President Muhammadu Buhari marked his 77th birthday anniversary this morning with close aides at the Aso Rock Villa, where he said that he would not allow his successor in 2023 use government resources to force himself on Nigerians.
Speaking after he cut his birthday cake, the President said he would have to use the law enforcement agencies if need be, to make sure that political office seekers already in government do not take undue advantage of their positions during the polls.
“What I want to promise Nigerians is that I will work very hard on is free and fair election. All those that are going to succeed in the National Assembly and the Presidency, they better work very hard because I will make sure, using the law enforcement agencies that elections are free and fair, nobody uses his office or his resources to force himself on his constituency”, he said.
On how he intends to handle other corrupt elements and economic saboteurs in the system, Buhari said he wished he could deal more ruthlessly with that but he had learned the hard way how democracy is to slow to tackle such challenges, compared with his past days as military head of state.
His words: “I have learned in the hard way. When I came in uniform, I collected those who were leading, took them to Kirikiri (prison) and told them they were guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
“Those that were found to have lived beyond their means, the balance was taken and were given to the states. But I myself was arrested, detained and they were given back what they have stolen. So under this system which is supposed to be more accountable, but it is too slow for my liking, but I have to follow it.”
On how he felt living up to 77 and what he would like to leave behind for future generations, Buhari said: “I think I feel well at 77. A lot of those at 77 are on crutches and I am walking on my two feet.
“I think I come to accept the realities of leadership in Nigeria. You can only try, it is a terrific country: no matter what you do, there are people on daily basis that look for your faults and go to the press, so you have to learn to live by that.
“Patience and patriotism, that is what we see as rule. Nobody can have his own way, we better accept the truth that we are one Nigerians, we keep on building, God has blessed us with land and people and resources. We must have the patience to exploit them and leave something for our future generations.”