President Muhammadu Buhari has told a delegation of APC that he had no preferred ethnic or religious group and would deal with leaders and public officials who embezzle public funds and deny workers their benefits.
“I assure you that my main interest is all Nigerians in all parts of the country,’’ President Buhari told the delegation of All Progressives Congress (APC) from Benue state led by Senator George Akume.
“Therefore, if anybody tries to create any impression that I prefer any group across ethnicity or religion, let him dare me by being caught red-handed stealing public funds. I will deal with him,’’ President Buhari said.
He said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had been monitoring the plight of workers across the country and utilisation of the bailout and Paris Club funds by some states.
According to him, the Federal Government’s bailout to states and the payment of Paris Club refunds to them were basically to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
Despite the bailout, several states still owe workers and pensioners, a development the President is unhappy about.
“I honestly don’t know how people sleep when workers have not been paid. The workers have to pay rent, buy food, send their children to school and they have healthcare to take care of,” he lamented, describing misappropriation of the funds as unjust and unfair to workers.
Apart from the issues of workers’ welfare and corruption, President Buhari informed the delegation that the Federal Government had made significant progress in diversifying the economy.
This, he explained, was achieved through investment in agriculture and the encouragement of more individuals and entrepreneurs to go into farming.
He is optimistic that Nigeria would soon become self-sufficient in feeding its citizenry as a result of the investment in agriculture.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with resources at our disposal,’’ he said, listing ongoing road, rail, seaport, airport, and power projects as hallmarks of his administration’s commitment to improving lives.’’
Condemning the orchestrated attacks in Benue as “ungodly”, the President assured the Benue APC leaders that efforts were being made to bring the perpetrators to justice and appealed for patience while the progress is on.
“We know about herders. The ones we knew carried sticks, and sometimes cutlasses to cut foliage for their cattle. We now have people who carry AK 47s and pretend they are herdsmen.
“We are working hard to secure our borders. We are going to see how the old cattle routes can be opened. We will control movement. Please beg our people to be patient.”
The President pointed out that security personnel were already uncovering the network of the killers and arresting them.
The leader of the APC delegation and former Benue State Governor, Akume, said the APC stakeholders had faith in the President.
“Mr President, we know your commitment to Nigeria. We know how much you love the country and will be ready to die for the good cause,’’ Senator Akume said.
He assured the President that APC members had started sensitisation and mobilisation of voters for the 2019 elections, noting that more had accepted the party and its manifesto in the state.
Senator Akume also praised President Buhari for the flag-off of the dualisation of the Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi road.
He, however, called for more attention for the Makurdi-Otukpo road and the water projects in Gboko and Otukpo.
“You have worked hard to stop herdsmen and farmers clashes in Benue. It is important to note that many people used religion and ethnicity to score cheap points. Religion was used in Benue for sinister purposes,’’ he added.
The Senator also praised the President for the war on corruption, insisting that his administration has made a significant difference by tackling perpetrators.