Jonathan Didn’t Want To Step On Toes –Salako | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jonathan Didn’t Want To Step On Toes –Salako

Posted: Sep 12, 2015 at 12:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Olukayode Salako is the Founder and Coordinator of Change Agents of Nigeria Network (CANN), a group founded in 2011 to preach for change in the country. Salako in this interview with William Igenegbai speaks on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last 100 days and other issues. Excerpts:

It has been over 100 days that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over. How would you assess the administration’s performance so far in view of the change revolution course you have been championing?

Olukayode Salako

Olukayode Salako

I have never doubted the capacity of the present government to deliver on the promises made during the campaign periods. Any government that must really change Nigeria must be very responsible and disciplined. That government must have the conscience, vision, mission and passion to help Nigeria. And that is the type of government Nigerians have chosen for themselves around this time. Buhari’s government is a government of change for positive and rewarding developments in Nigeria. It is the government led by two responsible and disciplined men. And this is what any society that wants to develop must have and deserve.

I have always said it that when a country has a responsible and disciplined leadership in place, that country will definitely work for good. So, my assessment of Nigeria in the first 100 days of Buhari is that of a country that is already working.

However, that a man like Buhari and Osinbajo are now the ones in charge of Nigeria alone is
the change Nigeria deserves. These are men of integrity, competence and experience.
In Buhari’s hundred days, the story of Nigeria is like that of a country that was basking in the euphoria of acute socio-economic madness, degradation, frustration and confusion, which is now being governed by divinely arranged agents of change. It is now a new order for the rule of sanity, law and order; civility and what is right for Nigeria.
In Buhari’s 100 days, light is taking over darkness and frustration in Nigeria. Hope is taking over despair. Security is taking over insecurity, political gangsterism and lawlessness.

The rule of law and what is right is taking over the rule of insanity, impunity and executive criminality. The Nigerian environment is calm, peaceful and incubating fast. Things are taking shape and corruption is under serious pressure to leave Nigeria alone. Boko Haram structure and strength are being disorganised, tamed and destroyed. Hence, Boko Haram is now very weak and becoming moribund in our polity.
Right now, electricity supply is very stable in many parts of the country, unlike before when darkness was frustrating the nation. Fuel supply has been peacefully stable and available.

States which could not pay salaries are being bailed out. And now, they are paying salaries and civil servants in many states are happy with the present government. Those who have stolen Nigeria’s money are returning them secretly to the nation’s treasury. The anti-graft agencies are now independently up and doing their jobs. And above all, Nigeria is now working.

Are you now saying some of these achievements were not recorded under the last administration of Goodluck Jonathan? 

My problem with Jonathan’s government is not really about performance of his government, but the character and orientation of his government. To be realistic, there is no government which will come and govern for a period and will not do anything at all. Even under the military rule, certain level of performance would still be achieved. There is no way you will look at the activities of a government and nothing would be done. I have never even said it that the past PDP governments did not do anything at all. It would be unintelligent to say so. But what we are saying is that Jonathan’s government destroyed Nigeria more than he claimed to do for Nigeria.  Jonathan’s government had no character and was not responsible. This was a leader that wanted to please everybody. He didn’t want to step on toes. This was a leader that promoted corruption, impunity, political gangsterism and executive lawlessness to an alarming level.

No matter how good a man
is, if he is surrounded by people of questionable character, then he has a big problem with integrity and dignity. How can you say you are a good leader when your entire kingmakers are bad?

President Buhari is yet to appoint ministers; don’t you think this is not right for a government that promised Nigerians rapid change during the elections?

It is true. What APC promised Nigerians was that the party was coming to change Nigeria for positive developments, but it will not be a miracle. President Buhari did not promise to govern the country as a miracle worker, so Nigerians should stop expecting miracles. On the issues of appointing ministers, three months that he told Nigerians he would constitute his cabinet is in order. He inherited a badly battered Nigeria; a badly bruised and comatose Nigeria.

And if you inherited a house that is almost collapsing, the wisdom is to first of all sit down with a few builders and see how the house can be renovated or put in proper shape before inviting people to come and stay in the house. What Buhari is doing is just too right. Ministers won’t be able to work to satisfy Nigerians in a house that is disorganised and near collapsing. So, the first assignment is to source for money to fix it, and then fix it. Afterwards, he can now constitute his cabinet. He
won’t be the first president or Head of State who did not constitute his cabinet in his three months in Nigeria. Former President Jonathan and co. also didn’t constitute their cabinets immediately in the past.
And besides, without his ministers yet in place, He has been working with the Permanent Secretaries of the various ministries to get the job of running the nation. So far, nothing is still missing. Buhari has been handling Nigeria very well. 

There have been complaints about appointments made by President Buhari so far. What is your take on this? 

Well, I won’t condemn the president yet based on this, because the presidency has come out to say there are still more than 5000 more appointments to be made. He is the one Nigerians voted to govern them, and constitutionally, it is his prerogative more to appoint the people he feels can help him deliver his mission and vision for Nigeria. But all the same, I am one of those who feel his appointments should reflect the principle of what democracy says, balanced representation, because democracy in itself is all about representative leadership and governance. It is a form of government where the people that make up the constituent part of the country are given the opportunity to be represented at the negotiation table so that development can be evenly distributed. 

Would you agree with those that have alleged that the president’s fight against corruption has been selective?

There is no way you would want to fight corruption that corruption won’t fight you back, because corruption itself is big, wealthy and powerful. So, anybody who wants to fight it in a very corrupt and lawless country like Nigeria should be ready to receive all sorts of attacks and criticisms. Corruption has become a strong institution in Nigeria, so there is now way it can succumb easily to Buhari’s attacks without fighting back.

Another Boko Haram onslaught which is destroying Nigeria right now is the corruption of Boko Haram. So, Buhari is fighting two wars at the same time, Boko Haram and corruption wars.
And since Boko Haram too fights back, corruption must also fight back. However, it is those who do not see stealing as corruption that would be quick to condemn the war against corruption. The honest question we should ask is whether Buhari or Osinbajo are the EFCC or ICPC in Nigeria? Or is Buhari the one who created those agencies? Or he is the one writing those petitions to report corrupt people? Definitely not, those who are talking more are those who are beneficiaries of corruption especially in the previous governments or their relatives.

If you are not benefiting from corruption or your relative or friend is not part of those EFCC is looking for, why complain? That is the issue. EFCC and ICPC acts based on petition written to them. If petition has not been written about me, people should not expect EFCC to be running after me. And to say Buhari is selective is a noise coming more from PDP.