Nigeria's former Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari has urged the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to prosecute those involved in corruption- related scams, jail them or shoot them. The former presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) made the demand during a candid interview with SaharaTV over the weekend.
Discussing the $6.8 billion dollars fuel subsidy fraud, the N155 billion Malabu oil block scam, and the N36.8 billion police pension scheme, Gen. Buhari declared: “Just use the documentary evidence and prosecute them and jail them or shoot them.”
Gen. Buhari, who recently announced a possible presidential run in 2015, said that “literally nothing is happening,” currently to stamp out corruption.
“If we want to survive as a nation, a viable one, we have to do something extremely serious about corruption,” the retired General said.
Known as "sai mai gaskia" (a Hausa phrase that describes someone who speaks the truth), a no-nonsense man of discipline who was even described by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as “upright,” Buhari said that he would consider helping the current regime to bring justice to corrupt officials.
But he made it clear that this could happen only if, “the government shows that it can punish whoever steals, whoever takes public funds from the treasury whether it is in the local government, state, or in the Central Bank.”
He also said that if he were leading the country as President, he would have the courage to jail anyone involved in the scams.
“Why not?” he asked. “I did it under a different system before.”
The interview, conducted by SaharaTV’s Omoyele Sowore, was part of a special edition of SaharaTV that focused on Nigeria’s 13th anniversary of its return to democracy in 1999.
“What happened even from 1999 until now, we used to have Nigerian airways, we used to have Nigerian shipping [lines]…and the roads were not too bad…where are they now?” Buhari asked SaharaTV’s Omoyele Sowore.
Last week’s Democracy Day observations, commemorating the transition from military rule, were low key. Many, including Buhari, expressed their frank disapproval with the current regime and the inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to contain the rampant violence that has terrorized the nation.
Describing the level of insecurity as “intolerable,” Buhari explained that without addressing its root causes and consequences, insecurity will continue to move the country backward.
“Insecurity leads to unemployment, factories are closed, infrastructure has collapsed, social services have collapsed, education, there is no health care,” said the Katsina State native. He continued, stating that Nigerians know the problems because they are living in a state of total insecurity, where violence can erupt anywhere...any time.
Furthermore, when asked about Boko Haram, he said the violence committed by the extremist sect has no relation to religion, despite what its members claim.
“No religion allows hurting the innocent--no religion,” Buhari said during the interview.
Buhari himself has repeatedly been accused of encouraging violence at some point or another in his political career. During the 2011 president election season, Buhari faced heated criticisms over his comments that the 2011 elections must not be rigged unless the nation was prepared for a mass revolt comparable to the those that unfolded in Egypt and Tunisia.
Thus, while the international community heralded the 2011 elections as the most credible in Nigeria’s democratic history, they were subsequently marred by post-election violence which claimed the lives of 800 people and displaced 65,000, according to the United States Institute of Peace.
Many believe that Buhari triggered that violence, just as many believe that Buhari’s latest remarks about “bloodshed to come” in 2015, is another call for violence.
But during the SaharaTV interview, Buhari explained that his statements-- including the one translated as “if what happens in 2011 should happen again in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon will all be soaked in blood”--expressed in Hausa, were misinterpreted.
“Only those who know the Hausa culture, who are in it, can understand it,” Buhari said.
He claimed that he was simply making an assertion regularly made by politicians throughout the country--that the citizenry should demand for their votes to be counted.
Buhari put it this way: “If you go to the market, when people put their wares, they keep their eyes on it. Even if a fly drops, lands on it. They will see it. So I say, if they [Nigerians] will keep their votes like that.”
The Congress For Progressive Change founder also addressed the internal turbulence within the CPC party, specifically the vote of no confidence on the National Executive Committee passed by some renegade party state chairmen. Notably, on SaharaTV, CPC’s national public secretary Rotimi Fashakin blamed the PDP of helping to incite the violence.
It’s a move that Buhari called “illegal” as well as a plan aimed at having him sacked.
Nonetheless and in spite of the CPC crisis, Buhari seems to be willing to engage in the 2015 election.
“Why should I refuse to participate in taking the challenge for the fourth time to present myself to Nigerians again?” asked the 69-year-old statesmen during the interview.
He said that if he doesn’t run and if the 2015 CPC nominee does not get elected, the party may “die a natural death.”
And for Buhari, that would mean an “unacceptable” loss, and a pass at a chance to restore social justice.
“…unless we go back to social justice, the survival of this country and the sustained development is going to be extremely in doubt,” Buhari concluded.
Watch the full video on SaharaTV.