Hon. Abubakar Yunusa Ahmad represents Yamaltu-Deba Federal Constituency of Gombe State. In this interview with JULIANA AGBO, he applauds President Muhammadu Buhari for his outstanding presentation of the 2019 budget before a joint session of the National Assembly, among other issues.
President Buhari has just presented the 2019 bedget to the joint session of the National Assembly. How would you describe the budget estimates?
Thank you. You see when somebody who knows what he is doing is talking, you need nobody to tell you that the person is an achiever. Mr. President has presented his 2019 annual budget to Nigerians and we are happy with what he presented because going by his performance so far in the past years, he has surpassed what other past presidents could not do. His budget implementation so far is excellent and the facts and figures are there for everybody to see. So we urge him to continue from 2019 because Nigerians are happy with him and we pray for him to do more projects in 2019 budget implementation. The opposition parties came to disrupt the budget presentation but we from the progressive said no and our president was happy with the process.
Mr. President recently declined assent to the new Electoral Bill and some lawmakers and Nigerians are not happy with him.What is your take?
My take on this is, Mr. President is very right, absolutely correct. The reasons are as follows: he gave reasons like time factor – Nigeria is a signatory to the global link which says that no any election rules can be made at least 90 days before any election could take place, this is one of the reasons president Buhari relied upon to refused assent to that new electoral Bill. Having done that if you are talking about democracy, the world over are watching, if Mr. President should go ahead and shift the goal post within this time of election it will be seen in Africa and indeed the whole world that he is not taking democracy serious and the whole process will be discredited. Having said that, let me attend to his critics – some members have come to criticise some of us who stood by Mr. President on the rejection of this Bill, we support this rejection because of the time frame. Had it been that this Bill came earlier before now just say 90 days before the election in February scheduled date, I’m sure president Buhari would have assented to it. However he gave us a lee way that if this new electoral law must be applied in the upcoming elections that the National Assembly should do the needful by overriding him, if not let the existing electoral laws be the one to be used in the 2019 general elections.
Some of his critics have come out to say that he is afraid of losing election that is why he rejected the new electoral Bill…
(cuts in) Who is even afraid of losing election? It should be those in opposition parties. In 2015 general elections, the same existing laws we have now were put in place by the opposition parties then ruling party, President Buhari still defeated them, so what are they talking, are they saying that the laws used in 2015 are wrong? So, why are they afraid of using that same laws for 2019 general elections?
President Buhari, in his campaign slogan promises, to take Nigeria to the next level and the opposition parties are contending that he has failed in his first level. Do you think Nigerians should trust the next level?
In the first place, I challenged whoever said Mr. President has not fulfilled his campaign promises, let the person come forward and prove his case or stop talking nonsense, or I will take that person as being too economical with the truth. What are the campaign promises – security, economy and fight against corruption? The promise was that ‘I’m going to fight all these’. He did not say he is going to wipe it out completely in his first term. When Buhari took over the economy of this country, it’s was nose diving, he did not only stop the nose diving but he revived the economy from the negative slide to the positive growth. We have the GDP which is over two per cent growth now than the minus we used to have before, so what else do they want him to do considering that the oil price is selling at a very low price which is our major source of income? In 2016 alone, the MDAs gave a statistics that the non-oil revenue contribution has risen to more than 70%, look at the Customs, look at the Federal Inland Revenue Service – these agencies have done fantastically well like the Customs Service that remitted over one trillion naira which has never happened in the history of this country. Checkout what the FIRS have remitted. So, whoever that is saying that the economy has not improved maybe he is expecting messiah from heaven not a human being like Buhari. Look at Obama of the USA in his first four years it wasn’t so good but he was busy building American economy but before the end of his eight years he had handed over a robust economy to Americans. Buhari in his four years has done well in the areas of infrastructure like roads healthcare system, education and employment. And in the next one year Buhari is going to deliver a railway that will start from Maiduguri to all parts of the country. On security, president Buhari has delivered. You can see to yourself, before do people go to churches and mosques for prayers because of fear of being killed by Boko Haram? But today the story is different, Buhari has done well. There is relative place now all over the country.
The wife of the President has also come out to say that a cabal in Aso Rock has made her husband not to deliver in on campaign promises to Nigerians. What is your take?
Against all odds, Buhari has performed. Yes I may not have the opportunity to witness thier private lives in the villa. Since I became honourable member in the National Assembly I have only gone there twice, so I don’t know what is happening in the villa. She is Mr. President’s wife, she knows her husband’s limitations and she knows those members of the cabal. As for me, this is part of the learning process of governance, yes Mr. President could have done more if not for the cabal, that is why we have to give him another tenure so that the cabal will be shown the way out.