Buhari also said that he was happy about national prayers held for his quick recovery, noting that the prayers cut across all religions and ethnic groups.
The President, who returned to the country last Saturday after spending 104 days in the British capital, spoke at a meeting he had with state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Some Nigerians in the UK had held an all-night protest against Buhari’s long absence from Nigeria at the Abuja House between 5 pm on Friday, August 18 and 9 am on Saturday, August 19, 2017, asking him to either return to Nigeria to resume work or resign so as to allow a more capable person to lead the country.
During his meeting with governors, Buhari, however, said, “I am very happy with the national prayers that cut across religions and ethnicity; people were praying.
“In fact, some groups in London came and sang the national anthem and asked that I should go back home. Indeed, I have come back home. I hope those who went there are not stuck there. (I hope) they will come back and join us.
“Those that are stuck there with the Brexit, I hope they have weighed the implications that it won’t affect them, including those that have property there.
“Those who are not paying tax here; I hope when they sell their property there, they will bring some of the money here. We need it very badly here.”
Why I invited Osinbajo to London – Buhari
The President noted that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo used his intellect to run the country while he was away on medical vacation.
Buhari, who had earlier joined Muslim faithful at the Juma’at service inside a mosque near his office, said he monitored Osinbajo’s activities on the television while away.
He described Osinbajo’s performance during the period as commendable and explained that he invited him to London so that he could thank him for his efforts.
He said, “The efforts by the Vice-President were commendable.”
“He used his intellect to run the place. I was seeing him 24 hours on the Nigerian Television Authority.
“I congratulated him and I allowed him to come and see me (in order) to thank him personally for what he has done.”
Buhari said he was pleased with the performance of the state governors based on the information available to him through the media.
He commended them for their achievements, especially in agriculture and solid minerals.
The President, however, attributed the success recorded in agriculture to Nigerians’ inability to buy foreign food.
“I am very pleased with the states, you are all doing your best and you are lucky your best is proving to be good enough for the agriculture and solid minerals (sectors). You are succeeding in agriculture because I think people cannot afford foreign food,” he said.
The Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, thanked Buhari for his support to states, saying without it, it would have been difficult for state governors to cope.
He mentioned the budget support, Paris Club refunds, and the agriculture sector supports as some of the areas where Buhari had intervened.
“Without this assistance, it would have been difficult for us to cope. You have treated all governors equally, irrespective of party affiliations,” the governor said.
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, in an interview with the State House correspondents, expressed joy on Buhari’s return and prayed that God would continue to guide him.
“With him back, everything is taking shape again. This is not to say the Vice-President was not doing well as Acting President; we must commend him.
“In the absence of the President, there was no vacuum because the Acting President filled in the gap and did his best up to this moment and showed absolute loyalty, both to the nation and Mr. President,” the governor said.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, said the meeting afforded the governors the opportunity to welcome the President.
He said, “Our President went to take care of his health and now he is back healthy and healthier than before. We are here to appreciate him. We thank the Almighty God that he is back safely. We equally thank his able lieutenant, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who held the country firm in his absence,” he said.
President meets APC, PDP leaders, demands vibrant opposition
The President also met with leaders of the two major political parties in the country – the ruling All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party – at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The APC delegation was led by the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; while the Chairman of the PDP’s Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi, led the opposition party’s delegation to the meeting.
Buhari, in his remarks, described the visit by the two main political parties as signifying the unity of the country.
The President noted that a democracy needed a vibrant but responsible opposition, adding that opposition did not translate to hostility and antagonism.
He thanked all Nigerians for praying for his recovery and asked them to continue to pray for the peace and prosperity of the country.
The President said, “I thank you sincerely, collectively and individually for finding time from your busy schedules to come all the way to Abuja and welcome me back home.
“This visit signifies the unity of Nigeria. It is not a party occasion. It is not a political gathering. It is a symbol of our national unity. It is also an expression of the maturity of our democracy.
“Multi-party democracy is a very tried and tested form of government. The opposition does not mean hostility, enmity or antagonism. Democracy needs opposition, one which is vibrant but responsible.
“I am very pleased to see you assembled here – (people of) all shades of opinion in Nigeria. Please convey my deep gratitude to our countrymen and women in your respective states and to all those who prayed for my recovery. I am imploring all Nigerians to continue praying for peace and prosperity in Nigeria.”
