DT: There has been an outcry over the recent appointment of key aides by President Muhammadu Buhari. These appointments are said to be lopsided, what is your take on this?
Hon Shehu Aliyu Musa: First and foremost, President Muhammadu Buhari has the right to appoint people he believes are competent, trustworthy and qualified to work with him without considering their ethnic or religious backgrounds. I think it is too early for Nigerians to react, as there are more appointments to come and which will surely accommodate all sections of the country.
What should be paramount to Nigerians now is how the present government will address the issue of good governance and how the president will fight insurgency, corruption and stabilise the economy of the nation.
DT: Some politicians from the South-east are complaining of marginalisation in the present government. Do you share in their opinion?
Musa: Its quite unfortunate to hear the outburst from some prominent Nigerians, particularly from the South-east, over the appointments. It beats my imagination how former ministers and some senators would be drumming the song of marginalisation and ethnicity when they quite alright knew key presidential appointments within the office of the president are strictly the prerogative of Mr. President. They should be patient as I believe Mr. President knows what he is doing. I can also assure them that Buhari will not under whatever guise victimise any section of the country bearing in mind what that will account for when he said he was for nobody but for everybody during his inaugural speech.
DT: What is your reaction to the appointment of Col Hameed Ali (rtd) as the new customs boss?
Musa: Its like we forget so quick in this country. However, let me remind Nigerians that this is not the first time somebody outside the customs is chosen to head the outfit. The president has the right to appoint anybody so long as that person has integrity and he or she is competent to head the organisation. There was a time in this country the former PDP chairman Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed as well as Major General Sam Ango (rtd), were at one time heads of customs. All these individuals were appointed outside the customs as such the appointment of Col Hammed Ali as Comptroller General of Customs is in order. Mind you the president is here to clean the Aegean stable and he can send anybody he feels is capable of doing the task assigned to him to anywhere.
DT: There have been calls for the National Assembly to cut their remunerations. Are members ready to accept pay cut?
Musa: Yes. We are surely ready. Its a sacrifice we all have to make. Already the president and his vice have set the ball rolling, they have set examples, and the Senate is also looking into that. So its a general consensus that in the spirit of change. We all have to make sacrifices as such we are ever willing to accept pay cut and any adjustments on our salaries and allowances.
DT: What is your take on the reported increase in the number of committees in the House by the Speaker?
Musa: Well, the speaker must have his reasons for increasing the number of committees in the House. Be that as it may, I strongly believe it is going to be an attempt to ensure effective oversight functions of the House, and if I am not wrong, this may be the outcome of the legislative agenda for the 8th House of Representatives where all members are expected to work very hard and effectively so as to churn out pro-poor laws for the country and perform effective legislative oversight functions.
DT: President Buhari marks 100 days in office today, how will you describe his approach to governance?
Musa: I will wholeheartedly salute his courage and determination to move this country forward. You can see from what he has achieved since his inauguration, as he said it is slowly but steadily, so we should all be patient with him. The president must also be commended for the reforms going on in the oil sector. Within 100 days, the three refineries in Port-Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri will soon resume full capacity production. Besides, his desire to create jobs and employment for the teeming youths of the country has led to his directive that 10,000 Nigerians should be recruited into the police.
Again, I will like to commend his efforts in the area of security. His approach has portrayed him as a leader who wants to end insurgency in the country as well as his fight against corruption. All these efforts were recorded without ministers, so how will it look like when ministers are appointed, surely Nigeria will be on track.
Looking at the foreign scene, the president has revived Nigeria in the eyes of the international community, Nigeria is in the good books of all nations now and I assure you by this time next year, Nigeria would strongly be on ground as a great nation.
DT: What advice do you have for Nigerians?
Musa: Nigerians should desist from making pronouncements that are capable of heating the polity. For instance, take a look at the statements credited to a senator to the effect that the APC has chosen as a style, to run a government that encourages alienation of a sizeable portion of its people, as well as one that promotes exclusivity. That statement was uncalled for. Anyway, he is from the opposition so I am not surprised.
DT: Do you think the APC is following its manifesto?
Musa: Yes. Of course it is and is following it objectively. Mind you every political party has its style and the APC has vowed to adopt its unique style of running an all-inclusive national government, which will in the long run reflect the true character and national outlook of the Nigerian people. The APC as a people’s party believes in inclusiveness, not minding the voting pattern of any section of the country or where its support base was.
Similarly, for any responsible party, there should not be any political barrier or alienation of any constituent part, because after elections the president is the president and father of all Nigerians irrespective of political leaning. And as I earlier on said, the few appointments so far made by Mr. President should not be seen as an attempt to marginalise any section of the country.