Politics

Muhammadu Buhari’s Interview With ChannelsTv on 2022: Read the Transcript

buhari interview with ChannelsTv

President Muhammadu Buhari sat down for an interview with ChannelsTv at the State House in Abuja on January 5 for a number of burning issues in the country, including security, economy, politics, among others.

During the 48-minute conversation, he discussed also the trial of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the Chinese loans secured by his administration, the poor state of power supply, and the condition to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, and other critical matters affecting the people of Nigeria.

Below is the full transcript of the interview between Buhari and Channels Television’s Political Correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye, and the co-host of a morning show, Sunrise Daily at Channels TV, Maupe Ogun-Yusuf.

Seun Okinbaloye and Maupe Ogun-Yusuf:

“Hello and welcome to this very special program, an exclusive interview with President Muhammadu Buhari. President Muhammadu Buhari’s tax return reputation is no secret, and so the interview was a rare one; the president’s preference for communication with his people, we had been told was not through interviews, and in almost seven years of an eight-year presidency one could count on one hand how many sit-downs he’s had, so what a pleasant surprise we had when we were informed that our request for an interview with the president had been granted the only conditions we had to send the questions beforehand, and we had 40 minutes a generous increment from an earlier 30.”

“Nevertheless, we were determined to make the most of it. Absolutely, the president walked in at about 8 30 p.m to new year greetings from my colleague and I bringing you happy new year thank you reluctantly, and after settling in we get right to it in his new year day statement to Nigerians president Buhari had said security remains on the front burner, and that is precisely where we start.”

Seun: “In your new year’s speech, and in that speech, you told, and I quote the persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country may have threatened to unravel the incremental gains achieved if you envisage the enormity of the task when you promise to tackle insecurity as president and commander-in-chief of our country.”

Buhari: “Well, I think you can recall that uh when i was campaigning right 2015 there were three fundamental issues security economy and fighting corruption and for Nigerians to be fair to this administration is to try to find out from the time we won the election in 2015 to now in the three promises we made improving security improving the economy and trying to fight corruption well securing the country in the northeast if you ask anybody from Borno State from Yobe state from Adamawa State there are a number of local governments about 18 that were in the hands of boko haram none of any local government now in strictly in the end of boko haram or Israel so in that respect we have done something the economy don’t forget and i challenge so many people to go and check with the central bank or NNPC the production from 1999 to 2014 was 2.1 million dollars a day average production at the average cost of a hundred American dollars per bar when we came somehow the militants were unleashed in the south south production went down to half a million dollars a day and i think as him by some fabulous coincidence the fries again collapse to about 37 dollars per barrel but look at which we did within the time frame and the resources available to us relative to the government we inherited.”

Maupe Ogun-Yusuf: “Well, the economy and security are two very pressing areas, Mr. President, and I’m sure that over and over again we’ll keep going there you talked about how the militants were unleashed some people would say that president Erdogan also faced that crisis, uh, when he ascended uh when he became president, and that was one of the reasons why he had to, you know, to come up with the amnesty program but I’ll take you back again to security; you’ve spoken about the progress we’ve made in the northeast, and that is true the camps are being emptied; the northwest continues to be of concern where we see bandits, uh, you know, unleashed in many parts of the northwest, sometimes getting to the north-central of the country would you say that we understand fully the problems we’re currently facing in terms of security in the northwest.”

Buhari: “In the northwest is the same people the same culture stealing each other’s animals killing each other burning villages so I think the only language the unseen we discuss it thoroughly with the law enforcement agencies the service chiefs the inspector general of police is to go after uh you know the terrorists we level them terrorists and we are going to deal with them with such and I believe if you go to those constituencies in the northwest and no central within the last four weeks, there are improvements in the security that is improving the skills.”

Maupe Ogun-Yusuf: “is it true I mean because the farmers heard this crisis um was one that was a big challenge a few years back and maybe a few months back as well it’s come down somewhat but some people are attributing it to the seasons they think it’s about the weather and that now that we’re entering the peak of the dry season perhaps you could see a resurgence again would you say that we have dealt with that problem once and for all or do you fear that it could wear its head again.”

