President Muhammmadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that no amount of provocations will dampen his determination to serve them in the best of manners.
He made the vow in Abuja at a special event organised by his family and close associates to mark his 80th birthday.
In a documentary on his life from childhood, shown at the event, the President admitted that the widely-circulated rumour suggesting that he was dead, and cloned from a Sudanese called Jibrin, was “destructive”, but it did not shift him from focus.
The President said the architects of such allegations wanted to “distract attention from the main issue”, which is developing the infrastructure, and making people aware that they need to work hard to live well and earn the respect of their communities.
On what he will miss the most after leaving office in May, next year, President Buhari simply said, “nothing much”.
“I wonder if I am going to miss much. I think I’m being harassed. I believe I’m trying my best but still my best is not good enough,” he said.
“Because there are people around that think that they can intimidate me to get what they want instead of going through certain systems to earn whatever they want to earn. And they are the same people who want to be clever by half.”
Foremost among the attendees were Governors, members of his cabinet, legislators, APC flag-bearers, party stalwarts, relatives, traditional leaders, and other top government officials.
Eulogising the celebrant on behalf of the family, his eldest daughter, Hajiya Fatima Buhari, thanked Allah for giving him health, long life, honest, and caring heart.
“Baba is someone who money cannot buy,” she proclaimed.
“That’s one thing we know. He taught us humility, loyalty, integrity, dignity, honesty, and to be dedicated to faith,” she recounted, adding: “And he has very good sense of humour.
“He gave us everything a parent will give his child – love, care, good education, shelter.
“We’ve learned so much from his respect for time, uprightness, sense of planning, accountability, indiscrimination. We’re so proud of you; we love you, we wish you a very happy birthday, and wish you could last another 80 years.”
A toast for the celebrant
Proposing a toast to the celebrant, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo made a reference to the jocular nature of the President, and the manner in which he is “successfully steering the affairs of the country”.
He referred to his boss as a “very religious man”, whose “piety guides his thoughts and actions”.
“There were some allegations that were made against me that were completely false, so I was very very annoyed and went to him,” the Vice-President narrated.
“I told him that I wanted his permission to a memo I have written for the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate. He looked at it and looked at me and said “VP, why do you worry yourself about all these people? These people just make all sorts of allegations, cook up stories, you know. They’re saying I am about to get married again, and that made some people rush to the National Mosque for the wedding.””
During the toast, the Vice-President was full of praises for his principal, describing him as an “exemplary leader”, a “forthright and honest man”, a “good and kind man”, and a man who has led the country with “great courage, with determination and commitment” for years.
He prayed the Almighty to preserve his life in good health, peace, and joy, for many years.
Man with impeccable traits
Similarly, Senator Ibikunle Amosun described the President as a man with “impeccable traits” that were appealing to even his adversaries.
“This humble man is very compassionate, very committed, a good listener, somebody that loves his family, somebody that loves Nigeria, a nationalist,” he said.
“President Muhammadu Buhari will always think about others, a very contented fellow.”
Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State commended President Buhari for keeping to his promise and completing the 2nd Niger Bridge.
“The 2nd Niger Bridge is indeed a great miracle, and our people have not taken it for granted. We’re deeply very, very grateful to you, Sir,” he said.
He described the President as a “patriot”, having passion for all the sections making up the country.
The presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu thanked President Buhari for “sacrificing a lot for the progress of Nigeria”.
He said: “You have been at the helm of the affairs of this country at a critical time. We have seen a life of commitment, dedication, patriotism and honesty. Mr President, you have done well for your country. Our nation has seen the difference, the leadership that you demonstrate.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, led other members of the President’s cabinet to present a giant birthday card to the celebrant.
Reporting by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor