The Presidency has expressed confidence that despite the knocks President Muhammadu Buhari may have been receiving during his administration, Nigerians will miss him when he leaves office this year.
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, who made this assertion in an interview in Abuja, recalled the blaze of glory that heralded the administration into office in 2015 but lamented the tendency of citizens to replace love with hatred.
Asserting that leaders do not get the desired love in the office, he cited the experience of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who even though was hounded out of office, has become the darling of many Nigerians and Africans.
While noting that he has no regrets in the cause of his job, he lamented the criticisms targeted against President Buhari saying: “The thing is that all of the things they keep saying against the president, my own sense is that we as Nigerians we don’t like our leaders.
“There will be love at first sight, there will honeymoon period when they come in and the honeymoon period does not last a year.
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“And then, love is replaced by hatred. We don’t like them. It is after they leave office that people will begin to say, ah, where is this man? If he was here, ABC would not happen.
“Look at how we came in 2015 and you see the glory with which Mr Jonathan treated, is received not only in Nigeria but in the entire continent.
“People will ask the question, is he the same one that Nigerians said they didn’t like in 2015?
“So, we are comfortable in our hearts and in our minds – President Buhari will go, Nigerians will yearn for him. They will yearn for him when he leaves.”
The presidential spokesman affirmed that the cashless policy of the President Buhari administration is irreversible, arguing that it is desirable as in other parts of the world.
He said: “Cashless is the way forward for Nigeria because cashless nations all over the world, in fact, all advanced nations of the world have gone cashless.
“Those of us who are coming behind, there are others who are well ahead of us even among developing countries.
“So, it’s the way to go. It’s irreversible.
“Now, when our own came, 100 or so days ahead of the elections, people had complained that the timing was inappropriate and all of that. It has come with challenges. I don’t deny that.
“But this happens everywhere because changes wherever they come, they come with pains. The only people who should have been more pained are the ones who are inflicting pains on the lower segment of the society.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria prorated cash availability. They know scientifically what’s the volume of Naira is required to have the Nigerian economy seamlessly moving and they have since reached that trajectory.
“The question is, where is the money? The sense is that people have hijacked the money and hidden it for the election. That’s the sense most people have.
“Cash had been a problem for Nigerian elections. Since President came, he came in an election which has been adjudged as being a good one and his promise was that ‘the one I would leave as my own legacy would be an improvement on the one that brought me to office.’
“We have had off-season elections in a number of states, be it in Anambra or Ekiti or Kogi, Osun. Look, in all of these places where we had elections, people had reported, whether they are local or foreign observers, that ‘yes, you people are getting better. However, cash is the problem – vote buying.’
“So, it is not wrong for anyone, for President Muhammadu Buhari to seek to stem this unwanted movement.
“Even in the last election, we saw one audacious Commissioner in a particular state supported by armed policemen lining up people in a manner that he wanted them, to collect cash to go and vote. That’s abhorrent. It’s not acceptable.
“So, the cashless thing, the withdrawal and the currency change has served the purpose. It had taken money away from the last election.
“Presidential election was hugely determined by popular sentiment, by a sense that Nigerians wanted this party, APC, to win and nothing more than that. That’s what we have.
“Yes, the governorship election had differed a bit but the courts are there to determine these things.”
The presidential aide affirmed that the lack of cash in the system has led to the stoppage of kidnapping for cash across the country.
“I have personally seen a case where somebody had been detained overnight at a police station and they said they wanted to let him go but they needed cash as a bribe, in one rural community.
“The guy said ‘we don’t have cash, you know the society we are today, give me your account, I will transfer.’
“They said ‘no, we won’t allow you to have our account.’ And on account of that, they let him go free of charge.
“So, society is changing. Corruption will be fought in this country but not when there is surplus cash flowing all over the place that people can use to do anything, to buy whoever they want.”