Buhari says Igbos are not marginalised

By The Rainbow
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  • Why can’t obey court orders on Dasuki, Kanu – Buhari
  • FG may ban hijab

The President has faulted the arguments that the people of the Southeast, made up by Ndigbo,  are marginalised by his administration ostensibly because he received least votes from the region.

The president wondered which areas the region was marginalised. He spoke in Abuja Wednesday night during his maiden Media Chat.

People of the Southeast have been crying marginalisation by the administration, saying that the government did not appoint them to any non-ministerial positions made by his administration.

The perception in the region is that Buhari deliberately neglected it in continuation of the marginalisation agenda of the Nigerian state against the people of the region since after the war.

They accuse Buhari of being particularly loathful of the region, which he had earlier manifested when he was head of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under Late Gen Sani Abacha administration.

The president believes that the Ndigbo has receive their fair share from his administration, though he appears to equate the aspirations of the Ndigbo as people with those of the Southeast region.

Buhari said, “We have Boko Haram and then Biafra. Help me define the extent of marginalisation. Who is marginalising them? Why? How? Do you know? The constitution says there must be a minister from each state. Who is the Minister of Petroleum? Is he not Igbo? Who is the Governor of Central Bank? Is he not Igbo? Who is the Minister of Labour? Who is the Minister of Science and Technology? Who is the junior minister of education?

Buhari also expressed the possibility of placing a ban on the use of hijab, a veil worn by Muslim females, the President said the covering could be outlawed if Boko Haram continued to use hijab-wearing girls for bombing.

“If you go to Maiduguri, especially motor parks, people with bomb detectors are put there (hijab). Banning the hijab is not enough but it would have to be banned if this continues because it is about the safety of people. The indoctrination is something else. If people do not mind taking their lives, then it is very serious,” he said.

Buhari said  that the Federal Government disdained orders of the court to release former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Director of Rado Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, because of the weight of their offences.

Buhari, who was answering questions during his maiden Media Chat, would not even comment on the situation of Shiite leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was detained with four bullet wounds Dec. 14 in military raids that allegedly killed hundreds of his followers.

Buhari, a former military dictator who calls himself a born-again democrat, did not discuss the propriety of defying court orders when he spoke on national TV.

“If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country!” Buhari said in justification. “We can’t allow them to jump bail.”

His words, “Technically, if you see the kind of atrocities that these people committed – I am very sorry to say this in public – against the country; if they jump bail! The former President just wrote to the Governor of Central Bank to give N40bn to so, so and so person and then he (Dasuki) goes to court and you give him bail and ask him to go and see his doctor in London when you have two million IDPs, half of whom do not even know their parents! What kind of country do you want to run?

“And the one that is being called Kanu; do you know he has two passports; one Nigerian, one British and he came to this country not using any passport? Do you know he brought in sophisticated equipment into this country and was broadcasting for Radio Biafra? Which kind of government do you want to have? You want him to be granted bail to go away? That is treasonable felony and I hope the court will listen to the case.”

A Federal High Court set no bail conditions and ordered the unconditional release of Biafra separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu on Dec. 17. Kanu was detained Oct. 17 on charges recently escalated to terrorism and financing terrorism. His cause led to a civil war that killed 1 million people in the 1960s.

Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki was detained Nov. 4 after intelligence agents surrounded his home for days to prevent him from leaving the country after a court allowed him bail to seek medical care abroad.

Dasuki is accused, among other things, of diverting $2.2 billion meant to buy arms to fight the Boko Haram Islamic uprising. Three courts have ordered his release on bail.

“What of the over two million people displaced, most of them orphans whose fathers have been killed?” Buhari asked. “We cannot allow that.”

The army said the raids and bulldozing of Zakzaky’s home and Shiite spiritual centers was a response to an alleged Shiite attempt to assassinate Nigeria’s army chief. Human Rights Watch has said the raid was unprovoked. The President confirmed that the President of Iran spoke with him on the matter.

He said he had explained to the Iranian President that Nigeria has a system of investigation.

Buhari said as the incident occurred in a state, he would wait for the report of the investigations conducted by the state government and the Army before taking a position on the matter.

He ruled out the possibility of the Federal Government setting up its own panel of enquiry on the matter.

The President, however, gave a hint that he was not comfortable with the conduct of the Islamic group when he wondered, “How can a group create a state within a state?”

He added, “The military that was involved too has a tradition of investigation. And I, as the head of Federal Government, I have to wait for official report before I can come out as the head of the Federal Government and make a statement.

“So I am allowing the Army and the Kaduna State government to submit their own reports of inquiry. The police, the SSS, though they are not directly involved, also they are doing their own constitutional role of finding out the cause of the matter.

“But all I know is that whether it is the police, the military, the civil authorities, where there is evidence that lives were lost and property destroyed, there is a standard way of investigation; it depends on how serious it is.”

He recalled how some residents of the state addressed journalists recently and narrated the ordeals they have been passing through in the hands of the members of the Shiite group.

Authorities have refused to allow anyone to see Zakzaky

Buhari also disclosed  that his government was in possession of documents that showed that the nation's crude oil was lifted illegally and proceeds from the illegal transactions lodged in personal accounts.

He said in due time, the administration would approach the courts, appealing to Nigerians to exercise more patience.

He said, “We have some documents where Nigerian crude oil was lifted illegally and the proceeds were put into personal accounts instead of the Federal Government's account and, of course, we have started going to court.

“We got evidence and we are taking the people to court and whatever is in the court, we will not comment until we see what they do with the documents we present. They are terrible cases of corruption and we can only appeal to Nigerians to be patient.”

He insisted that some of those who looted the nation's treasury had started returning parts of their loots but said he preferred to be silent on the details for now.

“Money has been recovered but the fact that whatever we recovered, we have to end up in court because Nigerians are entitled to know the truth and the truth will be what the court has discovered by submissions made to them in terms of documentation, including the bank statements where it was lodged; how it was lodged; whether it is petrol, money from NNPC or money from Customs, or money directly from the Central Bank.

“When we do that, Nigeria will be better,” he said.

The President added that he turned down a N400m bill to buy new cars for the Presidency, adding that he would meet with the National Assembly on the report that the lawmakers were planning to buy new cars for themselves aside their transport allowance.

Buhari stated, “For all I know, the first time, I turned down a N400m bill for cars for the Presidency. I said the vehicles I am using are good enough for the next 10 years.

“As for the National Assembly, we are having problems with them on the TSA, everybody has to subject himself to the TSA as long as federal money is involved.

“But I turned down about N50bn for vehicles, I think I have to hold a closed-door meeting with them and I think they have not bought them yet.

“I can't see the National Assembly spending more than N40bn to buy cars on top of transport allowances they collected. I have to revisit this story. They get N100bn for their allowances.