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Buhari: Jonathan’s ministers frustrated me before I came to power

Buhari: Jonathan’s ministers frustrated me before I came to power

President Muhammadu Buhari has opened up on how ministers who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan refused to cooperate with him in the era of transition.

According to THE NATION, Buhari disclosed this during an interview with select journalists at the presidential villa in Abuja.

The president reportedly said his predecessor was willing to cooperate with him, but his ministers advised him otherwise.

“After the election, I went to thank Jonathan for what he did by conceding defeat. A former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), told me he had experience in handover and asked if he should advise me. I said, yes,” he said.

“He said committees in the ministries met and wrote handover notes and Obasanjo set up transition committees to work with each ministry and at the end Obasanjo took whatever he wanted from the reports. I agreed. Jonathan agreed.

“When I came to sit down, Jonathan’s ministers complained, saying ‘why would Jonathan allow Buhari to take over government before he is sworn in?’. They refused to cooperate. So I took over without knowing what Jonathan’s government contained.

“After we were sworn in, I began to debrief the permanent secretaries, taking two ministries per day, to just try and find out what they had. They had 42 ministers; the economy had collapsed. We reduced 42 ministries to 24 and we had to ask some permanent secretaries to go on several grounds.”

The president described the sovereign national conference organised by the previous government as a misplacement of priority, saying he has not “bothered” to look at the recommendations of the conference.

Buhari said about N9billion was wasted on the conference, while universities in the country were under lock and keys as a result of the inability of government to meet the demand of lecturers.

“I advised against the issue of national conference. You would recall that ASUU was on strike then for almost nine months. The teachers in the tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet that government had about N9 billion to organise that meeting (National Conference) and some (members) were complaining that they hadn’t even been paid,” he said.

“I never liked the priority of that government on that particular issue, because it meant is that the discussions on what the national assembly ought to do was more important than keeping our children in schools. That is why I haven’t even bothered to read it or asked for a briefing on it and I want it to go into the so-called archives.

On the resurgence of militancy and the agitation for Biafra, he said: “I have told the military and law enforcement agencies that the promise this government made was that this country has to be secured before it can be effectively managed. So, we can’t wait for that report before the military re-organises itself and secures the Niger Delta area. So, I think very soon they would do some serious operations there.

“As for Biafra, those looking for Biafra have a tough job. A lot of them that have participated in the demonstrations (recently) were not born and didn’t know what people like us went through (fighting Biafra) by walking from the northern border to initially Abakaliki, then came back and started from Awka to Abagana and to Onitsha. We lost our friends, our relatives and about two million Nigerians were killed. They thought it was a joke. So I think they have a problem.”

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