President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed optimism that on completion of his eight-year tenure in May 2023, issues bordering on Nigeria’s security and economy would have been effectively addressed.
Buhari, who spoke on Thursday in Owerri at a Town Hall Meeting with South East leaders, during his one-day visit to Imo state, said he would want to be remembered as the President who stabilised Nigeria in the areas of security, economic prosperity and triumph over corruption.
While reiterating his commitment to completing the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, as well as other ongoing federal projects in the South-east geo-political zone,Buhari said with less than two years left of his eight-year tenure as President, security still remained a major priority for his administration.
According to him, ‘‘If there is no security, there is nothing anyone can do no matter how much you try or the initiative you have. Security is number one priority and then the economy. When people feel secured they will mind their own business”.
He emphasised that while fighting corruption in Nigeria had become very sophisticated and difficult, he would continue to strive to leave a lasting legacy of integrity and accountability in the system.
He said: ‘‘Nobody can accuse me of having companies or mansions anywhere in the country and I thank God that I try to keep myself as clean as possible, so that I cannot be taken hostage. I will do my best to ensure that Nigerians work hard and succeed in their efforts”.
On the forthcoming 2023 general election, the president reaffirmed his commitment ensuring free, fair and credible polls, urging leaders to sincerely educate their constituencies on the need to hold their elected representatives accountable.
Acknowledging the resourcefulness and enterprising spirit of the Igbo people, President Buhari said: ‘‘The fundamental thing about the Igbo people is that there is no town you will visit in Nigeria without seeing the Igbos being in charge of either infrastructure or pharmaceutical industry.
‘‘Therefore, it is unthinkable for me that any Igbo man would consider himself not to be a part of Nigeria. The evidence is there for everyone to see that Igbos are in charge of Nigeria’s economy”.
Noting that no country could make any meaningful progress without the development of infrastructure, the Nigerian leader expressed regret that successive governments at the federal level contributed to the decay of critical infrastructure in the country.
‘‘I firmly believe that when you get infrastructure right, Nigerians will mind their own businesses,’’ he said, adding that as a group, the Igbos stand to benefit more from the ongoing development of infrastructure in the country because ‘‘they are more enterprising’’.
Earlier in his remarks during the Town Hall Meeting, Governor Hope Uzodinma said Ndigbo believed in a united Nigeria predicated on ‘‘justice, equity and fairness’’.
He thanked the president for addressing the interests of Ndi Igbo through deliberate policy initiatives designed to give the people a true sense of belonging, including the ongoing construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, among others.
Governor Uzodinma said the people of South-east would remain grateful to the President for approving the establishment of a Naval Base in Oguta Local Government Area of the state, adding that with time the economic benefits of the Base would manifest.
He commended the President for strongly supporting the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu into key international organisations.
Also speaking, the President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. George Obiozor, assured Buhari of the continuous support of Ndigbo.
President Buhari had earlier commissioned four projects executed by Governor Hope Uzodinma, including the Naze/Ihiagwa/Nekede/Obinze link road, the Balloon Driven/Flood Control drainage at Dick Tiger Road, the Egbeada Bypass road and the New Exco-Chambers, Government House, Owerri.