Buhari: “we cannot do much about the weather but about the security, we have taken steps and we are seeing the results and we thank God for that for the weather we can only pray and hope that the weather they are mentioning the climate change and so on Nigeria we are very susceptible to such issues because of our population and the size of the country population is the size of the country”

Maupe Ogun-Yusuf: “I made that reference to weather because you know people believe that when things get dry up north that’s why you begin to see the herders coming down south and that’s when we see the resurgence of the conflicts between farmers and herders so that’s why I made reference to the weather do you think that that has been sorted once and for all”

Buhari: “yes the ministers of agriculture from out of urban to Mahmud now one of the issues I discussed with them personally is to go and get the gazettes of fast republic especially from the northern states there are cattle roots and grazing grounds and the cattle rivers are confined to those areas those that go outside that one are arrested and farmers are encouraged to come and lay their claims if they don’t have the money their cattle were sold and the farmers are settled so we said we have to go back to the system again to try and make sure that we prepare the grazing areas, astronomers, windy meals you know even veterinary developments so that the hardest don’t stray into people’s farms and into the towns and so on so really we are working on that”

Maupe Ogun-Yusuf: “the back and forth and issues of security continued the focus for us was to highlight the solutions on how to bring an end to the killings”

Seun: “the concern here Mr president is finding a lasting solution what in your mind do you think can help bring a lasting solution to these issues credit crime crises and issues of banditry”

Buhari: “there is a problem of culture and from our culture, you have to study it to understand it the life of normal harder though a lot of kids they depend entirely on them they sell the milk they sell the animals to pay tax and so on and by saying sugar or salt or something is the entire way of life so if those cattle who are taken away from them they normally become very wide because the only thing they know is a cultural problem and the way we it starts from the bottom upwards the leadership to make sure that the grazing areas and the water points are secure to them they don’t have to go through some people’s farm to go to the water points one say you have got 50 cows after eating grass they will just head where to drink”

Seun: “even governor for example suggested that we need to bomb these bandits in their forest are you looking in that option uh a full military assault on them because what is on the minds of an average person in the northwest is to see a situation where these planets are taking out totally they’re kidnapping the killings of innocent Nigerians in that in that region”

Buhari: “well i told you what we have done we met at least uh four times with the sub’s chiefs and other law enforcement agencies each meeting taking at least four hours we have discussed thoroughly what to do with the situation luckily i have a military background from the civil war now so we discuss on what we understand and we try to secure and make it safe for the leadership at communities level because it’s very important the best intelligence you get it from the the local leadership because they they know who is who in their areas of responsibilities you have to you have to talk to them but you must make sure they are safe because the bandits or whatever you call them they can be a source of insecurity to them or to their members of the family and you are very conscious of that but i ask you to please try and check within the last six weeks and so that is an improvement in the north west and north central”

Seun: “probably want us to move because of our time to some other areas that are also very important but mr president i’d like you to uh please answer to the concerns of those who are they believe that policing or security issues are majorly local and we’ve seen state governments and regional governments also thinking in that direction in the southwest they’re talking about montana in the southeast they were talking about ebola and a lot of people are thinking about reformation of the policies and state policing do you think this is a possible solution to the insecurity in nigeria”

Buhari: “well you see the role of traditional rulers must not be undermined because in their areas as i said they know who is who even by families not even talk of individuals so we have to rewrite to that system for us to have an effective security in the localities for example there are two governors that came to see me about problem and i don’t mind telling saying that the governance of oyo state and the governor of this other state in on door not ondo or real estate in one other state i said because the hardest were in the forests but the animals were going into the neighboring farms and eat the crop i said as far as i know the farmers and the hardest have been coexisting in nigeria let them go and ask the local leadership what has gone wrong why the break on communication between the local leadership and the hiders that come on seasonal basis the route they follow the forest they they they confined themselves to why are they now extending into into the farms of people i just sent them back because these things are haven’t been happening this year or last year or 10 years ago for generations people had been living like that”

