Nigeria: Election - Defeat Seems Impossible, Buhari Says

President Muhammadu Buhari at his re-election campaign launch.
17 January 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said losing the February 16 presidential election is almost impossible.

The president spoke alongside the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during a two-hour town-hall programme, tagged, 'The Candidates', moderated by Kadaria Ahmed in Abuja last night.

The moderator had asked the president if he would accept the results in the event that he lost the poll, to which Buhari replied: "well, that sounds like if impossible."

The president went further to say that "I think we have made our case and I hope you will have time to watch my visits to Bauchi, to Kogi and try and watch the other visits to the states.

And then see whether I'm fit or not.

"The way I go round the stadium and respond to the cheers of voters and explain our position, and explain to them where we found the country when we came in 2015, where we are now, what we are able to do in between with the resources available to us, I'm very, very satisfied with the reaction from the real voters," he said.

After his response, the moderator probed further: "But still, if something happens, and you lose election, will you accept the result?"

Buhari then responded by saying "That wouldn't be the first time I lose election. I tried in 2003, and I was in court for 30 months; 2007, I was in court for 18 months; 2011, I was in court for eight months. And I went up to the Supreme Court.

"The third time, I said 'God dey,' and the fourth time, God and technology came ‎in, the PVC and card readers, you know, the opposition took it for granted. Before, what they used to do was to sit down, look at the constituencies, allot marks or allot seats and say anybody who disagreed should go to court.

"Most of my voters are looking for the next meal, where did they get money to go to court? So, they said 'God dey,' and eventually 'God dey.'"

On anti-graft war

The President said he cannot afford to be frustrated in his fight against corruption in the country

He said there was the need for the EFCC and the ICPC to make a comprehensive list of recovered stolen funds available to the public. The president restated his call to the US and European countries to help recover stolen funds stashed in their countries.

He said with Treasury Single Account (TSA), recovered stolen funds cannot be moved unless through the budget.

When the moderator told the President that he sounds frustrated about the fight against corruption, Buhari said, "I can't afford to get frustrated. I keep on telling the law enforcement agencies and the administrators in the ministries their own responsibilities to document mismanagement and if it has to come to the presidency, let it be. I can't ask to get elected on security, economy and fight against corruption and then get frustrated because some people are not cooperating, I cannot afford."

On bribery allegation against Ganduje

The President said he was overwhelmed [by the bribery allegation against Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje] but that the system has given him some relief as the case was before the court and the Kano State House of Assembly.

He expressed hope that either the state assembly or the courts will take a decision on the case before he campaigns in Kano in coming days.

Buhari said the people of the North East geo-political zone could confidently attest to the achievement of the federal government as Boko Haram no longer controls any local government in the country.

The president, who said the military still required more resources to buy equipment to successfully end the war against Boko Haram, expressed happiness that people could now travel from Maiduguri to Kano by road.

He said the insurgents were being supported by forces outside Nigeria.

Why Nigerians are poor - Osinbajo

For his part, Vice President Osinbajo said Nigerians are poor because "nobody took the burden to take people out of poverty" in the past.

He said there was a time in the country when oil price was up to $100 per barrel and the government raked billions of dollars, but that there was no plan for the poor masses, hence the citizens were in "extreme poverty."

The vice president said ‎the economy under the APC administration has been doing well when compared to what obtained before the government came in.

‎He said based on the statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there were over 112 million Nigerians in "extreme poverty" as at 2012 when the country got a lot of money compared to about 86 million poor Nigerians as at today.

"Nigeria earned the highest money between 2010 and 2014, but we still had 112 million people in extreme poverty.

"There was a government in this country where $292m was withdrawn weeks to the elections. Another 40bn was withdrawn, and we have all the evidence. At the time, there were still 112 million people in poverty. So, we're poor because nobody took the burden to take people out of poverty," Osinbajo said.

On why the country went into recession, Osinbajo, who is the chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC), said as far back as 2013, before the APC took over power, the then finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave indication that all was not well.

Osinbajo also said that when they took over, the foreign reserve was hovering around $28 billion, but that as at today, it has gone over $40 billion.

The vice president also said the country has saved over $24bn from rice importation in the last three and half years.

Asked by the moderator to comment on many Nigerians seeing the PDP and APC as two sides of the same coin, Osinbajo insisted there were marked differences between these two parties.

He said that at the core ideology of the APC is a belief of social change.

"Regardless of whether some PDP join the party, the ideology of the APC will not change," he said.

According to him, the APC ideology is to eradicate hunger and poverty, compared to the PDP which lack such ideology.

On open grazing and ranching, Osinbajo said the federal government does not own lands and that only states control lands. He said governors were urged to support the government in creating spaces to facilitate grazing or ranching and that some governors have donated lands while some other made promises.

Osinbajo said the solution being devised by the government is a mixture of ranches and grazing areas.

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