President Muhammadu Buhari has made a bold assertion, stating that the people of the Niger Republic will rally to his defense if any adversarial action is taken against him after he vacates office.
Moreover, the President highlighted his past decision to seal off the country’s land borders as a strategic move to promote patronage of domestically produced goods among Nigerians.
However, this declaration has drawn criticism from some quarters, including the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), which have accused the President of displaying a non-committal attitude towards Nigeria. These groups have gone on to claim that Nigerians will not mourn his exit from office.
Buhari, while making his comments at the inauguration of the new corporate headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Abuja, reiterated his earlier intention to distance himself from the nation’s capital following the end of his administration.
The President highlighted the significance of fostering good relations with neighboring nations, saying, “That is why when I became the President, my first visit was to Niger, Chad and Cameroon because, based on personal and national issues, the neighbourhood is very important.”
He stressed the importance of earning the confidence and cooperation of neighboring nations, pointing out that failure to do so would pose problems for both current and future generations.
The President asserted his firm belief that the people of the Niger Republic will stand up for him if required, owing to the solid relationship he has nurtured with them. He added, “Thank goodness, I come from an area which is far away from Abuja. I said if anybody forces me, I have a good relationship with my neighbours, Niger people will defend me.”
Buhari concluded his speech by revisiting the rationale behind his decision to close the nation’s land borders, insisting it was aimed at encouraging Nigerians to produce and consume more domestically produced food. He noted that while the move was initially met with resistance, Nigerians eventually grew to appreciate it.