Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, yesterday disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari was told by his opponents that he would never be a civilian President.
Gowon spoke yesterday during the launch of a book titled “Muhammadu Buhari: Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria,” held at the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja.
Gowon, who was also the chairman of the occasion, described Buhari as a dogged fighter and man of destiny.
“It is an honour for me to be here at the public presentation of Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria which has been described as a penetrative biography of Mr President. I do not expect the book to be anything less than as it has been described.
“More so, as everyone created by God particularly in a position of leadership is a story waiting to be told. As to be expected, today’s event, to borrow from the late politician, Chief K. O. Mbadiwe, is a gathering of political juggernauts and men and women of timber and calibre.
“Buhari deserves every word of praise as well as criticism. I can say without fear or favour that President Buhari is a fighter and a man of destiny. As a young officer, he did so well during several assignments and operations within and without Nigeria that called my attention and that of other leadership and that that is the reason why he catapulted to the top within a short time,” the former head of state said.
He added that, “As a combat politician, he fought many battles to take charge of Nigeria from Aso Villa in spite of being told several times that he would never see the inside of the Villa. His election in 2015 as president in a free and fair election is therefore an affirmation of the notion that persistence pays.”
He remarked that President Buhari has been doing his best to get things going to ensure that the economy is restored to good health and the suffering of the masses is taken care of.
On his part, Obasanjo, who was also a special guest of honour, said President Buhari has had many encounters, but most of them in parallel.
“Not too long ago we had a direct opposition at the ballot box. But even then, it did not affect our relationship. Fortunately, we didn’t have to look at each other through the barrel of our guns and I thank God for that,” he said.
Meanwhile, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has said President Buhari is slow and steady in his approach to governance because of his experience.
According to Tinubu, during the campaign, he surprised many by his agility and the broad canvas on which he operated.
He said the book succinctly explains the transition from the Buhari in uniform to one in civilian garb.
He further noted that in terms of style of leadership, Buhari as a young military head of state was in a hurry, “However, now that he is older and given his experience, he is slow but steady in his approach to governance.”
“The author juxtaposes Buhari’s military career and his political career adeptly, weaving them together in a tapestry that evokes the image of a man, who, from day one, had been destined for leadership,” Tinubu added.
He observed that from the book’s pages, what could be seen was a man who lived his life on assignments that always intersected with vital moments in the nation’s history.
“He was a man on assignment, when, in the military, he served bravely in a civil war to keep Nigeria united.”
Tinubu said now, as sitting President, he is on an assignment, against time, to undo the wrongs of nearly two decades of bad governance.
“Such is the life of this man. Always in the public eye, doing things in his different, disciplined and Spartan way. From this compelling narrative, neatly demarcated into three parts and 24 chapters, the reader is able to glean the quintessential Buhari.”
According to Tinubu, no one is more qualified to evaluate President Buhari, from the past to the present, than General Theophilus Danjuma, saying as a senior officer to Buhari, they both enjoyed a professional and personal friendship, unparalleled in our history.
“His words confirm that Buhari was a man prepared for leadership ahead of a time like this.”
He remarked that the formation of the APC is an important event that the book addresses, pointing out that the merger was the result of teamwork, belief in the democratic will of the people and a commitment to national purpose.
“Many of us invested ourselves, our heart, body, mind and soul in this project for national salvation. Many did not want it to happen and fought to undermine the good we sought to accomplish,” he added.
Meanwhile, the author of the book, Professor John Paden, in his remarks, said that the book followed the life and challenges of president Buhari in both military said civilian regimes.
He also said that the proceeds of the book would be given to charity and the internally displaced persons in north east.
“This book seeks to answer the questions: whose president Buhari and how’s grappling with the many challenges of Nigeria. My initial motivation was to introduce president Buhari to the international audience on the assumptions that Nigerians already knew their president,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Buhari who was not scheduled to speak appreciated the author of the book and his guests for honouring his invitation on short notice.
“I am very grateful to all that volunteered to come, to the chairman and organising committee. I honestly, did not expect the audience that has turned out because of the timing. Today is a public holiday. A lot of people are supposed to be at home with their families. But you made it. I am very grateful especially to the author who tolerated me,” he said