Nigeria's Buhari makes controversial decisions in his last days as president

Thursday May 25 2023
Outgoing President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO | KOLA SULAIMON | AFP


In preparation for his exit, Nigeria's two-term leader Muhammadu Buhari, 79, inaugurated some legacy projects, released last-minute funds and chaired his final Federal Executive Council (Fec) meeting.

President Buhari, who first came to power on May 29, 2015 and was re-elected in 2019, is to hand over to 71-year-old Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the 25 February presidential election.

The inauguration of the president-elect will take place on May 29 at the Eagle Square in Abuja, despite the plethora of election petitions against Tinubu.

The presidency on Wednesday said that Buhari had given the nod for the last-minute funds to be handed over to Tinubu's administration a few days before the inauguration because the government needed funds to pay off debts.

President Buhari wrote to the Senate seeking approval for a request to pay the $566.8 million, £98,526 and N226 billion judgment debts so as not to burden the incoming administration.

"If you owe and you refuse to pay, the Bible says you are a wicked man. If the government owes all these debts, why shouldn't it pay? It should pay,” special adviser to the president on media and publicity Femi Adesina said.


Read: Buhari tells central bank to give Emirates more dollars

"The government has a mandate from a certain time to a certain time, that mandate was from 2019 to 2023, so the government is working," he added.

Seven legacy projects

Buhari on Tuesday also commissioned seven legacy projects completed by the federal ministry of works and housing across the country.

The projects are the three major bridges, three federal secretariats and a road.

One of the major projects is the Second Niger Bridge, which was conceived in 2005 for the South-East but could not be executed until Buhari commenced construction in 2016.

In 2014, there was an attempt to start the project through a public-private partnership (PPP), but this was not successful. Construction began in 2016 under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

Others are the Loko-Oweto Bridge across the River Benue to link Benue to Nasarawa State and the Ikom Bridge in Cross River State, while the road project is the completed section of the over 200-kilometre Kano-Kaduna Dual Carriage Expressway and three new Federal Secretariats.

The first of the Federal Secretariats in Awka is located at the Executive Business District Layout, Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State and sits on 5,106 hectares of land.

Read: Buhari roots for Bola Tinubu as successor

The president also held a valedictory meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, but did not dissolve the cabinet.

According to the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, Buhari directed all ministers to return to their desks and continue working until May 29 when the new government will be inaugurated.

"I just want to make this clarification. While we were in the chambers, there was a false report that the Fec had been dissolved which is not true," Lai said.

"In fact, we were directed by the president that we should all go back and return to our offices until the end of May 29. So, please ignore the fake news," he added.

Meanwhile, Buhari and his vice Prof Yemi Osinbajo have moved from their official residence in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa to the Glass House, a temporary structure that has served as the residence of outgoing presidents since 1991.

The move is to allow for maintenance work on the residence in preparation for its next occupant, President-elect Bola Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shetimma.

Their aides have also been moving their personal belongings out of the seat of power to make way for new aides and key presidency officials.