Restructuring: Buhari should implement El-Rufai’s report —Olatujoye
Former Director and Legal Adviser, Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), Prince Anthony Olatujoye, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure speedy implementation of Governor Nasir El-Rufai panel’s recommendations on restructuring as a way of proffering solutions to series of socio-economic challenges currently facing the country.
He gave the advice in an interview with Daily Sun. He also spoke on other issues of interest.
How would you assess the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of 2019 general election?
My position is that INEC has marginally improved on the 2015 elections. Although there were skirmishes in some parts of the South South and a few other states particularly the unfortunate killing of a House of Representatives member in Ibadan in Oyo State, it is noteworthy that during the 2019 elections, opposition parties won some states generally regarded as the strongholds of the ruling party without the usual do or die approach associated with previous administrations.
So, overall, I will say that the conduct and outcome of the 2019 elections revealed what I would call a ‘work in progress’ in view of some setbacks which I believe the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill of 2018 will, when passed into law, undoubtedly address at future elections.
Some Nigerians and International observers decried the high death tolls and violence in some parts of the country during the poll, stressing the need to curb such in future elections. How do you think that can be forestalled in future elections?
As earlier stated, there were skirmishes in the South South and a few states but such acts of brigandage were not as high as being suggested by some people. However, there is a need to curb such unfortunate acts in future elections. It is suggested that INEC and the government at all levels should adopt more proactive means of preventing such avoidable fatalities by putting in place well-trained, incorruptible security agents to provide adequate security at poling units throughout the country. In addition to all that, Nigerian voters, politicians and other stakeholders must demonstrate a high sense of responsibility if we must match advanced democracies in election matters.
What’s your reaction to Muhammadu Buhari’s victory over Atiku Abubakar?
This question looks quite tasking. However, it is normal that where two or more people contest an election, only one person is bound to win. When put in context, the presidential election has been won and lost, the winner being the incumbent president, INEC’s position on the issue stands until and unless the court decides otherwise. I hasten to add that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is seen to have performed reasonably well at the elections, even as he lost by a margin of almost 4 million votes. Since the question touches on a pending matter in court, I need say no more.
What’s your view on the legal option Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have taken to challenge Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC), with regards to the outcome of the election?
Under the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and the Electoral Act of 2010 (as Amended), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to seek redress in court if he perceives any infraction of the electoral law and process during the election which affected his rights. However, I believe Alhaji Atiku Abubakar or the PDP does not need any further advice having filed a petition before a Presidential Election Tribunal. So let’s wait and see what the outcome will look like. Again, like I said earlier, I want to repeat again that since the case in pending court, I need say no more.
What are the areas you expect President Muhammadu Buhari to accord importance during his second term?
President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, have a three-point agenda which formed the fulcrum of their campaigns during the 2015 and 2019 elections respectively. These are: Security, Economy and Fighting Corruption. The president – elect needs to employ the best possible character, resources and personnel to achieve the goals set out for himself during his second term in office.
On job creation, it is suggested that the Federal Government should expand the Anchor Borrower’s Programme of the CBN to the textile industry to accommodate cotton farmers in order to boost the cotton industry with a view to discouraging the Importation of textile materials into Nigeria. Again, the TraderMoni, and market moni programme which is being implemented by the Bank of Industry (BOI) should be improved upon and expanded so as to remove the notion that it was a mere electioneering ploy by the ruling APC government to win the presidential election.
Let me add that the School Feeding Programme of the Federal Government should also be made to cover all parts of the country to enable every state benefit from it. Furthermore, the president should improve the education and health sectors with a view to bringing them at par with what obtains in developed countries.
Again the ‘Executive Order 007’ signed by President Buhari on the 25th January 2019 and designed to improve infrastructure throughout Nigeria by which six manufacturing and construction firms have been identified to handle 19 road projects in all the geo-political zones of the country should be followed to the latter. Finally, it is also suggested that the president should develop a robust relationship with the National Assembly to engender the smooth passage of bills which will help grow the economy and ensure good governance at the ‘Next level. This is with a view to translating Nigeria from a developing country to a First world as witnessed during the regime of President Le Kuan Yew of Singapore.
Some people have advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to delay in forming his cabinet like it happened during his first term, what’s your take on that?
I agree absolutely with this. As a sitting president, he has all the resources to assemble the best hands during his second term. And I salute him for his decision to form an all-inclusive government with a proviso that appointment of ministers will be based on merit. Nigeria is yearning for the actualisation of Mr. President’s promise, especially on the issue of appointing ministers, purely based on merit and on the promise of forming an all inclusive government.
President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly told Nigerians shortly after he was declared the winner of the 2019 presidential elections that the next four years will be tough. And his remarks have been subjected to different interpretations, what’s your own view on President Buhari’s statement?
I have no serious issue with the statement of the president. I say so because, today, things are already tough in Nigeria. So he may need to adopt a tough stance in putting to bed the socio-economic and political challenges bedevilling our nation. The ‘Next Level’ should be seen as an approach needed to solve the embarrassing challenges of security, corruption, poverty/hunger, religious bigotry, economic issues, et al. Indeed, the issues on ground may require a stern approach especially as regards economic reform, restructuring and good governance. It is on this score that I humbly suggest that the Mallam Nasir El- Rufai’s panel report on restructuring should be considered without any further delay in order for the president to leave a good legacy at the end of his tenure in 2023.
I believe that the implementation of the El-Rufai’s panel report will provide solutions to series of socio-economic and political challenges currently facing the country including killings being experienced in some parts of the country. I will also like to appeal to Nigerians to support President Buhari’s administration. Irrespective of political affiliations, we must bring on board ideas which will galvanise the coming government to put the challenges of yester-years to an end.”