Progressive Governors’ Forum on Friday honoured President Muhammadu Buhari and seven All Progressives Congress governors.
The governors were Mr Rochas Okorocha (Imo State); Mr Kashim Shettima (Borno State); Mr Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State); Mr Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State); Mr Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State); Mr Ibrahim Giadam (Yobe State); and Mr Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State).
Former Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, was also honoured.
The honour was in recognition of their leadership qualities and service to APC since it was formed in 2014.
The President was honoured for his outstanding qualities in leadership, according to the organisers.
They said Mr Buhari excelled by granting bailouts to states to pay inherited salaries, helping states to renegotiate loan repayments and release of Paris club refund.
Speaking at the event at Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari said he was taken by surprise, but admitted he had been encouraged to do more.
He called on the 36 states to work together to sustain the unity of Nigeria.
The President said, “We remain committed to improving the welfare of Nigerians. Your excellencies, it will be belabouring the point to say that true federalism is necessary at this juncture of our political and democratic evolution.
“At a time when a few privileged individuals and groups have chosen to exploit and manipulate the ethnic and religious fault lines for personal and partisan advantage, we need to build bridges across the different divides and instil faith in the unity and indivisibility of one Nigeria.”
Buhari asked the governors to continue to support his administration’s anti-corruption war.
He said, “I call on state governments to be a strong pillar of support for our anti-corruption agenda, as well as continued support for our programmes of social protection, school feeding and other policies geared towards human capital development.”
On the establishment of the APC in 2014, the President recalled that politicians of like minds sought to woo South-West because the zone was more united at the time.
According to him, South-East and South-South were already facing problems, a reason the founders of APC found support in the unity.
He said, “It was easier to woo South-West because it was more united.”
Imo State Governor Okorocha, chairman of the forum, said Buhari was “a leader with a vision”, hence he was considered for the award.
Okorocha said, “For every journey that has a beginning must have an end, the end of one government marks the beginning of another.
“By the 29th of May, we the remaining governors (eight) will bow out of office and this event presents to us an opportunity to appreciate a man that we have worked wonderfully well with, a man that made our party proud, President Muhammadu Buhari, for a job well done.
“I recall vividly in 2014 when the merger struggle started with all my colleagues here, we were the very first few generals of Buhari in the merging arrangements.
“When we started, many people never gave us a chance and many never believed in Buhari, especially the elite, except for the ordinary people. It was a tall order; it was a difficult arrangement, but we worked for victory, not only for him but also for the party and the entire generation. I want to salute the doggedness of my colleagues.”
Okorocha added, “Mr President, let me be personal with you this morning, the truth is, and you may not know, that you are a God-given asset to this nation. I am not saying so for purpose of flattery or praise-singing.
“I have observed all categories of leaders in this country, but you seem to have distinguished yourself. Most of the leaders in this country are those who either buy their love, fame or political position, but in your own case you don’t spend one naira and you have love come your way and you have leadership come your way.
“That is the only judgement I have to say that you are destined by God to govern this country.”