what the government is doing about it and report back on Tuesday next week. That is our wish”
Meanwhile, General Buhari, who spoke when the APC Transition Committee headed by Ambassador Ahmed Joda submitted an interim report of the committee to him, also said the out-going government misunderstood the terms of reference of the committee, thinking he was already running a parallel government.
Ahmed Joda had earlier told General Buhari that the government committee headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo refused to provide his committee with necessary information to make better decisions.
According to Joda, the committee had to rely on its initiative and assistance from the organized private sector, the Lagos Business School, international development partners and members of the public to draw up a plan.
The committee’s mission
In his response, Buhari stated that the aim of the committee was not to indict anyone, but to make adequate preparations for the task ahead.
He said: “The in-coming government was misunderstood. It is not that we are preparing for indictment. What we are trying to get is a starting point, where exactly we are going to start from.
“We have seen the debt profile now and the performance of the economy. The question is, what can we do about it especially the urgent ones like social security, lack of fuel in the country and fraud? The list is endless. I thank you for what you have done and I hope that the subsequent submission by the government will make your job easier and more efficient and tell us where to begin from.
“What we expected was for the out-going government to make a presentation to this committee and for this committee to study the document and make submission to the in-coming government.
“For your simple mindedness, you went to work. But unfortunately, this committee was accused of running a parallel government. From then on, this committee was constrained to take this initiative and break into various sub-committees and assigned various tasks to study the most important issues nationwide and see what they can put on record.
Commendation for Joda committee
“I thank you very much for this effort which you have made and I want to assure you that we will find time to read your initial report and when the government decides to finally present to you their own records, you will study them and merge with the report of the various committees and present to the in-coming government.
“My expectation was that each ministry will make its own presentations. The politicians know that they are going, while the bureaucrats who do the jobs know they are staying.
“They are the ones who are going to do the job and they are going to be available to help cross-check the information. I think that this research you have made will help the incoming government to cross-check the information on paper given by the outgoing government”.
While making the presentation earlier, Joda said that though the Federal Government did not make any input in the interim report, the committee was expecting government report today, stressing that availability of useful tips from the government would tremendously help in the final report of the committee.
Buhari thanks Jonathan again
Meanwhile, General Buhari has again commended President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat at the March 28 polls and averting crisis in the country.
Buhari, who gave the commendation in Abuja, yesterday, when he received Nigerien President Issoufou Mahamadou, said Presient Jonathan’s action turned around Nigeria’s nervous political process.
He said: “The Nigerien president purposely came to congratulate me on my victory and President Jonathan for the maturity and statesmanship that he exhibited by accepting that he had lost the election.
“His action actually doused tensions and averted crisis in Nigeria.
“Not only Africa but the world has commended the President for that because if he had disputed the elections, there would have been crisis in the country.
“That is what people don’t want, not only Nigerians but other countries. So, he came to commend President Jonathan for his courage and statesmanship.”
Buhari added that the Nigerien president had also come to show solidarity and acknowledge Nigeria’s importance on the continent.
He said that but for colonialism, Niger and Nigeria and all countries living along the border were one as they shared similar cultures, religions and mannerisms.
Nigeria’s importance in Africa
“As he rightly puts it, if Nigeria sneezes, the rest of Africa catches cold because of its importance, population and resources.
“So, Nigeria and Niger Republic are one entity as one singer from Niger puts it in his lyrics. We share a 1,500 kilometre-long border with Niger which stretches from Chad to Sokoto, and all the people living along the borders on either sides are same people.
“The colonialists separated these people when they partitioned Africa at the Berlin conference in 1885. They separated the Fulanis, Kanuris and the Hausas from their brothers who are presently in Niger.
“They separated the Yorubas of Nigeria and the ones in Benin Republic. They also separated the Fulanis and other tribes who were living together as one along the Cameroon border.
“So, all these countries around us were a single entity with people of similar culture and religion before they became separated but time has changed and we thank him for reminding us of our history of brotherhood.”
Why I visited Nigeria—Mahammadou
Earlier, Mahammadou said he was in Nigeria to convey the gratitude and salutation of Niger Republic for the peaceful conduct of the elections held in spite of challenges.
“President Jonathan conceded defeat and this act will have a lasting impact and influence on politics in Africa, West Africa and Africa at large.”