By Patience Danjuma
President Muhammadu Buhari says he thought he was a year less than his known age.
Official records put the age of the president at 75.
Speaking when he received Mohammed Bello, minister of the federal capital territory, at his official residence in Aso Rock on Monday, Buhari gave the reason behind his healthy looks after battling ill-health which made him spend the better part of the year outside the country on medical vacation.
He said while as an army general, he could give orders but the sickness forced him to take orders from doctors.
Bello led a delegation drawn from the Christian community in Abuja to pay Christmas homage to the president.
“I am very grateful for taking time out on a very important day to come out and spend it with us,” he said.
“It has been a tumultuous year. I am thinking I am 75, I thought I was 74, but I was told I am 75. I have never been so sick, even the 30 months civil war when I was stumbling under farm of yams or cassava but this sickness I don’t know… I came out better because all those who saw me before and when I came back said I look much better.
“But I have explained to the public that as a General I use to give orders, now I take orders. The doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours that is why I am looking much better.”
He said the need for good neighbourliness cannot be overemphasised, especially now that maintaining peace has been confirmed to be much more economical than prosecuting war.
“I thank you very much for coming and making all the sacrifice because today is a crowded day for me from early in the morning until maybe the following morning with the family and friends and neighbours and one thing I learnt to respect is good neighbourliness both at individual and national level,” he said.
“When I was elected my first trip was to Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin Republic, if you are in good terms with your neighbours then you can make some savings for development, but if you start fighting your neighbours then am afraid the resources you have you will lose it in trying to be very clever, so I try to be very close to my neighbours both individually and nationally.
“I thank you very much for being very good neighbours, including the one on my left (referring to Senator Philip Aduda).”
Buhari who admitted that the outgoing year 2017 would go down in history as a really tough one for Nigerians, said he felt the pains the citizens must have been going through.
He prayed that 2018 would bring with it greater prosperity and succour, even as he expressed satisfaction that majority of Nigerians took to his advice and embraced farming as a means of livelihood.
“It has been a tough year for Nigeria and I hope next year will be a much more prosperous one but those listening to the press are the majority of us, the rainy season was very good and some states have got very good information from home, I never knew that the people from Kano who are more resourceful used to go to my area and hire farms, this year nobody hired farm, and nobody regretted it,” he said.
“Again, the second one from the Governor of Sokoto state said all the people that really used to go to Mecca are farmers but he didn’t tell me if they took additional wives. But I am very pleased people have gone back to the land with very good harvests and taking their priorities and the good thing about farming is if you don’t put your hope on neighbour, hope on the government, once you pay your debt nobody ask you what you do with the balance and nobody ask for interest this is one good thing about farming.
“But other things I think the burden will be on my neck, I thank you very much for coming especially the religious leaders, I am very pleased you are doing your best from the intelligence I am getting to make sure that people live as good neighbours and good Nigerians.”
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