Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Femi Adesina, the Presidential Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, has opened up on why his boss, President Muhamamdu Buhari, cannot ask ministers named by accused judges to step aside.
Adesina who also spoke on other national issues insisted that the president was not interested in naming and shaming corrupt politicians but means business in recovering all the nation’s looted funds.
It is the contention of people in many quarters that the President and his team in the executive are more interested in naming and shaming corrupt persons than following the due process of the law to get corrupt persons nailed. What’s your take on this?
That question has come from a mind-set. Some people believe that the anti-corruption war is about naming and shaming. No, it is not. Cast your mind back to the broadcast of the President on May 29, this year, he said clearly that the intention was not to shame or ridicule anybody, but to retrieve ill-gotten monies. And this is a believable President. When he tells you that it is not about naming and shaming, you would do well to believe him.
Why does the Presidency appear ‘mute’ on the allegations leveled against some serving ministers by the embattled judges facing trial over allegations of corruption?
You said they were allegations. Allegations are not indictment. However serious allegations are, they remain allegations. Anybody can wake up and allege anything. As long as they are not backed with evidence, they are not actionable. But back up your allegations with unimpeachable proofs, and see whether President Buhari will not act on it, no matter who is involved.
We know that the President globe-trots to establish ties with neighbouring and other world leaders. How have such trips impacted Nigerians, particularly our battered economy?
The results of foreign shuttles by our President are evident. For instance, he visited all our immediate neighbors, and they joined the coalition against Boko Haram, with the result that the insurgency has been degraded.
Also, you have investments in billions of dollars attracted to the country. The Chinese are here, and soon you will see results, particularly in rail transport. Equally, the profile of Nigeria has gone up in international circles. We are no longer a pariah nation, and the integrity of our President has rubbed off on the average Nigerian. We are no longer seen solely as a country of scammers and fraudsters.
What would you call President Buhari’s greatest achievement so far in office?
Tough question. There are many achievements, but to me as a person, the greatest is the victory against insurgency in the Northeast. By the time President Buhari came in May 2015, Boko Haram was running riot round the country. They had planted themselves in Northeast, Northwest, North-central, including Abuja, the federal capital they were in Kogi State, and about entering the South-west and South-south. If that had happened, nobody could have predicted what would happen to the country.
But President Buhari rallied the military, and today Boko Haram is circumscribed in Sambisa forest. It is a great achievement and life has returned to hitherto beleaguered areas. Millions of Nigerians are applauding. I am, too.