President Muhammadu Buhari is unmoved by suggestions that his rating by Nigerians has dropped.He insists that the generality of Nigerians still believe in him as they did in the run up to the 2015 election that brought him to power.
Besides, he says it is erroneous to imply that he has abandoned governance for anti-corruption war.
Buhari, in an extensive interview with the magazine, African Leadership, declares that there is nowhere in the world where transition from an old order to a new one has ever been easy.
A national survey by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), entitled The Buharimeter Report, had said: “We can also infer that there are still gaps between campaign promises, public expectations, government policies and actions. These need to be aligned properly going forward.
“Attempts sometimes by the President’s party to disown certain promises made during the elections will not serve the government well.
“What is required is to focus on achieving the promises by prioritizing them and carrying Nigerians along if there are challenges along the way.”
But Buhari insists in the African Leadership interview that he has neither lost the goodwill nor alienated the masses.
His words: “Yes, I was elected by an overwhelming majority of Nigerians, and I am ever grateful for the opportunity I have been given to serve.
“However, I don’t consider the result of the so-called survey a slip in my public rating and acceptance. I appreciate the high expectations of Nigerians and as an administration we are working assiduously to deliver.
“We came in with a mantra of Change and the zeal to give a new lease of life to governance. Our zeal has remained the same and we are always prepared to make the difference.
“You will recall that when I was being sworn in, I emphasized that as a government, three key areas will be the priorities. The first is the need to rebuild the economy. I also pledged to fight insecurity while the third and equally important area is the fight against corruption.”
He pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with his administration, saying: “Nigeria will soon be back on track.”
He added: “Before now, we have been having sleepless nights in Nigeria with Boko Haram having field days in tormenting people, most especially in the North-Eastern part of the country. So far, we have shown resilience in stopping these people and yet many criticize the approach we are using.
“What I think our people should know is that a process of change is difficult as it requires endurance and patience. China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other great Asian countries had at different times passed through processes of change. They are far better off today.
“And some of these countries were at par with Nigeria in terms of development some five decades ago. We are attempting to do the same here to say let us stop building individuals, let us stop making those who serve in government get stupendously wealthy at the expense of ordinary Nigerians they had sworn to serve.
“Rather, we should concentrate on building strong institutions. Let us introduce economic prosperity by bringing in more investors to catalyze a sense of competition to grow our economy. Let there be law and order in our ways.”
He asked Nigerians to “continue to exercise patience and let them know that we will not rest on our oars until we bring succour back to them and to the country. From our efforts so far.”
On the erratic electricity system in the country, the President said the nation will overcome the problem under his administration
His words: “Let me assure you that we will surmount the challenge of power supply. We have mapped out a mix of electric power generation sources inclusive of thermal, solar, hydro, nuclear, coal and windmill.
“The idea is to adapt and embed these sources to areas that they are easily adaptable to. But more than that, we will reinvigorate and conclude the power sector privatization process and thereby ensure the whole value chain in the sector is populated by the private sector.”
On why he has abandoned governance for only anti-corruption war, Buhari said: “it is not true that the fight against corruption is distracting my attention from the task of governance. You can sit back and review what we have done in the past one year and come up with your judgment. That will certainly assist you and other concerned Nigerians to reach the right conclusions.”
The President, who explained why Nigeria joined the Saudi-led Coalition Against ISIS, said it had no religious motive.
“We were looking for solutions to our myriad of problems in the area of security posed by Boko Haram which has pledged alliance to ISIS and the Saudi-led coalition against ISIS was set up to confront and eradicate ISIS,” he said.
“Boko Haram had pledged alliance to this terror group and I don’t see the reason why we should isolate Nigeria in any effort to eradicate global terrorism.
“It is all about eliminating the menace called Boko Haram. Having said that, Nigeria remains a multi-religious nation where there is freedom of worship as prescribed by our constitution.”
He said he remains committed to Nigeria as a multi-religious society where freedom of worship will be guaranteed.