President Muhammadu Buhari’s Media Chat

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President Buhari during his media chat spoke on current national issues. Some of the biggest challenges facing Nigeria, like the Boko Haram insurgency, failing economy, war against corruption among others.

19.00 All eyes on President Buhari as media chat begins.

19.02 Kayode Akintemi of Channels TV, the anchor of the chat, welcomed Mr. Buhari and introduced his colleagues.

19.04 And the first question. Nigerians love you. You are the man of integrity. You were elected on the promise to fight corruption. The honeymoon is over. How do you think we are doing with the fight against corruption?

19.05 Buhari answered: “We are doing quite well. We have some documents where Nigerian crude oil were lifted illegally and proceeds diverted into personal accounts”

19.06 “We are taking the people suspected of corruption to court. We cannot comment. We want Nigerians to be patient,” the president says.

19.07 Kayode Akintemi: “Who are the people that the gov’t claimed have returned money and how much have they returned?”

19.08 “Under whatever circumstances we cannot prejudge what the court would do,” President Buhari.

19.09 Buhari continues: “Money has been recovered but whatever has been recovered, will have to remain in court.”

19.11 The next question is “What we have now is an iceberg, and I am just wondering whether there is any way to rejig ICPC and EFCC?”

19.15 “We have to be very sure of the documents we get. We have to cross check records. I have confidence in the way EFCC and ICPC are structured now,” Buhari added.

19.16 “How long are you willing to go in this fight against corruption?” the journalist asks the next question.

19.19 Buhari answers: “I have said that I will defend every property of Nigeria. We are appealing to countries to please cooperate with us.”

19.21 “When do you intend to make full declaration of your assets?”

19.22 “When I was being harassed, I told people that I had declared my assets four times. I mentioned which banks I borrowed money, the number of cars – where they were – and deposited the documents at the ministry of justice. If they cannot produce the documents that I declared, they should also answer questions on documents of public officers.” the Nigerian leader says.

19.25 “Nigerians to know progress of the anti-corruption war by end of 1st quarter of 2016,” the president continues.

19.27 “My ministers must make sure they declare their assets; that is a constitutional requirement,” Continuing, “I am going to make sure that nobody is above the law.”

19.28 The next question comes: “On Chibok girls and technical defeat of Boko Haram, when are we bringing the girls back?”

19.29 “I have answered questions on Chibok Girls and we know so far from our attack on Sambisa that the girls are not intact. We are more than willing to negotiate to free the girls without compromising our National Security,” he responds.

19.32 The president continues: “Some supposed leadership wanted to make contact, but we insisted on identifying the leadership of the so called Boko Haram.”

19.34 “Are you sure the girls are there and alive?”

19.35 “Do we have any intelligence that the girls are alive? No credible information. We’re working with Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Boko Haram kept shifting them around,” Buhari said.

19.36 President Buhari speaks also on IDPs; he stated that there are about two million IDPs in the country, especially in Borno state.

19.37 Buhari says the Boko Haram victims are orphaned and Dangote, Danjuma have donated.

19.38 The president says he has money to take care of IDP’s and he wants to settle the kids in schools/communities. His words: “We are determined to resettle children transported across the country as a result of insecurity.”

19.41 The conversation moves to the confrontation between the army and the Shi’ia sect, and its similarities with the start of the Boko Haram insurgency.

19.43 Both the president and interviewers avoid giving names: “When it (clashes with Shiites in Zaria) happened in the state (Kaduna), the governor (Nasir El-Rufai) was visiting the area,” Buhari.

19.45 “I don’t want to speak about it in detail now,” the president continues.

19.46 “The President of Iran spoke to me about it and I told him as a government, we have a system. I am awaiting the report of the military,” Buhari says.

19.47 Another question for Buhari: “Who would you be expecting the report of the Shi’ites’ killings from?”

19.48 Last question on security and the next subject comes.

19.49 The interviewer asks about the Boko Haram deadline. “Can you say whether the war has been ‘technically’ or otherwise won?”

19.50 Is banning hijab an option or not?

19.51 “People die, it’s very serious. Hijab will have to be banned if this (female suicide bombings) continues,” the president says.

19.52 “When I say Boko Haram had been defeated technically, we have weakened capacity for conventional attacks” – Buhari.

19.53 The next portion of questions is on economy.19.55 Buhari answers on Naira devaluation issue. “Should we be looking at devaluing naira?”

19.57 “I don’t support devaluation,” the President says.

19.58 “There are 45 accounts in NNPC alone. We introduced the Treasury Single Account so that we can know what comes in and goes out.”

19.59 “Insecurity, downturn of petroleum are very unfortunate incidents in this country,” Buhari continues.

