By Olanrewaju Ajao President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday said assuming Nigeria’s presidency at a relatively old age, 72, will no doubt, limit his performance.
Addressing Nigerians resident in South Africa after attending the 25th meeting of the African Union, he recalled being governor of the old northeast state and later Borno as well as federal commissioner of petroleum when he was young, noting that the age aided his performance in those offices.
While stressing that his love for the country has propelled his ambition since 2003, President Buhari said, “How I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man.
“Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do. But what brought me there I think mainly is because I love this country.
“I was in the war front for 30 months during our civil war, I lost a lot of loyal people to me, I lost a relative, a lot of Nigerians did too. We lost about two million Nigerian lives just to keep Nigeria one.
“We are going to remain one country God has given us another opportunity to reorganise this country. Those who work hard, the society will pay them back.”
The President however, urged Nigerians to be good ambassadors of the country and respect the laws and culture of their host country.
He recalled that Nigeria had been a good Big Brother to South Africa and many other African countries, adding that he expected Nigerians all over the world to protect the pride of the country by being responsible.
The President said, “And please; those of you who have the opportunity to come here and represent us, make sure you are always aware that you are representing Nigeria. The ambassador is the official representative of Nigeria here but you are all ambassadors of Nigeria and this needs a lot of patience, a lot of restraint and a lot of self respect and self pride.
“I listened to the President of South Africa, he spoke to us at length at xenophobia, in the draft I was given, I cancelled xenophobia and replaced it with civil-disturbances.
“You all know how they came to where they are. For how long was South Africa under apartheid, at least black South Africans were reduced to virtually nothing! And the Murtala/Obasanjo regime were classified as frontline states only God knows how much of Nigeria’s money were sent to these people to support them.
“I refused to speak from this draft speech because I wanted to speak to you from the bottom of my heart, please keep Nigeria’s pride close to your heart and make sure you behave yourselves. If you find yourselves here obey their law, where you don’t obey their law you will have to bear the consequences”.
The President also spoke on the money laundering scandal that threatened to rock the relationship between two countries last year, saying he would take a second look at the matter.
“I’m told they are 83 Nigerians in prison, I don’t know what they have done but I spoke to the President of South Africa this afternoon. He wants to come to Nigeria. There are issues he knows to talk about, I will certainly talk to him, I hope our ambassador will send a comprehensive report about the court cases, about those who lost properties during the disturbances. And at that time I will attempt to ask him about our $9.7 million which was not correctly transferred.
He concluded by saying that his party will do everything possible to secure the country and kill corruption.
“That is why the APC’s fundamental campaign, the discussions we made where three things that were identified. We have to secure the country then, sufficiently manage it by making sure the economy is put right and youths are employed.
“And then try and kill corruption. I didn’t say this first; there are people before me who said if we don’t kill corruption in Nigeria, corruption will kill us. So this APC’s administration intend to kill corruption in Nigeria, we will do our best I assure you”.