Nigeria’s March 28 presidential elections have been widely-acknowledged as the country’s freest and fairest ever.
Buhari describes the outcome of last week’s elections as “not surprising,” given the merger of major opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) party on which he ran.
In another first for Nigeria, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, called Buhari to concede the election. “This showed that democracy is here to stay, in Nigeria,” President Jonathan said.
On dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s remote North East, Buhari said, in his first interview since winning the elections, “I believe we will effectively deal with them in a few months when we get into office.”
On how he would in fact achieve victory over Boko Haram, Buhari said “Firstly, we have to register the cooperation of the neighboring countries – Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Although some effort was made by this administration, it wasn’t good enough and it was too late, too little.”
“We expected the federal government, at least 4 years ago, to have sat down with these countries I mentioned to make sure they don’t allow the terrorists free movement across borders, training facilities, and movement of weapons. This was only done about 2 months ago and we have seen the positive side by the way the Chadians, the Nigeriens, and the Cameroonians are virtually fighting Boko Haram better than Nigeria is doing, until recently. So, really, we have seen enough and we have enough law enforcement agency [manpower] to face Boko Haram squarely,” Buhari added.
Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari was Nigeria’s Head of State from December 31st, 1983 to August 27th, 1985, after seizing power from a civilian government in a military coup d’état.
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In response to whether or not he is now a “real democrat”, he said “I am a ‘converted democrat’ and I attempted to get to this office three times and three times I ended up in the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court. On the allegation that people were executed for offences that did not carry the death sentence, I think you are wrong. When we came into power in December 1983, as a military administration, we decided, as a government, to prescribe the death sentence on drug traffickers. So there was a law. We made the law before people were successfully prosecuted and executed.”
On the topic of dealing with corruption in Nigeria, Buhari said “This is not very difficult, from my experience, and it is on record that in every ministry, in every parastatal in Nigeria, there are documents about administration instructions and financial instructions. [However] those instructions were ignored because leadership, at various stages, were being held hostage because of their corrupt practices. We shall make sure that corruption is eradicated in Nigeria.”
Global oil prices have fallen sharply over the past nine months, leading to revenue shortfalls in many energy exporting nations, such as Nigeria. Nigeria has been particularly affected by declining oil prices because oil accounts for about 90% of Nigeria’s exports and close to 80% of the government’s revenue.
On the topic of how Buhari would tackle the economic challenges Nigeria faces due to weak oil prices, Buhari said “The course of imposing accountability at every step of leadership is one of the ways. The laws are there. The problem is that the laws have been ignored for so long that a culture of corruption has been developed and [this] has to be arrested immediately. People must be held accountable at various levels for public funds and property. I assure you that if we successfully plug that hole of corruption, there will be resources that can be utilized to improve infrastructure.”
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