Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Some retired military officers in the Army, Navy and Air Force yesterday in Abuja, endorsed the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The officers were made up of 13 Major Generals, eight Air Vice Marshals (AVM), two Rear Admirals, 12 Brigadier Generals, nine Air Commodores, eight Commodores and 17 former military administrators.
They were led to Aso Rock by former military administrator of Lagos State, Brigadier General Buba Marwa. He also heads Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse in the country. Those in attendance included former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade and former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Jubril Ayinla.
Marwa told State House correspondents after the meeting: “After winning the elections, he (Buhari) brought out three points programme – security, economy and fighting corruption.
“On security, I put the question, the bombings that used to go on in this FCT, Kaduna and so on, where are they today? The herdsmen crisis up and about, the hues and cries, where are they today?
“Where is IPOB today? Boko Haram insurgents not flying their flags like they did before. They were in my local government for eight months. Actually, they even lived in my house but they have been chased off and now they are just in the fringes of Lake Chad.
“You look at the infrastructure it is the same thing, things are happening everywhere.
Asked if the endorsement was out of fear, Marwa said, “absolutely not. Every human being is political, we maybe non-partisan, we all want a good country for ourselves, our children and grandchildren and even for those yet unborn.
“Look at the drug abuse thing for instance, unless you have compassion, you will overlook the matter of drugs and think that these are the dregs of the society. But he did.
“Look at the Biafran policemen who left the Nigeria police before the war, he remembered them. Airways workers, he remembered them. His first concern when he took over was not the huge projects but for the civil and public servants to be paid.
“He even said it on one occasion that he wonders how governors sleep with workers not paid and suffering. And now, the national minimum wage, he has approved it.
“Some of us are politicians already and belong to political parties. But people like Admiral Ayinla who said they are not partisan but they know what is good and so they will work for his success.”
His advise on the elections: “Peaceful elections is what we call for. Allow process to run, allow the people to elect their own leader. There should be no ‘mago mago’.
“We ask Nigerians to come out in their numbers and vote for your candidate peacefully and after that protect your vote by remaining present until it is counted and announced before you go home.”
Responding, Buhari was quoted by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement as saying: “My objective is very clear, and I will continue to do my best.”
The President described Nigeria as “a fabulous country,” adding that if it were not so, “the country could not have survived the damage done to it materially and morally in the past,” glorifying God that after 30 months civil war, with over two million lives lost, “we are still one country.
“The higher you go in Nigeria, the hotter it becomes, and not the other way round. But I can’t complain. I tried so hard to be here three times, ending up at the Supreme Court. So, I can’t complain over anything I am going through now.” He described the military as an institution that gives amazing opportunities to know the country, its different peoples and cultures, “and I am very grateful that you have claimed me back as one of your own.
“I was governor of North-East, which is now six states, Minister of Petroleum for over three years, Head of State; I was arrested and detained, but did not lose my rank, because nothing was found against me.”