Senator Abubakar Girei is a prominent politician who represented Adamawa Central in the Senate between 1999 and 2003. In this interview with reporters in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, the stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) speaks on the steps that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has taken so far, saying Nigeria will get it right this time. Correspondent ONIMISI ALAO reports
Nigeria’s economy is currently comatose. How do you see Tinubu successfully tackling it?
Tinubu is a man who came to the job well-prepared. The president is a man who will never hide under excuses to evade his responsibility. As a world-class financial expert, he knows the economic challenges bedevilling the country. He has already started attacking some of the challenges and very soon Nigeria’s economic landscape will change for the better.
Some of the measures he is adopting naturally come with pains in the interim but as the policies mature, the pains will begin to subside until total healing is achieved. Our economic situation is so bad that the biggest challenge next to insecurity is the economy and like the president repeatedly said during his campaign, he is ready to tackle the challenges head-on and as Nigerians have been rightly saying, the president has hit the ground running. I believe Nigeria’s economic challenges will soon be sorted out, with the president’s new approach.
I hope that the president will assemble a team of experts and people with unquestionable character. These experts should invest adequate time to intensively understudy the challenges and come up with far-reaching solutions. We can’t afford to fiddle at this very crucial time. We must rally around the president in his resolve to proffer lasting solutions. The critical decisions he has taken so far and the appointments of men of integrity and capacity since coming to power are reassuring. I will urge the appointees to see their choice as a call to national duty which they should discharge with all sense of commitment to become part of the history of a transformed Nigeria.
The major challenges stunting our development as a nation are corruption and the lack of political will to enforce the rule of law. I urge the president to accord seriousness in monitoring and evaluating his appointees. Goals should be set with timelines and anyone who fails to measure up should be shown the way out. The president should also ensure measures to stamp out corruption because no serious achievement could be made if political appointees are not held accountable.
The petrol subsidy regime had been described as a hydra-headed snake that had refused to die. What is your perception of the decision taken so far by President Tinubu to tackle it?
This is a bold decision taken by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Since he came, unlike any other administration, he has succeeded in removing the petrol subsidy which had lingered for time immemorial. He has also suspended the Central Bank Governor Emefiele, suspended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa and harmonised the multiple exchange rates, among other significant actions he has taken in a very short time.
With this kind of courage, I believe the president’s courageous policies will begin to yield positive results soon. But, I will not fail to say that some of these policies also have their flipsides, especially on the lives and livelihood of Nigeria’s toiling masses. Even before the introduction of these policies, the ordinary Nigerian has been facing difficulties trying to survive. Nigerians have been confronted with crippling inflation, a high unemployment rate, massive insecurity and a dearth of infrastructure, which have all contributed to the staggering poverty level today.
This calls for sober reflection on the part of the president and the need for putting robust palliative measures to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal on petroleum products. And going by reports, very soon the subsidy on electricity will also be removed. I want to make a clarion call on Mr President to tarry awhile on the subsidy removal on electricity due to the harsh and inclement economic conditions being faced by the greater majority of Nigerians till the effect of the petroleum subsidy removal is significantly reduced.
And I must also call on Mr President to remain very vigilant on the harmonisation of the exchange rate regime. In the past, various presidents like Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and even Olusegun Obasanjo tried the exchange harmonisation policy without success. So, for this policy to thrive, President Tinubu must do what the other presidents failed to do.
What do you make of the arrest of the suspended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele?
The suspended CBN governor has long outlived his usefulness. Emifiele has only succeeded in bastardising the economy as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu rightly said during his visit to France. The inglorious reign of Emefiele has nearly brought Nigeria to its knees because of a regime of unprecedented mismanagement, abuse of office, looting of our treasuries and high-handedness that took place.
He almost ruined our naira through massive printing; and the introduction of a regime of multifaceted exchange rates. At a point, he even contemplated contesting for the presidency. At the twilight of the Buhari administration, Emefiele came up with the naira swap policy which caused massive havoc to Nigerians.
The suspended CBN governor has also bastardised the agricultural sector and completely abandoned his role as the CBN governor and turned himself into a farm manager. He corruptly introduced all sorts of contraptions through which massive larceny took place…The suspension and arrest of Emefiele is right. The government should go further to dissolve the new outfits Emefiele created and merge them with long-standing institutions.
As a son of Adamawa State, how did you receive the appointment of Malam Nuhu Ribadu as the National Security Adviser?
I felt elated when the announcement was made because I know behind that singular decision lies a strong resolve and political will of ending the scourge of social and other forms of insecurity in the land. In Nigeria, no one needs to be told the antecedents of Malam Nuhu Ribadu as far as work ethics, discipline moral standing and courage are concerned. If there is anyone in Nigeria that has the courage and will to address the security imbroglio facing the country, that man is Nuhu Ribadu.
Such deportment of appointing the right people into the right positions gives us the hope that Tinubu came with the clear intention of resolving our numerous socio-economic challenges. With such a mindset, it is my humble belief that Tinubu is the messiah Nigeria is earnestly waiting for at this critical point in our nation’s history. I will say with all sense of modesty that Ribadu will not disappoint Tinubu and Nigeria.
I must also give the president big kudos for selecting new service chiefs and other appointments he has made so far. I know some of them and I can assure you they are men of valour who will do this nation proud.
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