Kabir Nakaura is the successful Chairman, Board of Trustee of the President Buhari’s Campaign Organization having won the 2015 presidential election the first time on Buhari’s fourth attempts; in this exclusive encounter, the Katsina born politician spoke extensively on the mid-term stride of the present administration and urged Nigerians to eschew sentiments in their verdict over the current setback on the nation’s economy.
Let us meet you sir.
My names are Kabir Nakaura, I am the Chairman, Board of Trusty, Buhari Campaign Organisation (BOT).
Your profile indicates you are part of success story of President Buhari’s long walk-to-victory at the last presidential poll after his three attempts; in your view, where do you think Buhari government went wrong that the economy is like this under his watch?
Thank you. Any right thinking and enlightened Nigerian will know that this government had no hand in the current situation we found ourselves as far as the economic situation is concern. The issue is that, the previous PDP government actually rocked the economy. All they know is taking cash in and cash out of the system.
Why do you say that?
They have no sordid plan for development because no economy can develop without infrastructure. All they succeeded in doing is cash economy, when they award contract, they triple the value of the contract and will not even execute the contract but take the whole fund outside the country. So we are in this situation because the past PDP government refuses to develop our infrastructure. You can’t develop any economy without infrastructure such as road, water, electricity, medical facilities and what have you; even those ones they made noise over are white elephant projects to make money. So my submission is that it was PDP economy that put Nigeria in a mess.
How would you juxtapose the two in terms of managing the situation?
Of course, they were able to manipulate the economy to their favour because our main source of revenue, the crude oil sold for over N100 at their own time, but rather than investing the money for rainy day, they never invest in infrastructure but spent the money on cash basis and siphoned our common wealth into individual pockets. PDP put us in this mess and worsening situation, as this present government took over, the oil price crashed at the international market to below N30, which is our main source of income. The past administrations refused to diversify the economy in other areas such mining and agriculture in order to escape the unforeseen revenue shortfall and here we are.
As the situation is now, do you think President Buhari is doing enough to bungle the nation out of the economic chaos?
Of course, the leadership in President Buhari who has seeing it all as a former governor, minister, Head of State, chairman of many agencies and now a president; so governance is not new to him.
Do you think that is helping him right now?
One thing is that he has integrity, is not a thief, and all in his mind now is to develop the country. Immediately he assumes power, he put in a committee to look into how the present economic predicament can be ameliorated. They came up with Treasury Single Account (TSA), a measure to block loopholes in government. This government met over forty different federal government accounts through where they drill our common wealth, but now all government money come into one place, therefore minimizing the stealing. Secondly, he put in his structural adjustment policy of diversifying the economy into agriculture and mining, and everyone in Nigeria can now see things for themselves how agriculture is succeeding in the country; thirdly, what we are used to is that capital expenditure is always far below the recurrent expenditure, no nation can develop with that. But Buhari government capital spending is far above the recurrent, which means they mean business to develop infrastructure and development of all segment of the economy; but to succeed, the stealing of government money must stop; secondly, they need more money; three, you diversify and finically you put the necessary infrastructure on ground as the enabling environment.
Take for example the South-west and South-east, the PDP government failed to construct roads in those areas, especially in the South-east. The Second-Niger Bridge is an example; the PDP in their sixteen years never did it. You can go and find out, since Buhari government came on board, many road constructions and infrastructure works are ongoing there due to economic relevance of the terrain and other structural program to bring the people out of poverty, part of such programme is the N-Power initiative and other agricultural inputs.
Meaning you are confident things are in order under Buhari?
One he has the experience; two, he is sincere; three, he has patience having contested elections three times; so when you have all these combined, the nation is in a safe hand.
How would you score the present government in his mid-term assessment?
This government announced cardinal principles when they came on board; one, they say security; two, they say economy; three, they said they are here to fight corruption?
Have they achieved any?
On security, everybody will agree with me hundred percent that the terrorist, Boko Haram have instituted their reigns on 14 local government in the country. Today, they cannot hold any single one. Secondly, in the North-east, inhabitants are going about their businesses unlike before now, even some of those in IDP camps have returned to their base, except pockets of attacks in some areas, which is natural when compare to what is happening around the world at the moment such as attack in Paris, London, America and so on, and these nations are strong countries in terms of military strength.
Some will agree with you that present government has tried in the area of security. What can you say of economy?
