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He talked tough during what was termed a “special interview” aired on Monday by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and said all those who call him Baba Go Slow should wait to see whether he will be slow or fast. This was in response to a question about whether he will be more ruthless after he is sworn in again as president.
“It means that I will persuade the police and the judiciary to be hard,” the president continued, “and when I uncover that they are not hard I will try and trace who is responsible for the slowness in terms of commanders or, in the police, from the DPO upwards.”
He also said it is up to people who have run foul of the law to choose if they want to flee the country. “If they stay, they know what will happen to them. They either stay and behave themselves or they better run,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to expose the criminals in their neighbourhoods to help the government tackle insecurity and enable it attract foreign investment.
“You cannot accommodate criminals in your neighbourhood and start glibly blaming the government that nothing is being done. People are deliberately stopping the government from doing anything,” he said.
The president accused the federal lawmakers of not being patriotic, usurping powers belonging to the executives, and holding the country to ransom by not passing the budget for several months.
“I think culture was developed in the National Assembly that they should dictate the terms. I think it was wrong. It is the executive that dictates the terms and takes it before the legislature that will examine it and agree or disagree with it. But when they go around posing that they are the government and not the executive, then there is a problem,” he said.
“And I’m afraid, and spoke personally to the Senate President Saraki and the leader of the house, Dogara. They could not deny it. I asked them how do they feel to hold the country ransom for seven months, without passing the budget. I said personally they were not hurting me, they were hurting the country. So, really, in terms of patriotism, I think I rated them very very low indeed.”
While acknowledging his basic school teachers for bringing the best out of him, the president confessed to not being familiar with the educational structure currently in use by the country.
“I spent nine years in boarding school. Three years in primary and six in secondary school. Now I think they do five years, or four, I don’t know how many years.
He also said he is “fully qualified as a suffering Nigerian” considering that he was held in detention for three and a quarter years during the military era.
Buhari, at the end of the interview, lightheartedly thanked the presenter “for making it very hard for him”.
Since he was inaugurated in 2015, the president is noted to have granted very few extended interviews, especially with local press. His first and only media chat took place at the presidential villa in December, 2015. He also granted a pre-recorded interview session with Arise TV and live session with DariaMedia in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.