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With Nigeria Vote Delayed, Opposition Speaks; Greek Defiance; Imagine a World
Aired February 13, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as Boko Haram's violence postpones Nigeria's presidential election, the main opposition
candidate warns of another great danger -- corruption.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): . there are serious (INAUDIBLE) of this country. That said, unless Nigeria
kills corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Plus Greece tells the European Central Bank no deal. We ask the new finance minister who is going to pay their bill.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program, where we look back at the major news of the week.
I'm Christiane Amanpour.
And this weekend, Nigerians were meant to be voting for a new president but they are not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Boko Haram violence and insecurity has delayed the poll by at least six weeks. And this in Africa's economic powerhouse
and its most populous democracy.
Despite the delay, President Goodluck Jonathan did say this week that he was confident that advances against Boko Haram would allow the vote to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOODLUCK JONATHAN, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: Nobody is saying that they must wipe out Boko Haram completely before conducting elections in this
country. But definitely, in the next six weeks or so, serious advances will be made. But I'm not saying wipe out Boko Haram.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now when people do get to vote, they will face a difficult choice between reelecting President Jonathan after five years in which
security and corruption have got much worse in Nigeria, or my guest tonight, the dark horse candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, who ruled
briefly 30 years ago after taking power in a coup.
The polls show the two candidates now neck and neck and I asked General Buhari about his chances when he joined me from Abuja.
AMANPOUR: General, welcome to the program.
Can I ask you first your reaction to the delay in this election by six weeks and to what you just heard President Goodluck Jonathan say, that they
will make inroads into much more security within the next six weeks?
BUHARI: Well, (INAUDIBLE) appointments because the politician may by independent national electoral commission, (INAUDIBLE), were better they
are ready to conduct the election on the days (INAUDIBLE) ago and for them to be forced naturally by the military that they cannot guarantee the
safety of their workers, they have to concede to the demand of the military of an additional six weeks.
Now since those six weeks are within the constitutional time allowed, that is why we came and asked our supporters to remain calm and resolute --
BUHARI: -- and obey the laws.
AMANPOUR: OK, General. Let me ask you because you are a former military general. You were ruling the country briefly.
Why is it that the Nigerian military today cannot take on Boko Haram and have failed to combat that terrorist organization?
BUHARI: Well, this has been made much more clear when the national assembly attempted to conduct a hearing after soldiers were given
(INAUDIBLE) media about being sent to the front without proper weapons.
The national assembly attempted to conduct a hearing by getting the budgets approved by the national assembly over the last three years and
inviting the (INAUDIBLE) to come and tell them why is it the weapons were not procured and sent to the soldiers and their competent leadership?
And this year was the curtain (ph). So in short, the application or the appropriation of the resources provided by government (INAUDIBLE)
that's why the Nigerian military was unable to defeat Boko Haram.
AMANPOUR: General, you today just got a huge, massive endorsement from a former ally of President Goodluck Jonathan, that is the former
How do you react to that?
I mean, what will that do for your campaign?
BUHARI: Well, it will certainly bring more supporters to us and more confidence again to us for those who were sitting on the fence because
General Obasanjo is highly respected and that's why the Nigerian militia is concerned there is no serious issue that can be discussed without
(INAUDIBLE) for his opinion and listening to it.
AMANPOUR: Can I now ask you about yourself because headlines around the world are portraying this election as a choice between a failed
president and a former dictator. And you're the former dictator, according to these headlines.
You know, people say and they remember that you expelled 700,000 migrants years ago, thinking that would create jobs; that you have banned
political meetings and free speech; that you've detained thousands of people; secret tribunals, executing people for crimes that were not capital
Have you changed? Or is this what the Nigerian people have to look forward to?
BUHARI: Well, all those things you mentioned with a degree of accuracy, actually what happened were then under military administration
and, well, the ministry, that ministry (INAUDIBLE) under my leadership, we suspended a military then a part of the constitution that we felt would be
difficult for us to operate and as also a consensus.
So I don't think -- I think our being judged harshly as an individual that were to happen, we are a military administration can be extended under
a multiparty democratic system.
AMANPOUR: OK. So now you say you're a democrat.
What do you think you can do to combat Boko Haram and to combat the galloping corruption in your country?
BUHARI: Well, Boko Haram, we know how it started. Certainly the Nigerian military that built a reputation internationally for effectiveness
is a great embarrassment to them and to the country that they haven't been able to secure Nigerian territory over an area of (INAUDIBLE) government
out of 774 local governments.
I believe this problem will not be too difficult for HEC (ph) government because we know the Nigerian military is competent, it's
accustomed of making sure that the money voted recruitment and training are properly utilized.
AMANPOUR: About corruption, there's so many complaints for many people around your country about the massive corruption, they say.