The issue is that, no one can heal a wound in one day, you have to pass through a process of cleaning it and applying medicines; just like anyone inflicts a matchet cut on you under a minute, but no doctor can heal you of it in one day, same thing is applicable to the economy, which is more vast by nature, and Nigeria is a big country so to speak and that is where the previous government failed not to have diversified its economy, and for you to now create employment and other infrastructure that will take us out of the wood will definitely take a lot of time.
Could that be your word of advice to Nigerians?
My advice is that, let Nigerians be patience with Buhari on this journey, he will surely take us to promise land, the indices are there. Go to the areas of agriculture, what are the productivities last years when compare to previous years, things have improved a lot. Only Kebbi state recorded 1 million tons of rice last year; meanwhile during Jonathan administration, the state could not even boast of 100, 000, the indices have actually improved, even when you go to mining.
What about corruption?
You can see how corruption is fighting back to show that the Government is not living anything unturned as far as their campaign promise is concern.
But on that, there is accusation that the Buhari war on corruption is parochial?
One thing I want you to understand is that, once you are PDP you are corrupt because the government of the day is corrupt, even when you move to APC, it doesn’t mean you are clean, you are also as guilty as your counterparts, but why those who facing trials are in it is because they hold positions and most of those in APC today never hold positions, therefore you cannot trace corruption directly to them. 99.9 of those who are corrupt are from the PDP because they held governance for sixteen years. All being prosecuted today have one thing or the other on their hands; they have been in and out of power in PDP. Everyone close to Buhari knows him very well, if anyone has anything against those in APC should come up with it, for Buhari if you are corrupt you are corrupt.
Can you say Buhari is winning the war on corruption, when you consider the spate of judicial escapes by these accused, including those who made confessional statements to EFCC earlier?
They are winning the war because, one, money is being recovered as Nigerians can see through their televisions. Secondly, people are being taken to court consequently; most cases they are winning through the law courts are on technical ground and the federal government still appealing most of the cases, if Mr. President can go to court up to Supreme court then nothing is impossible at the end, this is because ever since Buhari assume office, none of this individuals have taken matters up to supreme court for ruling.
Let me tell you, by the time the NASS pass the pending law on corruption, it will definitely ease the process, and technical excuses from court will no longer applicable.
Does that mean you have confidence in the present National Assembly passing bill on anti-corruption, knowing the antecedent of many of them?
There is no doubt about the fact that system corrupts most of these lawmakers when they were governors or ministers, and it will be difficult for some of them to beat their chests they want to fight corruption, but the onus now is on Nigerians that insists they want this bill passed, and it is none of the lawmakers choice than to pass the bill. The unfortunate thing that befell us as a nation was that, when PDP was ruling, they did not even realize that corruption was illegal. This is so because from the top to the bottom, all of them are corrupt. We know how people come to the Senate and the House through the system of corruption. And one of the things the president is trying to do is to stop the moneybag politics, which encourages only when you have money before you can run campaigns for election. There are good people out there, but they cannot context election because they don’t have money, and with the new development on the fight against graft, these politicians are now realising the power is with the masses.
What do you think prompted the lawmakers’ action in fast tracking work on the bill?
I am aware of course, that some Mallams went to the Senate president, to express their grievances on why is not with Mr. President on issues. They told him that they will start praying for him to go down, is in the news; he told them he doesn’t want that and that is why the anti-corruption bill was accented the second day, after all 2019 is around the corner, am sure they know the masses are waiting for them.
From many quarters, the Eight NASS, particularly the Senate represents anti-Buhari’s government one way or the other on way and manner they play politics around whatever Mr. President put before them?
I think people have to be fare to the NASS, if they say about four to five executive proposals are turned down, but they have approve many, it is their oversight function and people should allow them to do it.
Are you insinuating there is no political undertone in what they are doing?
(cut in) there is no politics without politics, but what I am saying is that we have to be fare with them if they have pass over 108 and rejected about ten of President’s proposals, we should commend them. They are doing their job and that is what the constitution says, but they should do the right things. There can be one bill which is more than twenty one bills, that important one should be given priority devoid of sentiments and personal interests. For example the EFCC, if Mr. President could present somebody twice, that means he have confidence in him. You members of the National Assembly cannot bring anyone; it is only Mr. President that can bring who will work with him and there is no justification for anybody to kick against it.
Some Nigerians are of the opinion that Mr. president should resign as a result of his constant medical trip abroad, what is your view?
