Chief Cassidy Madueke is a founding member of the ruling All Prigressives Congress and currently the National Secretary of Buhari Media Organisation. In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, he speaks on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari and why the South-east will prefer Buhari’s re-election.
As a member of Buhari Media Organisation, how sellable is President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of APC?
I don’t want to speak as a member of Buhari’s Media Organisation, I just want to speak in the capacity of a well meaning Nigerian who is speaks the truth.
When you talk about Mr. President, he is over 100 percent sellable. You can agree with me for instance that this is a president that came and inherited a depressed economy.
Let me start from security, before the emergence of Mr. President, the security of lives and property in Nigerians were in jeopardy as a result of constant threats, bombings, and killings here and there by the insurgent group Boko Haram.
Unfortunately, the last administration didn’t have the political will, the sense of responsibility to tackle the security issues, where they were suppose to protect, they failed.
The resources that were supposed to be used to purchase equipments to silence Boko Haram at that initial stage were shared amongst PDP members giving Boko Haram the audacity to grow wings. But President Buhari came and he said he was going to provide security for the lives and property of every Nigerians in any part of the country and so far he has done a lot, he has recorded above average on that.
But the same insurgent group that the government claimed to have been degraded is still killing people?
Boko Haram has been grossly decimated and what they do now is to target soft spots. They are no longer there every day with their machine guns, with the vehicles, with their flags been hosted here and there, they can’t try that under President Muhammadu Buhari.
But many are making reference to the hunger in the land, job insecurity and unemployment, would you also disregard these claims?
Firstly, anybody that is expecting President Buhari to fix the issue of economy within a twinkle of an eye is being mischievous.
Secondly, I want you to understand that the problem of economy didn’t start under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Problems have points and they have roots, we have to look at how we got into economic problems. One of the reasons why we got into economic problem was that we failed to do the needful when we had the opportunity of fixing the economy.
An example; there was a time in this country under the leadership of the last administration that oil price was over 100 dollars. The country was making enough to amass wealth and then you ask yourself; where are those wealth that were saved to prepare for tomorrow’s uncertainties? Instead of using the money to raise the economy and develop infrastructures and ensure institutions are straightened, it was squandered.
Today in Nigeria, we can boast of rice sufficiency introduced in this country. How did it come? They don’t just come like a child’s play, it was a policy that was implemented that led to rice revolution in Nigeria under the present administration. Before Mr. President came we had no roads in this country but Mr. President with his tenacity of purpose understands the need for us to have infrastructure like roads which will aid movement.
We are getting loans from China and these loans are meant to develop infrastructures. In a country where there is no infrastructure, people shouldn’t expect its economy to grow because it is the infrastructure in place that can aid economic activities and help the GDP to grow.
You are from the South-east, how sellable is President Buhari in the region, considering that the PDP has picked Peter Obi from the region?
Before now, the South Easterners were mainly PDP but things have changed and many people are beginning to realise that what the PDP federal government couldn’t do for South East this administration under President Buhari is doing it.
Under the PDP government, the South-east produced some of the top government officials in this country: the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Deputy Speaker, the Finance Minister and so on but what did these people do?
The basic things that they would have attracted to the South-east were not there. Before now Enugu/Port Harcourt express way was a typical death trap but go to that place today. Look at Enugu/Onitsha express way today it is nearing completion under President Buhari.
The second Niger Bridge Jonathan administration used it to campaign for their second term, they promised us but where is it? But today there is ongoing work at the second Niger Bridge which is a very important link road between the South and the West and it is ongoing today.
So the South Easterners has come to realise that Mr. President isn’t excluding them in his plans. I don’t care for the appointments; give us infrastructure that will benefit every citizen of the zone. It is better for you to do infrastructures than to give one person appointment who will put everything in his or her pocket. So Mr. President is ensuring that there are infrastructures in the South-east and the South Easterners have come to realise that there is need to support President Buhari and I am sure that a good number of South Easterners have regretted voting for PDP in the last election.
You talked of the issue of Atiku, I don’t want to speak on his issue because he is one man that you can’t underrate in this country. He is PDP presidential candidate with Peter Obi but I would want to let you know that Peter Obi is a fine gentleman but will not have the vote of the majority of the South Easterners. The point there is I am not trying to underrate him, doesn’t speak much, he’s successful in his business but there is a difference between business success and political success.
Are you saying the choice of Peter Obi is not a goal against your party?
Picking Peter Obi as the running mate of the PDP presidential candidate may not significantly affect the chances of this administration in the South-east. The reason is that well meaning South Easterners have realised that the government that we don’t expect to do things for us is doing it but the government we hatched all our eggs on failed us so we can’t be deceived again.
At the end of the day if Buhari doesn’t complete those jobs then we should have ourselves to blame. At least for now he has done far more than what the PDP did. Those critical infrastructures he is addressing them, which PDP failed to do in 16 years ir respective of the massive support the people of the South East gave to it.
Don’t you think the internal crises within the APC rocking the party across all the state of federation could affect the chances of President Buhari in 2019?
It is part of the beauty of democracy. It is not only Chief Maduekwe and others that are members of APC. There are so many people who are members of APC, we disagree to agree and at the end of the day the crises will be resolved.
It is not only in the APC you see those crises, PDP presently have it so it is part of politics. You can’t say because it is the ruling party they have crises; no! In a short while the crises will be resolved. There is one thing that will always be there in politics, you agree to disagree. There is no permanent friend, no permanent enemy but interest and at the end of the day the interest of all the APC members are paramount and that is winning the next presidential election.
Some economists and concerned Nigerians are worried that the foreign debt is getting worse?
You have to understand the conditions of the loans and what the loans are meant for. These are loans with soft interest and a long maturity date with the intent that the loans will produces fruits that will make it less painful to repay.
If the government, for instance, gets 1 billion dollar loan from China and invests that amount in infrastructure development, the tendency that those infrastructure built from that loan will yield fruits or will be able to withstand the stress of the soft loan is there. But in a situation where you borrow 1bn and pretend to use it to develop capital and human resources and infrastructure and you eat $900m out of it, it can’t work, you can’t achieve the aim of that loan.
You can see that most of the loans that the present administration got from China are being utilized in railways and road networks. In electricity, before now we were under 4000 megawatts but today we can boast of 7000 megawatts plus and other electricity projects are in place.
Look at Mambila, if that is completed, I am sure that the era of lack of electricity supply would be a thing of the past. The government is purposeful and has the interest of the nation’s citizens at heart.