Can you face up against that?
Are you committed to rooting out corruption?
BUHARI: We have to because there are serious students of this country that said unless Nigeria kills corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria and
that is best illustrated by the another (INAUDIBLE) conducted by the national assembly on (INAUDIBLE) a question of power, electricity power,
and then the corruption in petroleum industry, which is a country depends over 90 percent of its external revenue.
The national assembly have conducted the hearing here in Abuja and in the six geopolitical zones of the country, take the recommendation to the
electorate and it has been there collecting dust for the last 18 months.
AMANPOUR: All right, General Muhammadu Buhari, opposition candidate in Nigeria, thank you very much for joining us from Abuja tonight.
AMANPOUR: Now from an election delayed to delayed election promises, the new Greek government is committed to reinstating sacked workers and
raising the minimum wage as part of its anti-austerity policy.
But who is going to pay? We'll ask, next.
(MUSIC PLAYING) AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
The new Greek government is facing its first and its sternest test after failing to agree a debt deal with the European Central Bank and the
IMF. The Syriza administration of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has defiantly declared that the days of austerity with the ECB pulling the
strings are over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The Greek people gave a strong and clear mandate to immediately end austerity, this
catastrophic austerity, and to change policies. Consequently, the notorious bailout was first canceled by its very own failure and its
We are fully aware that this negotiation won't be easy, that the road that lies ahead is an uphill one. But we fully trust our power and we will
make it mainly because in this negotiation, it is absolutely clear that right is on our side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: He's promised to raise the minimum wage and hire back government employees that he says were illegally fired under austerity.
But talks are now stalled as to how this will all be paid for. Arrayed against him are European heavyweights led by Germany, which insists
that Greece must push on with cost-cutting and reform.
Now the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has made waves for his informality and his plain speaking. But he told me that Greece is
committed to reform when I spoke to him at the start of what was a very tough week of negotiations in Europe.
AMANPOUR: Minister Varoufakis, welcome back to our program.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS, GREEK FINANCE MINISTER: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: It's good to see you. Now you've heard that they are talking tough and you are equally determined to stand tough. The ECB says
it'll no longer recognize your bonds as collateral.
Doesn't that reduce a huge stream of revenue in addition to rejecting bailout funds, which is another huge stream of revenue?
VAROUFAKIS: Let's separate the two issues. The ECB has replaced one form of refinancing with another. It was a move that has happened before
without any major repercussions. Personally I think that it was too premature, that move, but nevertheless it's not that significant in the
scheme of things.
The second is the question of the bailouts. This government was, Christiane, elected in order to challenge the very logic of the bailouts,
which began in 2010.
Christiane, what happened in 2010 was the Greek state became insolvent and the great of the good in Europe in their great wisdom and infinite
wisdom, I should say, decided to treat this insolvency problem as if it was a problem of liquidity.
So they dumped the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders and on condition that we reduce, squeeze our income by almost a
Now a bankruptcy lawyer in New York, actually a 10-year-old child would tell you that that can't end well. So it's not that we're refusing
anything. We're not playing hardball, at least from our part.
All we want to do is have a rational discussion, but this kind of combination of great loans to the insolvent on condition that we should
shrink our income further, this must end because it makes no sense for anyone.
AMANPOUR: Let me take your metaphor. You talked about a 10-year-old child with a vague knowledge of math. So I want to ask you about math
because we've just talked about huge revenue losses, given these two issues, plus the idea of raising the minimum wage plus the idea of hiring
back all sorts of government workers.
The math doesn't add up. I mean, you haven't said how you're going to bridge this gap.
How will you?
VAROUFAKIS: OK. Let's start from days missed, which I'm sure have come to you through a distorted lens. Take the question about the issue of
What we have committed to do, Christiane, and let's be clear on this, is to rehire within the next year 1 percent -- just 1 tiny, little,
miserable percent -- of those who were -- who lost their jobs, the hundreds of thousands that lost their jobs during the last five years.
And who are these people that we're going to rehire?
School guards and people who were dismissed by means -- by legal means that are highly suspect.
This is not worth even discussing. Remember, 1 percent of the losses of jobs are going to be restituted in this way.
On the question of where do they -- we get the money from, look, Greece over the last five years, because of the unenforceability of this
illogical program that has been applied to Greece over the last five years has been in this situation, in -- let's say in limbo between different
agreements with our creditors for a number of time.
Let me give an example: the summer of 2012, before that it was 2011. There have been these standoffs between the Greek authorities and our
creditors. And always there was some formula for finding a few months during which to achieve some kind of agreement.
What this government is doing, something that it has never tried before, Christiane, and that is to say we were like drug addicts and we
always cared about the next dose. The next dose was the next loan tranche. We don't want the next dose. We don't care about the next loan tranche
when our debt is unsustainable.
