President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday blasted the Nigerian elite, accusing them of allowing misrule and mismanagement in the contry for 16 years.
A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari, who met with the Nigerian community in the United States of America on the margins of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, as saying that the elite allowed Nigeria to be mismanaged for 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rule, without as much as raising a voice in consternation.
“They didn’t say a word,” Buhari declared. “Under the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund, of which he was Chairman), we did roads from Lagos to Abuja, to Onitsha, to Port Harcourt. Since then, the roads were not done, between 1999 and 2015, yet the elite did not say a word.
“I was called Baba Go Slow. Those who were going fast, where did they get to?
“In 1983, military officers gathered, and made me Head of State. I packed the politicians into jail, told them they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. We seized what they had looted, but after I myself was put in detention, the politicians were given back what they had looted. How many elite complained about that?
“Three times I contested elections; three times I went to court after the elections were rigged against me. No justice, but I said ‘God dey.’
“It was mainly the ordinary people that stood by me. That is why I am always conscious of them. They are my constituency. Even pregnant women on the queue would fall into labour, go to have their babies, and still come back to vote for me. I will keep doing my best for the country.”
The president also told his audience that if he won the 2019 election, and he spent another four years in office, “I will leave some difference in that office.”
The diaspora Nigerians, in their scores, are top flight professionals, drawn from fields like medicine, engineering, sports, the arts, investment, academia, politics, agriculture, transport, education, publishing, and many others. Most expressed the wish to come back home, and contribute to the change making a headway in Nigeria. To which the President replied:
“You are contributing to this great country (America). If you want to help back home, invest in education in your constituencies. If you educate people, they won’t then accept nonsense from anybody.”
President Buhari said the administration he leads has by and large kept faith with its three key campaign promises; to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption.
“I’ve tried to do my best since I came,” he stressed, adding: “Security-wise, we are better. Boko Haram still conducts cowardly attacks, but the insurgency is not the same as it used to be. They are terrorists, and have nothing to do with religion. We will continue to deal with them. Ask people in the North-east, especially in Borno State, they will tell you they can sleep with two eyes closed now.”
The parley was put together by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, and the Nigerian professionals were drawn from different parts of the United States and Canada. Representatives of USA chapters of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) also presented awards to President Buhari in appreciation of his performance, urging him to do more.