On his first day at the Aso Rock Villa since his inauguration on May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari said, yesterday, that he inherited a “virtually empty treasury”, from his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan with debts running into hundreds of millions of dollars. The President disclosed this on a day he ordered the withdrawal of the military from internal security operations as part of a comprehensive review of national security operations.
The President who spoke while meeting with members of the State House Press Corps said it was a disgrace that Nigeria is unable to pay workers salaries, adding that this was as a result of bad management.
According to him, there was already a lot of pressure on his government due to the huge expectations of Nigerians on what they desire from the administration.
While calling on the media to cooperate with his administration, President Buhari said he chose Femi Adesina as his Adviser because he is ‘one of the best’.
His words: “It is not by accident that I got the best of you to be the special adviser, one of the 15 aides I had to get clearance from the Senate. He is one of the best Presidents of the Guild of Editors that I can have as special adviser. I brought one of the best of you so that he can consistently defend me against you.
“Whether my job is a difficult one or easy is up to him, but I’m here to thank you in advance for what good and ill you are going to do to me. I have to quickly come and see you and welcome you to this place. I hope what happened of recent between the former President and one of you (the withdrawal of the accreditation of the Radio Germany reporter) will not happen between me and you.
“I hope we are starting and this culture of 100 days is bringing so much pressure with treasury virtually empty, with debts in millions of dollars, with state workers and even federal workers not paid their salaries. It is such a disgrace for Nigeria. I think Nigeria should be in a position to even pay its workers. This bad management that we find ourselves in, we really need your help to protect us from people before they march on us”, he said.
For members of the State House Press Corps, it is the first time that they would be meeting a sitting president, starting from President Obasanjo up to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Kehinde Amodu, who spoke on behalf of members of the corps, pledged to work with the government in the interest of Nigeria.
Buhari orders withdrawal of military to the barracks
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered withdrawal of the military from internal security operations as part of a comprehensive review of national security operations. The President’s order came as it emerged that Nigeria and four other countries in the Lake Chad sub-region had for the first time evolved a united military strategy against the regional menace, Boko Haram.
In ordering the withdrawal of military checkpoints, the President ordered that the police should take firm control of internal security henceforth.
Addressing State House correspondents after a meeting between the President and service chiefs, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Alhaji Ismail Aliyu said the President directed the security chiefs to liaise with the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to finalise arrangements for Police to effectively take over internal security.
The three service chiefs were led to the meeting with the President by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.
According to the permanent secretary, the meeting with the security chiefs was to give them the opportunity to brief the President on the implementations of recent decisions reached on the fight against insurgency.
He also said that the military high command briefed the President on the relocation of the command centre to Maiduguri as directed on the day of his inauguration.
According to the permanent secretary, the Armed Forces is ready to perform its responsibilities of ensuring that the insurgency in the North-East is brought to an end.
On the removal of military roadblocks, the permanent secretary said the President has directed that the military and the Police liaise for the Police to take full control of internal security.
“The President has instructed the Chief of Defence Staff to get the Chief of Army Staff and Inspector-General of Police to remove all military men along the road across the country,” he said.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces are very ready, we have briefed him (President). One most interesting thing about it is that we are going out much happier because he has shown to us that he is still a soldier, he has updated and enriched our strategic plans.
Movement of Military Command Centre to Maiduguri
“The second item that was discussed is the movement of the command centre to the North-East. We have briefed him on how far we have reached on that and he has given us some additional assignment, but very soon the centre will be on.
Asked what will be done differently from what is being done, Alhaji Ismail said with greater cooperation from Nigeria’s neighbours, Boko Haram would have no hiding place.
“Now we have come as a united front; we have Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. We have all strategised and we are coming out with one type of strategy that we are going to address the Boko Haram with unlike before”, he said.
He explained that the absence of Inspector General of Police, the Directors-General of the DSS and NIA from the meeting was because “this is not a national security meeting, this is a briefing meeting by the Ministry of Defence on the operationalization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the relocation of the command control centre to the North East, so it is something restricted to the Ministry of Defence” he said.