Tony Ailemen, Abuja
In-coming President, Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday poured encomiums on President Goodluck Jonathan, lauding him for changing the course of Nigeria’s history and landing the country on an enviable spot in the comity of nations. Buhari, who looked frail and weak as he received handover notes from Jonathan at the State Executive Chambers yesterday, said Jonathan did what many did not expect him to do in ensuring a free and fair election for the country. Receiving the notes from Jonathan, Buhari who returned to the country Wednesday night, from his trip to the United Kingdom, said “I will read and digest these notes from the president.
So, I don’t think I will be in a position to make any strong contribution now.“But what I will say is since the telephone call you made, you have changed the course of Nigeria’s political history. “For that, you have earned yourself a place in our history, for stabilizing this system of multi party democracy system and you have earned the respect of not only Nigerians but world leaders. “All the leaders that spoke to me and congratulated us for arriving at the point we arrived, mentioned this and I could understand a lot of relief in their voices that Nigeria has made it after all and this is largely owed to a situation. “If you had wanted to make things difficult, you could have made things difficult and that would have been at the expense of lives of poor Nigerians, but you chose the part of honour and may God help all of us.
Thank you very much your Excellency”, he said. Buhari, who refrained from making any detailed commentary at the handover ceremony, also hinted that he would need to study the note handed over to him for guidance. President Jonathan had while handing over the documents detailing achievements in the last six years and the vision of his administration, including reports of the National Conference, advised the incoming President not to jettison the National Conference report as it contains answers to many questions that will move the country to the expected heights. “I will give you a mission statement of the commitment of this government for the past five years and the directions we are going that will help you to navigate. “So, it is my pleasure, on behalf of the Vice President, members of the executive council and other senior functionaries to formally hand over these notes to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the President-elect, who will assume office tomorrow; congratulations”.
Speaking on the Conference document, Jonathan said, “to me this is more important than the hand over notes. The hand over notes are activities of an administration; they show where we started, where we are going, in some of the cases you’ll follow, in other cases you may take other angle. “But this is a document that was compiled by Nigerians, the report of the National conference, 2014. We gathered almost 500 Nigerians from other walks of life; they were not influenced by government in any way. And most of the recommendations here, if it is followed, most of the gray areas even in our politics, will be smoothened out. “Most of the areas where people complain bitterly, including corruption and every other thing are dealt with in this document.
Some people here were members of that great body of about 500 eggheads. “We were unable to implement them because of the shortness of time; we have sent a copy to the National Assembly but it is a document that we are very hopeful that your government will look into it and give it the attention it requires. “It is also my pleasure on behalf of the Vice-President, members of the executive council and other senior functionaries and especially the conference members that developed this report, the baby of the nation, to hand over this also to you”, Jonathan said.
Those who accompanied Buhari to the Presidential Villa, included incoming Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Prof. Tam David-West, Chief John Odigje-Oyegun (APC Chairman), Chief Audu Ogbe, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Alhaji Garba Shehu, amongst others Meanwhile, The UNION gathered yesterday that Buhari had travelled out of the country during the week on medical grounds. He was said to have also used the opportunity to avoid pressures from people who are lobbying to be part of his cabinet.
A source close to the All Progressive Congress APC, informed The Union that the incoming President had travelled out because he wanted to select his ministers and close aides under a serene atmosphere which would not have been possible due to the pressure being mounted on him by party supporters. “I can assure you that the President’s Ministers list is ready and he is fully prepared”, one of his aides told State House Correspondents. The Union also gathered that the incoming President has directed that official activities at the swearing-in ceremonies be reduced for health reasons though our source had declared that “the President is fit as a fiddle”.