President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday reviewed the state of the nation and said Nigeria, in spite of its numerous challenges, is lucky to remain one indivisible entity.
“We are a lucky country and should congratulate ourselves, despite challenges that could have torn us apart,” the president told a delegation of the House of Representatives that went to see him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari spoke while receiving the report of the National Security Summit of the House from the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and said the citizens’ right to freely choose their leaders during elections, irrespective of party affiliation or religion must be respected.
“Our leaders must respect the people, from the lowest to the highest, so that it becomes a duty to them (the people) to pay back to the leadership,” he said.
According to him, respect for the people should be demonstrated by allowing them to choose who they like as their leaders, irrespective of political party or religion.
Describing the event as a remarkable occasion, Buhari restated his determination to serve the country to the best of his ability, recalling his visits to the 36 states during the campaign for the 2019 presidential election.
He said: “The number of people that turned out to see me, some waiting for 10 hours in the sun, was more than anyone could buy or force. They just wanted to see who this Buhari was. People wonder why Nigerians accept me, despite not being rich. I wonder, too. I felt I just have to serve Nigeria and Nigerians to the best of my ability.”
Commending the National Assembly for its cooperation with the executive, the president said he tried hard to get the Eighth National Assembly to do same for the sake of the country, “and I didn’t succeed much, but time has proved me right.”
Earlier, Gbajabiamila had thanked the president for endorsing the security summit, saying: “You were part of it from the very beginning, and you were to have declared it open, if not for the exigencies of duty.”
The speaker said the summit became imperative after the lawmakers were daily being beseeched by their constituents to do something about the security challenges facing the country “and motions after motions were moved by the lawmakers.”
A committee of 50 lawmakers, across parties, religious and ethnic lines, he said, was set up to plan the summit, “and Mr. President was very eager and enthusiastic about it, showing the importance you place on security.”
Gbajabiamila said the report was a product of inputs by traditional rulers, scholars, independent thinkers, and security chiefs, noting that it contains seven recommendations that require legislative action and about 19 that will be implemented by the executive.
“Thank you, Mr. President for what you have done so far to douse tension and for Nigeria to remain one. It’s about all of us, not just the executive, the legislature or the judiciary. And Nigeria will work, by the grace of God,” Gbajabiamila said.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja