President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday evening said he was not ready to do anything in a hurry.
He said he would sit and reflect on issues before he would continue with a clear conscience.
Buhari said this during a dinner he hosted in honour of chieftains of All Progressives Congress at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “I keep telling people that while I was in uniform, quite reckless and young, I got all the ministers and governors, and put them in Kirikiri. I said they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. I was also detained too.
“I decided to drop the uniform and come back. Eventually, I am here. So really, I have gone through it over and over again.
“This is why I am not in a hurry virtually to do anything. I will sit and reflect and continue with my clear conscience.”
Buhari also denied allegation of ethnic bias being levelled against him.
He explained that the number of substantive ministers he appointed from the South-East, where he got only 198,000 votes, was enough proof that he was not favouring the North as being speculated in some quarters.
“There is something that hit me very hard and I am happy I hit it back at somebody.
“Seven states of the North are only represented in my cabinet by junior ministers, ministers of state.”
“In (the) South-East, I got 198,000 votes but I have four substantive ministers and seven junior ministers from there.
“You are closer to the people than myself now that I have been locked up here, don’t allow anybody to talk about ethnicity. It is not true,” he said.
A fact check, however, revealed that at least two substantive ministers come from the north west. These are Attorney General, Mr Abubakar Malami from Kebbi state and Minister of Interior, Mr Abdulrahman Danbazzau from Kano state.
Buhari also noted that throughout the period of his struggles to become the President, he enjoyed the support of people of other ethnic groups and religious affiliations.
He recalled, “There is one thing that disabused my mind in a dispassionate way about ethnicity and religion across the country. You know that tribunal for presidential election started at High Court of Appeal. The President was my classmate. I missed only four of the court sittings.
“For that first phase, 2003, we were in court for 30 months. My legal leader was Mr Ahamba, an Igbo man. He asked the panel of judges to direct INEC to produce the voters register to prove that the election was done underground.
“When they came to write the judgment, they completely omitted that. Another Igbo man, a Roman Catholic, in the panel of judges wrote a minority report.
“I went to the Supreme Court. Who was the Chief Justice? A Hausa Fulani, a Muslim from Zaria. After 27 months, Ahamba presented our case for two hours and 45 minutes. The Chief Justice got up and said they were going on break and when they returned the following day, they will deliver the judgment. They went away for three months. That was what made it 30 months.
“And when they came back, they discussed my case within 45 minutes.
“In 2007, who was the Chief Justice? A Muslim from Niger State. The third one (in 2011), who was the Chief Justice? My neighbour from Jigawa State. The same religion and the same tribe.”
The President said he won the 2015 election because of the commitment of Nigerians and the use of Permanent Voters Cards.
He stressed the need for proper voters education, saying Nigerians must be told they need to choose the leaders of their choice.
Buhari again lauded former President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in the last presidential election.
He said having been in the saddle for six years, Jonathan had the capacity to cause trouble if he wanted to do so.
“The PVCs worked well in 2015. That was why when the former president rang me, I went temporarily into a coma.
“I will never forget the time. It was quarter after 5 pm and he said he called to congratulate me and that he has conceded defeat. He asked if I heard him and I said yes and I thanked him for his statesmanship.
“The truth is after being a deputy governor, a governor, Vice-president and President for six years, and he took that decision is great.
“He could have caused some problems. He had stayed long enough to cause problems,” he added.
The President said he decided to host the party chiefs in order to assure them that he was aware of the country’s problems and he would always reflect on the incidents that preceded his assumption of office.
The party’s National Chairman, Mr John Odigie-Oyegun, urged Buhari to continue beyond 2019.
He said doing otherwise would mean that all that the President had struggled for would come to nothing.
“We are firmly, totally and completely behind you and when you make up your mind soon as I hope you will, you will find an army behind you.
“Those who wish you well are already working and it is my hope that you will agree eventually that continuity is important and critical. Otherwise, all that you have struggled for will come to nothing,” he said.
Odigie-Oyegun said it was good that the President took time to put issues in the right perspectives.
He said the explanation showed clearly that the President listened to what people were saying.
He said, “It has been such a terrible misrepresentation. You have seized this opportunity to say that you are not what people are saying.
“There are so many misconceptions. Look at the example you have given that those who stood by you through the periods of problems and struggles are not people of the same religious persuasion.
“You have said it that you are not an ethnic jingoist. I know this because I have known you for a very long time.
“For some of us, when these things are said, we find it painful but I hope there will be a proper rendition of what you said today and it will start clearing the air.
“The only thing I will add is that you have had a most challenging 2017 in every respect, including your son’s predicament.
“It is our prayer that all the struggles you have been through, all the efforts you have put in for this country, the mind that you have to improve the lot of the ordinary man of this country, that we will begin to see results in 2018 and see the essence of the man, Muhammadu Buhari.”
The party chairman added, “For almost three years, you have laboured to reconstruct the broken foundation of this nation. You have laboured to put a new infrastructure without which development is impossible.
“They were just dipping hands in the treasury, the banks were just changing papers and collecting commissions and we all said we were developing and prospering. But it was not a development that touched the ordinary man of this country.
“For the first time, that is about to begin. It has taken three years of foundation laying and thank God, the harvesting, I believe, is going to begin this year.
“It is my hope that it will come early enough for people to see that if one has to call anybody the architect of a modern Nigeria, you will bear that distinction.
“Like I said when we were launching the book of your achievements, what you started, you cannot complete. That is a matter of fact. But what you started is basic, fundamental that Nigerians must learn a new way of doing business based on their sweat from which profit will come based on their resources.
“When we are used to doing things wrongly, change becomes very difficult and we are passing through that stage now.
“It is not a struggle we can complete in four years or even eight years. But you have started something new and that change is not for nothing. It is even deeper than most of us understand. We must carry it on until it becomes second nature to us.”
Party chieftains who attended the dinner included Mr Rabiu Kwankwaso, Mr Orji Kalu and Mr Segun Oni, among others.
The party’s national leader, Mr Bola Tinubu, was conspicuously absent.