Buhari to Catholic Bishops: I Will Reposition Economy, Improve Security Before Leaving Office

•Says Boko Haram designed to destroy Nigeria 

•Insists multi-party democracy better than military rule

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has again promised Nigerians that he would reposition the nation’s economy as well as improve on security before the end of his eight-year tenure.

According to him, the gains recorded in security would be further consolidated, and more attention would be given to the economy, before he hands over on May 29, 2023.

Buhari has also declared that multi-party democracy is better than military rule and described the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah as a vigorous fighter.

Receiving Executive members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) yesterday, at the State House, Abuja, Buhari, according to a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, while commenting on the nation’s economy said creditors had full confidence in Nigeria in view of the country’s capacity to utilise resources and repay loans.

“We are credible; that’s why the countries and institutions agreed to support our development with loans,’’ Buhari stated.

Buhari said the destruction of oil facilities slowed the generation of revenues, adding that the government would be harder on saboteurs.

“If you look at the economy, we are trying hard to rely more on ourselves. Nigerians rely more on agriculture for livelihood, and we are putting in our best to enable more people, and diversify,’’ the president noted.

He added that the security situation had improved over the years, particularly in the North-east where the focus had shifted to rebuilding infrastructure and re-orientation on education.

He said: “I am very grateful for your visit to the Presidential Villa, and I agree with you on some of the observations you have made. The question of insecurity is most important to us because unless a country or institution is at peace, it will be difficult to manage.

“I just came back from Adamawa and Yobe states. During the visit to both states, I listened carefully to what the people and officials had to say. And they all said the situation had improved since 2015, especially in Borno State.

“Boko Haram was just fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria. You can’t say people should not learn; the people need to grow intellectually,” Buhari added.

Buhari told the Catholic Bishops that government would continue rebuilding infrastructure in parts of the country affected by terrorist attacks, while underscoring that terrorists had no control over any space in Nigeria.

“Some people have acknowledged the difference,’’ he added.

Buhari said some of the challenges faced in the past, which included coups and counter-coups, and civil war, had prepared the nation for survival.

“We thank God that Nigeria is still one,’’ he said.

“We should not forget that more than a million died for the nation to survive.’’

The president noted that he had been part of Nigeria’s history since 1967, fighting in the civil war, serving as governor, minister, Head of State, Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, contesting presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011, before winning in 2015.

Buhari also described the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Kukah, who was also in attendance, as a vigorous fighter.

The visit came few weeks after Kukah, in his 2022 Christmas message delivered at the St. Mary Catholic Church, Sokoto, had lamented that Buhari had failed to fulfill the promises he made to Nigerians in 2015. The cleric had said the president was leaving office in good health while Nigerians were in pain as a result of his failed promises.

Adesina, in a post on his Facebook page, said Buhari displayed no form of malice to the cleric when he met him yesterday.

“When the bishop came into the council chamber, the venue of the visit, he pulled me, and started laughing, asking whether we should be fighting or greeting each other. We laughed heartily.

“During group photographs, the President, never holding malice against anyone, shook hands with the bishop, describing him as ‘most vigorous fighter.’ After it all, the bishop invited me for a personal picture with him. Bishop Kukah was cooking peace this time, and how refreshing it was,” Adesina added on his Facebook post.

Earlier in his remarks, the leader of the delegation and President of the CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, commended the president for reforms in the electoral system, making it more stable and fair, particularly, the signing of the Electoral Bill into law.

He added: “We commend and congratulate you for the efforts the government has put into ensuring real improvement in our electoral system and processes, especially your signing into law the electoral bill.

“Please do not relent in making sure that INEC and other relevant agencies of government carry out their serious duties to conduct peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections.”

Ugorji urged the president to use the remaining months in office as Commander-in-Chief to tackle insecurity in the country, and improve the economy.

“The main crux of our message to you today is one of fervent appeal and strong encouragement. Your tenure of two terms as President, Commander-In-Chief of Nigeria, is drawing to an end.

“But we believe a lot can be done to turn things around for the better in the about four months left of your presidency before you step down in May 2023.

“We have seen some signs that the government is not entirely incapable of tackling the sad state of insecurity in the land, which has consumed thousands of innocent Nigerians across all religions, creed, and ethnic groups,’’ the cleric noted.

The Catholic Bishops presented a souvenir to Buhari, containing a letter of encouragement and prayers for the forthcoming elections.

Multi-party Democracy Better than Military Rule,  Says Buhari

In another development, President Buhari has declared that multi-party system of government is far better than military rule.

According to him, having served as military Head of state and civilian president, he could attest to the fact that multi-party democratic rule is the best form of government.

Speaking yesterday at the State House, Abuja, while playing host to a delegation of the Universal Peace Federation, the President while delving into his experience with both military and civilian rule, wondered why some African countries were still descending into the abyss of unconstitutional change of government, saying: “I thought we had finally put that behind us.”

On the Peace Summit being planned for Abuja, to bring all African countries together before the end of his administration by May, 2023, President Buhari pledged Nigeria’s support, “relative to resources, to help in stabilising neighboring countries.”

He decried the problems in the Sahel belt of the continent, lamenting that it is of great concern, as it affects both agriculture and businesses negatively.

The president described the interest of Universal Peace Federation Africa in the continent as “quite genuine,” saying he was very pleased at the development.

Earlier in their speeches, Chairperson of the Federation in Africa, Dr, Katherine Rigney and  Chairman, Universal Peace Federation International,  Dr. Thomas Walsh, said they believed the forthcoming summit in Nigeria “will top them all,” having held similar meetings in the past in Niger Republic, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, among others.

During the Abuja Summit, President Buhari will be given the Leadership and Good Governance Award, “as appreciation of the fantastic results you’ve brought to Nigeria, and a celebration of your anti-corruption credentials,” according to the organisers.

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