President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerians to pray for him while they try to understand his intentions for the country. He also admonished them to give him more time.
The president said this on Monday while inspecting a special guard of honour mounted by the Guards Brigade, Nigerian army, in commemoration of his 76th birthday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president began his day by first attending the 2018 edition of the immigration dialogue put together by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons held at the Banquet Hall of the State House before returning to his office to inspect the guard of honour to celebrate him.
He, thereafter, proceeded to cut his birthday cake.
Commenting on the performance of the Guards Brigade, he said: “Well, I am impressed with the parade. They have put a lot of time behind it. I thank and appreciate them very much.”
Asked what Nigerians should expect going forward, the president said: “We will keep reminding Nigerians about what we have done, how we met the country, what we have been able to do from the time I came in to now with the resources available to us.
“Nigerians should continue to pray for me and understand my intentions, and give me time.”
Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the birthday was worth commemorating considering the health challenges the president had been through.
“It is such an exciting time for us to share in this very glorious ceremony of the celebration of the 76th birthday of our dear president and our dear leader.
“In a typical simplistic manner, you could see just a simple military parade and the cutting of the cake because he has got work to do.
“He has just returned to the office to continue with the day’s proceedings. He came out of an event, the 2018 National Migration Dialogue, and then straight into this.
“But it is such a joyous and beautiful day to see him strong, healthy, hearty considering the health challenges he went through in the last two years.
“We cannot wish him any other thing but bountiful health and wisdom to take this country out of the present situation which we find ourselves, a trajectory of prosperity and progress,” he stated.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, said Buhari’s humility and integrity stood him out and represented the ideal leadership Nigerians should strive for at this point in time.
She said: “As the president turns 76 today, we can only wish him the very best.
“He is a man of unparalleled humility, a man of tremendous integrity. I mean, you can say anything about the president but you know he is not corrupt; he will not steal your money.”
Brig. General Umar Musa, Commander, Guards Brigade, justified the parade ceremony in honour of the president, saying the decision was informed by the fact that handling ceremonial activities in the State House fell under the purview of the Guards Brigade.
Among top government functionaries that graced the occasion were the service chiefs; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahaman Danbazzau; Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, among others.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has disclosed plans of a comprehensive national policy on internal displacement.
A move being mooted by his administration to regulate internal displacement crisis brought about by insurgency in the country.
This is even as he has assured that Nigeria will remain a migrant friendly nation.
He made the disclosure at the 2018 National Migration Dialogue with the theme, ‘Realising the Sustainable Development Goals for all Including Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons,’ held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to the realisation of the SGDs with a focus to deliver hope for all citizens and migrants as well.
The 2018 dialogue is holding at a time the world is grappling with migration challenges and countries are exploring measures for enhancing the positive impact of migration on development within the context of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Buhari expressed his gratitude to international partners, especially the government of Switzerland through Swiss Development Cooperation, the European Union delegation, among others, for their support and cooperation.
He noted that December 18 has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate international migrants whose number have risen to 258 million and appreciate their innumerable contributions to national and human capital development.
He said, “The Federal Government through its relevant institutions has also embarked on sensitisation of citizens to the dangers of irregular migration. This is complementary to other institutional frameworks put in place to combat irregular migration, such as the Acts establishing NAPTIP and NIS and sectoral policies like the National Labour Migration Policy.
“This is all part of efforts aimed at eradicating the drivers of irregular migration such as poverty, unemployment, climate change, conflicts and social inequalities. I am also pleased to say that a National Policy on Internal Displacement is in the process of adoption, which will help regulate the internal displacement crisis and complement the fight against insurgency on which the Federal Government is fully committed.
In her address, the Federal Commissioner for National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Farouq, said the event was an indication of the strong commitment of the Nigerian government to the promotion of the plight of Nigerians on the move and those forcibly displaced within and outside the country.
Head of EU delegation to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, said the migration has the good, the bad and the ugly side. He encouraged government to minimise the bad and eliminate the ugly side of it which includes breaking up the gangs that traffic human beings.