The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday said President Muhammadu Buhari was not involved in corruption and was not desperate for the office he currently occupies.
He said Buhari was interested in second term because he did not want the gains made by his administration from 2015 to be frittered away.
Shehu said this in an article titled, ‘Buhari’s 2019 bid and matters arising.’
The presidential aide said if a corrupt politician won the next election, the country would return to the pre-2015 era.
He said, “An important motivation for President Buhari’s bid for second term is that the gains made from 2015 should not be frittered away.
“Buhari is not involved in corruption and is not desperate for the office. He is among the few leaders we have who are not obsessed with money, cars and homes, but working passionately for the country’s economy, peace and safety.
“If a corrupt politician wins, we will go back to where we were in 2015.
‘‘Many by now have forgotten where we are coming from. The daily bomb blasts in our cities between 2012 and 2015, including the deadly attack on the United Nations office in Abuja, have been forgotten by many.
“The Juma’at Mosque bomb attack on Kano that left 300 dead and the theft of 270 girls in Chibok as they assembled to sit for their final exams, with 113 yet to return, have for many, faded into history.”
Shehu said cabinet meetings were now about how trillions of naira was to be used to provide long delayed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railway, power, drugs and equipment for hospitals, while grand corruption, by which ministers sat around the table to share money drawn from the treasury, had been ended.
He said the thing about second term in all political climes was that voters must have a practical reason to vote for someone.
Shehu said Buhari had not given anyone an excuse not to choose him, saying his “is an administration that has something for everyone.”
According to the President’s spokesman, while the ruling All Progressives Congress did extremely well in the North during the last general elections to come to power, there are indications that in 2019, it will do in the South, what it did in the North in 2015.
Shehu observed that since Buhari declared his intention to seek second term, all hell had been let loose by “the chaotic, ill-prepared opposition camp.”
He admitted that in democracies around the globe, second terms by incumbents were usually harder to get simply because there was always some kind of anti-incumbency feeling, leading to a loss of faith among those supporters.
“For President Buhari, who won with massive votes in 2015, his major challenge is to do as well as he did, or even better. He came to power with a lot of expectations and Nigerians had, justifiably placed very high hopes on him.
“As we said sometime back, he as a consequence, has become a victim of the tyranny of expectations. The weight of unrealistic expectations has evidently blinded many of the people from seeing the revolutionary changes happening across the nation.
“Nigerians expected him to undo the damage of several decades of mis-governance and naturally, many are already feeling frustrated that he hadn’t done that in three years,” he said.
Shehu also faulted the opposition parties which he claimed could not give a vision of their own on how they will better the lots of Nigerians.
He also noted that the so-called ‘Third Force’ had not been able to get traction since its birth.
Shehu said, “The problem with our opposition is that beyond fault-finding, they are unable to give a vision of their own on how they can make the nation better.
“The so-called ‘Third Force’ has failed to get political traction since it birth. This is understandable, given that they have promised to give the country everything that is new but have so far produced no new faces, no new ways of doing things. Certainly, there is no face that can be called the President of Nigeria.
“For the Peoples Democratic Party, parading itself on the glory of being the largest opposition, the party has not less than 10 leaders acutely ambitious to rule Nigeria. It will take them minimally two to three terms of presidential tenure – that is eight to 12 years to reinvent the party.
“Looking at the entire opposition landscape, it can be said that they cannot be united by ideology, the type that made the pre-2015 opposition fuse into a formidable challenger that pushed an incumbent out of office. There is in no way therefore, they can choose leaders with unanimity.
“What they have taken to is scaremongering by fanning ethnic and religious divisions among the minorities, especially in the Middle Belt where hundreds of innocent citizens are confronted with violent death.”
Shehu said the information at government’s disposal showed that some of the herdsmen-farmers clashes were politically driven.
He also said opposition members were seeing Middle Belt killings as a political opportunity to set the tone for the 2019 elections.
Shehu added, “Today, the government has irrefutable evidence that much as most of these killings are arising from herdsmen-farmers attacks, some of them are driven by politicians.
“The recent arrests by the army in Taraba State point to a clear political sponsorship, and the kingpins, some of whom have been arrested, have been handed over to the DSS for further investigation.
“Others who are being sought have either gone into hiding or they are pulling strings of blackmail to force the hands of government to abandon the search for them.
“It is clear by now that the Middle Belt killings, even if they are not caused by the opposition, are no doubt seen as a political opportunity to set the tone for the 2019 elections.”
Shehu regretted that rather than coming to the table to discuss what had been achieved or not in key areas of policy, the conversation had been limited to the tale of the relationship between farmers and herders.
Sad as the incidents involving farmers and herdsmen were, he wondered what the result would be if half ‘‘the newsprint and airtime devoted to it’’ were used to draw attention to malaria which killed 300,000 Nigerians every year; the 88,000 malnourished children and the 230,000 malnourished, pregnant women in the North-East, a quarter of whom the UNICEF said would most likely not make it.