President-elect Muhammadu Buhari yesterday showered praises on outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, saying his conduct has changed the course of Nigeria’s political history.
Buhari spoke after President Jonathan handed over the executive summary of the handover notes and a copy of the main report of the National Conference 2014 to him.
The ceremony was held at the Presidential Villa after Buhari and Vice President-elect Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had been conducted round some offices and facilities at the Presidential Villa, Abuja by President Jonathan.
Buhari said conceding defeat has not only earned Jonathan the respect of Nigerians but also of world leaders.
He said: “Until I read and digest this notes from the President, I don’t think I will be in a position to make any strong contribution.
“But what I will say is since the telephone call you made you have changed the course of Nigeria’s political history. For that you have earned yourself a place in our history, for stabilising this system of multi-party democracy and you have earned the respect of not only Nigerians but world leaders.
“All the leaders that spoke to me and congratulated us for arriving at the point we arrived, mentioned this and I could understand a lot of relief in their voices that Nigeria has made it after all and this is largely owed to a situation.
If you had attempted to make things difficult, you could have made things difficult and that would have been at the expense of lives of poor Nigerians, but you chose the path of honour and may God help all of us. Thank you very much, your excellency.”
Presenting the documents, Jonathan said: “This will give you a mission statement of the commitment of this government for the past five years and the directions we are going that will help you to navigate.
“So, it’s my pleasure on behalf of the Vice President, members of the Executive Council and other senior functionaries to formally handover these handover notes to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the President-elect who will assume office tomorrow. Congratulations.
“There is another document that I will hand over to you. To me this is more important than the hand over notes. The handover notes is the activities of an administration; it shows where we started, where we are going, in some of the cases you’ll follow, in other cases you may take other angle.
“But this is a document that was compiled by Nigerians, the report of the National conference 2014. We gathered almost 500 Nigerians from all walks of life; they were not influenced by government in any way.
“And most of the recommendations here, if it is followed, most of the gray areas even in our politics will be smoothened out. Most of the areas where people complain bitterly, corruption, everything; this document deals with them. Some people here were members of that great body of about 500 eggheads.”
According to Jonathan, his administration was not able to implement the National conference report because of the shortness of time.
Urging the Buhari administration to implement it, he said that a copy of the report had been sent to the National Assembly.
“But it is a document that we are very hopeful that your government will look into it and give it the attention it requires,” he said.
Reading a 16-page speech earlier, President Jonathan reeled out some of his administration’s achievements.
He insisted that his administration had done its best for Nigeria.
Jonathan said: “While striving to overcome our national security challenges, we still gave necessary attention to economic development. Our goal was to achieve long-term economic growth and stability, improve the quality and quantum of infrastructure and enhance human capital development.”
As part of his fight against corruption, he said that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) weeded out 60,450 ghost workers in 359 out of 425 MDAs, which has yielded N185.4 billion in savings to the Federal Government.
Stressing that his administration has emphasised giving a freehand to anti-corruption agencies, Jonathan said that he preferred the institutions to grow into strong bodies rather than being the images, the hammer and the anvil of a strong man.
“We must encourage them to abide by the rule of law and due process instead of resorting to dramatic or illagal actions orchestrated for cheap applause,” he said.
Through an improved revenue mobilisation, he said that federal tax revenues in 2013 alone rose from N2.8 trillion to N4.8 trillion.
According to Jonathan, victory against the insurgents Boko Haram is in sight and within reach.
The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Transition Committee, Ahmed Joda, said his committee received cooperation from a wide variety of sources across the country.
“We have received the document from the government committee. We are studying the report and working on them,” he added.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who was the Chairman of the Government’s Transition Committee, said that the handover notes would form part of Nigeria’s political culture – if properly laid down.
According to him, the committee worked hard and put the nation first in the assignment.
Among the President-elect’s entourage to the seat of power were All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, members of the APC’s and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) transition committees, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, APC spokesman Lai Muhammed and APC Campaign Organisation spokesman Garba Shehu.
Vice-President elect Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was yesterday conducted round his new office and residential quarters at the Aguda House, Presidential Villa, Abuja, by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Speaking shortly after the inspection, Sambo prayed for the success of the incoming administration, and pledged to cooperate with the vice president-elect.
“Let me seize this opportunity to specially welcome you to the Presidency and to your new office.
“I pray that almighty God will guide you, protect you and give you good health to enable you continue from where we are stopping, for successful tenure.
“I want to assure you I’m always available to give you my support and our support to see that you succeed in this new endeavour.’’
Osinbajo thanked Sambo for his cooperation and understanding, adding that the incoming administration would continue to seek for his advice when necessary.
Sambo and Osinbajo were accompanied by their aides and some principal staff of the Presidential Villa.