President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday took a fresh dig at those who “stole Nigeria dry.”
The looters, he said,in New York instigated the recent spate of attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta by recruiting militants to cripple the economy under his administration
“Those who stole Nigeria dry are not happy,” Buhari told US-based Nigerian professionals at a meeting.
“They recruited militants against us in the Niger Delta, and began to sabotage oil infrastructure.
“ We lose millions of barrels per day, at a time when every dollar we can earn counts.
“ I prayed so hard for God to make me President. I ran in 2003, 2007, 2011 and in 2015, He did.
“And see what I met on ground. But I can’t complain, since I prayed for the job.
“In the military, I rose from 2nd Lieutenant to Major-General. I was military governor in 1975 over a state that is now six states. I was head of state, got detained for three years, and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which had N53 billion of that time in Nigerian banks.
“God has been very good to me, so I can’t complain. If I feel hurt by anybody, I ask God to help me forgive. He has done so much for me.”
He said the economic situation in the country is so bad now that no fewer than 27 states of the federation are finding it difficult to pay their workers.
“It is a disgrace that a minimum of 27 states, out of 36 that we have in Nigeria, can’t pay salaries,” he said.
President Buhari offered to work with every Nigerian, including the best brains in the Diaspora, to return the country to prosperity.
“Wherever you go in the world, you find highly competent and outstanding Nigerians,” Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina,quoted him as saying.
“They not only make great impact on their host countries and communities, their financial remittances back home also help our economy, particularly at a time like this, when things are down”.
Tracing the origin of the current economic recession,he said:”We got into trouble as a country because we did not save for the rainy day.
“For example, between 1999 and 2015, when we produced an average of 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, and oil prices stood at an average of $100 per barrel, we did not save, neither did we develop infrastructure.
“Suddenly, when we came in 2015, oil prices fell to about 30 dollars per barrel.
“I asked: ‘Where are the savings? There were none. Where are the railways? The roads? Power? None’.
“ I further asked: ‘What did we do with the billions of dollars that we made over the years? They said we bought food. Food with billions of dollars?
“I did not believe, and still do not believe.
“ In most parts of Nigeria, we eat what we grow. People in the South eat tubers, those in the North eat grains, which they plant, and those constitute over 60 per cent of what we eat. So, where did the billions of dollars go?
“We did a lot of damage to ourselves by not developing infrastructure when we had the money.”
He also updated his audience on the war against Boko Haram in the Northeast.
His words:”Talking of our military, they earned respect serving in places like Burma, Zaire, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and then, suddenly, that same military could no longer secure 14 out of 774 local governments in the country.
“Insurgents had seized them, calling them some sort of caliphate, and planting their flags there, till we came, and scattered them.
“We raised the morale of our military, changed the leadership, re-equipped and retrained them.
“USA, Britain and some other countries helped us, and today, the pride of our military is restored.
“Boko Haram ran riot, killing innocent people in churches, mosques, markets, schools, motor parks and so on.
“Now, we have dealt with that insurgency, and subverted their recruitment base.”
The Nigerians pledged to invest in Nigeria, if the government would provide an enabling environment that would make businesses thrive.