Makarfi told the President that the PDP would play its role as a leading opposition party in the country very well.
He said the party would continue to keep Buhari on his toes.
He said, “Let me use this opportunity to assure you, and through you, the entire country, that the PDP, having assumed the leadership of the opposition in the country, is poised to play its role energetically, vibrantly, but very decently and with all sense of responsibility.
“This we shall do by giving you a good run for your money and constantly keeping you on your toes as we all strive to make this country better.
“We assure you of our cooperation as much as the opposition can possibly give to enable you to give your best in the process of navigating the ship of our state into of a better tomorrow.”
Makarfi noted that PDP legislators were cooperating with those of the majority party in both arms of the National Assembly to ensure a smooth legislative sail for the system.
Makarfi also assured Buhari that the PDP would partner with the government to strengthen the nation’s historic bond and rebuild bridges of beautiful relationships that appeared to be cracking at the moment.
While congratulating Buhari on his recovery, the PDP chief prayed to God to give him the strength to shoulder the responsibilities of his office for the betterment of the country.
He said because of the party’s belief that the opposition is no madness, it would never wish ill of the President.
He said, “It is on record, Mr. President, that while you were away, being the major opposition party in the country did not stop us from praying for your quick recovery and return to Nigeria. This is because we honestly believe that the President of our country, whatever party flag he or she flies, is our President; and his or her health is substantially linked with the nation’s health in so many ways.”
Odigie-Oyegun described the meeting as unique, adding that it confirmed that Buhari is the President of all Nigerians, irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic affiliations.
Labour Party, APDA protest non-invitation
In its reaction, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance party said that it was shocked that its officials were not invited to the meeting.
Though it commended the initiative behind the meeting, it nevertheless said that it was wrong for the Presidency to limit the meeting to just two political parties.
Mr. Tosin Adeyanju, who is the Special Adviser to the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Mohammed Shittu, told our correspondent that it was wrong for the President to give an impression that there “are just two political parties in the country.”
He added, “We were surprised that there were just two political parties at the meeting. There are more than 40 political parties in Nigeria, why would the Presidency invite just two political parties to a meeting? We hope that they would find time to correct the error.”
The Labour Party said that there was no difference between the APC and the PDP, saying both of them were products of the same parents.
National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdulkadir Salam, told our correspondent that his party was not going to beg the presidency to invite its leaders to any meeting.
He said, “We won’t beg them to invite us to the meeting. Anyway, what’s the difference between the APC and the PDP? They are children of the same mother and father.
“If the Federal Government is meeting with all political parties, then we would be there. But the meeting between the APC and PDP is immaterial.”
Asked if he would be calling for another meeting between the President and other political parties, he said “If they don’t invite us, good. But we have no business asking him (Buhari) to meet with us.
“If he is convinced that there are other political parties (in Nigeria), that is okay. But we won’t beg to attend any meeting.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance also described the non inclusion of the party in the meeting with the President as a ‘huge oversight’ on the part of those who organised the meeting with the president.
In a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, a former chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, said as the third largest party in Nigeria after the APC and PDP, APGA was more than qualified to be invited to such an important national parley.
“When I was the national chairman of the party, there was no important meeting that our party was not invited to. Those who organised the meeting should take note that what happened was very unfortunate. We control a state in Nigeria; we have our own views, we have our own opinions about the unfortunate challenges confronting the country. We take the issues in the polity as very important and we have a lot to contribute with a view to helping the President.
“Next time, if we are left out of such an important meeting, we will protest because APGA has a lot of contribution to make to national discourse. Those who organised the meeting should take note that what they did was a huge and unfortunate oversight. I don’t know why it happened that the third largest party in Nigeria was left out of an important parley with the President at this critical time of our great nation,” he said.
APC, PDP asked for the meeting –Presidency
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the meeting Buhari had with the leaders of the APC and the PDP was at the instance of the two political parties.
He said the Presidency did not have any record that other political parties sought an audience with the President and their request rejected.
Shehu said, “The leadership of the APC and PDP asked for an audience with the President separately and the President in its wisdom decided to meet them together.
“You may want to ask the political parties that are complaining if they wrote to meet with the President.” PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> How I TOTALLY Got Rid Of my POT BELLY,excess Fat and Overweight In just 2weeks.. Click HERE for Details.