Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari has said it is now time for another person to take up the baton of leadership, having “run a good race” and “finished” his course.
The president said this on Thursday after the investiture of national honours of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
There was gridlock as guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, struggled to get to the venue of the event amid tight security checks.
Buhari, who also handed over the Transition Documents and the symbolic Baton of Service to Tinubu after the conferment of the national honours, congratulated the two men on their “well-deserved victory at the February 25th, 2023 presidential elections.”
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“I have run a good race, I have finished my course. It is now time for another to take up the baton,” he said. The president said the administration was faced with many challenges at inception and worked hard to tackle hydra-headed issues.
“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,” he said.
Best in road infrastructure
Buhari boasted that no administration in Nigeria’s modern history had given so much attention to roads as he had done in the last eight years, and had done well in other areas as well, citing the Second Niger Bridge named after him.
“In all, we have been able to construct and complete over 8,352.94 kilometres 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 endeavours 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.
‘Tinubu the right man’
Buhari described Tinubu as the best choice for Nigeria due to his wealth of experience and commitment to the country.
“The Nigerian people have recognised 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.”
Buhari said the two men were deserving of the GCFR and GCON awards in accordance with the Honours Award Act, 1963, Laws of Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004.
He, however, reminded them of the responsibilities of their offices.
“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 said.
The president said Tinubu had the experience and capacity to lead the country and carry on the legacy of his administration.
“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,” he said.
The baton of power
On the transfer of a symbolic baton to Tinubu, the president 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 said.
I won’t disappoint Nigerians – Tinubu
In his remark, the president-elect thanked Buhari for the transition committee that was ensuring a smooth handing-over process with documents that cover and capture the performance of the outgoing administration.
Tinubu promised not to disappoint Nigerians on the assumption of office on Monday and congratulated the president for providing strong and visionary leadership for eight years.
“I am a simple man who is the beneficiary of the support and goodwill of the people of Nigeria. The people have put their trust in us. You have done your part, Mr President.”
Tinubu said he understood the magnitude of the task ahead and was prepared to take on the mantle of leadership from Monday.
“I understand the honour given to me today and the magnitude of the task ahead; whether you go to Daura or Niger Republic, expect knocks on your doors.
“I must run this race and must do it well. On security, the economy, agriculture, jobs, education, health and power and in all other sectors, we must make headway. The people deserve no less. In this, I shall disappoint neither them nor you, Mr President.
“Our way shall not always be smooth. Yet we are imbued with faith in our purpose and a firm belief in our collective ability to overcome the challenges that confront us,” he said.
The former Lagos governor thanked Buhari for conferring the national honours on him and the vice president-elect.
Tinubu praised the outgoing president for his democratic credentials, making history on the assumption of office by recognising late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as winners of the 1993 presidential elections and honouring them with GCFR and GCON, respectively.
“You went back into history to set the record straight,” he said.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, before the investiture ceremony, spoke on the achievements of the administration in eight years and explained the three documents that were handed over, and the historic baton as the Chairman of the Presidential Transition Council (PTC).
He said the transition documents handed over to the president-elect by the president were basically made up of briefing notes on each of the nine priority areas of the outgoing administration’s focus; a compendium of the federal government’s priority programmes and projects; and the status of policies implemented.
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