The President, Muhammadu Buhari, has insisted that the current polarisation and inherent injustices in the country are neither fuelled by ethnicity nor religion, but Nigerians themselves.
Buhari said this while receiving members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group recently at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, nobody can accuse him of corruption after serving as a governor, minister, head of state and currently a second-term President.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, made the full text of the President’s address to his guests available to journalists on Wednesday under the headline ‘Forget ethnicity, forget religion. We, the people, are the problem of Nigeria, says President Buhari’.
The President again narrated his struggles to get justice at the courts, after disputed results of presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011, concluding that people who ruled against him were of his own ethnic stock and religious persuasion, while those who stood up for him were of other faiths and ethnicity.
He said, “Our problem is not ethnicity or religion, it is ourselves. After my third appearance in the Supreme Court, I came out to speak to those who were present then. I told them that from 2003, I had spent 30 months in court.
“The President of the Court of Appeal, the first port of call for representation by presidential candidates then, was my classmate in secondary school in Katsina. We spent six years in the same class, Justice Umaru Abdullahi.
“My legal head was Chief Mike Ahamba, a Roman Catholic and an Ibo man. When the President of the court decided that we should present our case, my first witness was in the box.
“Ahamba insisted that a letter should be sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission to present the register of constituencies in some of the states to prove that what they announced was falsehood. It was documented.
“When they gave judgment, another Ibo man, the late Justice Nsofor, asked for the reaction from INEC to the letter sent to them. They just dismissed it. He then decided to write a minority judgment. That was after 27 months in court.
“We went to the Supreme Court. Who was Chief Justice of Nigeria? A Hausa-Fulani like me, from Zaria. The members of the panel went in for about 30 minutes, came back to say they were proceeding on break. They went for three months. When they came back, it didn’t take them 15 minutes, they dismissed us.
“In 2007, who was the CJN? Kutigi. Again, a Muslim from the North; after eight months or so, he dismissed the case.
“Again, in 2011, because I was so persistent, Musdafa, a Fulani man like me, from Jigawa, neighbour to my state, was CJN. He dismissed my case. I’ve taken you round this to prove that our problem is not ethnicity or religion. It is ourselves.
“I refused to give up; I had tried to wear Agbada after what happened to me in khaki. Something was done to me, because I did something to others. You know it. In the end, I was arrested, sent to detention, and they were given back what they had taken. I was there for three and a quarter years. This is Nigeria.”
The President expressed optimism that history would capture the progress the country has made in the justice system.
He added, “Thank God that over the years, they can’t accuse me of corruption. And I’ve been everything; Governor, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Head of State, President and in my second term.”