President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said no person accused of corruption can go scot-free even if they join his party, APC.
Buhari said this in an interview on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
Many Nigerians believe that opposition politicians accused of corruption or on trial for corruption join the APC to avoid being punished.
Some politicians accused of corruption who have joined the ruling party include ex-aviation minister Femi Fani-Kayode and a senator, Stella Oduah.
Buhari, however, said joining the APC does not absolve anyone accused of corruption from the crime.
Buhari, during the interview, also said age is telling on him as he looks forward to his exit from office, having had to work long hours every day.
The president said many of his colleagues were enjoying their retirement and that he hoped to emulate them in the next 17 months when his tenure ends.
Asked how he felt clocking 79 years recently, he said: “Yes, I think COVID-19 has come to my rescue in the sense that the number of people that needed to see you has reduced.
“And about my age, yes, I see my colleagues, they are now resting and I assure you that I’m looking forward to the next 17 months when I too would have to be less busy.
“The age is telling on me. Working now for 6, 7, 8 hours a day in the office is no joke.
“Questions of executive council memos from as many states as possible to be considered virtually every week.
“So, really it is a lot of hard work. But I asked for it and I cannot complain.”
‘I don’t expect appreciation from Nigerians’
President Buhari also said that he does not expect Nigerians to appreciate him when he leaves office, but only for them to realise that he has done his best.
On his eagerness to handover power, he said: “Yes, because, look, as you know I have been a governor.
“I have been a minister and I’m in my second term as President. So, I have gone through the system. And really, what else can I do with this country?
“I have given my best and I hope after I leave Nigerians will reflect and at least not show appreciation.
“I’m not expecting any appreciation. But what I’m expecting is for Nigerians to say yes, this man has done his best.
“This is the most I’m expecting from Nigerians. But it’s no joke. I’m telling you.
“Look at the problem we’re having in the South-East now. How many police stations were taken over, weapons missing?
“We closed the border with Benin, we closed the border with Niger. But we had to accept the reality that the weapons are coming from our own armories.
“So, the main problem is, I hope I will leave a more secure Nigeria than what it is now.”
Meanwhile, earlier in an interview with Channels Television, President Buhari dismissed his administration’s woeful economic performance, telling Nigerians to embrace farming to solve the country’s economic challenges.
In the interview, conducted by Channels’ Seun Okinbaloye and Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, the president disputed some of the economic indicators reeled out by the presenters showing how the Nigerian economy has deteriorated since he came to office in 2015.
In the interview, Okinbaloye compared some of the key economic indicators between 2015 and 2021, explaining how the figures have kept Nigerians worried about the poor state of the economy.
“When you took over in 2015, our debt stock at the time was about 12 trillion, now it’s about 32 trillion,” Mr Okinbaloye said.
“Inflation rate was about 9%, it’s now sitting at about 15%; unemployment rate was about 9.2%, it’s now at about 32.2%; exchange (rate) was about N197 to a dollar, now it’s way over 400 naira to a dollar.
“Now people would look back and say before you took over some of these indicators were fair, and now the figures are not friendly at all.”
But Buhari responded by disputing the data reeled out by the journalist, but he failed to engage them. He would later restate his oft-repeated claim that Nigerians must return to the farm in order to fix the economy.
“Well, I am not sure how correct your calculations are,” the president said, “but all I know is that we have to allow people have access to the farm. We just have to go back to the land.”
Last year, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent (23.2 million people) from 27.1 per cent, the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.
The country’s unemployment rate has more than quadrupled since 2016 when the economy slipped into a recession.
When Buhari took office in 2015, he promised to diversify Nigeria’s oil-dominated economy by investing more in agriculture and encouraging farming.
He also urged Nigerians to “grow what they eat, and eat what they grow,” to boost food self-sufficiency and increase foreign exchange earnings.
Current data show things have been a lot worse than when Mr Buhari took office. Food prices reached the highest levels in more than a decade in 2021.
On Wednesday, the president claimed that only 2.5 per cent of Nigeria’s arable land is being used for agricultural purposes.
“If we invest more in agriculture, people won’t be shouting of unemployment,” Mr Buhari said.
The president also said that when Nigeria closed the land border, it stopped the importation of rice.
“Now in Nigeria, we produce the rice we need and we even export,” he said.
“We have to exploit our capacities.”
Buhari said Nigerians have to make sure that their industries are patronised, and that they have to stop smuggling to ensure that developed countries do not dump goods indiscriminately into Nigeria.
“Because of technology, they can produce faster and can produce more with less resources, and it will make life unbearable for Nigerians if permitted,” Buhari said.