so disturbed pollution is not an option no state goal is not an option now find out now the relationship between local government and the governors are they getting in the saudi chair of government are they getting what they are supposed to get constitutionally are they getting it try and see those people from local government that have confidence in you to tell you the truth the fighting between local government and the governor i think it’s fair for us to go into the economy it is indeed shown let’s um mr president you know you performed a few activities uh well people in love with so you’re going to be winding down for for the holidays um and we’re thinking that perhaps the budget might not be signed again uh maybe we’ll have to wait till january especially because of the implementation of the electoral vega pardon the signing of the electoral act which was sent back to the national assembly not a center to we thought that that was not going to happen but there was a surprise package you signed the 2022 budget into law but you had very strong reservations about it and you did not means words and saying how you felt about that i mean provisions for as many as 10 733 projects were reduced while 6576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the national assembly those are some of the things that you uh some of the objections which you raised do you fear that the budget might not be able to achieve its purpose.

Buhari: “no not at all my confidence that we can successfully implement the budget was because in both houses our party is leading it’s fbc party and the leadership look at the senate president he was in the house of representatives i think two times over three times before he went to the senate he read fee for vhd look at the femi fajr miller i was watching on the television when he was the only remember he was always on his feet fighting for the party and and the system we believed it so really i i consider myself lucky my party and their competent leadership are both leading in the senate and the house of representatives that’s why you don’t hear much about me i allow them to do all the things because i can’t go against my party and i can’t go against people i have absolute confidence in i know they are doing their best”

so you do not think that the objections which you have raised is going to raise any friction between the executive arm and the legislature

Buhari: “no it wouldn’t the legislature is amazing if you could recall about 60 000 of them didn’t come back can’t they think of what is happening in their constituencies we have so much support in their constituencies their predecessors made the mistake and they haven’t come back they have lost their jobs and maybe they have lost their names so they have to be very careful”

indeed maybe that’s why they’re asking for direct primaries uh which you have told them roundly you’re not going to support no i’m not going to support personally i don’t support direct primaries because i want people to be given a choice you can’t give them one option and and you think that you have been democratic let them have three the three options the the three options i thought there were only two direct and indirect no that is the consensus consensus there are zero options which is your favorite because you as president when you’re coming at the very first time as a presidential candidate of the apc direct primaries is what your party went with why are you now saying that you know there has to be three options when you know that that’s perhaps the one that would have favored you the most at the time when you were coming in the fairest option so to speak i would expect you to have asked me how did you overthrow the pdp and that explanation would have come with your answer you remember if you called acn abuga anfpp cpc and another fighter we came together PDP was so over confident that they thought they would rule nigeria after the end of time but the opposition we came together we overthrew them

they overthrew them because you were able to emerge as a presidential candidate of your party and that was because of direct primaries no no no no not as a result of that is as a result of the opposition coming together and fighting the certain fighters refugee is because we we we we we agreed to come together as i told you four four or five fighters mr president do you think that you would have had a fighting chance if your party at that time had adopted indirect primaries whichever we look at it the fact that we came together is what gave us the success we had if we didn’t come together the four five four five fighters wouldn’t have defeated the pdp and they thought we would never as officially uh get together and that was the mistake they made that’s why they lost”

Suen: i was going to say mr president should the national assembly come back with the the beer and the edit out what you don’t like what is this sign i don’t think i told them what i don’t like all i said there should be we must not insist that it has to be direct it should be consensus and indirect so if they do that would you sign it yes i will i will say all i would like is that there should be options you can’t tell you can’t dictate to people and you said you are doing democracy allow them you know other options so that they can make a choice a constituency can come together they say okay we’ll pick mr a

Seun: “let me take you back to the issue of the economy and i’d like to know uh your excellency what kind of economy do you think you want to be killed to nigerians”

