Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has chided Nigerian elite for remaining silent in the face of alleged misrule of the country by the Peoples Democratic Party between 1999 and 2015.
He said while they allowed Nigeria to be mismanaged in 16 years without raising a voice in consternation, they have been accusing him of being too slow.
He wondered where those that were considered to be fast got to.
According to a statement on Friday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke at a meeting he had with the Nigerian community in the United States of America on Thursday in New York.
The meeting was held on the margins of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly holding in New York.
Buhari said he had taken ordinary Nigerians as his constituency because of the way they had been standing by him.
He said this was the reason he has been conscious of them.
The President said, “They (Nigerian elite) didn’t say a word. Under the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund, of which he was Chairman), we did roads from Lagos to Abuja, to Onitsha, to Port Harcourt.
“Since then, the roads were not done, between 1999 and 2015, yet the elite did not say a word.
“I was called Baba Go Slow. Those who were going fast, where did they get to?
“In 1983, military officers gathered and made me Head of State. I packed the politicians into jail, told them they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. We seized what they had looted, but after I myself was put in detention, the politicians were given back what they had looted. How many elites complained about that?
“Three times I contested elections; three times I went to court after the elections were rigged against me. No justice, but I said ‘God dey.’
“It was mainly the ordinary people that stood by me. That is why I am always conscious of them. They are my constituency. Even pregnant women on the queue would fall into labour, go to have their babies, and still come back to vote for me. I will keep doing my best for the country.”
Buhari told the Nigerians living in America that if he won the 2019 election, and he spent another four years in office, “I will leave some difference in that office.”
The diaspora Nigerians, in their scores, are top-flight professionals, drawn from fields like medicine, engineering, sports, the arts, investment, academia, politics, agriculture, transport, education, publishing, and many others.
Most of them expressed the wish to come back home and contribute to the change making a headway in Nigeria, to which the President replied, “You are contributing to this great country (America).
“If you want to help back home, invest in education in your constituencies. If you educate people, they won’t then accept nonsense from anybody.” (Punch)