- Go back to Daura and rest, PDP tells President
President Muhammadu Buhari clocked 76 years on Monday, and with just 60 days to the 2019 presidential poll, he asked for more time and prayers to fix Nigeria.
The President was 73 years old when he assumed office in 2015.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after the 203-member Guards Brigade held a special parade to honour him.
The parade performance and rendition of birthday songs were adjudged the first elaborate birthday ceremony held for the President since 2015.
The event took place at the Fore Court of the Presidential Villa. Speaking with State House correspondents after he cut his birthday cake and the ceremony was rounded off, the President said he was impressed with his aides, who put the event together.
“Well, I am impressed with it, they (aides) have put a lot of time behind it, I thank and appreciate them very much,” he said.
Looking ahead, Buhari said he would keep reminding Nigerians about the state he met the country in 2015 and where he had now taken it.
He explained, “We will keep reminding Nigerians about what we have done, how we met the country, what we have been able to do for the time we came in to now with the resources available to us.”
Buhari specifically appealed to Nigerians to give him more time and to pray for him.
“Nigerians should continue to pray for me and understand my intentions and give me time,” he said, as he switched to Hausa language.
On his part, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, expressed happiness that Buhari had remained healthy and strong.
The SGF said the President was ready to give more to Nigerians in terms of deliverables by his administration.
He added, “It is such an exciting time for us to share in this very glorious ceremony of the celebration of the 76th birthday of our dear President and our dear leader in a typical simplistic manner.
“It is just a simple military parade and the cutting of the cake because he has got work to do. He has just returned to the office to continue with the day’s proceedings; he came out of an event (the 2018 National Migration Dialogue), and then straight into this (birthday).
“But it is such a joyous and beautiful day to see him strong, healthy and hearty.
“Considering the health challenges he went through in the last two years, we cannot wish him any other thing but bountiful health and wisdom to take this country out of the present situation which we find ourselves, a trajectory of prosperity and progress.”
He described Buhari as a man with renewed spirit to work, adding that Nigerians should expect more from him.
“They (Nigerians) should expect a lot. The President is renewed in his spirit, strength and in his resolve and determination to put this country back on the part of greatness.
“That is his ultimate desire; that every Nigerian, young, old, generation unborn, should be able to press whatever desire they want to achieve in the nation that is so endowed with a lot of wealth, a lot of goodness, but have not been able to live up to expectations.
“There will be a lot that will be released in the next couple of days and Mr President is so strong and determined to hit the road and I can tell you by the time he starts, Nigerians will be able to have a lot to be thankful for.”
Meanwhile, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities on Monday wished Buhari long life and good health as he marked his 76th birthday.
The National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke, thanked God for restoring Buhari to full health.
“We thank God for restoring the health of Mr President and we pray that He will continue to bestow upon him good health, wisdom and long life,” Ugwoke stated.
Go back to Daura and rest as advised by doctors, PDP tells Buhari
But responding to Buhari’s plea for more time to fix the nation, the Peoples Democratic Party said the job of returning the country to the path of glory would not be given to a man who had been asked to always sleep and rest.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, told one of our correspondents that the President should return to his house in Daura, Katsina State, where he said he (President Buhari) should take a deserved rest.
He said, “We don’t have time to waste anymore. The country cannot afford a sleeping President. President Buhari has done what he could do, but unfortunately, his best is not good enough for the country.
“He told Nigerians about four years ago that old age would slow him down. I’m not sure he is getting younger since he said that. The same President also said that his doctors had asked him to rest, eat and sleep more. As much as he needs all these, we need to tell him that the country cannot afford such a leader at this critical time when all hands must be on deck.
“We have a high number of unemployed youths, citizens and soldiers are being killed by terrorists, the roads are bad, the economy is bad and the President who had been asked to be sleeping is asking for more time. Ask him, more time to do what?” Ologbondiyan said that as a father, the President needs to go home and rest.
Ologbondiyan had earlier in a statement on Monday said the current state of Nigeria had become horrendous for the average Nigerian, adding that rather than continuing as President in 2019, Buhari should go back to his hometown, Daura.
Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Buhari’s 76 birthday celebration, said Buhari had attained a father-figure position and should do everything to respect the aspirations and will of the Nigerian people on all issues, particularly the 2019 general elections.
He said, “If President Buhari looks at the state of the nation today, he will discover, and we believe he is aware, that the situation has become horrendous for the average Nigerian.”
The PDP spokeperson urged Buhari to leave a lasting legacy by doing all within his powers to ensure that Nigeria enjoyed peace; ensure that rules were obeyed and that the sensibilities of the people were fully respected.
Ologbondiyan said, “In this regard, the 2019 general elections place a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of President Buhari to guarantee peaceful, credible, free and fair elections, particularly, the presidential election, by ensuring that all electoral laws and rules are obeyed; that opposition members are not molested; that the amendment to the Electoral Act is signed; as well as to declare like his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, did in 2015, that his 2019 re-election ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
The opposition party prayed that God grant the President good health and many more years ahead.
PDP’s advice to President infantile, says APC
But the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-onilu, said the call on the President to pack and go was not the popular wish of Nigerians who were daily counting their gains under the Buhari government having gone through hell under 16 years misrule of the PDP.
He said the call could only come from those who were not in tune with reality and could not survive without government money.
He said, “They have made the call severally and are repeating it because they have lost ideas of what to use to campaign.
“PDP ran the economy of this country aground. President Buhari has restored the country to the path of economic progress and making it safe to attract foreign investors.
“They and their cohorts should tell Nigerians why they deserve a return and stop making infantile statements.”
Buhari can’t be given eternity to solve Nigeria’s problems – SERAP, CDHR
Commenting on Buhari’s appeal to Nigerians, two civil society organisations, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, said President Buhari should not expect to be given eternity to solve the problems facing the country.
The civil societies said the President still had time in his administration to put the country on the right path.
The SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in an interview with one of our correspondents said, “Irrespective of whatever it is, the government as an administration is for solving problems. The government should not be given an eternity to perform. It has to start performing right now. I commend Nigerians for their endurance and perseverance. But I call on President Buhari that he would not be given eternity. He will be given now to perform because that is the essence of governance.”
Also the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “The government has a fixed tenure to operate. It is not an administration without a timeline. The President ought to have taken certain critical decisions on security and the economy which he chose not to. He had the time to change his service chiefs and the security architecture. How much time does he need to do this?
“I understand the complex and intractable nature of dealing with economic and security challenges, but the government must know that it has a tenure and it will not be in control forever.”
The News Agency of Nigeria had earlier reported that, President Buhari, who marked his 76th birthday on Monday, jokingly ‘protested’ when a reporter mistakenly reduced his age by one year.