Secessionists, arsonists and bandits should now expect fire for fire from the federal government as it adopts a tougher stance against insecurity across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari vowed Friday night that those who are hell bent on destroying his administration would not go scot free.
He spoke during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), his second television interview in 24 hours, the first being with Arise TV.
Buhari said the bandits terrorising the North and other parts of the country would also not be spared or be given preferential treatment.
“I mean more than fire for fire; we will arrest them.
“What I hope is to arrest them, try them and give them very bad publicity and then jail them, so that people will know that if you misbehave, you won’t get away with it,” he said.
“How can you go to police station, kill the police (if they are there), loot the armoury and burn the place? What do you want to achieve? Go and open prison and allow criminals that have been tried through the legal system and let them loose on the society, and then how can the Government sit and allow this confusion to be perpetrated? No government can allow confusion.”
He recalled the #EndSARS protests in Lagos and said: “The previous governor of Lagos State bought 200 buses to complement the transportation in Lagos and he built railway, but they went there and burnt them.
“The present governor made an album and came to see me, and I said thank you very much. I took the album and put in my archives and told him to tell Lagosians to work because we don’t have the money after an administration bought 200 buses. So let them work.”
He asked critics to be fair to his administration in assessing its performance.
He said: “They should reflect seriously on the time we came in, especially in relation to the North East and the South South… where we are now. How much were we producing and how much was the past administration producing?
“When we came, somehow the militants in the South were unleashed on this administration. So I will like Nigerians to reflect on those in terms of resources and time.”
He dismissed the allegation that he was protecting bandits in the North by not threatening them the way he has been threatening those from other parts of the country.
His words: “They are been unfair. They should go and ask the governors of Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and find out how we have been deploying the police, military to deal with the bandits. We are not sparing anybody. Nigeria is vast, and there are a lot of forests.”
The President reiterated his commitment to the sanctity of the constitution, saying “I am not staying more than two terms.”
He added: “I campaigned in all the local governments in 2015 and I went to all the states in 2019. The overwhelming support I got from Nigerians was remarkable.
“The amount of people that came out to see me was much more than the accolades any administration before me got. I will serve honestly and diligently.”
He was hopeful that his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), would remain in power for long.
“I prefer APC to be in power as long as possible. The future of this administration will depend on the survival of APC after we have left. The party should continue. We have had elected government to another elected government instead of coup. So, we are setting down with multiparty democracy.
“Allow people to choose which candidate in which party to run their affairs. It’s very respectful to ordinary people. But if you make it big man’s party, then security cannot be guaranteed,” he said in reaction to the defection of two People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors to the APC and his wish for the ruling party to retain power in 2023.
He also said that elected officials across the country will be embarrassed if an investigation is launched to uncover the sources of their current assets.
“Nigerian elite are very forgetful….People who misappropriated funds, a lot of them are elected members either at state or federal level. If they want to prove… when they are elected members of House of Representatives, they are given ministries and so on.
“They have only one house and maybe a wife. But now they have several houses in Abuja and maybe in Lagos. Really, if you try to work out their legitimate salary vis-a-vis their expenditure, they will be embarrassed,” he said.
Speaking on the economy, President Buhari said he was not happy with the performance of the nation’s economy, adding that the low performance of the economy has been a thing of concern to him, adding that his administration was doing everything possible to improve the economy.
According to him, one of the steps taken so far is reaching out to the international community to allow their multinational firms to come to Nigeria and establish their presence by employing Nigerians through which the economy will pick up.
On corruption, President Buhari said it was high time special courts were established in the country, especially to try several corruption cases currently stuck in conventional courts.
“You have instances of cases lasting for as long as 10 years before they are determined, and in some cases, judges handling the cases may die.
“But if there are special courts, there will be a time frame to conclude the corruption cases and not dragging on unnecessarily,” he said.