President Muhamadu Buhari on Tuesday poured out his mind on some of the critical issues especially misconceptions on the state of the nation.
Speaking extempore after delivering his speech at the second day of the one year retreat for ministers and top government officials, the President spoke on the cattle rearer/farmers conflicts and how United States President Donald Trump asked him why he was persecuting Christians , among others.
He said he had found himself in a situation where he had to explain the matter to President Donald Trump, who had been placed under the impression that the Nigerian government was using the crisis as a guise to persecute Christians.
“I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries that the president of the United States invited. And when I was in his office, only he and myself, he looked at me in the face and said why are you killing Christians, if you were the one, I wonder how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray me before him, so I understood it.
“The problem between cattle rearers and stagnant farmers, which is older than me not to talk of him (President Donald Trump), because I know I am a couple of years older than him, were happening. It’s climate change with population growth and the misunderstanding of the culture of the cattle rearers.
“If you have 50 cows and they eat grass or something, any route to their water pond they will follow it, it doesn’t matter whose farm it was. The First Republic set of leaders were the most responsible leaders we’ve ever had. They had a gazette in the early 60s, which delineated the cattle routes and the grazing areas. They used meagre resources then to put water dams, windmills…
“So any cattle rearer who allowed his cattle to somebody’s farm was arrested, taken before a court, the farmer is called to submit his bill then the judge will say if a cattle rearer couldn’t pay, his cattle were sold and the farmer is paid. But subsequent leaders, the VIPs, encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas. There was a time I went to Bayelsa State and I saw cattle rearers there, so I suspected they were going into the Atlantic.
“So I tried and explained to him that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It’s a cultural thing”, he said.
Speaking further, the President said: “The next problem I want to tell you about is how we found ourselves, when I say us, I mean members of the APC, when we promised three fundamental things: security, economy and fighting corruption, repeated the same fundamental things last year, but I want the Nigerian elite to judge us fairly.”
“When we came in 2014, please I’ll like you to check, the average production was 2.1 million barrels per day, the average cost was $100 per barrel, but when we came it collapsed to $37 and $38 per barrel and the militants were unleashed on the administration, the production went down to half a million barrels per day.
“I want you to please reflect, what was the condition of infrastructure then, in spite of those earnings? The roads, the rail was dead and there was no power, up till now there’s no power. Where did the money go?
“When we came we were faced with one third of the production, one third of the money we were getting and all these challenges; security, economy and fighting corruption. So please encourage your friends the elite to reflect on what this administration has done, what APC has done and what we have achieved.
“When people outside the country talk of Nigeria, they says it’s the most corrupt country in the world. Well, I’m doing my best, God has given me two chances: the first one when I tried I was a young man in uniform, collected the governors, the ministers and the President, put them in Kirikiri and other prisons and said they were guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
“Put investigations panels based on geopolitical zones, basically. Anybody who followed the constitution, declared his assets, became a minister, a governor or the President, but couldn’t explain what he had. The balance was taken and given back to the federal government or the state or the institution he led.”