General Muhammadu Buhari’s recent remark that he “can’t wait to go home to Daura” and “if they make any noise to disturb me in Daura, I will leave for the Niger Republic” has sparked a flurry of reactions from Nigerians.
The comment, which was made during a Sallah homage to him by FCT residents led by the Minister, Mohammed Bello, has been interpreted by many as evidence of the President’s disinterest in the country’s current state of insecurity, economic decline, and widespread corruption.
In recent years, insecurity has continued to ravage different parts of the country, with banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism spreading rampantly. The economy has been in a state of decline for years, with high inflation rates, high unemployment numbers, and lack of basic amenities badly affecting lives and increasing the numbers of those desperate to leave the country for survival and no greener pastures. Corruption, which has been a longstanding problem in the country, shows no signs of abating.
It appears that the Niger Republic has received a disproportionate amount of attention and a closer relationship with Nigeria than other African nations during the Buhari administration, going by recent developments.
This is evidenced by the fact that Nigeria, under Buhari’s leadership, launched a $2 billion railway project from Kano State to Maradi in Niger Republic, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Niger Republic for the importation of petroleum products, and expressed a willingness to collaborate on the construction of an oil pipeline and refinery. What with the 12 SUVs gifted to the Niger Republic at the cost of $1.14 billion which the minister of Finance confirmed and said it was for security? So many goodies to Niger Republic from Nigeria under Buhari.
Nigerian major cities, not even the commercial cities are linked by rail network, yet the Buhari administration borrowed $2 billion for the rail line to Maradi in Niger Republic.
Reactions to the President’s comment on relocation to the Niger Republic, if he’s disturbed in Daura, have been varied, with many prominent Nigerians weighing in on the matter. Here are some of the diverse reactions:
NO HIDING PLACE FOR THE WICKED —SOWORE
The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the 2023 general election, Omoyole Sowore, in his reaction, said there is no hiding place for Buhari.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, sorry, there will be no hiding place for the wicked. You must pay for your crimes against humanity.
“Till the end of time, your atrocities will fish you out. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it won’t matter where you hide, you will answer for your crimes.”
BUHARI’s COMMENT QUITE UNFORTUNATE —SHEIKH NURU KHALID
Similarly, the former Chief Imam of National Assembly Quarters Legislative Mosque, Shiekh Nuru Khalid, said to Saturday Vanguard: ”The President’s comment is disappointing and disheartening. It sends the message that he deliberately did not show enough interest in addressing the problems facing the country. It is unfortunate that the President seems more concerned with his personal comfort than the welfare of the Nigerian people. He has shown Nigerians he has a ‘Plan B’ of sort. One of his media aides made attempts to defend him by saying the President was merely cracking a joke. You don’t joke with your citizens like that.
BUHARI SEEMS TO LIVE IN A BUBBLE —ADEYANJU DEJI
Human rights activist and solicitor, Deji Adeyanju, also weighed in on the matter, stating that the President’s comment is a clear indication that he is disconnected from the realities of the Nigerian people.
According to him, the President had better woken up to the fact that he must take responsibility for the dire situation in the country even after he leaves office
“President Buhari seems to exude a general sense of distance from reality. He seems to be always living in a bubble. He doesn’t yet realise the extent of damage, he has done to the country.
“I can’t understand why someone with so much goodwill of the masses in the build-up to the 2015 elections will squander it in so short a time and his government now
A COLOSSAL FAILURE.
“If Nigeria is still a sane nation, Buhari will never be celebrated after he leaves office no matter where he may run to. He destroyed the nation on many fronts except catapulting his immediate family to a state of stupendous wealth,” he told Saturday Vanguard
However, there are some who have defended the President’s remark, stating that it was taken out of context.
According to them, the President was simply expressing his desire to spend time with his family in his hometown or anywhere else he so desires.
PRESIDENT’s COMMENT NOT A REFLECTION OF HIS LEADERSHIP —GIMBA
Idris Gimba, a public affairs analyst and columnist, joined in defending President Buhari’s comment, saying, “The President was simply expressing his desire for peace and quiet in his hometown (Daura) as well as with his kinsmen in Niger republic. It is not a reflection of his leadership.”
