Buhari has never contested election with money –Okechukwu
The Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechuwku, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari, has never contested election with money, but his goodwill.
Speaking with VINCENT KALU, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain noted that the President will complete his two terms of eight years.
President Buhari’s administration will be two years in office, what is your assessment of the government?
Let us first assess the social conditions, which he inherited and the difficulty posed by change throughout history. With the collapsed infrastructure and a state almost sliding to failed state; my candid assessment in view of the rot he met on the ground is that President Muhammadu Buhari scored over 70 per cent in the transformation of the physical and social infrastructure in his two years in the saddle. He advanced three cardinal programmes in line with the manifesto of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) during his campaigns. One is to wage strident war against corruption, two, to fight insecurity, especially the Boko Haram insurgency, which was hoisting flags in some parts of the country and thirdly, reflation of the Nigerian economy, which was sliding into a failed state.
I don’t know of your marks, by my own assessment, he has diligently acquitted himself in the fight against corruption and insecurity in the land. The security agencies had been emboldened, so is the anti-graft agencies. He has also put in place a solid foundation for economic prosperity and progress.
What has been his greatest challenge?
One would want to talk of his challenges, for he had myriad of challenges, for instance he inherited crashed oil prices, oil the mainstay of our economy, which between 2009 and 2014 hovered around $100 per barrel, crashed to less than $50. It was traumatic, especially when predators criminally looted the savings of the oil bounty years. Secondly, as a pro-people-oriented person, who in all his public life had placed public interest above personal interest, he was challenged by unpaid salary and pension arrears.
Against arguments to the contrary, he directed that the little funds found in the public treasury be used to pay salaries and pension arrears of states, which range from six to 18 months in some states.
Let us first assess the social conditions, which he inherited and the difficulty posed by change throughout history. With the collapsed infrastructure and a state almost sliding to failed state; my candid assessment in view of the rot he met on the ground is that President Buhari scored over 70 per cent in the transformation of the physical and social infrastructure in his two years in the saddle.
Given the history of elections in Nigeria, as an incumbent, his supporters are eager to know whether he will re-contest or not, they are confused, so, what are you telling them against the background that some other aspirants like Atiku, Kwakwanso are doing some underground work?
Everyone of us going by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to run for president; however my take is that Mr. President will by God’s grace overcome his ailment, which will guarantee him the capacity to run for second term, so as to consolidate his plan to leverage Nigeria as a prosperous and progressive state.
Buhari’s supporters are worried that if he is not re-contesting, would they support power to shift to the South or retained in the North. What is your take on this?
The true position is that there is zoning or rotation convention, which was the outcome of the June 12, 1993 annulment crisis, where the Northern political elite out of patriotic interest zoned the president to the South. The Northern elite wisely opined that the only way to keep our unity after the criminal annulment of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s presidential election was to zone the president to the south. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the first beneficiary and ruled for eight years, this has given the eight-year garb to our zoning convention; therefore we want Buhari to complete eight years.
Is zoning in APC Constitution?
Capital no, the APC Constitution has no single line on zoning or rotation, that’s why we call it convention and not law. Zoning originated from ancient practice and consequently practised. Convention has moral weight, which influences major decisions or voting, while the law has its legal teeth.
If he is going to re-contest, where would the funds come from, because his associates, who are supposed to fund grassroots politicking may not have the money as they might not have been empowered?
All we are praying to Almighty God for is his good health, he had never contested election with money, but his goodwill. We the followers throughout history appreciate his uncommon quality. We support him because of his impeachable integrity. He has with small fund within his first two years touched heavily on abandoned federal roads, East, West, and North.
Methinks as I said earlier that he doesn’t need money to run for election, all he needs is his performance. Many political scientists have agreed that election is referendum on the performance of the incumbent. Imagine the whole Eastern region where he got only six per cent votes in the 2015 presidential election; do you think with the transformation of their physical infrastructure they will still deny him votes?