Presidential Media Chat: 10 Questions for President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari talking
President Muhammadu Buhari talking

President Muhammadu Buhari will this evening host a televised media chat with some Nigerian journalists, during which he will respond to questions on a number of topical national issues.

Aso Rock spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement the presidential media chat, to be aired live on major television and radio stations in the country, will begin at 7 p.m. Nigerian time.

The presidency promised in the past to entertain questions from Nigerians via telephone, although the phone failed to work during those episodes of the programme.

Critics believe the phones were programmed not to work as a way of blocking citizens from asking the president embarrassing questions.

So, in case you are able to reach the president on the programme today, we suggest you put the questions below to him, in addition to others you might have.

We also urge the editors, who will interview the president, to consider asking him some of the questions suggested below.

1. Under your administration, the State Security Service has continued to disobey court orders. The court barred the agency from evicting a former DG of the SSS, Kayode Are, from his Lagos residence. It disobeyed. Later, the court gave another order that Mr. Are be restored to his home. Again the SSS disobeyed.

The agency also failed to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, despite two court orders to release him immediately and unconditionally. In fact, in the case of Mr. Kanu a Federal High Court judge withdrew from his trial after he (Kanu) argued that your government would not honour any decision reached by the court following the disregard of two earlier court orders to release him.

The same SSS ignored a court order and placed former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, on house arrest for weeks after the court granted him bail for medical treatment abroad.

Mr. President, are you not worried that your administration is endangering the rule of law and bringing the judiciary to disrepute? And if your government continues to disobey court orders shouldn’t Nigerians doubt the sincerity of your campaign promise to reform the judiciary to deepen public confidence in it?

2. You have rightly distanced yourself from the Frivolous Petitions Bill, also known as the anti-social media bill, currently being deliberated upon in the Senate. However, a breakdown of the 2016 appropriation bill shows that your government, under the National Intelligence Agency, budgeted N1.3 billion for “Open Source Internet Monitoring System”, N1.2billion for the procurement of surveillance equipment for the SSS, N8.7 billion to the office of the NSA for “Develop All Eye Project” and another N9 billion to the office of the NSA for a certain “Construct Stravinsky Project”.

All these are listed as new projects. Mr President, don’t you think these expensive surveillance projects, even while Nigeria does not have a law in place regulating Internet Surveillance, will stand in the way of free speech, something you claim to support?

3. Mr. President, you maintained a deafening silence in the wake of the violent assault on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the Nigerian Army, in Zaria. Don’t you see that as a tacit support for the brutal, extrajudicial actions of the army?

Also, in the light of the Shia killings in Zaria, and the human tragedy aside for now, are you worried that Nigeria has effectively been drawn into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Certainly this is not helpful, even if it does not effectively worsen the security challenges in the North-East. Where do you stand on this development?

4. How should Nigerians understand your anti-corruption struggle from a strategic viewpoint? What is the broad outline, the big picture as it were, which is the lead agency prosecuting the war, who is coordinating, and which other agencies are in the team?

Also, Mr. President, the presidency said a few months ago that full details of your assets would be available in due course. Details released at that time were at best vague, with mention of properties without addresses and their values. Can we have an idea of when you plan to make public, full and specific details of your assets.

5. You recently said some functionaries of the immediate past government had started returning looted funds and that their names would be made public soon. Nigerians have been waiting to know these people who looted their country’s commonwealth and how much they took. When are you going to fulfil this promise? How much has been recovered? Are you under any form of pressure not to reveal details of this development?

6. Your party, the APC, promised to construct 4,800kms (an approximate distance from Abuja to London) of railway across the country. From 1888 (when railway started in Nigeria) to date, Nigeria has a total of 3,500kms of existing railway lines across the country. What is the possibility of beating this record in the next three and half years remaining in your tenure?

7. You gave the military up till this month to end the Boko Haram insurgency. However, as at last weekend, the insurgents were still unleashing mayhem on Nigerians. Scores were killed in Borno and Adamawa on Sunday. Yet you and the information minister recently suggested that the war on terror had been won? Would you in all sincerity say the war has been won? And why?

8. You seem to enjoy making important policy statements while abroad. In fact, you are now known as a President who preferred to unfold your administration’s policy direction while in foreign capitals. You also seem to be more comfortable granting interviews to foreign channels than local media establishments. You recently granted an interview to the Hausa service of the BBC even when you knew that not all Nigerians understand Hausa. What are the reasons guiding your choices in this matter?

9. The foreign exchange restriction policy by the CBN was, perhaps, initiated in good faith to strengthen the Naira against other international currencies, especially the dollar. But it appears some Nigerians around the world, particularly students and genuine businessmen, are suffering, as they are unable to pay their school fees and other bills or transact businesses with payment instruments such as ATM cards.

Are you aware of their difficulties, and is the government considering a review of this policy?

10. Nigerians expected the present administration to be different from its predecessors, particularly in the area of cutting the cost of governance.

But we observe that the Presidency and the National Assembly seem to be carrying on as usual. Next year, government plans to spend several billions on maintaining Aso Rock, buying exotic official cars, maintaining a huge presidential air fleet and on foreign trips. Is this the change you promised Nigerians?

Nigerians are wondering why you are asking them to tighten their belts while your administration continues to waste billions on lavish lifestyles.


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