20.02 “But, Mr. President, would you support the devaluation?” The answer from Buhari: “If you devalue the Naira, against what? Against the Dollar, Sterling, Yen, Dutch? I need to be convinced about devaluing the Naira. We are importing including toothpick!”

20.04 “Our priority is for welders, barbers, building our roads & railways, not rice and expensive textile wears,” the president.

20.06 On the issue of people being unable to withdraw hard currencies, PMB says: “I will ask the Governor of the Central Bank. Those who want to import rice and toothpick should go somewhere else to get foreign currency.”

20.07 The president being asked: “Are you considering putting a stop to the issue of subsidy?”

20.09 “Our first priority now is to get our refineries working,” he says.

20.10 “By the end of next quarter, we might stop subsidy. I hope that our refineries can be functional,” Buhari states.

20.11 He continues: “Our priority is to get our local refineries working, to reduce cost. The cost of petrol is so low; you don’t have to subsidize it.”

20.14 Question: What is the president’s understanding of job creation? And what was he thinking when the decided to make Fashola minister with three portfolios. What was the president’s vision for him?

20.15 “Fashola was not made a super minister for nothing. The issues associated with power, which will take time, will be answered. He added that government is looking at different means of generating power.” President Buhari answers.

20.16 “We had 42 ministries, with 42 perm secs. We had to cut them to 24 and asked some to go,” he continues.

20.18 The conversation moves to the questions on change – the slogan of Buhari during the presidential campaign. The interviewer asks: “What has changed?”

20.19 “The change is in the TSA.”

20.23 “The policy on foreign currency withdrawal cannot be lifted because the money is not there. A N100bn goes to the National Assembly for transport allowances alone,” the conversation continues.

20.25 President Buhari speaks on 2016 budget. “I think I will use veto power to stop the national assembly from using N47 billion to buy cars.” – Buhari. He continues that he will review N3.6b for BMW cars scandal. “I turned down a huge bill for vehicles, but I know we need some vehicles for foreign visitors.”

20.26 “Who checks the National Assembly? After hesitating… the president says: “The judiciary.”

20.27 Nigerians are expected to send in their questions via twitter, using the hashtag #askbuhari

20.29 “The question of parastatals earning money, spending it and giving government the change will stop.” – PMB

20.30 “I turned down a N400million car proposal; the cars I have are good enough for 10 years.” Buhari.

20.32 President Buhari answers first question from Twitter.

20.34 The question is: “How would the president respond to criticism of plans to borrow to fund a part of the 2016 budget?”

20.36 “We are not depending on debt, we are renegotiating with those who agreed to build infrastructure for us. Nigeria is not borrowing to fund the 2016 budget but renovating with creditors to build capital projects,” Buhari answers.

20.37 Nigerians ask what Buhari’s government will do with corrupt judges.

20.39 “Those making the allegations would have to prove it,” the president says.

20.40 “The Judiciary is a seating dock; we need the police and other arms to take cases to them; it’s unfair to blame the judiciary,” Buhari added.

20.43 The president further answers on minimum wage: “I cannot answer the question of 18 thousand minimum wage now; and the federal govt will not touch that. The federal gov’t will not touch minimum wage.”

20.44 On 5k monthly, Buhari says: “When my people have been quoted, how can I come here and say otherwise?”

20.45 “We may have to send the young unemployed youth seeking N5k fee to farm to earn the money” – PMB

20.47 Buhari continues: “We will look into the students already in school to be able to use their Master Card Debit/Credit cards abroad.”

20.49 One more round of questions from journalists (the panel) is expected.

20.50 “The standard of tertiary institutions is really poor, I don’t want students sitting on windows to take lectures,” Buhari answers the question on tertiary institutions from Twitter.

20.51 President Buhari answering questions from Kayode Akintemi, Ibanga Isine, Ngozi and Mannir Dan Ali.

20.55 Are you not worried about Kanu? the journalist asked the president.

20.56 Buhari’s answer: “DSS disobeyed court orders, people got legitimate bails from courts, and they are still being held. It’s due to atrocities they committed. They go against the country, and you expect them to jump bail? The one we are calling ‘Kanu’ he has two passports, he brought equipment. Do you know Kanu brought in sophisticated weapon into the country; there’s treasonable felony case against him.”

20.57 “You want people who stole N50B to be granted bail to go to London when we have 2 Million IDPs in camps?” – President Buhari continues.

20.58 The president speaks on Biafra issue: “Why does it have to worry me, when I have militants of all kinds, Boko Haram and etc. The question is, who marginalised them (Biafra agitators)?”

20.59 “Please ask your colleagues to do more investigative journalism, so the people know the truth,” Buhari in his last words addressed journalists.

21.00 The first media chat has finished. Thanks for being with us.

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