By Uche Mbah
Ahead of the presidential debate coming later this month, Preesident Buhari has granted an interview to Arise Television, a sister station to ThisDay Newspapers. But the interview has been trailed with controversies. First, it was alleged that the TV station was not allowed to use their microphone and cameras for the interview, but that Aso Rock Media protocol recorded the interview, edited it themselves and sent it to the station to air the following day.
The interview was, however, labeled ‘live’.
Even with the heavy editing, Twitter has been agog with reactions to some of the answers given in answer to questions. For example, when Ijeoma Nwogwugwu asked him about food security, querying how Nigeria has achieved food security while we have 84 million people living in extreme poverty, he answered that it is possible because “You work with figures and I work with facts”.
“Buhari debated himself on the Arise interview and still lost”, a twitter handler Igala_King with handle @I_Am_Ilemona twitted.
In the interview he named his experience as the reason why he has not removed service chiefs, because he cannot vouch for the incoming replacements, they may be overtly ambitious.
Asked why he appointed 83 years old Justice Sylvanus Nsofor as Nigerian ambassador to the United states, he admitted it was to compensate him for giving a dissenting judgment in his (Buhari’s) favor in a court of Appeal case challenging his loss at elections.
On Minimum wage, Buhari said that the Private sector is different. “If you can’t pay, you retrench…I think it is better to collect N18 thousand than nothing as states can’t pay salaries”. Even when asked about corruption in his party, and why people who are corrupt suddenly become saints when they decamp, Buhari went off tangent to talk of 1984 and loans from china in what critics decribed as deliberate evasion.
Buhari is billed to have a Presidential Debate with Atiku Abubakar later this month, but feelers indicate that it is unlikely that he will appear. Initially, Vice president Osinbajo was billed to represent him but the opposition PDP has reject debate by proxy. Now, since the campaign train is to be currently headed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, speculations are rife that he may be presented for debate, a situation PDP is already kicking against. Earlier reasons given by the presidency was that he has an appointment with his doctors in UK during the proposed period of the debate, but that defense is no longer being mentioned.
This has given credence to allegations that the presidential handlers are doing so much to shield him from facing the public. As an analyst puts it on twitter, “Even President Buhari’s Handlers know that their boss is highly susceptible to speak jargons that is why they did not allow Arise TV to do a live broadcast of the interview. This has confirmed what Amaechi said about him.”