ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari has said he initially feigned ignorance of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter criticising his administration of ineptitude because both of them are from the same military constituency.
He also said he had to stop Mr. Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, from replying Obasanjo’s letter due to their age difference.
Buhari, however, said that Mr. Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who eventually replied Obasanjo against his (Buhari) wish, did a good job.
Buhari spoke when he played host to members of the Buhari Support Organisation at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at the weekend.
Recall that Obasanjo had cited several administrative flaws in the current government, prompting the ex-President to suggest that Buhari should jettison re-election bid in 2019.
Although the suggestion did not go down well with the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), both leaders later met at the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, where they exchanged pleasantries, but later continued their verbal attacks back home in Nigeria.
Buhari observed that the reply by the Information Minister highlighted the realities on ground prior to the present administration in 2015 and its ongoing efforts to revive the inherited damaged economy.
He said: “I really appreciate how you choose this time during Ramadan to come from across the country to see and congratulate me for what we were able to do.
“We were constrained to explain our position when the former Head of State wrote a letter. Adesina was agitated and wanted to immediately reply. I stopped him for two reasons. First, he was much younger than me and Gen. Obasanjo.
“Secondly, I am from the same constituent with Gen. Obasanjo. So, I wouldn’t know how it will affect him if I allow him to go wild, or to go public. But, when Lai Mohammed came, I said he shouldn’t and he insisted. He disobeyed me.
“He said I must allow him to talk. Then, of course, being a professional information person, I listened to him and asked him what we are going to say.
“He said he was going to remind Nigerians where we found ourselves when we came in as a government, where we are now, what we have done in between with the resources available to us.
“And I understand he did a good job, because, a number of people rang me and said Lai Mohammed has done a good job.
“I said it is on record and I challenged anybody to check from Europe, United States and Asia that between 1999 and 2014, the 16 years of previous administration, there was an average of 2.1 million per day of crude oil at the average cost of $100 per barrel,” he said.
President Buhari explained that he deliberately refused to replace the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor when his administration took over the mantle of leadership because he wanted to give him the opportunity to salvage the economy from its terrible condition.
Buhari, who thanked his teachers during his primary school days for their efforts to inculcate good morale to him and his mates, stated that his administration would continue to invest heavily in education to correct social ills in the society.
He said his administration had resolved to put money in the area of infrastructural development to address infrastructural deficits and ensure the nation’s speedy socio-economic transformation.
“It is now that we are struggling to put the structure on the ground, the roads; to revive the rail and do the standard gauge and try to spend objectively on power.
“If we put money in infrastructure, it will create employment opportunities and then Nigerians will mind their own businesses. They wouldn’t even mind what the government is doing once the infrastructure is there,” he said.
The president reassured Nigerians that his administration would continue to spend more funds to upgrade the nation’s infrastructural facilities, even as he said the government had spent more than N1.3 trillion on capital projects across the country.
According to him, the government would continue to ensure financial discipline, accountability and effective supervision of government spending to have solid infrastructure to enable the youth to achieve their missions and objectives in life.
He commended members of the organisation for their support and sacrifices, noting that none of them had ever made any specific demand from him.
Senator Abba Ali, leader of the organisation, who narrated the achievements of the Buhari administration in the last three years, said they were on a solidarity visit to the president to further reassure him of their support.
He said that the organisation had established offices in all the 36 states and 774 local government areas of the country, while efforts were being made to ensure the President’s re-election in 2019.
Mrs. Paulina Tallen, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the organisation, assured the President that women would massively vote for him and other candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections.
She, nonetheless, called on the president to bring more qualified women politicians and professionals in government to address the perceived marginalisation of women by APC administration.