Buhari: “well the economy is free economy and what is free economy you allow people you you allow people uh you know to make sure uh that their industries are patronized you have to stop uh sumogly you have to stop developed countries dumping goods on your country because of technology they can produce faster they can produce more with less resources so you have to protect your economy that was why air course and any other organization either within the system of ecos or within africa we have to make sure that we have encouraged our own industries for employment you know for using our own resources you know and for security because we are so far behind in technology if you allow damping i’m afraid and employment especially in the case of nigeria where you have a large population you are having you are going to have trouble”

Seun: so once you announced today that dr doing salami will now be advising you on the issues of economy what specific role would you because is the head of your presidential economic advisory council in what specific areas do you want him to play it is going to double as the head of the economic advisory council and economic advisor”

Buhari: “yes he’s going to do that he’s capable of doing that we have watched him for example the last time he briefed us when i say us at the executive council we found out that uh nigerian arab will land only 2.5 percent of nigeria available in land is being used yet people are shouting over unemployment if we have invested more in agriculture look when we close the border i was benny and the general republic we stop importation of rice now nigerian we produce the right we need and we even export obviously we have to we we have to exploit our own capacities and uh dr salami is it was fantastic uh he is so committed and economically he is i think he’s already a professor we need him and he’s so committed and patriotic”

why has the provision of regular electricity eluded several presidents the buhari administration set out in the beginning to fix this but what has now gone wrong

Buhari: “one of the former heads of state between that time was breaking that he spent more than 15 billion american dollars not naira on power where is the power where is the power you once asked here in the villa where is the power are you happy with where we currently are with the state of electricity in nigeria i am not because i have identified that no country can develop without infrastructure and infrastructure means roads real power these are three leading ones and uh we are working very hard when i say we i mean this government we are working very hard on the roads try to imagine what was happening even between lagos and abaddon six months ago and what it is now and now we are doing from lagos to kanu the red road from here to kaduna to kano so we have to have that infrastructure right and then nigeria our man nigerian will mind their own businesses but when you can when the infrastructure is not there the roads are not done the rail is virtually killed there is no power what do you expect people to do”

mr president in all honesty there’s been some work which we can see in roads and rails but power is a big question we’ve been told we have 13 000 installed capacity we’ve been told or tcn as a transmission company can do about five 7500 but we know that constantly for a long time now all we have had a degree is four thousand megawatts what exactly is the problem with getting electricity you know to increase and to the homes of nigerians and businesses

Buhari: “well let us try to understand the problem first tcn is a hundred percent government sure but we inherited what they call discourse they almost by the country always based on geopolitical zones what was the basis i still couldn’t find it the people that own them who are they they are not electrical engineers they don’t have money it’s just a photical favor and to remove a system and reintro this one is no joke luckily we have the tc and and and that is transmission and if we can get our technology right with the plenty of sunlight we have all we need are funnels all over the place and we cut the cost on transmission and and and and the likelihood of sabotaging the lines and so on

Seun: “you asked we’re persisting on the economy just for a few minutes you announced an economic protection plan that of lifting 100 million nigerians out of poverty in 10 years mr president where are we on that how many people have been lifted out of poverty so far”

Buhari: “i can’t tell you offhead but i’m telling you that we are truly our nigerian population 35 years and below are the majority and they don’t care how government is going to make it let them get job for them but i’ve just told you that land only 2.5 percent of the arab would learn is being cultivated so we are going to turn our attention for the time remaining for us to agriculture but clear land machinery and so on probably unfortunately that is political problem in the south there is problem of land ownership very serious one is based on families and the ruling classes and so on but luckily uh mostly in the north that all land belongs to government so government can take areas and and so on so i think for the time remaining for us for those 17 months will turn a lot to agriculture

Seun: “but how are you doing on that plan of lifting millions of nigerians because there is a target of just how many people you should be lived in every year are you on track or there’s a setback”

