President Muhammadu Buhari says there are some persons in his administration who are not “100 percent loyal” to his government. Buhari was speaking in an interview he had with Al Jazeera during his recent trip to Qatar. He described the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget as unfortunate, saying those responsible for the embarrassment will not go unpunished.
When asked if he meant there were those sabotaging his government, he replied: “Certainly!” He added that those who want to be fair to his government will appreciate the effort made in cutting the cost of governance. “I will like people to assess Nigeria, especially this government on where we found ourselves. When we came in, we found out that there were 42 ministries and we found out that the economy could not take 42, so we reduced it to 24. We also removed 21 permanent secretaries,” he said. “People who want to be fair to us to sit and reflect, from the president to the ministers to the permanent secretaries were all taken over after eight successive governments of those who are now in the opposition. “So, we cannot assume that all of them are 100 percent loyal to this government.” Buhari also spoke on the current state of the economy, saying not even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could convince him to devalue the naira. “If devaluing the naira is against our national interest, why can’t we go against the IMF advice?” he asked.
Buhari said even though some of the policies of the Organising of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) do not favour Nigeria at the moment, the country would not pull out of the organisation.
“OPEC as an organisation has to be mindful of economic conditions in each member country because that will influence that country’s ability to go along with OPEC decisions,” he said. “We were unable to diversify our economy, hence we are much more disadvantaged by the lower oil prices and OPEC may try to help us out but really, it’s basically our own fault. “It’s not under my leadership that Nigeria will pull out of OPEC. We will make the necessary sacrifice to remain in OPEC.”
Buhari said Nigeria has enlisted in the Saudi Arabia Islamic coalition fighting terrorism, explaining that such step would help the country tackle extremism. He explained that the Lake Chad Basin Commission, comprising Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin are also members of the coalition, which has deployed troops in the sub-region. “We are part of the Islamic coalition because we have got terrorists in Nigeria, which everybody knows and the terrorists claim to be Islamic,” he said. “So, if there is an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, we will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism. “Boko Haram has declared loyalty to ISIS and ISIS is based in Islamic countries, and if there is a coalition to fight them why shouldn’t we be part of it, particularly when those fighting the country claim to be Muslims, although what they are doing is against Islam.”
When asked if non-Muslims would not feel that he is attempting to change the religious identity of the country, Buhari said: “Why can’t those Christians that complain fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militants in the south? It’s Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of the religious bigots.”