A former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, has said Nigeria’s peaceful elections and transition of power have earned her respect throughout the whole world.
Speaking shortly after a meeting with the president-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), the ex-British prime minister said Nigeria’s image has gone up since the last election, with the clear signs of a peaceful transition by May 29.
This is just as the All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on inauguration has announced that it is planning a low-key inauguration ceremony in deference to the poor state of the Nigerian economy.
Blair however assured Buhari of the goodwill and support of the international community to Nigeria based on the peaceful transition of power.
“In the last few weeks, Nigeria has earned respect throughout the whole world. There is enormous support for Nigeria now in the international community. The support takes into consideration the challenges that lie ahead and there is great confidence in the country,” he said.
While reminding the president-elect of the challenges that lie ahead, Blair expressed the hope that if the government could maintain the same momentum of goodwill that guided the election, then the country was sure of surmounting any difficulty in the coming years.
“This is an election which took place in a way which the country shows the majority of democracies the spirit and character of its people and in the president-elect and vice-president-elect, it is a leadership that I know is determined to do its best for the country.
“Obviously, the future and destiny of Nigeria lies in the hands of its people. I just want to say to the president-elect that there is tremendous support for you and the country at this moment and all of us, in whatever way we can stand ready to support you and help you.
“It is a moment of great challenges which borders on the life of the people as well as their security and so on. If the same spirit and character that defined the election can be taken through these coming years to address the challenges, I think we can all have great confidence in the times ahead,” he said.
In his short remark, Buhari commended the United States and “other Western nations for making it possible for Nigeria to conduct a free, fair and credible election”.
“We had a meeting and discussed how Britain and the United States were helping us in making sure that we conducted ourselves according to our constitution.
“The fact that it has been so successful is a major relief for us and to all people of conscience throughout the world. I thank the former British prime minister for his concern for Nigeria and Nigerians in what he is prepared to do by continuing to help us as a country and as a people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the APC Presidential Inauguration Committee, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said that the committee is planning a compact inauguration and hand-over ceremony on May 29.
Speaking on the inauguration of the incoming government, Sylva said the committee’s assignment was progressing well and that it hoped to meet the expectations of Nigerians for a well-packaged transition ceremony.
“There are no challenges, we are planning very well and I think we are going to give Nigerians a compact inauguration. We are not going to be flamboyant, we think that this country cannot afford a flamboyant ceremony this time because the economy is not in good shape right now. So we are actually planning to give Nigerians a compact event which will be a source of pride to Nigerians,” he said.
On the number of heads of state or governments expected at the ceremony, he said: “Although we have not gotten all the confirmation yet but we have already gotten some from several countries.”
He also spoke on the expected relationship between the incoming and outgoing government, dismissing the insinuation that there might be rift between the two governments.
“There is no problem, it is just politics. What happened is that they were on the wrong side and they lost, we are on the right side and we won. And so the government will have to continue and just like we were there when they were governing, they also have to be there when we are governing the country,” he said.
Sylva also responded to the allegation that he is carrying a corruption baggage and so might not be qualified to be in Buhari’s cabinet.
According to him, “I will be shocked to hear that, maybe those peddling the allegation are the court and they have already convicted me. We have courts in the land and you know that PDP is the party of impunity.
“Today if I pick you up and I charge you to court on charges of corruption , does that convict you? It is only the court that can convict you and that is why we have the rule of law.
“A situation where people just pick you up and say you’re corrupt just to persecute you, does not augur well for our democracy. I have been vindicated politically and I will be vindicated by the court also because I ran the best government in Bayelsa State, a better government than what the outgoing president ran in Bayelsa State. I can assure you that I am going to come clean at the end of the day from the charges against me.”
Continuing, he said: “You can ask them why they are charging me for an offence for which they have discharged my accountant general and my commissioner for finance. What does that tell you? It means that, this is just mere persecution because no governor can access fund unless through his accountant general or commissioner for finance. Both of them have been exonerated and that means there is actually no crime at all.”