The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday rejected reports suggesting he lamented that his age would limit the extent to which he could perform in office as president.
In the said reports in some national dailies, Buhari was reported to have told the Nigerian community at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday that he would have loved to have been president at a younger age.
“I wish I became head of state when I was a governor. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do,” he had stated.
But clarifying what he actually meant when he made reference to his age, Buhari said nothing could be farther from the truth than the said interpretation, adding that, on the contrary, as the saying goes, “old wines are tastier.”
Speaking through his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the president noted that the Buhari Nigerians have in him today “is a man, like old wine, that has got tastier.
“At 72, yes, he can’t be called a youth, but he has, in quantum, the wisdom, the patience, temperance and forbearance that age brings.”
Recalling that the president himself had rightly told the Nigerian community that he was speaking extempore because he wanted to “speak from the heart”, Adesina said Buhari was only urging them “to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, a country he went to the warfront to keep together.”
In a statement made available yesterday, Adesina said, “The above comments have been reported by some newspapers to mean that the president was saying he was too old to cope with the demands of his office. Far from it.”
He noted that the president had served as a military governor of the then North-Eastern State at age of 33, and that he was bringing the virtues of experience, wisdom, patience, temperance and forbearance to the presidency to make a difference in the country’s national life.
According to the presidential spokesman, “The president assured the Nigerian community in South Africa that his administration will make a positive impact on the country. And that, he would do:
“Insecurity as symbolized by insurgency will be brought to an end; corruption will be fought to a standstill; employment will be created for the teeming army of the unemployed; the economy will be revived, and the quality of life of Nigerians will take an upward swing again.
“These will not come by a sudden flight, but they will happen in the life of this administration. At 72, the Buhari persona has not changed; he remains the simple, honest, incorruptible patriot he has always been.
“And because Nigerians earnestly desired change, that was why they voted for him overwhelmingly at the general elections in March, this year. All the virtues and values of the Buhari persona will be deployed into governance in the weeks and months ahead.”
He further said the Nigerian community in South Africa was ‘enthralled’ with president after he spoke to them, and they swarmed round the president who shook hands with as many of them as he could.
“They took his message well. That is the essence of good wine; it gets better with age, and it is a message for all Nigerians, both at home and in the Diaspora,” he explained.