Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has described residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as a necessary evil even though they did not vote for him and his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo in 2019 general elections.
According to him, securing the FCT means securing himself and Vice President, Osinbajo, assuring that in spite of the toughness of his neighbours (opposition), he will continue to do his best for the country.
Buhari said this amidst laughter when FCT permanent secretary, Christian Ohaa, led a delegation of Abuja residence comprising religious leaders, National Assembly members, civil servants, service chiefs and heads of other security agencies among others to pay him Sallah homage to mark the successful completion of this year’s Ramadan fast.
Buhari who commended Osinbajo and other leaders for being exemplary in their conduct, urged them not to break down else the impact will reverberate across the country and his administration will lose its popularity and whatever efforts they make will not be appreciated.
The President said: “I want to appreciate the number two man of the country because he knows what we are going through very quietly. I am very pleased that you came with this very powerful constituency.
“I appeal to you to remain exemplary so that those under you will know that the country is doing very well. If you break down and complain, the impact will reverberate all over and then government will not be popular and whatever efforts we are making will not be appreciated.
“I have just spoken to the senator on my left (Philip Aduda) and I told him that his constituency did not vote for me. So I was very pleased that when they made the arrangement they put him very far away from me. I have all the results of all constituencies. I am not threatening FCT because to make FCT secure is to make myself secure and the vice president. I think they know that they are a necessary evil that was why they decided to vote for PDP.”
Buhari recalled that during his campaigns across the country that took him around the country, he met a large turnout of citizens even though he had no money to distribute, they believed in him and gave him their mandate.
He said: “During my long journey to this place, 2003, 2007, 2011, those were interesting political developments that enabled me to visit all the local governments in this country, all 774 local governments. My first port of call whenever I visited any local government was to visit the community leader for understanding and support. I am very pleased that Nigerians understand me that although I was a governor, Minister of Petroleum and one time head of state, people know I don’t have a lot of money to give. So when I went round, I smiled and greeted them and I think it has helped. Because by the time I went to campaign for my second and last term constitutionally, I visited all the states this time around, some two states in a day. I thank God for giving me the stamina to do it. What impressed me most was the turn out in all the states and FCT. The number of those who turned out was more than what anyone can afford to pay or force to come and listen. So, I am very pleased that a lot of Nigerians voted me; they sympathised with me for what I went through between 2003 and 2019. I went to court up to Supreme Court and in 2011; I went to court for eight months. And in the last one, God answered our prayers and gave us victory, and brought in technology through the permanent voter’s card. And they said whoever is aggrieved should go to court.
“You all know as much as I know that most of my supporters are looking for the next day’s meal; we don’t have money to give. In 2011, I said God dey; in 2015 God brought technology – PVC and that is how we won.
“I thank you very much – those of you who suffered so much to support me. And I congratulate you for being happy that I made it and I assure you that I will continue to do my best in spite of the toughness of my neighbours.”
Osinbajo, who commended President Buhari for a successful fast said the gathering whose members cut across religious and ethnic divide was a demonstration that the country was united.
The vice president said: “I want to say that God Almighty has been extremely good to you and to our government. I recall about two years ago when I had to host this particular event because you were away on medical leave at the time.
“But God has been so good, not only did he bring you back healthier than when you left, but has also been gracious enough for you to have a second opportunity to lead our great country. I thank the almighty God for you and for all of us who have been a part of your government and who have been a part of what God has done in our midst.
“Our country as it is today is at the threshold of greatness, you have said so many times. Any time when something great and something important is about to happen, usually you will have very many and negative opposing voices that want to keep that thing from happening.
“I believe that our country is at the threshold of the breakthrough that we have been praying for and hoping for all these many years. And this is why many challenges are going on. Challenges around security, religion, people who are stoking up ambers of religion, religious grievance and ethnic divisions and all that. But this gathering is one of those gatherings that we are at liberty, political leadership, religious leadership to demonstrate to our people that this country is a country of one people, the Nigerian people. They may be different in their faith, ethnicity, but we are one people. We are one and united people.
“I want to commend all our leaders who are here for making this tradition, that we will come together – Christians, Muslims, and people of different faiths to demonstrate that this country is a united country. And that those who want to stoke up ambers of division we will not allow them to do so.
“So I want to urge all our leaders here that we must not allow the rhetoric of religion to supersede the rhetoric of unity. We must also speak up; we must seek ways that will unite our country. We cannot keep quiet because there are so many negative statements being made every day, and sometimes we ignore those statements and say these are people who have no understanding. But if we allow these negative statements to continue, then they will define our country and will define the situation of our country.
“As I have said, our country is destined for greatness and I pray that the almighty God will lead us to that greatness. And as we move day by day towards that greatness, those who want to bring us down that God Almighty will prevent them from doing so.
“I want to commend you for the great leadership you have shown in the past four years and in this second term. I pray that God almighty will help you and strengthen you, give you the grace and understanding and empower you, even more, to be able to do the things you desire in your heart to do make this country really great.”
The FCT permanent secretary said the delegation came to congratulate President Buhari for a successful fast as well as a successful second term in office inauguration.
Ohaa said: “We pray that Almighty God in his infinite goodness and mercy continue to grant you good health and wisdom as you steer our country back to the path of social harmony, security and economic recovery.
“The people of the FCT stand solidly behind you as you begin this task and pledge our support and cooperation in the coming years ahead.
“We do this sir because we are a grateful people. Over the last four years, the FCT has benefited immensely from your wisdom and belief and divinely-inspired leadership. We have enjoyed the peace and the social intervention programmes have filled the gaps in our educational system and provided succour for thousands of our people.
“We in the FCT will continue to do our part to ensure that you succeed in your second term in office starting of course with the first celebration of our Democracy Day on June 12, 2019.
“Our people have been mobilised to be exceptional hosts to the hundreds of foreign guests who we know will honour the invitation to be here and felicitate with us.
“On this day as we celebrate the end of Ramadan, we pray that Almighty Allah to blesses and sustain you and your family; we pray that your administration succeeds in all that it has set out to do and above all, we pray that our country Nigeria, under your watch remains a great prosperous and indivisible nation.”
Those in the delegation were former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Others were the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of Department for State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi, and Civil Defence FCT Commandant.
Also in attendance were the Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi; former Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu and Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.