The immediate past President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has maintained that he did his best in the eight years that he governed Nigeria, but said he wasn’t quite sure he achieved the expected results.
Speaking in his first interview since his exit as Nigeria’s leader about six months ago, the former president stated that he endorsed the controversial naira redesign policy in the twilight of his administration to protect his own integrity and to show Nigerians there was no shortcut to success.
Buhari who spoke to the state-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), on Monday, November 20, argued that Nigerians were a difficult set of people to govern, maintaining that they know the right thing to do, but would mostly refuse to do so, because they think they know better than the person on the saddle.
Questioned on the integrity of many of the people surrounding him during his eight -year government, the former president stated that “ it is their problem “, querying what the persons who criticised him fiercely had done at their individual levels to fight corruption.
The ex-president, when asked if he agreed that there was a cabal that hijacked his government, he said “it must have been”, but said that he wasn’t sure anybody flouted the rules and was allowed to “walk away”. Buhari said he allowed people to do their jobs when he assigned tasks, stressing that if he was given the same chance he wouldn’t do anything differently under Nigeria’s current system.
Buhari stressed that he broke down publicly in 2011 after he lost the election because of his patriotism. On the naira policy which was largely criticised, Buhari said: “Whether Nigerians believe it or not, we are an underdeveloped country. And in that sort of situation, there’s materialism and sometimes ruthlessly they didn’t care how they made the money.
..I still feel that the only way I could deprive these people was just to make sure that my integrity became unquestionable…I think as a developing country we still have a long way to go. The motivation
(for introducing the policy) was to try and make Nigerians believe that there is no shortcut to successful leadership.” he added.
Besides, he explained that he wasn’t shocked that he was taken to court by governors from his own party at the time to reverse the policy. On the Ethiopian/Nigerian Air debacle at the tail end of his
administration, Buhari said that if there was any shortcoming he had, it was giving people the free hand to do their work.
The former president also said he was too preoccupied with local matters to be bothered with foreign issues as president. He said his biggest challenge was securing the country. Buhari said he did not try to compete with Nigeria’s wealthy class by acquiring land, houses and cars during his time as Nigeria’s leader, explaining that it was the reason he was “living in peace” after exiting
He argued that some Nigerians attempted to set a trap for him by trying to ambush him with certain opportunities, but that he avoided the trap because he knew that once they knew he had been compromised, they would take advantage of the situation to milk the country. He added that they would rather become his boss.
He noted that God helped introduce technology in 2015 which enabled him win the poll because God had seen the gruelling pains he experienced after each loss during the times he contested for the presidency. “Instead of people expressing sympathy, people laughed at me because I didn’t have money, because I couldn’t buy influence in any form, either from influential people or others. And I said ‘God dey!. And he sent the Permanent Voter Card (PVC). Meaning you now have only one vote,” he stated.
The former president who appeared to veer off point several times during the session, explained that he tried to be as accountable as possible during his administration.
Buhari said he was still being ‘haragged’ by people who throng his home on a daily basis, noting that if the border with a nearby country was not closed, he would have run out of Nigeria by now. He added, however, that he was glad he now wakes up anytime he likes. The former president said he doesn’t miss anything after leaving government. “God gave me the opportunity to serve my country, but I did my best. But whether my best was good enough, leave for people to judge, ” he stressed.
Although the ex-Nigerian leader stated “not quite” when he was asked whether he achieved what he set out to achieve after trying to be president four times, he highlighted the insecurity in Borno state and the North-east when he took over, saying that Boko Haram had been largely degraded at the time he was leaving government.
“Nigerians are extremely difficult. People know their rights. They think they should be there, not you. So, they monitor virtually your every step. And you have to struggle day and night to ensure that
you are competent enough” he added.