We want to get rid of the addiction.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you --
VAROUFAKIS: We just want to get rid of the addiction --
AMANPOUR: -- all right. You want to get rid of the addiction.
But how do you get better terms for your recovery, so to speak, to carry on your metaphor?
And people say these are the most generous terms that Greece has had for a long, long time.
And today in Washington, Angela Merkel basically said, "I think what counts is what Greece will put on the table. I've always said I'll wait
for Greece to come with a sustainable process or proposal and then we'll talk about it."
So what is your sustainable proposal?
VAROUFAKIS: All we're asking for, Christiane, from our European partners is an opportunity to table our proposals and to be given a short
space of time -- a few weeks, no more -- during which we deliberate with them.
But you know, more precisely, let me say this: our government is all about reforming Greece deeply so that we never go back to where we were in
2009-2010. But we can't do that when we are in a debt deflationary camp.
Remember, Greece has 175 percent of debt as a proportion of GDP and at the same time we have a broken banking system that doesn't work as a credit
mechanism. We have negative investment and we have a commitment -- this is a commitment undertaken by previous governments. This is part of our
bailout program -- that we should produce almost 5 percent of primary service every year.
If this is like trying to extract more milk from a sick cow by whipping it, you will kill it. You will not get more milk out of it. So
in order for us to repay our debts and to grow, we need more fiscal space. We need a primary surplus. We are committed to having balanced budgets and
indeed for having a primary surplus.
AMANPOUR: So obviously --
VAROUFAKIS: -- like 1.5 percent.
AMANPOUR: -- obviously many people want to know how you will become more competitive and you talk about raising -- I know it it's a small
percentage, but nonetheless, raising minimum wage.
But I just do want to ask you about leaving the Eurozone. You have said it will cause a disaster for the rest of the Eurozone. Other
countries seem to be making contingencies.
My question to you is: do you not fear that there will be a panic in Greece that people will try to do a run on the banks?
Are you going to forbid them from taking their money out?
What are you going to do to prevent a panic and make your economic situation worse if you do in fact leave?
VAROUFAKIS: We're not going to leave. Grexit, Greece's exit from the Eurozone, is not anywhere near a thinking process. We consider ourselves
to be part of the Eurozone; whatever criticisms one may have of the Eurozone, once you are in it, you should stick with it.
Mario Draghi has thinking November, put it succinctly and brilliantly when he said that for the euro to succeed anywhere, it must succeed
everywhere. And those who are toying with the idea of jettisoning or unprepaving (ph) Greece from the Eurozone are being extremely reckless
because this is an experiment that has never happened before.
Those who believe that they can amputate Greece and keep the Eurozone intact, they have absolutely no evidence for that. It's never been tried.
And we should not be playing around with people's lives, with a prospect of having a gradual fragmentation of the Eurozone because the
awful centrifugal forces that are going to be unleashed may very well tear the whole of Europe apart.
And the world economy, the American economy, the Chinese economy, the last thing they need is this kind of turbulence coming from Europe at a
time when everybody is struggling to recover from the 2008 debacle.
AMANPOUR: Minister Yanis Varoufakis, thank you very much indeed for joining me tonight.
AMANPOUR: Now unconventional politics can take many forms whether they're a tireless Greek finance minister trying to renegotiate his
country's monumental debt or Moscow's top diplomat putting pen to paper to mourn the loss of Soviet Russia. Lavrov's love affair with poetry -- after
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where politics makes way for poetry. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, a man who of
course supported the war in Georgia, backs the Syrian regime and his own government's annexation of Crimea, has just released three previously
unseen poetic works.
He actually wrote these poems more than 20 years ago and his style is described as "beat poetry," which is distinctly American, but he uses it to
criticize, quote, "foreign land" and "loud and arrogant cities."
Is he talking about America?
But Lavrov saved his strongest pathos for his own country, Russia, where he mourns the loss of pride and talent, as the nation's best and
brightest emigrate in a continuing brain drain.
Of course his boss, President Vladimir Putin, has also hearkened back to the golden days. A few years ago, he described the collapse of the
Soviet Union as, quote, "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century."
Now at home, Lavrov's getting high praise for his poetry. That must come as a welcome relief after a weekend where he found himself being booed
and laughed at during his speech defending Russia's Ukraine policy at the Munich Security Conference that we were just reporting on.
Perhaps this line of his poetry best describes his nation's policy, quote, "The road ahead, only the start of the road back."
Now for her part at the same Munich conference and just before jetting off to Washington, Angela Merkel had a somewhat different perspective; as
an East German, who reveled in the collapse of Soviet-led Communism, she promised that once again, quote, "our principles will triumph."
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always watch see the whole show online at amanpour.com, and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.