Senator Magnus Abeh, senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District in the National Assembly is a die-hard supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In this interview with Sundiata Post Assistant News Editor, Chibuike Nwabuko, Senator Magnus Abeh reveals why President Muhammadu Buhari deserves re-election in 2019 and gave insight as to why it has been difficult to convict corrupt public office holders. He also talks about how the Buhari government has tackled insecurity as well as how his administration was able to navigate the economy out of recession.
Come along with me :
Question: Do you think Buhari deserve a second term when the feeling out there is that he is a monumental failure?
People can say whatever they like. But if you are in a house where your father earn say N100 a month and suddenly he starts earning N30 a month, there must be adjustments in the family. That is what happened to Nigeria.
When income dropped drastically, there has to be adjustments. But the good of what we are able to do is that even in the midst of that drop, because of the President’s transparency, we are still able to invest substantially in capital projects which is more than what any other government has done even when there were surpluses. So all those things will yield fruits.
Power supply is improved by almost a hundred percent, go and check the facts; road construction is on going in all geo-political zones; investment in agriculture and agricultural input is skyrocketing.
In terms of security, yes there are challanges but that too, we are in a more better position than we were before the president took over.
So in all, I know that there is a lot of noise from the opposition about the challenges in the economy. On the issue of herdsmen but if you take away the noise and deal with the fact, you will even see that the government is working.
QUESTION: But Sir, are the noise not real?
The noise is political because when you discuss something in isolation of the realities around you, you are not being fair. Yes there are issues of security but even in that same issue of security, the government has made substantial progress. When President Buhari came, more than fourteen local government have Boko Haram chairmen in offices in the country and Nigerian government could not go to those local governments.Today, there is no local government under the control of Boko Haram. Recall that even here in Abuja, people were leaving in fear of Boko Haram’s attack. Today, nobody is talking about that as that has been cleared. Yes there are security challenge but we are also making progress in respect of that.
Question: Sir, If I should borrow from the word of former President Obasanjo, he says you dont reinforce failure. So many people have said that looting in this government is high...
Cuts in.. The looting where, name them and name where they looted from.
Question: It took the opposition party to name those who allegedly looted the treasury…
Cuts in… Even before the APC came to power to name the looters, there were different scandals reported in the papers, example, the one they took money from applicants for immigration, nobody did anything. The one in the airport, there were issues in the news, the sharing of dollars and all that. They were all reported before APC started naming looters, so everybody knew what was going on. So in our own government now, the press is still there, so why are you not naming the persons that are looting and where they are looting from, name them.
QUESTION: The looting list released by government, from all indications are skewed/selective and if you are tagged a looter and you jump ship, you will be set free or government downplays your case.
Cuts in.. No name names..
Question: Example, is the case of Obanikoro
Obanikoro’s case is still in court, Fani Kayode is in court with EFCC; why can’t you say they down-played Fani Kayode’s case.
Question: With all the noise about fight against corruption, why has government not been able to get one person convicted for almost three years now?
If someone comes now and say you have been convicted is that how court process runs? These people have lawyers, their lawyers are asking for adjournment, trying to do everything possible to see they delay the case to know if Buhari will not contest or be re-elected for them to escape. We know what is going on and so why do you blame the government for that. There are witnesses that have to come to court. When you take a man to court and he goes to suepene president Jonathan and you first have to do trial within trial that will take one year, is that Buhari’s fault? Let’s call a spade a spade. If you are standing trial and you go and hire five SANs and their work is only to delay the trial, how do you blame the government for that.
Again, when the Judge insisted that Metuh should come to court whether he is ill or not, Nigerians erupted that this is high-handedness, because Metuh was actually ill. How would you try him when he is not well. So the issue of trial is not what is totally within the competence of the executive so let’s be fair. I am not saying that Nigeria is perfect, yes there are issues, but what am saying is that if you are objective and you take away the fact that people are trying to spoil your mind against somebody and look at the issues objectively, you would see some things that the government is also doing well.
Question: Sir, don’t you think APC has a big work in its hands if your party fields Buhari as the presidential candidate. How do you market a failure?