Buhari: “we have a setback and this resource shortage because we need to buy machinery machinery tractors clearing the land dividing it and encouraging people you know giving them seeds you know and fertilizers and that cost money let me there are a lot of nigerians millions of them who might be watching this interview right now mr president i know a lot of them might be wondering just how well you understand their sufferings the number of people who cannot put food on their tables we’re not even sure where the next meal will be coming from how much of these pains would you say you are aware of i’m absolutely aware of it but as i said look at the vastness of nigeria only two point five percent of the arab land is being used we realize it’s rather too late but we have to go back to the land so we imagine that you’ll be doing that very aggressively then what we have started remember people who are defending on foreign rights before now we are exposing rights we have made some progress you know the closing of the borders one thousand five hundred kilometers with ninja and then the whole of uh bennu refurbished for a couple of years stopping uh importation of food and nigerians went back to the lunch of shane people went back to the land and we are now uh adequately feeding ourselves i think we made a lot of progress how do you intend to encourage people because a lot of people will say that people were already you know expanding the cbn through its uncles program uh you know made some progress in that regard but they have been fears for their lives security has has discouraged many from going into farming um how do you intend to assure people that it would be okay for them to go back to the land well as i said we have so many meetings with the law enforcement agencies and we are going we are already being very hard on those criminals and that is an improvement in the situation of security especially in the northwest where i mentioned in the northwest will it be sustained it has to be sustained because if everybody rushed to the cities what can we do people have to be encouraged to go back to the land we just have to encourage people to go back together and doing that is to get a machinery clear the lands provide fertilizer and seedlings i’d like to take you up on the issue of the chinese loans only because of your administration is the person the country is taking significant number of chinese loans and there is a possibility that we might be seeing the nation taking more to fix and build the much needed infrastructure in the country there are fears that will be many quarters with these loans that the nations the nation nigeria might be being plunged into a dead trap are we well we take that where it is necessary i told you now of something that i’m sure you know what it used to be between lagos and the iranian not to call to the rest of the country but we’ve got the chinese to help us in the rain in the roads how can we turn that down if we turn that down maybe between lakes inviting now you have to work so the chinese are welcome anybody that is prepared to come and help us our infrastructure has told you the roads the rail and power will be welcome as much as i wanted us to move on from the economy and when i was asking the question about the chinese loans one we wonder where the nation was when you took over office in 2015 our debt stock at that time was about 12 trillion now it is about 32 trillion inflation rate was about 90 it is now sitting about over 15 percent unemployment rate was about 8.9 percent it is now 33.28 exchange rate was about 197 nah to a dollar is way over naira to a dollar so people will look back economically speaking and say look um before you took over office some of these indicators were fair and now the figures are not friendly at all well i’m not sure how correct the calculations are but all i know is that we have to allow people to get access to the farms as i said we just have to go back to the land we have to go back to the land what we have done so far as i said we have achieved some successes and people ought to measure our successes vis-a-vis the problems when we started you have given your figures as as as you as you calculated but the important thing is this that uh the farms that you know produce uh machinery and so on tractors and so on we have to use the infrastructure and we have identified the infrastructure we need we have to make the real writing we have to make the roads and if you have listened to the minister works and house how much of the roads we have built and rehabilitated and how much of the rail we have done and if you talk to the minister of transportation the planned transportation from lagos to ibadan then to the east then from fort harcott to maiduguri and then from here to kanu and even up to up to niger [Music] i think we we need to appreciate what we have done with what we have within the time we have been here um maybe in 2014 and so on i told you from 2014 to back to 1999 how much we are earning and the problem now petroleum industry is becoming more more complicated and unreliable let me put it that way no doubt the issue of namde kano and the indigenous people of biafra ipob could be a touchy one and igbo elders would be looking forward to an update on their meeting with the president yes he obliges and gives a status report recently you told a delegation of the south east elders who visited you here in the villa that you would consider their request for the release of inaudible the leader of the prescribed indigenous people of biafra ipob do i have any update on that there is one institution that i wouldn’t today interfere hours that is judiciary kano’s case is fairy but what i wonder is when kanu was safely in europe abusing this administration and mentioning too many things i never i thought really he want to voluntarily come and defend himself on the accusation years so we are giving him an opportunity to defend himself in our system not to be abusing us from europe you know as if he uh as if he was not energetic let him come here you know with us and then