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Why I Retained Emefiele – PMB



President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday opened up on why he did not replace the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, when he came on board as president, saying he (Emefiele) was retained because he (Buhari) wanted to give him the opportunity to salvage the economy from the “terrible condition” he inherited it.

The president insisted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) left the country in ruins, just as he challenged anyone to present any evidence that could contradict his claim.

Buhari said he deliberately refused to replace the CBN governor when his administration took over the mantle of leadership of the country because he wanted to give him the opportunity to save the economy.

The president spoke when members of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) visited him at the presidential villa at the weekend

President Buhari also said he stopped his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, from replying former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘special statement’ he issued against his administration because “of Adesina’s age”.

He noted that the second reason why he deemed it right not to reply Obasanjo was that he and the former president were from the same constituency, the military.

He also said the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, “disobeyed’’ him on the instruction that no one should reply the former president, noting however that the minister did a good job.

He observed that the minister’s response to Obasanjo’s statement showed Nigerians the realities on ground when the present administration assumed office in 2015 and its ongoing efforts to revive the inherited damaged economy.

Buhari said, “I really appreciate how you choose this time during Ramadan to come from across the country to see and congratulate me for what we were able to do.

“We were constrained to explain our position when the former head of state wrote a letter. Adesina was agitated and wanted to immediately reply. I stopped him for two reasons; first, he was much younger than me and Generakl Obasanjo.

“Secondly, I am from the same constituency with General Obasanjo. So, I wouldn’t know how it would affect him if I allow him to go wild or to go public, but when Lai Mohammed came, I said he shouldn’t and he insisted. He disobeyed me.

“He said I must allow him to talk; then, of course, being a professional information person, I listened to him and asked him what are you going to say? He said he was going to remind Nigerians where we found ourselves when we came in as a government, where we are now, what we have done in between with the resources available to us”.

Pointing out that the minister did a good job in his response to Obasanjo, the president said, “And I understand he did a good job because a number of people rang me and said Lai Mohammed has done a good job because I went public several times.

“I said it is on record and I challenged anybody to check from Europe, United States and Asia that between 1999 and 2014, the 16 years of previous administration, there was an average of 2.1 million per day of crude oil at the average cost of 100 dollars per barrel,’’ he said..

Buhari, who thanked his teachers during his primary school days for their efforts to inculcate good morale to him and his mates, stated that his administration would continue to invest heavily in education to correct social ills in the society.

He said further that his administration had resolved to put money in infrastructural development to address infrastructural deficits and subsequently ensure speedy socio-economic transformation of the country.

His words: “It is now that we are struggling to put the structure on the ground — the roads — to revive the rail and do the standard gauge and try to spend objectively on power.

“If we put money in infrastructure, it will create employment opportunities and then Nigerians will mind their own businesses, they wouldn’t even mind what the government is doing once the infrastructure is there”.

The president reassured Nigerians that his administration would continue to spend more funds to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.

He said the government has also expended more than N1.3 trillion on capital projects across the country.

According to him, the government will continue to ensure financial discipline, accountability and effective supervision of its spending to have solid infrastructure to enable the youth to achieve their missions and objectives in life.

He thanked the members of the organisation for their support and sacrifices, noting that none of them had ever made any specific demand from him.

In his remarks, the leader of the organisation, Abba Ali, who narrated the achievements of the Buhari administration in the last three years, said they were on solidarity visit to the president to further reassure him of their support.

He said the organisation has established offices in all the 36 states and 774 local government areas of the country, while efforts were being made to ensure the re-election of the president in 2019.

Paulina Tallen, a member of the Board of Trustees of the organisation, who spoke at the event, assured the president that women would massively vote for him and other candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 general elections.

She however called on the president to bring more qualified women politicians and professionals in government to address the perceived marginalisation of women by APC-led administration in the country.