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We’re Nigeria’s problem, not our ethnicity, religion – President Buhari

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a visit to the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Audu Marte / AFP)


President Muhammadu Buhari has reflected on the complexities of the Nigerian condition, concluding that neither ethnicity nor religion was to blame, “but we ourselves,” for inherent injustices.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said Buhari said this when he received members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo (MBO) Dynamic Support Group, in the State House, Abuja.

Members of the Group were in the State House to present a compendium of five years achievements of the administration.

The president went into the trajectory of his struggles to get justice at the courts, after disputed results of presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011, submitting that people who ruled against him were of his own ethnic stock and religious persuasion.

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He, however, observed that those who stood up for him were of other faiths and ethnicity.

“Our problem is not ethnicity or religion, it is ourselves.

“After my third appearance in the Supreme Court, I came out to speak to those who were present then. I told them that from 2003, I’d spent 30 months in court.

“The President of the Court of Appeal, the first port of call for representation by presidential candidates then, was my classmate in secondary school in Katsina.

“We spent six years in the same class, Justice Umaru Abdullahi,” he said.

He said that his legal head was Chief Mike Ahamba, a Roman Catholic and an Ibo man.

“When the President of the court decided that we should present our case, my first witness was in the box.

“Ahamba insisted that a letter should be sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to present the register of constituencies in some of the States, to prove that what they announced was falsehood. It was documented.

“When they gave judgment, another Ibo man, the late Justice Nsofor, asked for the reaction from INEC to the letter sent to them,” he said.

According to him, they just dismissed it. He then decided to write a minority judgment. That was after 27 months in court.

“We went to the Supreme Court. Who was Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)? A Hausa-Fulani like me, from Zaria. The members of the panel went in for about 30 minutes, came back to say they were proceeding on break.

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“They went for three months. When they came back, it didn’t take them 15 minutes, they dismissed us.

“In 2007, who was the CJN? Kutigi. Again, a Muslim from the North. After 8 months or so, he dismissed the case,” he said.

He said that again in 2011, because he was so persistent, Musdafa, a Fulani man like him, from Jigawa, neighbor to his state, was CJN and he dismissed his case.

“I’ve taken you round this to prove that our problem is not ethnicity or religion. It is ourselves.

“I refused to give up. I had tried to wear Agbada after what happened to me in Khaki. Something was done to me, because I did something to others.

“You know it. In the end, I myself was arrested, sent to detention, and they were given back what they had taken. I was there for three and a quarter years. This is Nigeria,” he said.

Buhari expressed the hope that historians and intellectuals would document this, describing it as a fantastic state of political development.

“Let our grandchildren and great grandchildren see how we came along. We didn’t get it as easy as other people think. Not because God has given us great population and resources. We have suffered along the line.

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“I try to mention these things because you got yourselves together, used your resources, energies without any input from me. I cannot thank you enough.

“I’m very grateful to you and to Nigerians because in 2019, I visited all the states, the people that turned out to see me across the country (because I’m dedicated to serve Nigeria and Nigerians), the love is genuine,” he said.

He thank God that over the years, no one could accuse him of corruption.

“And, I’ve been everything; Governor, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Head of State, President and in my second term.

“I thank you that nobody forced you, but you got together, used your energy, time and resources, I thank you very much. I assure you, history will do you justice,” he added.

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