By Gbenga Osinaike
Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has debunked insinuations that President Mohammadu Buhari’s health is failing noting that his poor showing at the recent live interview on the Nigeria Television Authority was due to some technical itches.
The Vice President who was guest at an interactive session called The Grill with Osinbajo held on Sunday January 20 at Dpodium on Aromire Avenue, Ikeja Lagos said the live interview was not enough reason to conclude that the health of the president is failing.
He said it was difficult to hear what the interviewer was saying during the interview noting that he too did not hear the questions very well. “There was a technical itch during the interview. The audio was poor quality. I had to strain my ears to hear the questions perhaps because I was sitting directly opposite the interviewer. The audience heard the questions but we did not hear.”
The Vice President who has been holding several meetings and consultations with different groups in the last few weeks was responding to a question from one of the participants at the parley who asked him to comment on the health of the president.
The participant had asked, “As a man of God who will stand before God and give account would you say that President Mohammadu Buhari is healthy? Osinbajo however assured the over 2000 participants that the president is hale and hearty. “He is fit and healthy as ever” while explaining the circumstances that made him seemingly uncoordinated at the NTA interview
He explained further that Buhari’s integrity is the reason many people are rooting for him. “For the first time I can say we have a president who cannot be approached for deals. He is straightforward. He has changed the narrative of governance in Nigeria and we hope to build on this.”
The pastor turned politician said the extent of corruption in the last administration is reason why the country is still suffering noting however that Nigeria has moved out of recession. “Let me say that the extent of corruption in the last government was enormous. The then leadership literally dipped hands into the treasury. What happened in the last government was grand corruption and not just corruption. About two weeks to the 2015 elections over $292 million dollars was taken out of the treasury. The treasury was emptied by the government. The corruption was unprecedented.”
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On why the naira has depreciated against the naira, Prof Osinbajo said “In simple terms what has happened is that the volume of dollars available is not enough. If there is more foreign exchange, the value of the naira would go up. What we experienced between 2010 and 2014 was that the price of crude oil increased to $120 per barrel thus making it possible for the naira to be strong against the dollars. In effect we had more dollars because of the earnings from crude oil.
“But by the time we came in 2015 the price of crude oil crashed and subsequently it affected the naira. The implications is the inflow of dollar dropped. That is the simple reason why the value of naira has gone down. But what we have done is to cut importation and encourage foreign direct investment. We have been able to achieve good result in ensuring importation of rice for instance is reduced. We now produce rice that can meet local demands. Rice importation has dropped with about 20 percent.”
On Boko Haram, he said the reason the insurgent is still operating is because of the hydra headed nature of the war coupled with the politics that have trailed the purchase of ammunition in the global markets. He however expressed confidence in Nigerian Army stating that they have done well in curbing the insurgents
He said, “We must realize that we have moved from the era when Boko Haram was attacking places in Abuja, Kaduna and several other parts of Nigeria. The insurgents have now been confined to the northern part of Borno State. But the real reason why there are still pockets of their operation is because of the nature of the war and the politics involved with the sale of ammunition. We must also not lose sight of the fact that ISIS West Africa is now backing the insurgents.”
He said further that it would be wrong for any Christian to accuse President Buhari of trying to Islamise this country. “In 2001 about 12 states in the North decided they were going to operate the sharia law. It was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo a Christian president that was in government that time. He did not do anything about the situation. You can imagine if it is now that the states declared sharia, people would have said Buhari was going to islamise Nigeria.” He said.
Full interview to be published later