That is Obasanjo’s judgement. I am supporting Buhari and I don’t think he is a failure. If you are supporting your candidate, market your candidate.
Question: What areas would you use to campaign for him Sir in terms of achievement?
I have told you the areas; I told you that power supply has gone up. The other day, I was driving from Portharcourt to Enugu and more than half of the road have been fixed. All through the years of PDP did you see that? It is written there “SUKUK”, work is going on there. So those are the things I will use to campaign, It is work that is used to campaign. I told you power Supply has gone up , rail has been built, I told you security challenges in the northeast has been substantially brought under control. So in terms of the economy, that agricultural output in this country has quadrupled. Now, we are no longer spending billions importing rice, we are saving all that money and channeling it on other things. So there are things that the government is doing right and there are also challenges within the system but the solution to that is not for us to go and start from the beginning because going back to go and call the people who started the problem does not show that we are serious.
Question: Let’s look at the convention of the APC. Oyegu’s tenure elongation. He has conducted ward congresses in some states like Kaduna. If his tenure is illegal where are you going to get the delegates.
First of all, Oyegun tenure has not expired, secondly APC’s convention is not a question of getting delegates. There are statutory members of the national convention that don’t need to be elected and when it’s time to do that, it is three persons per local government, we will elect them. So Oyegun’s term has not expired. So you need to get your facts straight. There are people who are sitting down, praying and waiting for APC to scatter so that they can now go and do politics. But you must do your politics based on your own strength not on the weakness of your opponent. So, if they are waiting for APC to implode before they can come forward with what they are doing, they are not serious and Nigerians should not take them seriously. And I have appealed to all members of the APC at every level not to give these people oxygen, whatever our issues are, let us solve it and carry this country forward because we are the only people who can carry this country forward.
Question: Do you sincerely believe that President Buhari has all it takes, in this 21st century, both intellectually and in terms of ideas that can move this nation forward?
The President has already shown that he knows all it takes to move this country forward. A man who became President at a point when oil production dropped to almost less than 500, 000 barrels and was selling for less than $30 a barrel and Nigeria is still here. I mean, what will you say about that. If it were any careless person, by now the country would not be here for you to argue over it.
But not only has he managed the country through that period, we are out of recession, we are now climbing in our reserves; showing practical examples of Nigerian’s making money from their own industry in the light of government’s programmes such as the national School feeding programme which I saw myself. People who are buying things, producing things; people who are now selling eggs, all are spiral effect of what the government is doing. Go to Kebbi, ask the governor of Kebbi State, you no longer see these boys anymore hanging around looking for people. So the government has made substantial progress in a lot of areas. And now that we are going to start talking about what the government has done, you will find out that a lot of what the opposition is claiming about is empty. There is no foundation for it. The herdsmen attack is the main campaign of the opposition, so sad Nigerians have died, so sad these issues are up, but even before Buhari, these issues were there, even cattle rustling was there before Buhari.
Question: How do you react to the fact that this APC government has in about 3 years borrowed more than what PDP borrowed in its entire sixteen years?
What is the issue with borrowing if you can show what the money is being used for.
Question: There seem to be no visible evidence of what the money is being used for?
No, every money that the government has borrowed is tied to project. None of it was borrowed and put into government’s account. Money was borrowed for rail, money was borrowed for specific projects in every geo-political zone of this country for road construction projects. Money was borrowed for completion of power projects So, if you take power alone, some estimates have it that in this country, we are spending close to a billion dollars everyday fueling generators. So if you even borrow N10billion and provide power for Nigerians, even if it is 10 hours a day, you have paid off the debt by what the people themselves are doing. So a lot of the issues that the people are canvassing are really neither here nor there. Let them come forward with their own facts and figures as to what the issues are, not to be spreading fear in the minds of the public. You cannot change a president mid-way in this kind of programme, you take yourself back, so I don’t think that at the end of the day, Nigerians are going to agree that they will change the president, I don’t think so.
Question: How would you react that with what you have said government has done, ordinary Nigerians in the street are hungry?
They are hungry but they also understand there will be more opportunities as we go forward and a lot of people are beginning to buy into those opportunities.