The Presidency has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari is considering granting amnesty to the Boko Haram terrorist group.
According to the presidency, any means to make them drop their arms and embrace peace will help stop bloodshed and save Nigeria’s resources.
The statement was issued by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja during an interview.
He also said that Mr. President has remained silent over his 2019 Second Term ambition because his focus right now was to deliver good governance.
“Well, I hope you also realize that the social media has brought a lot of good things to the world and it has also brought a lot of problems not only in Nigeria but everywhere in the world.
“Nations of the world are talking about regulations and control, this is happening in Germany in the UK even the US you see that a lot these technology companies are been fined for infringements that they cause.
“The thing is that there is a tendency to see things from a negative point of view when your point of view is shaped and colored by the social media
“It’s always been heard that the default position of the social media itself is to be negative, so people have turned out to ignore grand reality and project images that are very negative.
“Otherwise I wonder , this is an administration that has done so so extremely well and to a president who has sworn to an oath to defend the constitution and protect every life and property, it is very unfair and uncharitable to say that he will shield anybody, and In any case, the president controls only one layer of authority, what are the governors doing, is the social media also saying that the governors are protecting the herdsmen from the law, are they saying the local government are also protecting them?
“You see it has to take everyone at various levels of authority to shield somebody from the law in those circumstances, and the president himself, his passion is for the country, this is a president whose passion is not even for the office, even when everyone is asking him to go for a second term he is keeping quiet because his focus remains the nation and the problem of the country.
“Whoever is peddling these rumours that Boko Haram is being granted amnesty and so on I would ask them who doesn’t want to make peace with the enemy? In any case as it is proverbially said all wars end up in the boardroom. You can defeat people technically in the field but at the end you must come to the conference room to resolve all issues.
“So if Boko Baram would lay down their arms and stop fighting and stop preaching that negative ideology , the country should be able to embrace them, welcome all of them so that they continue to live normal lives and be useful to the nation. What that mean is that we will be saving cost, saving lives that are being lost through bombing, killing of service personnel and we will be saving money that we are using to procure weapons so that such money can go into services and infrastructure and welfare of the citizens of this country. It is a win -win situation.”
Here is what Shehu thinks about President Buhari’s performance since his emergence into office in 2015;
“I want to say that the records are there for everyone to see that no government, no past administration in Nigeria has invested as much as we have done or let me say we are currently doing in infrastructure development.
“From day one when he took power, the president gave a target of not less than 30% of annual appropriation devoted to infrastructure development. Without infrastructure we cannot lay the foundation for growth.
“When this administration came to power, between 95 and 96 percent of public expenditure was going into overhead cost leaving only about five or four percent for infrastructure.
“The allocation of 30 percent under this administration has led to tremendous improvement in the provision of infrastructure so far in the country. Now there is a lot of work going on, building new rail lines and the rehabilitation of the old rail system networks, roads are been done all across the country, you only need to drive around to see for yourself.
“The amount of work this administration has done on roads I.e the expressway from Enugu to Port Harcourt has not been done in the eight years of the previous administrations.
“We are hoping that within this year before the next election Lagos -Ibadan will be completed, it’s a lot of money, we are doing it, government is laying the sod now for the construction of a six lane road from Abuja to Kano.
“So, there is so much that is going on in terms of that. We are doing power, you know that this administration has doubled availability of power in the country. When we came in its stood at about 3,000 MWatts, we have hit 7,000 MWatts and we are doing more so it depends on what you are looking at.
“This is a government that has spent N1.3 Trillion In capital expenses under 2016 Budget and has also spent as much as that under the 2017 budget and it’s almost closing on records for last year which was N1.3 Trillion.”
Regarding the failure of Buhari to end the clash between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria, he said that the issue predated the independence of Nigeria.
“If you read history you will see that farmers and herdsmen had fought for space in this country even British colonial rulers were here so this is not something new, I am not saying it is welcome but I think it is over amplified now, there is a media spotlight on it because the opposition cannot engage Buhari administration on any other issue other than this lacuna that they have found.
“They cannot discuss the war against corruption because that’s a very uncomfortable area for them, they don’t want to discuss issues of infrastructure with Buhari, they don’t want to discuss economic diversification which this administration has achieved a lot of success, today we have 12 million Rice farmers in this country, six million new jobs are been created in other sector by Agriculture alone, food import has gone down by 95 Percent, we are feeding ourselves.
“This year the government is planning a ban on rice importation. So we are doing so well moving from over reliance on oil to Agriculture and manufacturing.
“Therefore, I am not saying that it is okay that the farmers and herdsmen are fighting but we are doing a lot you can see that the recent activity especially the military operation now in the North Central Section of the country has led to the recoveries of large quantities of weapon illegally held by militias and even herdsmen so something is being done about it. I know by the time this is done with, I don’t know what else the opposition will be talking about.”
Mr. Shehu also have a funny response regarding the rejection of President Buhari’s 2019 agenda by his former colleagues, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and former boss in the army, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu advised the retired generals to summon courage and contest against Buhari instead of wanting him to step down.
“My response to them is that if they like they can come and contest against president Buhari. He will defeat them, all of them.”
Also regarding Nigerians who say Buhari should not talk about 2019 because of the hardship in the country, he said; “With all the noise the PDP is making, even during their tenure as president did they give breakfast, lunch and dinner to every citizen? Is there any country in which someone does not go hungry?
“I am not saying it is perfectly in order but they are just politicizing these issues. This is a government that has removed this country from the shame of food importation, every state of the country now is into rice production, and we are feeding not only Nigeria but to west Africa.
“And the government is working on having respectable prices for food items, food inflation is coming down grossly. Everyone complaining of hunger should go and work.
“And you know that this is the only government that has introduced social investment schemes, we pay out now for the poorest of the poor, the least they will get is N5,000.and a lot of these job that are been created are from loans with little or no interest from the central bank, Bank of industry, Banks of Agriculture and Development Bank and the rest. So there is a lot going for people who really want to go out there to work especially in Agriculture.”