President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the arms purchase scam that cost Nigeria many lives and goodwill currently being probed as a betrayal of trust at various levels.
The president who hosted members of the House of Representatives to a dinner at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, lamented that under the former administration, the military could not secure 14 of the 774 local governments in the country.
He said: “Unfortunately for us as a people, we discovered that billions of naira and hundreds of millions of dollars were expended by the previous government to acquire good equipment and ammunition for the military to use. But unfortunately, there was abuse of trust at various levels which cost Nigeria a lot of lives and goodwill. So, of this, we cannot keep quiet about and it is coming out gradually. It is very unfortunate.
“It is a known fact that Nigeria earned its respect from Burma to Zaire, to Liberia, to Sierra Leone. But it reached a stage where the Nigerian military could not secure 14 local governments out of 774 local governments. As I have always said, how has the mighty fallen! We are doing our best, and I hope our best will be good enough,” he added.
Buhari said he decided to host the dinner to thank the lawmakers for their cooperation so far, noting however that there was still a long way to go.
“There is a lot of Rubicon to be crossed, but let’s be very clear about our objective: Our objective is that we first secure the country and efficiently manage it because we’re all in government. In fact, we’re the government-the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
So, nobody should contemplate alienating one another. We’ve already set our priorities right during our campaigns to secure the country then efficiently manage it. Securing the country is obviously dealing decisively with Boko Haram.
“When we came in, the military leadership had to be removed and reconstituted, a new set put in with clear target to reorganise, retrain, re-equip and make sure that Boko Haram is uprooted and neutralised.
We ensured we’ve some good intention with the Joint Task Force comprising the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin, because of good neighbourliness, decided to join us.
There was an agreement to dedicate a number of troops to be sighted in different places in the Lake Chad Basin Commission so that with the end of the rainy season, an aggressive attack will be unleashed on Boko Haram. But we’re realistic to know that Nigeria is the battle ground. So, we expended the meagre resources we’ve to ensure that the morale of the military is raised by getting officers to be on the ground with the men”, he added.
Buhari, who sought the lawmakers’ understanding and support, reminded them: “Even by the standard of your predecessors, some of you are still here, but there has been unprecedented political onslaught where 70 percent of your colleagues did not come back. This is something you must reflect upon. Let’s make up our minds that whatever we’re doing, we’re doing it for this country. Let’s secure the country first. Let’s us efficiently manage the country”.
The president added that he recently visited Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin and Germany to meet G7 leaders to forward Nigeria’s case to the international community.
“If in the capital of a developed country, people killed 130, what is Nigeria? We’ve a problem, but we’re very lucky in the fact that the intention of the terrorists is to divide the country. I think they’ve misfired,” he said.
House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara described the four years of Buhari’s administration as crucial, saying; “If we don’t get it right under you, then, those of us in this generation should forget about getting it right”. He assured that the legislature would support the Buhari administration.
Present at the dinner were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Chief Bisi Akande, Chief of Staff to the President Alhaji Abba Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal,among other dignitaries.