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INTERVIEWS

Nigeria Is Not Bankrupt – Enagi

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Sen. Bima Muhammad Enagi is representing Niger south senatorial district in the Nigerian senate and in this interview with RUTH CHOJI the former director with CBN states that, President Muhammadu Buhari did well in the last administration but can do better in this administration

The Proposed Ruga( cattle colony) settlement for herdsmen was received with protests from some Nigerians. What is your take on this?

The Federal government knows better and we are all Nigerians. Everybody eats meat. It’s not just the herdsmen but it’s something that everybody should be concerned about.

We have been having issues of herdsmen and farmers clashes for some time. We need to improve on security in the country and if we can earmark areas where these cattle can be kept and looked after, it will be better for most of us. I will appeal to Nigerians and all the states that they should cooperate with the Federal Government.

Nigerians are worried that some of these herdsmen have attacked and killed people in some places across the country, people believe that giving them settlements could further escalate these killings…

No, the Federal Government is there to ensure that laws are respected. It’s unfortunate that there have been killings in Nigeria in the past and people are allowed to get away with it. This is one of the areas where I am deeply concerned about. Anybody who takes the laws into his hands and kill Nigerians should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.

But are you not worried that, the Federal Government seems only concerned about the herdsmen while communities affected by the crises are left to fend for themselves?

People are talking about the herdsmen because they are the ones roaming about.  the farmer has a static place where he farms. I think it requires understanding and collaboration that, these people are doing business which is in our mutual interest. Besides, everybody eats meat. The herdsmen also needs to look inward and cooperate with government measures.

The Southeast, Southwest and some states in the North, have come out to resist any plan to establish cattle colonies in their lands. Should this be enforced?

I am fully aware of the statement made by these zone and states. Yes some places have rejected the idea of Ruga but, it’s all in the process of negotiation. Nobody can run away from establishing colonies. If we don’t want them to roam about, then we must earmark a place for them.

Nigerians also berated the Vice President Osibanjo when he downplayed the issue of kidnapping and other crimes recently in America. What is your take on this?

I agree with the Vice President that, the issue is being exaggerated. Yes there have been kidnappings but it’s not out of control. Some months back, you could not travel between Kaduna and Abuja but now, you can travel even in the night. I think the Federal Government is taking very serious steps to stop it and the situation is being contained.

But are you not worried that Nigeria has been divided along ethnic and religious lines since the coming of this administration?

If I tell you I am worried, then I will be lying. I know that the process of development and uniting a nation is very long. We cannot get it in one day. Most of the countries we refer to in the West as being peaceful states, speak with one language.

In Britain, they are all English, the same with France where they are all French. You go to Germany, they all speak German. But in Nigeria, we have over 250 languages, so we are doing very well in managing ourselves. When you talk about unity, an average Nigerian wants Nigeria to remain one.

Our problem has nothing to do with religion and tribe, its corruption and unemployment. I think the Present government is doing a lot in that direction. In the next 10years, the problem will not be there if APC remains in power.

Is Nigerian unity negotiable?

That is a tall question. In life, you negotiate, we need to negotiate our existence and unity as a nation.  We should do that based on fairness, equity and development not based on selfish interests.

Still on security, some Nigerians have blamed Mr. President for not sacking service chiefs when insecurity persists. What do you think?

I am of the opinion that these service chiefs should have been changed long ago. Of course, they have tried but they could have done better.  The truth is that, if you leave people on a seat for long and things grow worse, it will be expected that, because the people couldn’t do the job well, they should be sacked.

If I were the president, I would have removed them a long time ago. Still that is not for me to decide. The President can decide that by himself because he alone has the power to do that. I think they should be removed and replaced with young officers, digital officers who will want to succeed and carve a name for themselves.

Still on Mr. President, what areas do you think he should look at this time around?

I believe Mr. President Right from 2015 has set very good agenda and if they are properly addressed…

Does it mean that the agenda was not properly address in his first term?

In every human endeavor, there could be an improvement because he talked about economy, security and corruption. I believe those are the key areas that any government in Nigeria needs to address. I believe if corruption is addressed, so many things will fall into place in Nigeria today. Issues like herdsmen and insecurity that we have in this country is because of corruption. There is also a high level of unemployment in Nigeria and if these things are addressed, things will get better.

If you are asked to rate Mr. President last administration, what will it be?

He has done well in the last administration but he can do better.

Some financial experts have said that, Nigeria is bankrupt, what is your take on this?

I don’t think Nigeria is bankrupt. I also don’t expect Emir Sanusi to say that Nigeria is bankrupt. The Nation is not bankrupt at all…

Yet we borrow money to finance our budget and do projects?

Borrowing money to do our projects is not bad. Every country takes loan, even America takes loan. America has debt running into trillion, so there is nothing wrong in borrowing as long as it is for capital expenditure, I think that is fine. Every country does it. Our economy is good and sound but it can be better.

But are you not worried with our current foreign debt profile?

I am not on top of that but economists have a ratio that if it extends to a particular ration, then it will be enough but right now, it has not gotten to that. From my discussion with some economists, they have assured me that, we are far below that. So there is no tension or anything to be worried about.

Does it bother you that Mr. President has not submitted list of ministers to the National Assembly?

I am not worried because in 2015, it took Mr.  President six months to nominate ministers…

Is that good for a fragile economy like Nigeria?

No of course that is not good. I don’t think he will do that this time around. We should be patient. I learnt that security agents are already working on the nominees.  I am sure he will submit the names to the National Assembly soon.

This brings us to the caliber of people to be appointed. Nigerians are clamoring for young people against the previous ones. What is your take on this?

I wasn’t disappointed with the caliber of people that became ministers in the last term. Some of them did very well in their post. In every human endeavor, you can always do better. So I think he can do better this time around.

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