Why I won’t name my likely successor now – Buhari
“I’d rather keep my mouth shut. Let those who would want to be president try as much as I did.”
With these words yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari declined to name who will likely succeed him at the expiration of his second term in 2023.
A group, the Progressives in Academics (Pro-Acad), on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had, among other demands, asked Buhari to start grooming a youth who would replace him when his tenure runs out in 2023.
But the president, who digressed from his written speech, said that naming anybody as his likely successor would create problems for him or her. Nobody should think he or she could just become president overnight, saying the endeavour required a great deal of conviction and hard work.
Buhari, who said that some Nigerians took things for granted expecting success to come to them on a platter of gold, recalled how his three previous attempts at the presidency failed.
“To me, this is very funny. I think if I identify anybody I’d create more problems for him or for her. So, I’d rather keep my mouth shut.
“I believe that those who are interested know that I tried three times. I thank God and technology, permanent voter’s card. Before, they just went to the television and read the results. They said anybody who disagreed should go to court.
“A lot of our young chaps are taking things for granted. Imagine contesting election three times, and ending up in the Supreme Court three times. It needs a lot of conviction and hard work. But people take success for granted. They think I just closed my eyes and I got it,” the president said.
On the group’s proposal aimed at tackling the challenge of Almajiri system in the country, President Buhari blamed state governments.
He said that education remained his government’s priority, with N1trillion so far injected into the sector in the last four years. This, he said, was done through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund) and the needs assessment interventions.
“In the next four years, we shall continue with the work to transform the sector, bearing in mind our high population growth rate, financial challenges and security issues, especially those grossly affected areas. Simply put, our focus and agenda can only be sustained if we have an educated and secured society.
“We have no choice but produce more engineers, technicians, doctors, nurses and the teachers. To achieve this, we shall continue to seek your advice and guidance. I am pleased to note some of the ideas you proposed, this submission is timely as we prepare for the next level,” the president said.
In another development, President Buhari has described the late MKO Abiola as a bridge-builder who could have prevented the current religious and tribal issues besetting the country, if he had been allowed to lead Nigeria.
While also receiving elders and leaders of thought from Ogun State at the State House yesterday, Buhari said: “If Chief Moshood Abiola was allowed to rule, the religious and tribal issues now in Nigeria would not have been as strong, because he ran on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, chose his deputy from the Kanuri, a minority tribe, and because of his personality, he went across Nigeria and was accepted. He used his resources and energy to convince Nigerians that all he wanted was a solid Nigeria and nothing else.”
President Buhari also said that he named the National Stadium after the late politician because he knew that the youths would want to find out why such an important national institution was named after Abiola in the future.
He expressed appreciation to Governor Dapo Abiodun for mobilising such a strong delegation to thank him for the gesture towards their illustrious son.
The delegation, led by the governor, had come to thank Buhari for the honour done to Abiola, an indigene of Ogun State, by conferring on him the highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) for his ultimate sacrifice in enthroning democracy.
The Ogun leaders, who presented a big talking drum to the president, also used the opportunity to solicit the rehabilitation of some federal roads as well as other critical infrastructure in the state to decongest the gridlock occasioned by the movement of consignments along the Apapa – Oshodi expressway in Lagos and improve the standard of living of Nigerians along the corridor.
After the visit, Governor Abiodun told reporters that the delegation specifically sought the authority to re-construct three major federal roads linking Ogun with Lagos. The roads are the Ikorodu-Ogijo – Shagamu road; Epe-Ijebu-Ode road; and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road.
Among those with Abiodun were the Deputy Governor Noimot Salako; former governors, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel; and former deputy governors, Senator Gbenga Kaka, and Prince Segun Adesegun.
There were also children of the late Abiola, including Kola and Hafsat Abiola-Constello; Senator Olabiyi Durojaye, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, Oba Otudeko, some members of the National Assembly from the state and traditional rulers.
Governor Abiodun said the roads, which he described as strategic for the economic growth of Ogun State, were in various states of disrepair and had caused pains and agony for the people “who live in Ogun State but work in Lagos State.”
He expressed gratitude to Buhari on behalf of the family of Abiola who he said paid the supreme sacrifice for democracy by his death on July 7, 1998.