BUHARI NO LONGER AN ISSUE —ABDUL-AZEEZ SULEIMAN
In a similar vein, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the Spokesperson, Coalition of 52 Northern Groups (CNG), said Nigerians must resist the temptation to live in perpetual blame of leaders after they leave office.
He said, “I really don’t see any relation between his saying he would relocate to the Niger Republic after leaving office and his apparent non-performance as President.
“For all we care Buhari might even have been making a joke about it which is why we don’t give it serious consideration.
“Even if he elects to relocate to the moon, he has the right to do so assuming he can. What is clear however is that the things that men do live after them.
“And no matter how hard or how far a bad leader runs, he would be called to account in the fullness of time.
“What Nigerians should rather bother about is the future of the nation as President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu prepares for governance in the next few days.
“We should be more concerned with getting the incoming President to commit to work to solve our basic socio-cultural problems, our regressing economy and address our precarious future.
“We should demand that he shows real commitment to reducing youth unemployment, insecurity and poverty.
“Without a doubt, the outgoing administration was run by people poorly-prepared and ill-equipped to lead except for their ambitions for power and fantastic wealth.
“Consequently, Nigerians are left at the mercy of armed crime, unforgivable poverty and derision from other parts of the world which once held us in awe and marvelled at our systems and quality of leadership.
“Nigerians must at this point learn to resist the temptation to live in perpetual blame of past leaders.
“We should do better than them, and learn from their mistakes. The past cannot be entirely remedied, but a future can be built on a strong foundation that benefits from a flawed past.
“Buhari is no longer an issue, I think, and where he chooses to live after retirement is as well not of the essence as the nation is struggling past a critical turning point.”
Undoubtedly, President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment during a Sallah homage to him has sparked a wave of controversy across the country.
Regardless of one’s interpretation, it is clear that Nigeria is facing significant challenges that require urgent attention from the outgoing and incoming governments.
Also, Secretary of the pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Chief Sola Ebiseni said Nigerians are not surprised by Buhari’s comment saying he is at liberty to choose where to spend his final retirement from public service.
Ebiseni said: “As a private citizen, Muhammad Buhari is at liberty to choose where to spend his final retirement from public service. It is not strange also that Niger Republic is one of his preferences, after all, he did not pretend about it when he spent Nigeria’s resources to extend the railway line to Maradi. Nothing coming from Buhari and his government is either strange or exciting to Nigerians any more.
“In spite of the glaring shortcomings and incapacity of the administration, Nigerians were ready to forgive Buhari as he has now requested if he delivered a free, fair and credible election. Nigerians were hopeful when he finally assented to the bill that ushered in the Electoral Act 2022 with the reassuring technological devices of the BVAS and IREV.
“He demonstrated and ensured that monetary inducement of voters would be reduced to the barest minimum. However, at the most critical juncture, his government faltered when the INEC crudely jettisoned technology and took the country to the era of manual collation which Buhari himself claimed deprived him of victory in the past.
“Even the Police and other security agencies under his direct command reduced him to a lame duck Commander-in-chief when citizens were hounded and hacked down by members of his party desperate for power. For a man who ascended power in a blaze of glory, who Nigerians were ready to vote for even if he had only a NEPA bill to present as a certificate, his lacklustre performance and uninspiring exit is enough reason to seek self-exile.”
HE OPENED GATES OF NIGERIA TO ALL FULANI MEN —YCE
In his remarks, Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Chief Oladipo Oyewole said since Buhari has opened the gates of Nigeria to Fulani in West, there is a need to secure the future of Nigeria.
Oyewole said: “Our beloved president confirmed to us that his mother was Hausa but his father was a Fulani person. He declared that during the course of serving as our president.
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The truth of the matter is he has confided in the whole of Nigeria that he is going back to Daura to rest and that if his stay in Daura doesn’t favour him, he would move across the border.
“I am a Yoruba man and I appreciate the gift of God in Yoruba land. The only thing that I know is that he has inferred with his disclosure abinitio that he is a Fulani man and we all know what he did by opening the gate of Nigeria to all Fulani men. Once more, our president has been forthright, he has said that if we don’t allow him to rest as much as he wants in Daura that he would cross the border and go to Niger Republic.
