President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigerians have proved to be capable of deciding who leads them without anyone telling them what to do through a free and fair election and non-interference witnessed on February 25 and March 18 elections.
Buhari said this while speaking at a farewell meeting with the outgoing United States Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday.
The President, in an answer to a question posed by Leonard, said he planned to be “a big landlord” working on his farms and tending his more than 300 animals in his country home, Daura, Katsina State.
“I am eager to go,” President Buhari added.
Buhari, who expressed satisfaction with the passion towards democracy exhibited by Nigerians through the choices they made in the just concluded presidential, National Assembly, governorship, and Houses of Assembly elections, said Nigeria’s democracy has truly matured.
“People are realising their power. Given the chance of a free and fair vote, nobody can tell them what to do. I am unhappy that some candidates lost in the election. But I am inspired by the fact that voters were able to make their own decision, to decide who won and who lost.
“With the currency change, there was no money to spread around but even then, I told voters to take the money and vote according to their consciences,” the President said.
President Buhari stated that he was satisfied with his role in the election process without meddlesomeness or any form of interference.
Buhari, however, commended the outgoing Ambassador for the achievements recorded in Nigeria-US relations in the three-and-half years she had been here.
He chronicled a number of challenges faced by Nigeria as the country strives to unite its diverse communities and achieve national development and expressed his appreciation of the way the United States is able to hold together as a nation.
The President further expressed the hope that Nigeria will continue to make progress in building a nation out of its different and competitive communities, adding that he enjoyed working with the Ambassador and wished that she had more time to serve in the country.
In her remarks, the American Ambassador said she was happy with the progress made in Nigeria-US relations in the three–and–half years, specifically citing the recent institution of a five-year visa regime between the two countries; active collaboration in security and the supply of military hardware including warplanes and the soon-to-come fighter helicopters; and also cooperation in the health sector to fight HIV and COVID-19 response, giving assurances that US will continue to assist in the strengthening of Nigeria’s health sector.
Leonard equally expressed her gratitude and that of the United States Government in the continuing role of the President in ensuring regional security and strengthening of democracy as a system of government, citing his strong response against the recent surge of coups-d’état in West Africa as worthy of commendation.
She expressed hope that even as she is preparing to leave, there are still a few more things President Buhari could do, among which she mentioned, the urgent need to remove fuel subsidy.