Nothing Unusual In Buhari’s Trip Cancellation To Lagos – Salami | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nothing Unusual In Buhari’s Trip Cancellation To Lagos – Salami

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Posted: May 27, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon Abiodun Salami, All Progressives Congress (APC) Spokesman in Lagos is of the view that there is nothing unusual for President Muhammadu Buhari to send Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to represent him during a planned visit to Lagos. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he also speaks on the party’s performance in government within one year as well as the recent Labour crisis among other issues. There are insinuations that the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Lagos State recently has some political undertones. What is your take on this?

Nigerians are full of pessimism. When there are official matters to attend to which are bigger than visiting Lagos State, what is wrong for the President to send his deputy, the vice president, to represent him in Lagos? The president knows what should be done at any time depending on the exigencies of the time. It is never a misnomer for the president to dispatch his vice to occasions on his behalf. There is no difference in the two offices. If a president has very tight schedules, the law provides for the deputy. The two are sharing the same office. It is not a mistake that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, came to Lagos to represent President Buhari. It is not that Lagos is not important. It is not out of place that the vice president came. After the Ramadan, President Buhari will be In Lagos. He wants to come to Lagos and we are preparing for that. Lagos is very important and so big that President Buhari will not toy with.  Delegation is allowed by the constitution. You can see the enthusiasm that the vice president was received, not because Lagos is his home state, but because the party and government are doing what the people want. People were happy because Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is doing what they want. It was indeed a rousing welcome for the vice president. If the vice president could get such a reception in Lagos, no one knows what would have happened if President Buhari had come.

It is believed that there are some cracks in the APC and that the leaders are only managing to patch up things. How true is this?

The fifth columnists always think of how to destabilise APC. Right from the merger, the registration, the primaries and the election proper, people thought it would not work. But Nigerians are intelligent people. That is why they voted in APC. They party is cohesive. It is a family. There has never been any difference within the party. Redeeming Nigeria has been our focus and we will remain focused on that.


With the members of New PDP feeling marginalised by those from the CPC, Buhari’s old party, and the anger of Bukola Saraki’s camp over his continued trial and supposed complaint in Bola Tinubu’s camp of alleged disrespect by President Muhammadu Buhari, do you see the party going to the 2019 general elections as one united platform?

We have crops of very mature politicians and Progressives in APC. During power play, it is mutual that someone will feel cheated. But in APC, Project Nigeria is very important. Whoever is saddled with responsibility should be concerned about Project Nigeria. Reviving the economy and putting Nigeria uppermost in comity of nations is our priority. No other thing is more important. On Saraki’s case, whoever comes with equity must have clean hands. It is not an APC affair. It is institutional matter. EFCC, ICPC, CCB, CCT, DSS, all derived their powers from the law. If it were in PDP time, it might have been settled as a family affair. Saraki has seen it as a cross he has to carry. If he is vindicated, so be it. On the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp, of which I belong, we are comprehensive and we see everything in governance as it is. Tinubu’s political ingenuity is second to none. Whatever he wants, he will get within the confines of the law. That is what President Buhari is doing. We look for competence. It is not a case of favouring a particular camp. If you have someone with a First degree and another who is a Professor or Doctorate degree, who will you take? If President Buhari prefers a Professor, what will you do? Of course, a list is presented. But, someone will be appointed. What matters to us in APC is that whoever is there must be responsible.

How do you see Labour’s recent demand of N56,000 National Minimum Wage?

It is about Nigeria. What is the prevailing situation? We have a bad economy now. I do not know how some Nigerians react. So many atrocities have been exposed and we are trying to recover what had been looted. That is why the labour strike failed. It was a disgrace for the NLC because they failed to read the tide. Nigerians are suffering now. It is like a woman who wants to put to bed and does not want to see blood. Look at the present issue of N30 trillion said to be missing which the court has ordered former Finance Minister and Economic Coordinator, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the present government to investigate. The timing of labour for the strike was wrong. If the economy is buoyant, you can make requests. What labour is asking for now is a frivolity. Except Lagos which has been paying salaries up to date, other states depend on Federal Allocations. If the Federal Government can recover even half of what was stolen, then the government can pay what Labour is demanding. Nigerians should be thankful to God for what is happening now. If President Jonathan was not removed, Nigeria should have being in more difficulties. So, let Nigerians be patient for a while. Things will be better.

Do you think it is possible for the Buhari government to work with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to investigate the alleged N30 trillion?

The government will surely invite her to open the books and ask her to explain things. It is a court order. Nobody is above the law. The current Minister of Finance, the Auditors and others will invite her for them to look at the books together. Nobody has found her culpable. It is a matter of looking through the books. It is about the law. She must cooperate. N30 trillion is not a small amount. This year’s budget is N6.3 trillion and we are going to borrow to finance the budget. So, such amount cannot just be waived off. President Buhari and the APC will take advantage of the court order and bring Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to answer. Look, Dr. Dieziani Madueke alone has to account for $115 million (about N20 billion). Is it not surprising for an individual alone to sponsor an election with such an amount at the peril of Nigerian people? God brought this government. No one would have known all these.

Nigerians are still complaining over the new fuel price hike. Could there not have been a way the government could have cushioned the effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy?

The problem of the removal of oil subsidy has been on over the years. Very few people had been feeding fat on subsidy which was not there. It is to everybody’s advantage that the oil sector be liberalised. Look at the Communication sector. Earlier, sim cards cost about N25,000. Now it is N100 or less. At social parties, people dash out sim cards. All you need to do is to register it. This is how it will be in the oil sector. Very soon, some filling stations will sell at lower amounts. Government just pegged the N145 now so that people will not go beyond that. When Nigeria has more refineries, the price of fuel will crash. Also, when there are more people building filling stations, the price of fuel will crash further. Government is trying to put more refineries in working condition and build more. Then there will be fuel at cheaper rate. I don’t want to mention names. But we know of a PDP president who built refineries in Sao Tome and Principe. When the government there was taken over in a coup, he spent a lot of Nigeria’s money and deployed troops to keep that government in power. That is why APC government is different. We are exposing too many things.