Buhari, 72, a former military dictator in Nigeria from 1983 to 1985, returned to power as a democratically elected President on May 29, 2015 after his 4th shot at the presidency. He won in a keenly contested election which saw the ruling Party, PDP lost to the Opposition, APC.
President Buhari, who visited Johannesburg, South Africa at the weekend for the African Union summit meet with the Nigerian community in SA.
A passionate, disciplined and an anti-corruption crusader, President Buhari, on seeing Nigerians in SA, ignored the speech prepared for him by his aides and decide to pour out his heart to fellow citizens far away from home.
“I refused to speak from this draft speech because I wanted to speak to you from the bottom of my heart” He said.
Here are some ‘unscripted’ statements by Buhari at the meeting with Nigerians in SA:
- “Please, keep Nigeria’s pride close to your heart, make sure you behave yourselves. If you find yourselves here, obey their laws. Where you don’t obey their laws, you will have to bear the consequences. The president said.
This is a candid advice from a president to his citizens on a foreign soil, knowing fully well that he has little control over what become of them in another man’s land.
- “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.”
This is an indication that here is a president who wished he had been democratically elected when he was younger. Mr President regrets his age but unfortunately, there is nothing he can do about it. Despite his advancement in age, Buhari gave assurance that his administration would make a difference.
- “ …For that reason, I said Nigerians are much more vulnerable, we have so many nationalities no matter how you look at it, Hausa-Fulanis, Kanuris, Ishekiris, Yorubas, Igbos. We are actually people of different cultures but since 1914, we have merged inspite of religion and culture, married across, produce children and only crazy people can think of balkanising Nigeria. But we are not short of crazy people that is the frightening part of it”
Buhari was at the theatre of war during the civil war, he is an old soldier who was trained to defend Nigeria not few ethnic groups but Nigeria as whole, he defended it loosing friends, relatives, millions of people died, He (Buhari) is not ready to negotiate Nigeria’s Unity. An old soldier is always a soldier you recall.
- “When (Barack) Obama came to Africa, he went to Ghana; he refused to come to Nigeria. And he said Africa or developing countries should have strong institutions instead of strong leaders. “If he was in Nigeria, he would have known that it was strong Nigerians that destroyed the strong institutions. And paradoxically, maybe another strong Nigerian will come and revive the institutions and make them strong again.”
Buhari realizes there are cabals (Strong Men) who have destroyed the country and are ready to milk the country dry for their own pocket, he also regard himself a strong man when he said “may be another strong Nigerian will come and revive the institution…” this is an indication that he is ready to step on toes, the oil cabals defrauding Nigerians, time will tell if he’ll truly achieve this.
- “The second thing that finally convinced me to join partisan politics was what happened in the Soviet Union. You know the Soviet Union was an empire in the 20th century that collapsed without a shot being fired. Everybody went home, there was confusion. Now, there are 18 countries out of the old Soviet Union.”
After leading the country through a coup in 1883, Here is a former Military dictator turned democrat, this signals his believe that there can be revolution without shedding blood or using force, he submitted himself to democratic norms four times and now the rest is history. He is the President, commander-in-chief of the Nigerian armed force.