“Niger Republic may give him better-resting place because we have allowed him to rule us for eight solid years.
“We just have to be cautious of the fact that we have a country and if our borders are left open to help the Fulani in West Africa, they can come in and do all they like here. Then you know we have to be careful about our tomorrow and the future of the Nigerian children.”
COMMENT UNFORTUNATE, SHOWS HE WAS NOT COMMITTED TO NIGERIA —MBF
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, described as unfortunate President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement where he said he would retire to Daura after leaving office on May 29 but could cross over to Niger Republic if disturbed.
The MBF maintained the comment simply showed that the President had never been committed to Nigeria in the first place.
The National President of the MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu said: “Yes he has to retire after May 29 because it is a constitutional provision that after his tenure he has to leave office for a new president to come in. But to say that if things become unpleasant he would move to Niger Republic is unfortunate. That is to say that he had never been committed to Nigeria in the first place.
“A Nigerian president, who has served this country, should be here to die with Nigeria and Nigerians if he believed in Nigeria when he was president.
“So for him to make that statement it may just mean that he didn’t believe in Nigeria in the first place. And it is unfortunate for him to have made that statement.
“We pray that we will have a President who believes in Nigeria, who will die with Nigeria and who will die for Nigeria. Not somebody who if he finds things tough will run away from Nigeria to a safer heaven.
“So it is an unfortunate statement, I don’t know why he made that statement and I don’t know how his thoughts go but a person who believes in his country wouldn’t make such a statement because this is the only country that made him President and he should never back out whether he is serving or not; he should never back out from his country and her problems.”
BUHARI HAS EXPOSED HIMSELF – MUMAKAI—UNAGHA
An opinion leader in the Niger Delta, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, said: “I am not surprised at the statement credited to Mr President that he will relocate to the Niger Republic if pressure is on him.”
”The statement has exposed the president. I have been vindicated when I said in the past that the president has an agenda. The rail line and the gas to the Niger Republic is a testimony, it is laughable.
“ I suggest that henceforth, we should probe critically the nationality of people wanting to rule the country before entrusting the leadership of this country to them.
“This goes to show that several military personnel in Nigerian are from Niger and Chad because of the common language. I can tell you for free that the government of Nigeria is the hands of foreigners, especially from Niger and Chad.
“Nigeria will continue to get it wrong, and the restructuring we have been clamouring for has not materialized. We can now see the reason some sections do not want restructuring or resource control that we have been clamouring for, simply because they are not from the country. Well, time shall tell.”
NOTHING WRONG WITH BUHARI GOING TO REST IN NIGER REPUBLIC —AMBAKEDERIMI
The Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, Elder Joseph Ambakederimo, said: “Well, l do not see anything wrong with the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari, l think what he meant was that he needs some deserved rest, away from involvement of any form of interference in governance.”
“Going to Niger Republic could mean just any other place, a place where he could find some comfort. But if people are imputing different motives to the statement, then I do not think it is right.
“ Perhaps those who have misgivings with the statement believe he has a premonition that he will come under some form of probe?
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
A lot happened under Buhari that he might be required to answer- Hon. Sergius Ogun, member of Esan North-East/Esan South-East Constituency of Edo State in the House of Representatives
“President Buhari has always said he will not live in Abuja after handing over power and that he will go to Daura where he will be far from everyone (in power). He has also been quoted as saying he wants to go and rest after May 29.
Let’s give it to the president, he is not one to interfere in other people’s affairs. It’s been said by his ministers that when he gives you assignments, he relies on your good judgment to deliver and produce good results as he does not interfere.
A lot happened under him that he might be required to answer for but staying far away from Abuja will make people not bother him as they might also quickly forget about him. He is a statesman and wants to be seen as one, we wish the president well and I hope he will develop an appetite for reading books and hopefully, he will author one or two.”
“It’s a dull statement that shouldn’t be dignified with any response-Hon. Golu Timothy, a former member, of the House of Representatives represented the Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam (PKK) Federal Constituency of Plateau State.