One thing I will let the people know is that, sickness is from God, that you are sick does not mean you call for it. We have a system, whereby when somebody is sick the vice stand in place and the system is moving, that is the reason for the position of a running-mate during electioneering process. During the PDP era, there was no time that their presidents relinquished power to anybody in an acting capacity, but President Buhari in his wisdom and goodwill gave out his position. So because he is sick does not mean he is incapacitated, provided the mental alertness is there, and such sickness a times is induced by so many factors.
As BOT chairman of President Buhari’s Campaign Organisation, it means you are close to the seat of power. How true is speculation that some cabal in Buhari cabinet went to London to cause confusion among Buhari and the Acting President?
As far as I am concern, there is nothing like cabal, the government as a system has a President, the Vice, the Chief of Staff, the Secretary to the Government, Ministers and all others that constitute the cabinet members, including the special advisers. But there are always friends in any setting. Can I say because of my closeness to you as an individual does not mean I am your cabal? Because I am a President today does not mean my friend will not visit me, all these people they are talking about have been with President Buhari since he was a youth; they have been with him for over sixty years, because he is now a President , will he reject them?
Are you concluding that the allegation is unfound?
It is immaterial. If you know president Buhari well, you will know he is an institution, not individual. If you know him very well, you will know that his school classmate, despite his election cannot be cut off from him, but they can never influence him because everybody knows that Buhari cannot be influenced by anybody; that is why he said I am for everybody and for nobody, we that are closer to him know him so well except you don’t want to be fare to him, all he takes is advice from anyone, but the moment his mind is made on issues, that’s it. He nurses no personal interest on anything. He will never take contact or ask anybody to take on his behalf. He once wrote a circular to ministries and some government agencies, I was able to lay my hands on two to three of them; he cautioned them never to attend to anyone that came for anything on his name; it was a circular written by him and signed by him.
You mean there is no cabal in this government?
When you say cabal, which means some people who want to take advantage, may be they ask him of a favour and he turned them away because he doesn’t believe in it, he believe in straight forwardness and in doing his job, that is Buhari.
Sallah is days away from us, do you think President Buhari will celebrate Sallah at home?
The federal government has told Nigerians that his coming back will be base on his doctor’s advice. But that doesn’t prevent him from doing his job; in fact, some confirmed they saw him on the street of London jugging. But the information minister has confirmed to us that his coming will base on his doctor’s advice.
We have attacking dogs that are celebrating President Buhari ’s health, even wishing him dead, such as the likes of Fani Kayode and Fayose, what is your opinion about them?
What amazed me is that not many Nigerians know who Fani Kayode is. This is somebody who is not stable, not in his rightful state of the mind and rather should be ignore when he speaks. Anyone who call himself or herself as belonging to any religion will not call for other people’s death under any guise. Where is Jesus Christ? Where is Moses and where is Prophet Mohammed? They have all died, if prophets can die what about ordinary human being. Why didn’t Fani Kayode hold his father back from death? So it is immature for anybody to wish death for others.
Fani is fund of accusing Buhari of being a fundamentalist
Today, who is his minister of finance? Who is his CBN governor? Who is his minister of petroleum? What people failed to realized is that, we in the North-west gave him almost 50% of the vote in the 2015 election, but what Katsina, his home state can boast of in his cabinet is minister of state. So if he is a fundamentalist, his own people should dominate others in his government, compared to his predecessor who gave virtually everything to his own people in the Niger-Delta that shows president Buhari is not what few think he is, and that is our cardinal objective as his campaign organization.
What else would you want say that we have not asked?
The only thing I will like to add is that, I want Nigerians to be patient with the president. If Buhari has been patient this while before h eventually emerged the president, which shows in his perseverance, he has a determination to deliver good governance to the good people of Nigeria. And as a people, if we have been patience with bad governance and bad politicians all these years, to fix the economy they destroy will take a little time, especially now that corruption is also there, fighting back. Nigerians needs to understand this.
- Sola Omosola Akingboye graduated from Lagos State University, Ojo and also an alumni of International Institute of Journalism, Abuja. The Abuja based Media Consult is a member of NUJ, FCT Chapel; Member, Nig Energy Correspondents and affiliate of other proffesional bodies such as Believe in Nigeria Initiative (BINI); Change Agent for Positive Transformation (CAPT); OSHA Association for Industrial Safety in Nigeria. He is currently an Associate Editor and Chairman Editorial Board Informavores.com.ng.