President Muhammadu Buhari during a dinner with Committee 2022 at the State House on January 31, 2022
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured his successor of inheriting stable democracy, agriculture-led diversified home-grown economy and revamped armed and security forces.
Speaking at a dinner in honour of the 2022 Committee of Business, Political, Media and Civil Society Leaders, on Monday in Abuja, the President said he was looking forward to completing his tenure in 2023, leaving a legacy for a united, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria with 24 years of uninterrupted democracy.
“I am gradually entering my final year in office. It is a period I intend to spend not only on consolidating on the achievements of the past seven years but also to leave a legacy for a united, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria.
“It is our desire to finish strong in the next 16 months and ensure all hands are on deck for the last lap. We are doubling our efforts against all forms of insecurity, equipping our armed forces and strengthening the police.
“We are determined to continue the war against corruption and fight poverty, we remain focused on building an all-inclusive economic opportunity for all citizens,” a report by The Star quoted Buhari to have said.
Expressing delight on the new consciousness by the Nigerian elites to work together with the political class and civil society to build a better Nigeria, President Buhari noted that building consensus around issues of the economy, national security, governance, and such other critical areas of national life is a sure path to the future we seek to build.
He said: “I take this initiative to mean that you all intend to collaborate with this administration in that direction.
“For those among you who are politicians, you must look beyond gaining power to how you can leverage public positions in the process of societal change. To the businessmen and women among you, there is great glory in public service.
“The question that should be uppermost always is: How do we leverage our business endowment for the greater good of our country?
“I am delighted that members of the Nigerian elite have woken up to the fact that the task of changing this society is a task for all of us, whether we are in the private or public sector. Knowing that, we have enormous challenges as a nation, but they are not beyond our capacity to overcome if we embrace a new approach.
“We cannot retreat to our ethnic cocoons, nor can we continue to seek solace in our past. We must champion the idea of a Nigeria where every citizen would be proud to call their own. That is the charge before you.”
On the activities of the Committee, the President acknowledged that he was aware that attendance at their inaugural meeting on Sunday cut across a broad section of the society in the public, private sectors, civil society, and the youth.
The President told the meeting that despite the enormous problems inherited when he assumed office almost seven years ago, he can look back with satisfaction that this administration has kept faith with the people and has done well even amid dwindling resources for reasons that are well beyond our control.
President Buhari used the occasion to wish politicians, at the dinner, interested in elective positions in the 2023 polls the best, advising that ”there is nothing better than experience in leadership.”
Responding to concerns raised by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State on the resurgence of military takeovers in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso in August 2020, September 2021 and January 2022, respectively, the President said he strongly believes that “Nigeria has passed through that stage for good.”
On the political situation in some West African countries, Fayemi said: “We believe Nigeria has a manifest destiny to protect democracy not just in Nigeria but also in our region. But in doing that we must ensure that our politicians adhere strictly to constitutional principles and I am happy that our President’s position on leaders seeking third term is well known.”
Giving further insight on the workings of the Committee, Fayemi said Nigerians who have benefitted from the country in good time, serving in different capacities, have a duty to support the country.
“What the Committee has tried to do is to develop an elite consensus on security and economy,” he said.
He said the Committee would take advantage of the President’s consistent leadership, relentless passion and patriotism to ensure a seamless transition, while ensuring that the achievements of this administration are sustained and followed through for the benefit of the country.
“Here we have PDP and APC chieftains and we hope by the time we finish this work, what we will present to the President is void of partisan colorations. It is from people who want Nigerians to succeed,” Fayemi said.
The Convener of the Group and Chairman of THISDAY/ARISE Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena said with Nigeria facing a ”historic transition like no other”, and with crisis across Africa and at home, the 2022 Committee emerged to ”defend the national interest.”
”The 2022 Committee was put together to defend Nigeria in a time of crisis and in a time of transition, we must defend the national interest,” he said, noting that membership of the group has been carefully selected from the business community, investors, governors, security sector and elder statesmen.