ONE year after the 2015 Presidential elections and assumption in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declared that he was shocked that former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to him.
The action, he said, was a great generosity and a great patriotism.
He made the remark during a Presidential Lunch for State House correspondents at the New Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
He said: “I underrated the influence of the PDP for 16 years watching from outside as 8 consecutive governments. The experience of the staff, their commitment and zeal is different from what it is now. 16 years of development in the life of a developing nation is a long time.
“This is where I pay my respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan. This is actually a privileged information for you. He called me at a quarter past five in the evening. He said good evening your Excellency Sir, and I said good evening.
“He said I have called to congratulate you that I have conceded defeat. Of course there was dead silence on my end, because I did not expect it. I was shocked. I did not expect it because after sixteen years the man was a deputy governor, governor, Vice President and was President for six years.
“For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think it was a great generosity, a great patriotism.
“Abdulsalam recognized the generosity of Jonathan to concede defeat and said we should go and thank him immediately and that was the first time I came here,” he added.
According to him, his administration had to trim down the number of ministries from 42 ministries we cut it to 24 and scaling down of the number of permanent secretaries in order to save cost of running government.
He pointed out that most of the permanent secretaries that were there for over five to seven years only knew how things were done in the previous years.
He said that the past one year was a tumultuous year for everyone in the Villa.
Talking about his experience in Aso Villa, he said: “Whatever we did in the campaign, in fact we were saying rubbish and that made it very difficult for us. Things were even more difficult during the budget which you all know about.
“For somebody like me, for the first time I heard what is called padding. I think we will recover by the fourth quarter of the year, what padding means especially for ministers who had implement what padding contains. There were very serious developments which I never knew about.
“So really it was a nasty experience for us. It was also a nasty experience for some of the ministers who were new in government, for them to sit down day and night to work. I saw them some of them literarily lost weight because they were sleeping less and eating less, working on every kobo to be spent.
He said that because Nigeria became a mono-economy based on oil, the past governments relied on oil and forgot about solid minerals, agriculture, and other resources.
The President added: “We recently just found out that we are poor because we don’t have anything to fall back to. This is the condition we found ourselves and this change mantra had to go through hell up till yesterday.
“And for you to talk to whoever came to visit us throughout that year I wonder how each of your diaries would be, because people were expecting this change mantra in their own way.
“How do you define change? Luckily our party identified three major items, security, economy and corruption.
“One of the men I pity is Lai Mohammed everyday he is on TV explaining our performance or lack of it.”
He also wondered how some Nigerians betrayed the trust of the people by diverting $2.1 billion meant for fighting insurgency.
He said: “People were trusted and the most recent one which we haven’t recovered from is the $2.1billion dollars, is was given by the government then to the military to but hardware to fight the insurgency which had taken over part of the country and they just sat just the way you are sitting now and shared the money into their own account.
“They didn’t even bother. So we are still trying to get the cooperation of the international community and so on and we have to do it with a lot of respect to the judiciary.
“We can’t go out and talk too much we have to allow the judiciary to do their work. We gave them the facts, the name, country, bank account. If you talk too much technicalities will come in, them we will realize less than what we want to realize.
“So please when next you want to interrogate out visitors try and do some research so that when they are coming next time, they will do research themselves,” he stated.
— May 30, 2016 @ 17:10 GMT