President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday thanked Nigerians for their support and trust in him during his tenure, declaring that he has run a good race, finished his course as he noted that it is now time for another person to take up the baton.
He spoke after conferring the national honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima, during a ceremony at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The president also handed over the baton of service to Tinubu with advice for him to lead with wisdom, courage and compassion.
“As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, let us not forget the immense responsibilities that come with leadership. The challenges facing our nation are significant, and it is the duty of the President and Vice President to address them with courage, wisdom, and compassion.
“We must remain committed to the principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability, as these are the foundations upon which our nation’s progress and development rely,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that Tinubu had the experience and capacity to lead the country, carrying on the legacy of his administration, adding: “President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you have a long and illustrious track record of public service, marked by your exceptional achievements in various capacities. Your transformative leadership in Lagos State, where you left an indelible mark in the areas of infrastructure, education, healthcare, and economic development, speaks volumes about your dedication to the welfare of the Nigerian people.”
While examining some of the challenges before the incoming administration, President Buhari advised Tinubu to lead the country with wisdom, courage, and compassion.
He added: “Once again, I congratulate President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima on their well-deserved investiture. May the Almighty bless you and guide you in your endeavors to lead Nigeria towards a brighter and more prosperous future.”
President Buhari said the administration was faced with many challenges at inception and worked hard to tackle hydra-headed issues, noting: “This administration from inception has faced security challenges such as insurgency, oil theft, kidnapping as well as corruption which has eaten deep into the system.
“With the political will and support of many Nigerians, especially our dogged Armed Forces, insurgency, terrorism, and kidnapping have been reduced to their barest minimum while corruption has been tackled headlong.
“Despite the aforementioned challenges, our administration has made economic gains over the years. While acknowledging the turbulent times and global economic meltdown occasioned by the world oil crisis and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, our economy has remained afloat and strong.
“Our administration’s commitment and determination in infrastructural upliftment of Nigeria have remained unshaken,’’ he added.
As part of his achievements, President Buhari noted that Second Niger Bridge, named after him, had been completed and commissioned.
He further said: “I am happy to say that no administration in Nigeria’s modern history has given so much attention to roads as we have done in the last eight years. In all, we have been able to construct and complete over 8,352.94 kilometers of roads across Nigeria.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in spite of the shortfall in the federal government’s revenue, due to the weakness in the global economy that led to a drop in oil revenue, we have touched on all sectors of the Nigerian economy positively.
“As we celebrate the monumental infrastructural strides achieved by this Administration, it is pertinent to acknowledge that these transformative endeavors have not only reshaped our physical landscape but have also paved the way for remarkable economic outcomes that reverberate across our nation.
“The link between infrastructure and economic prosperity is undeniable. It is through the construction of roads, railways, bridges, and other critical assets that we unlock the true potential of our nation, leading to better communication, facilitating trade, and propelling economic growth,”
He explained that to avoid a repeat of “our 2015 experience,” he had signed Executive Order No. 14 of 2023, establishing the legal framework for conducting presidential transitions at the federal level.
Buhari said the Executive Order establishes the Presidential Transition Council chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ministerial Transition Teams headed by the Permanent Secretaries.
He explained that the primary responsibility of the two ad-hoc bodies was to ensure that every piece of information that will help a new administration get off to a speedy start was made available in a usable format and in a timely manner.
“Today, I am so proud to have handed over to you my Successor, Your Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu three key documents that will guide you as you aim to define a path for your administration.
“It is my earnest desire that you will find these documents useful as this would be the first time in the history of this country that such detailed documentation will be produced for handover to a new administration. I strongly encourage you to uphold this legacy and make the experience even better for your successor by the time you are to leave office.
It may also interest you to know that apart from these three documents, all the Ministries and their Agencies have also prepared their Handover Notes, ready to brief their new political leadership. I want to sincerely thank the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and his team for this great feat,’’ he further stated.
On the transfer of a symbolic baton to Tinubu, President Buhari said that the incoming government would continue with the race of advancing democracy and development.
“This is a first in the history of our Nation’s transition process. To preserve this remarkable history for generations to come, I have directed that the Baton be preserved in the Presidential history wing of the National Archives and I hope that President-elect Tinubu and those after him will build on this tradition,’’ he added.
In his remark, the president-elect thanked President Buhari for the transition committee that was ensuring a smooth handing-over process, with documents that cover and capture the performance of the outgoing administration, saying: “I also feel a sense of pride that this moment is our moment.”
Tinubu extolled President Buhari for his democratic credentials, making history on the assumption of office by recognizing late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as winners of the 1993 presidential elections and honoured them with GCFR, and GCON, respectively.
While saying, “you went back into history to set the record straight,’’ he congratulated President Buhari for providing strong and visionary leadership for eight years, assuring that he will not disappoint on the assumption of office on Monday.
“I understand the honour given to me and the magnitude of the task that awaits us,’’ he noted.