The All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential flag bearer, General Muhammadu (rtd) in a live interview with Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday evening said it was wrong for anyone to use what transpired during the military era to judge him in his quest to return to power under a democratic government.
He also said that he would ensure that corruption is rooted out of the system as soon as he is elected, agreeing with the statement that if ”Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
This was as he welcomed former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of his candidacy.
The former head of state while speaking from his Abuja office, affirmed that the Boko Haram insurgency would be upstaged by his administration by blocking corruption and other leakages. He said that the major problem with the war against Boko Haram was that the money voted to address the menace was always not used appropriately, blaming corruption and lack of accountability as well as poor welfare of the army for the failure of the current administration to win the war against insurgency.
When asked what he thinks of Nigerians having to grapple with the difficult option of choosing from a failed president and a former military dictator with a bad human rights record, he said: “All those things you mentioned were done under military administration; if we did not suspend the constitution then, it would have been difficult for us to operate under those circumstances. So I do not think I should be judged as an individual for those things that happened then.”
He further said that the approach under a democratic government would be different from the regime where the constitution was suspended.
Welcoming the endorsement of President Obasanjo, he said: “Well it will certainly bring more supporters to us and more confidence for those who were sitting on the fence because General Obasanjo is highly respected and as far as the nation is concerned, there is no issue that can be deliberated upon without people seeking his opinion.”
Buhari also spoke on the postponement of the election dates which he described as unfortunate. According to him, “That is a disappointment because the presentation made by the INEC was that they were ready to conduct the elections on the date chosen a year ago, and for them to be forced virtually by the military that they cannot guarantee the safety of their workers and shift it by six weeks is disturbing.”
It would be recalled that INEC on Saturday night shifted the general elections earlier scheduled to hold on February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11 after the Nigerian security chiefs wrote a letter demanding for a shift in the dates, saying they could not guarantee the safety of Nigerians during and after the elections. One of the reasons given by the military was that it would commence a serious onslaught against the Boko Haram Insurgents in the northeast and cannot entertain distractions of an election during the offensive.
President Jonathan had during a media chat on Wednesday evening however debunked the position of INEC that the elections were shifted because of just security issues. He said poor distribution and collection of PVCs were chiefly responsible for the shift in dates. He said the security issues raised were related to the collection of PVCs. He said ‘’ During the Council of State meeting, the issue of security was emphasised and there is no way security chiefs would have disclosed all the details to everybody but they disclosed some things to me which they did not mention to others.
“There are two aspects to the issue of insecurity. The first is Boko Haram and the second is the threat factor in the country.
“When INEC picked the dates for elections, the threat level was not high until we started the campaign. So, it was important for the security chiefs to review the security architecture otherwise the country would have gone up in flames.
“In election, a lot of problems are involved. When the issue of PVC was being branded as a problem, INEC, from what Jega mentioned that day, clearly was not ready for the elections. They said they were ready but they were not.
“The day we held that meeting that led to this adjustment of dates, in Lagos for example, only about 38 per cent of registered voters had their PVCs. That means if we conduct elections in Lagos, 62 per cent of voters would not have been able to vote.
“Don’t you think there are security implications in that?
“Some other states had slightly above 30 per cent collection while some had 50 per cent and there were some states that had 60 to 70 per cent. The security agencies highlighted the security implications of this but ordinary people might not see it that way.”
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