Courtesy: Punch Newspaper, Nigeria.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has said that the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been derailed because it had not kept to its promises.
Ali said this at the unveiling of an ultra-modern Buhari Support Organisation office complex in Jabi, Abuja, on Friday.
The BSO is the umbrella body of all pro-Buhari support groups that articulated and coordinated the President’s 2015 presidential campaigns.
The customs boss said the challenge ahead of 2019 elections was bigger than that of 2015.
He said the event was designed to rekindle “what we started in 2015 and what we used as a vehicle to fight in the trenches, out of the trenches, along routes and in so many different terrains to see to the success of vision and mission.”
Ali recalled that in the pursuit of the vision, so many lost their jobs and businesses in a bid to bring the change required for a better Nigeria. He noted that some started the journey (with Buhari) in 2003, others in 2007, 2011 and others joined in 2015.
He, however, expressed regret that halfway through after capturing power, the core values of the change mantra are being lost.
The customs boss said, “Let me say here without fear of being contradicted that I think halfway through the journey, we are losing our core values. We are losing our vision and mission and I think that the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what we need to do to get back on track.
“There is no doubt that we have derailed because we are not doing what we say we want to do. Why is it so? We need to find an answer to that. If we do find an answer; then, what should we do to get us all back on track? We owe this great nation and the 180 million Nigerians the duty to give good governance.
“Good governance is what they voted for and good governance is what they expect to get and they deserve that. We, therefore, as BSO, have a great task ahead of us. My dear comrades, the battle and the job start now.
“We have won one battle by taking over power. But what we make of this power is essential to us and to humanity. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to tell my colleagues here that we have to change the narrative. When we were out there working and jumping on the streets and reaching every corner, we were shouting change, change for a better Nigeria.
“Now, the keyword is good governance for Nigerians. We must agree that we cannot finish our four years without delivering and leaving something to be remembered for in this country for a long time to come. We have no problem with our President because he is on course.”
He re-echoed sentiments earlier expressed by the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, that, “We have been infused by people who were not part of this journey and these people are the ones that call the shots today. That is why we are derailing.”
Ali said “We are the ones that will be asked to account for what happened. Are we willing to face Nigerians and tell them that we have failed? I think this is the time for us to come together, create a system that is very robust enough to fight back and take back government in our hands and ensure that we deliver.
“I will, therefore, ask my colleagues of the BSO to go back to the study room. This is a commission, but it is also the beginning of the fight for good governance. We must get back to the trenches, draw our own battle plan and battle line. I enjoin you to have the same commitment we had in 2015; I implore you to bear with us and commit yourself to a better future for Nigeria.
“We will be calling on you from now on and we will be working day and night. We must do so because we want to save our name at the end of the day and the name of the President for what he is doing.”
Ali was addressing a gathering of most of the President’s most visible supporters including the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, his counterparts from Bauchi and Plateau states, Mohammed Abubakar and Simon Lalong respectively.
PDP controls 50 per cent of our government
Ali explained that there was the need to ensure that those who fight in a battle are those who should first enjoy the “loot” if a system must change.
He said, “In the course of the jihad of the Prophet Mohammad, anytime they went out for a battle, they came back with loot, but this loot, as far as my own research told me, was not distributed to everybody, but to those who took the sword and faced the enemies.
“Today, with all sense of responsibility, I want to say that we have 50 per cent of (defectors from the) PDP in our government. How can we move forward with this load? How can we achieve our target with this load? It is a spoilt system and so when you come in, you shake off everybody and bring in your own. That is what democracy is all about.
“Today, we have members of the PDP calling the shots. That is what we will begin to fight for; we will fight for our rightful position, our vision and our mission for this government. It is essential because we are a political organisation.”
We must prepare for war -Minister of Niger Delta Affairs
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani, noted, “I want us to understand one thing; in 2015, the other people fought with some reservations and confidence that after all, it was impossible for us to leave. But now, knowing that they have left, it is going to be more than a war; we have to prepare for that war without just presuming that being in government is enough instrumentation for us to win easily. So, we should set up our arsenal; in conscience, in thought and psychology.”
Buhari must contest in 2019 –Senate Leader
Meanwhile, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawal, has said that the President has no option than to contest the presidential election in 2019 because of his performance in the last two years.
Lawal said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Buhari in Abuja, on Friday.
The senator, who is also an official of the Buhari Support Group, said Nigerians had every justification to be happy with Buhari’s administration, saying that they would continue to identify and support the administration’s programmes.
“Well, you know it is not enough to help in elections like most of us did. It is important that we continue to support the President and his administration and as a group, across the nation, this is what we will continue to do. We will continue to identify with and support all the programmes that this administration has set forward.
“l believe that we have every justification to be happy because the President campaigned on three major pillars of anti-corruption, fighting insecurity across the country and revitalising the economy of Nigeria.
“It has been a very, very good journey so far and I also believe that Mr. President and Nigerians have a future beyond 2019. What he has started, by the grace of God, he should be able to complete, up to 2023.
“I also believe that the future is bright and by the grace of God, by 2019, we would have achieved so much in this administration and Mr. President would have no option but to continue the good work he has started,’’ he said. Also, the national leader of the BSO, Senator Abu Ibrahim, explained that the group was an amalgamation of about 189 different support organisations that worked for Buhari and the All Progressives Congress to win the 2015 presidential election.
Ibrahim said, “We have been holding meetings, discussing the problems of this country. So, we thought it was high time we met with the President to inform him about the activities of the group.
“We discussed with him about the plans to improve the situation in Nigeria. Mr. President was very pleased with our programmes.’’
He, however, explained that the group did not discuss the forthcoming 2019 presidential election with the President.
According to him, the meeting only discussed the programmes of the organisation and its challenges.
In his remarks, Buhari assured members that their sacrifices for a better nation would not be in vain.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina. Buhari was quoted as saying, “I am grateful for your sacrifices. Your work requires a lot of sacrifices, both physical and material. I do not think anybody will join this organisation for material reasons.”