Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday conferred the two highest National Honours of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima respectively at a colourful ceremony saying he has run a good race in eight years and finished well as Nigerian President.
Speaking at the Conference centre of the State House, Abuja, after the investiture of Tinubu and Shettima, the President declared
“I have run a good race, I have finished my course. It is now time for another to take up the baton”.
The investiture of the President-elect and Vice President-elect sets the pace for their swearing into office on Monday, May 29th, 2023, drawing a curtain on the eight-year administration of President Buhari, who served two terms from 2015 to 2023.
Exercising the power conferred on him, President Buhari said “in accordance with the Honours Award Act, 1963, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, (LFN), 2004, Presidents/Heads of State receive the Honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) while the Vice Presidents are awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
“Today, with the authority vested in me, as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have conferred the National Honour of GCFR on His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu and that of the GCON on His Excellency Kashim Shettima respectively”
The President congratulated both political leaders, who had served at various times in the Fourth Republic as Governor of Lagos and Borno States, respectively.
His words: “I extend my warmest congratulations to the President-elect, on his well-deserved victory at the February 25th, 2023 Presidential elections. The Nigerian people have recognized your leadership qualities, political acumen, and passion to serve our great nation, and have entrusted you with the burden of governing our beloved country.
“I have no doubt that Nigeria will continue to thrive and achieve new heights under your leadership. You were the best candidate at the elections and Nigerians have chosen wisely.
“I equally extend my congratulations to the Vice President-elect. Your wealth of experience in governance, your unwavering commitment to the well-being of the Nigerian people, and your exemplary leadership during challenging times as Governor of Borno State, have made you a deserving candidate for this position. I have full confidence that you will serve our nation with utmost dedication and integrity.
“As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, let us not forget the immense responsibilities that come with leadership. The challenges facing our nation are significant, and it is the duty of the President and Vice President to address them with courage, wisdom, and compassion.
“We must remain committed to the principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability, as these are the foundations upon which our nation’s progress and development rely,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that Asiwaju had the experience and capacity to lead the country, carrying on the legacy of his administration.
He said: “President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you have a long and illustrious track record of public service, marked by your exceptional achievements in various capacities. Your transformative leadership in Lagos State, where you left an indelible mark in the areas of infrastructure, education, healthcare, and economic development, speaks volumes about your dedication to the welfare of the Nigerian people”.
The President expressed his deepest gratitude to Nigerians for their unwavering support and trust throughout his tenure, adding “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve this great nation, and I am confident that Nigeria is in capable hands as we embark on this new chapter.’’
While examining some of the challenges before incoming administration, President Buhari advised Asiwaju Tinubu to lead the country with wisdom, courage, and compassion.
“Once again, I congratulate President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima on their well-deserved investiture. May the Almighty bless you and guide you in your endeavors to lead Nigeria towards a brighter and more prosperous future,’’ he stated.
The President said the administration was faced with many challenges at inception and worked hard to tackle hydra-headed issues.
According to him: “This administration from inception has faced security challenges such as insurgency, oil theft, kidnapping as well as corruption which has eaten deep into the system.
“With the political will and support of many Nigerians, especially our dogged Armed Forces, insurgency, terrorism, and kidnapping have been reduced to their barest minimum while corruption has been tackled headlong.
“Despite the aforementioned challenges, our administration has made economic gains over the years. While acknowledging the turbulent times and global economic meltdown occasioned by the world oil crisis and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, our economy has remained afloat and strong.
“Our administration’s commitment and determination in infrastructural upliftment of Nigeria have remained unshaken”.
As part of his achievements, President Buhari noted that Second Niger Bridge, named President Muhammadu Buhari, had been completed and inaugurated.
“I am happy to say that no administration in Nigeria’s modern history has given so much attention to roads as we have done in the last eight years. In all, we have been able to construct and complete over 8,352.94 kilometers of roads across Nigeria.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in spite of the shortfall in the federal government’s revenue, due to the weakness in the global economy that led to a drop in oil revenue, we have touched on all sectors of the Nigerian economy positively.
“As we celebrate the monumental infrastructural strides achieved by this Administration, it is pertinent to acknowledge that these transformative endeavors have not only reshaped our physical landscape but have also paved the way for remarkable economic outcomes that reverberate across our nation.
“The link between infrastructure and economic prosperity is undeniable. It is through the construction of roads, railways, bridges, and other critical assets that we unlock the true potential of our nation, leading to better communication, facilitating trade, and propelling economic growth,’’ he said.
“To avoid a repeat of our 2015 experience,’’ the President said an Executive Order No. 14 of 2023, had been signed, establishing the legal framework for conducting presidential transitions at the federal level.
According to him, the Executive Order established the Presidential Transition Council chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ministerial Transition Teams headed by the Permanent Secretaries.
He explained that the primary responsibility of the two ad-hoc bodies was to ensure that every piece of information that will help a new administration get off to a speedy start was made available in a usable format and in a timely manner.
“Today, I am so proud to have handed over to you my Successor, Your Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu three key documents that will guide you as you aim to define a path for your administration.
“It is my earnest desire that you will find these documents useful as this would be the first time in the history of this country that such detailed documentation will be produced for handover to a new administration. I strongly encourage you to uphold this legacy and make the experience even better for your successor by the time you are to leave office.
“It may also interest you to know that apart from these three documents, all the Ministries and their Agencies have also prepared their Handover Notes, ready to brief their new political leadership. I want to sincerely thank the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and his team for this great feat,’’ he further stated.
On the transfer of a symbolic baton to Asiwaju Tinubu, President Buhari said the incoming government would continue with the race of advancing democracy and development.
“This is a first in the history of our Nation’s transition process. To preserve this remarkable history for generations to come, I have directed that the Baton be preserved in the Presidential history wing of the National Archives and I hope that President-elect Tinubu and those after him will build on this tradition,’’ he added.
Before the investiture ceremony, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Transition Council (PTC), have a detailed briefing on the transmitted Transition Documents, which he said included three documents.
According to him, the Transition Documents handed over to the President-elect by Buhari were basically made up of, one, briefing notes on each of the nine priority areas of the outgoing administration’s focus, two, a compendium of the federal government’s priority programmes and projects and three, the status of policies implemented.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, noted that the election that ushered the President-elect and his vice in, had been adjudged the most credible in the history of Nigeria, adding that the credit for the process must go to President Buhari.
Meanwhile, the guests in their hundreds, including members of the diplomatic corps, braced the State House snail-speed security checks on the roads traversing from the Federal Secretariat and Fire Service routes, to witness the epoch making conferment being witnessed by many in the hall filled to capacity.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja