By Garba Shehu
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday gave a firm indication that he will not be hanging around Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), after May 29, 2023, in order not to meddle in the affairs of the office of his successor.
The President was speaking to residents of FCT led by the Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, who paid him the traditional Christmas Day homage.
At the last Christmas Day homage with the FCT community, comprising political, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups as well as public servants, the President reiterated that he would return to Daura, Katsina State, his hometown, at the end of his tenure.
He explained that his decision not to make Abuja a permanent abode is to allow his successor a free hand to operate and run the affairs of government.
The President also told members of the FCT community that he has not built a new house in Daura or anywhere and hopes to live in his same house, of many years.
President Buhari also used the occasion to commend the FCT Minister, saying he retained the cabinet position for so long because of his honesty and hardwork.
The President noted that he is aware that the office of the Minister of the FCT is burdened with requests for land allocation from highly placed Nigerians, who often dispose of their allocations for financial gains and other priorities.
He shared an anecdote of how someone close to him asked him to speak to the FCT Minster to allocate him a plot of land; he will sell it and use the money to marry another wife.
‘‘I was overwhelmed by the priority of some people who need a plot of land not to develop it but to sell it and marry another wife.
‘‘I don’t know how the Minister copes with such people who are extremely serious about such things. And I think about 45 per cent of those who have been given land allocation in the FCT have sold it and didn’t develop it according to the laid down criteria (master plan).’’
President Buhari thanked Nigerians for supporting his administration, recounting that during electioneering campaigns in the build-up to the 2015 and 2019 elections, he had travelled the length and breadth of the country seeking their support.
In his remarks, the FCT Minister expressed delight that the Christmas homage had returned after two years suspension due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
He prayed God Almighty to grant the President a peaceful and healthy retirement.
The Vice Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), FCT, Rev’d Stephen Panyan, commended the President for doing his best for the country and prayed that he will bequeath a legacy of fairness, justice, inclusiveness and management of diversity to Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of CAN National President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, the religious leader reassured the President of the support of the Christian community to all his programmes to bring progress and prosperity to Nigeria.
‘‘At the twilight of your administration, we want to reassure you that the Christian community will continue to fully support you and pray that God will bless your efforts and that your desire to see the alleviation of the suffering of the citizens of this nation will begin to yield fruit.
‘‘May the Lord bless your work and see to the manifestation of your very noble desires,’’ the CAN leader prayed.
Stressing that the Christian community has not given up hope on Nigeria, Panyan encouraged the President to continue to do his utmost best for the country and citizens ‘‘he loves so much’’, while trusting God for divine intervention.
Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, declared that the nation’s capital has enjoyed religious harmony in the last seven and half years because of the good leadership of President Buhari.
He also lauded the President’s record on press freedom, freedom of expression and human rights.
He noted that in the midst of a barrage of criticisms of this administration, the President has never ordered the arrest, incarceration or harassment of any journalist or political opponent.
Adeyemi appealed to the President to use his good offices to ensure fairness and equity in the process of electing the next Governor of Kogi State, as witnessed in the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that produced Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as candidate and Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate.
@views exclusive rights: Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, December 25, 2022.