President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday admitted that the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration spent billions of naira and millions of dollars on efforts to equip the Nigerian military against Boko Haram, but there was “abuse of trust” at all levels in the application of the funds.
The president expressed disappointment that the abuse cost the nation lives and equipment.
He stated this when he hosted some members of the House of Representatives to a dinner at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mr. Buhari urged the legislature to collaborate with the executive arm of government to secure the country and effectively manage it.
“There are a lot of obstacles to be crossed. The objectives we have are to secure this country and effectively manage it”, the president said.
According to him, the major challenge in the security of the country was the threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency but added that the leadership of the country had set clear targets toward the re-organisation, retraining and re-equipping the military to neutralize the threat.
He said his administration had hoped that at the end of the rainy season, a coordinated attack would be launched against the insurgents, adding that government had also raised the morale of the soldiers to tackle the challenge.
President Buhari, however, pointed out that his administration uncovered that the previous administration expended “billions of naira and hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire military equipment but with several abuses of trust.
“There were abuses of trust and that cost Nigeria a lot of lives and a lot of goodwill’’, he said.
Mr. Buhari also noted that the Nigerian military, which had earned international recognition for its peace-keeping efforts abroad, could not secure 14 out of 774 local government areas in the country under the immediate past administration.
“I seek your understanding”, Mr. Buhari appealed to the lawmakers at the dinner.
He told the legislators to reflect on the consequences of not acting in tandem with the wishes of the people, noting that Nigerians were now wiser to know those who represent them well.
He noted that he took the initiative of seeking the collaboration of the international community to be able to win the war against terrorism.
He said the Boko Haram’s attempt to divide the country was a miscalculation on its part, adding that their claim to be fighting for Islam was both misleading and did not have divine backing.
He said the group was gradually being decimated and were finding it difficult to recruit while the military was doing well.
Responding, the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, said that the support of his colleagues would be total to ensure that the government bequeathed something meaningful to posterity.
“What bothers me is the legacy we are leaving behind. After we have exited, what will our children and grandchildren say about us’,’ he said.
The Speaker noted that there was bound to be disagreements between the executive and the legislature, beginning with the handling of the provisions of the 2016 appropriation bill, but said the issue would be handled in the interest of the public.
“Your hosting us today shows that there will be a seamless interface between the three arms of government to deliver to the people.
“We support you like many Nigerians will support you because there is nobody that will be in doubt that you will rid this country of corruption”, he said.
Mr. Dogara added that the time to restructure the economy was now.
“These four years are very critical. If you don’t get it right under us, this generation will forget about getting it right.
“We will support you regardless of our political differences and we have to leave something to our children and posterity”, he added.
The dinner was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf and former interim National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande among others.