National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has urged former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida to spare President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party their damming criticisms.
Tinubu told the former president that Nigerians were in a better position to assess the performance of the present government in power.
The former governor, who spoke to a team of journalists after his meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, urged Obasanjo and Babangida to join the retirees’ club of pensioners in the country.
Responding to the recent statements credited to the two past leaders which portrayed the Buhari administration in negative light, Tinubu said the two elder statesmen ought to take the back seat and allow the man on the saddle to do his job.
“I don’t address those shadows. We should let our former presidents join retirees’ club and take pensions, but they can participate in our politics if they are interested.
“It is a free world, but this freedom is not served a la carte, but they should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian,” he said.
Tinubu, who expressed optimism on the chances of the APC in the forthcoming presidential election in 2019, said he remained firmly committed to the party.
“We have a better chance and we are strongly determined to prosecute election in a most transparent and democratic manner and we will win,” he said.
Tinubu said he was honoured to be given the responsibility to reconcile the internal differences among members of the party.
According to him, the assignment was not only a very strong political challenge, but a testimony to the confidence that the president has reposed in him.
“We have started in earnest. He has given me free hand to put cohesion, confidence and trust in the party. Democracy is about conflict resolution process. You can’t do it without resolving conflicts.
“We can’t build it without understanding the conflicts and sources where we are coming from. But we want to leave the country with a legacy. It’s not about Mr. President. That is what he’s telling the country.
“It’s about our country and no other choice to democratic tenets than through political party platforms.
“He’s one of those rare beings around the country, around Africa who had experienced both worlds: he fought a battle to save Nigeria and came to politics to save Nigeria. Very rare people have such an opportunity in their life time and that’s what we talk about legacy, and where we have all the challenges, do what we should do. I’m enjoying the challenges so far,” Tinubu said.
The visit also came shortly after a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) met with President Buhari in the Presidential Villa.
Meanwhile, Buhari has again declared that the era of Boko Haram terrorism was gradually drawing to a close, with the narrowing of the recruitment base of the insurgents, and renewed onslaught by the Nigerian Army.
Receiving the Letter of Credence of Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to Nigeria, Most Rev. Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, at the State House, President Buhari said the terrorist group had lost appeal in its initial strongholds, necessitating a steady retreat that will eventually culminate in ending the insurgency.
“You can’t indoctrinate people who are below the age of 14 years and blow up churches, mosques, markets and you keep shouting God is great.
“It is either you don’t know what you are saying, or you simply don’t care or believe what you are saying. It is part of our success story that Boko Haram is finding it more difficult to recruit people.
“The Nigerian Army is also not making it easy for them to grow, with more intelligence, orientation and regular, measured onslaught on their camps,” he said.
The President said the ongoing effort to dismember the terrorist group, and render it completely powerless, will be intensified.
Buhari, who described the Catholic Church as a strong partner in the development of Nigeria, noted that the church had made very significant contributions to the development of the educational and health system of the country.
On corruption, the President said the fight against the culture of pilfering public funds would be prolonged, and would require a new orientation and repositioning of the entire educational system.
“I am pleased that the African Union has spoken out boldly against corruption and appreciated the work that we are doing here,” Buhari told the Archbishop.
In his remarks, Archbishop Filipazzi said the Holy Father, Pope Francis, had taken a keen interest on the fight against terrorism, corruption and reviving of the Nigerian economy.
“Mr. President, the Holy Father, sends his warm greetings and he is keen to denounce corruption everywhere,” he added.
The Apostolic Nuncio said he had travelled to the North East and was pleased with the efforts of the Nigerian Army in tackling the insurgents, and recovering some of the earlier lost grounds.
Buhari also received Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Niger to Nigeria, Mr. Alat Mogaskia and the High Commissioner of Ghana, Alhaji Rashid Bawa.