Reality Sets In As President Muhammadu Buhari Declares That Age Is No Longer On His Side Despite His Desire To Lead The Country Like He Was Young
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in south Africa, took introspection into his life and declared that there is a limit to what he can do at 72 years. Addressing the Nigerian Community in South Africa, Buhari who was in the country for the African Union summit which ended yesterday, said age was no longer on his side though he would have loved that he became president again, at a younger age.
Appreciating the value of youth in leadership at such level, President Buhari said: “How I wish I became head of state when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man”.
According to him “at 72, there is a limit to what I can do”. He how- ever said “what brought me there, I think, mainly, is because I love this country”.
Reminiscing on his past, President Buhari said: “I was in the war front for 30 months during our civil war. I lost a lot of loyal people. I lost a relative; a lot of Nigerians did too. We lost about two million Nigerians just to keep Nigeria one. So nobody should come now and tell us rubbish! We are going to remain one country. God has given us another opportunity to reorganize this country. Those who work hard, the society will pay them back”, he said.
Also dismissing talks about his military past when he dictatorially jailed Nigerians, Buhari reminded that he too had been to jail for three and half years asking ‘so what?’
“As head of state, I went straight to detention for three and half years; so those who accused me of locking them up, I too have been locked up; so what?” he asked. The president however noted that wish it or not, Nigerians must live as one, adding that it would take only crazy persons to seek to balkanize the country.
He however admitted that such crazy persons abound. “We are actually people of different cultures but since 1914, we have merged in spite of religion and culture, married across, produced children and only crazy people can think of balkanizing Nigeria. But we are not short of crazy people. That is the frightening part of it”, he said.
Buhari noted that he had feared for the country stating that it was drifting and going the way of Somalia because of greed and self-centeredness. He blamed his conclusions on what he referred to as self-centeredness and greed among the elite which he said turned Somalia into a war torn country, adding that Nigeria was drifting into similar situation.
“At a point I was very frightened; don’t know how many of you kept records. I was afraid Nigeria might be like Somalia. The Somalis are the same people; they are all Muslims but because the elites are self-centered, selfish, they have succeeded to make Somalia a war country for the last 20 years.
“For that reason, I said Nigerians are much more vulnerable, we have so many nationalities no matter how you look at it, Hausa-Fulanis, Kanuris, Itshekiris, Yorubas, Igbos”, he said.
Buhari however commended Nigerians for their ability to manage crises since the country was amalgamated in 1914, adding that only crazy people could think of balkanizing the country.
The President, who took time to spell out his administration’s policy for Nigeria, said he would focus on three cardinal areas of security, economy and employment generation. He noted that during the campaigns, his party, APC, focused its fundamental campaign and discussions on the above three cardinal objectives that were identified for immediate action
According to him, “we have to secure the country, and then sufficiently manage it by making sure the economy is put right and youths are employed, and then try and kill corruption. I didn’t say this first; there are people before me who articulat- ed that ‘if we don’t kill corruption in Nigeria, corruption will kill us’.
“So this APC administration intends to kill corruption in Nigeria, we will do our best I assure you.
“So haven spoken off the cuff, I am pleased with what I have told you, being Nigerians I can assure you that the three cardinal points of securing Nigeria, efficiently managing it by trying to build the economy again, generate employment and then deal with corruption, God willing we are going to do them and we will succeed”, he said.
Buhari, who listed reasons he returned to lead Nigeria, said he was motivated by the love he has for the country.
“Two fundamental reasons I will tell you was that one, when I went back home after being a governor of now six states -Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe. I was the governor then, then petroleum minister under Oba- sanjo for three and half years, then head of state, then chairman of PTF.
“And the most irritating thing was that of all these positions I have held before, people didn’t remember, they only remember my days of PTF because I bought bed sheets and put in hospitals and some X-ray machines and some buses for the schools. They remember me more as chairman of PTF than as a former head of state, than a governor or a minister of petroleum.
“In spite of the fact that it was during my time that I signed the contract for Warri refinery, Kaduna refinery, more than 3,500 lying pipes and more than 20 depots, we got the tankers off the road, we saved lives, we saved fuel, we saved the road it- self. But from 1999 till date PDP has messed it up. That is why Nigerians decided to vote me.”
– Tony Ailemen, Abuja