criticize us here and then nigerians know that i don’t interfere i was a judiciary let let him be listened to but was those who are saying that he should build this no we cannot release him no possibility of a political solution no there is a possibility of political solution if if it behaves themselves all well and good but you can go to uh to a foreign country and keep on uh sending incorrect economic and security problem against your country and thinking that you never have to account for for what you have been doing let him account for what he has been doing mr president as we wind down now i don’t know i i think that sometimes you must sit and reflect about when you you know you tried many times to be leader of this country and you succeeded in the fourth attempt and i’m sure that you had your goals for this country when you had when you ran for office the many times you offered yourself um when you think and and look at where nigeria is and the way forward do you fear for this country do you fear for our oneness and our unity no i don’t i don’t because to be frank with you from 15th january 1966 i have been in all the trouble in this country including being in detention for more than three years i i think nigerians they make noise i think to get better deal but they know that we are better together than separate i sincerely believe in that they are just yeah they just make noise so that they can get better ideas one conversation that has refused to exit national discourse in nigeria is restructuring true federalism is necessary as this juncture of our political and democratic evolution some will say the apc had it clearly written in their manifesto but what does president buhari think about it what are those who believe that if we continue at this rate we might not last together for much longer that we need to restructure to truly achieve our potential do you see that argument those who talk of restructuring i want them to define what do they mean in their own concept of restructuring do they want more states if they want look at the map of nigeria at whose expense i have i was having a problem with people from south east they said they wanted issues each geopolitical zone about 631 i say okay go and look at the map and see how many how many of the existing states will contribute to the other states that was the end i heard about them i mean i’m just wondering you know because of those who think that the federal government is too heavy it’s handling too many things the states need more powers they need to be able to unleash themselves and that if we’re able to empower the state and in turn empower the local government perhaps unemployment should not be at such a at such a high level they have state to be a little more autonomous to handling a lot more things at their level do you consider that argument sometimes i do but i want to you you just mention it now try and find out the relationship between the local governments and the states clearly we had overshot the time allotted and it was time to go but not before we snuck in some poses single words or phrases to which we requested one-liners mr president as we wrap up now i’m just going to quickly get your immediate reaction to the following phrases all we’re going to ask you to do is that for these last words which we will say tell us what comes to mind maybe in one sentence or two um and the first one is nigeria’s young people nigeria’s young people the young people of nigeria what comes to your mind when you think of them in one or two sentences i wish when they go to school when they work hard when they earn the degree they don’t do it thinking that government must give them job you get educated because an educated person is certainly better than an educated one even in identifying personal problems so education is not just meant to hang on to go to government to give you a job and what the colonials indoctrinated on to have a car to have a house and to start work at eight o’clock and close at two o’clock no all right another word another phrase is pdp what comes to mind when you hear that word pdp pedo what about lagos ibadan expressway well look at it is this not on lego divided as i said if we head in the footage of the chinese and get some people to afford you would have been working that distance by now another one is the second niger bridge yeah what comes to mind when you hear that well go in other children’s houses they are celebrating before it is even completed because it is giving them another route you know to uh to get to the other parts of the country inec is are you criticizing a professor i think the professor is doing his best um he has already told us about the elections that are coming in some of the states before the general election in uh 14 months time also 2023 elections 2023 elections what comes to your mind it’s not my problem you’re not going to be interested in who succeeds you no let him come wherever it is all important things i must i made sure that they are all rockered nobody should ask me to come and give any evidence in any code otherwise whoever it is he will be in trouble because all important things are on record i made sure about that important issues are all on record you don’t have any favorite for 2023 in your party no i wouldn’t because he may be eliminated if i mentioned i better keep it secret the last phrase mr president is your legacy well i think my legacy is that i try to make sure that um we conducted ourselves with integrity that means we stopped all the stealings as much as the system can allow most of the appropriation and for nigeria that is very very important the expectation from nigeria i killed with a young population the expectation is so high that we must make sure that the resources are managed profiling and that they understand resources ideally managed profiling if they don’t if they don’t if they rebel there will be trouble a lot of trouble and then it was a wrap your excellency president mohamed many thanks for giving us this opportunity to speak with

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