President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday responded to talks that his administration has not done anything since coming to office last May, promising to deliver on his election promises in the next three years.
Speaking at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, the President sought Nigerians’ understanding to enable his administration meet their expectations.
According to him, with the National Assembly’s passage of the budget and savings of over N3 trillion in the Treasury Single Account (TSA), things would begin to move fast.
“I will like you to continue to make sacrifice. I know you are being harassed since the election, with people saying that they have not seen anything on the ground. Well if you have any explanation that could be accepted, it is that you have three more years to go,” Buhari told party leaders.
“When we came in after 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there were 42 ministries. We reduced them to 24; removed 21 Permanent Secretaries.
“So, imagine the volume of work …So, you have to appreciate the position we are in”.
The agencies, Buhari said, had to be pruned and their boards reconstructed following the reduction of ministries.
Buhari also said that his administration went back on it decision to reconstitute the boards of some universities after discovering that the law was breached.
“There is nothing wrong in saying sorry and going back on your decision. So, we said sorry and allowed all the universities to continue with their boards. So, please, try to bear with us as we reflect on where we found ourselves,” he said.
Speaking further, the president said: “The fall of oil prices is a disaster. If from 1999, oil sold above $100 per barrel with an export of about two million barrels per day, how come Nigeria failed to make some arrangement to cushion the effect of a probably volatile oil market? Again, it shows failure of the last administration.
“But we are now to pick the pieces as an APC government and so, there is no need complaining, but let us concentrate and see how much we can do with whatever remains of the economy.
“We realised that agriculture and solid minerals are two areas that can help us to recover economically, at least in terms of employment and feeding ourselves and more importantly, saving the hard currency to ensure that our industries continue to employ Nigerians and produce.
“The policy we are trying to implement is the TSA. We insist that we have to know what comes in and what goes out, for us to make a comprehensive amendment to the economy.
“If you go and see the Central Bank Governor, he will tell you that in the TSA, we have more than N3 trillion. Where would this money have been if TSA was not in vogue? I was made to understand that vouchers would have quickly been raised towards the end of the financial year and cheques made. Whether they are going into projects or private pockets, nobody can prove it to you.
“But that money is there, it is identified, it is quantified and when the budget comes back eventually, the ministry of finance will see how to allocate it to the rest of the country.
“We have tried to make sure that the NNPC is reorganised, so that we know how much of our crude is taken, how much of it is sold and to which account the money is going.
“But I tell you that up till the time we came, if anybody told you that he knew how crude is exchanged either on the high seas or reaching their destination and the accounts the money went into, that person is not telling you the truth,” Buhari said.