In this interview with TUNDE OGUNTOLA, Auwal Hamza, who is also the state organising secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Borno State and currently a board member of National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) averred that those defecting to other parties won’t affect the party’s performance in the 2019 elections as President Muhammadu Buhari and Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima have performed credibly well.
How can you rate President Muhammadu Buhari’s led-federal government in terms of combating insecurity and boosting the nation’s economy?
Looking at the issue of insurgency in the country, President Buhari has performed incredibly well so far. We from the North Eastern part of the country know how the region was prior the emergence of Buhari and how the region is today, Buhari has done very well in terms of combating insecurity. Even a beetle-eyed critic cannot pretend not to notice the tremendous progress in the area of security and the war against corruption in the country. Prior to when he was sworn into office, the terrorists were so bold that they could successfully attack the United Nation building, the Police Headquarters in Abuja and Army barracks in the Northeast.
In terms of pension payment, the federal government began paying pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2000 after serving in the former Biafran Police during the Nigerian Civil War. These officers, and their next of kins, have waited for their pensions for 17 years since the Presidential pardon. Naira is also stabilizing daily against the dollar, after the Central Bank introduced a new Forex window for Investors and Exporters. The stability has attracted billions of dollars in portfolio investments in the country. Just recently, Nigeria exited its worst recession in decades. After five quarters of negative growth, the economy bounced back into positive territory.
Nigeria rose to 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world. On the back of a stable Naira and increased investment inflows, Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 per cent. Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves grew $40 billion, reaching the highest level since 2014. Nigeria also added, this year, an additional $250m to its Sovereign Wealth Fund. Also, Nigeria’s trade balance crossed over into surplus territory, from a deficit in 2016. Under the programme 200,000 unemployed graduates had enlisted into the N-power Job Scheme, and a quarter of a million loans already distributed to artisans, traders, and farmers).
What is your opinion about anti-graft war in the country?
No matter what you will accuse Buhari of, nobody can accuse Buhari of corruption. He is a stabilising factor in the country; he is a man of impeccable credentials. The nation truly needs the wisdom, the integrity, the commitment of the likes of Buhari but believe me, whatever decision he takes, we are solidly behind him. Just recently, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi commended President Buhari’s commitment to the war on corruption, describing him as a man of integrity.
President Buhari was elected in 2015 after emphasising his track record of tackling corruption, and his pledge to stop public officials from looting the country’s treasury, after he rightly declared: “if we don’t kill corruption, this corruption will kill us.” He backed his commitment by putting in place some important measures such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Whistle-Blowing Policy and the establishment of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption to combat the systemic theft of public resources and by extension, its pernicious effects on human rights and development.
Some APC politicians defected to the PDP, will APC be affected by these trends?
It is a two way thing, when election is getting closer you know your real friends, you as well know people that don’t share your ideology. Those leaving APC for PDP simply do not share our great party’s ideology of fighting corruption, revamping the nation’s economy and combating insecurity to a halt in the first place, when you look at the performance of President Buhari in these areas you will agree with me that Nigerians will vote for him in the 2019 elections.
The ‘decampees’ are dead woods who did not have anything to contribute to the development of the party rather than to sink it. Such decampees would only add to the problem of APC. These group of people have no positive objective for the party they are defecting either. Their main objective is to seek for political relevance. However, I must at this point thank all our party members who believe in President Buhari’s administration.
How can you rate Governor Kashim Shettima’s achievement?
Shettima has done very well too, because Shettima is one governor who works under tight security. He works under very good and serious situations. State House of Assembly I remember I was with him when the news broke out that these Chibok girls were missing. We were at the congresses then in 2015, so I worked with him for about six good weeks. I was very close to him during that time and I knew how much he felt. At some point you would see he bursted into tears because he felt very bad about that situation, but with the coming of Buhari the narratives changed.
That time the governor was working alone because he was from APC state, but with the coming of Buhari a lot of things happened, he had all the support of the federal government. Despite the challenges posed by Boko Haram insurgency group to the North-East, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima had remained resolute towards developing the state. Boko Haram has wrecked havoc in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and other states in the North since 2009, with over 20,000 reportedly killed by the activities of the sect. When you look at Borno today, you will know that the Governor was committed to rebuilding the state, in spite of the security challenges.
Also when you look at the current spate of suicide bombings by the sect on soft spots, you will note that it was an indication that the terrorists had been decimated. They had been weakened by the superior fire power of the Nigerian military. Shettima is investing massively in agriculture, infrastructure development, girl-child education, job creation for the teeming youths and women empowerment to set an agenda of progress and development in the state.
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