By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Dec. 20, 2021
Presidency on Monday frowned at attempts by opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to trivialise President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to Lagos for cheap political goals.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity also condemned the recruitment of some religious leaders by the PDP to tarnish the good image of the president over the visit.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Shehu highlighted the significance of Buhari’s visit to Lagos State.
“On Dec. 9, in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari launched a made-in-Nigeria Naval defence ship, NNS Oji.
“He also inducted other vital military assets that improved the country’s capabilities to fight increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“’With the waters off the coast of Nigeria seeing increased attacks – with 35 cases in 2020 – these new naval ships entered service at the most opportune time.
“Designed by Nigerians and built by Nigeria’s Naval Dockyard, the ships are the largest military vessels ever produced domestically.
“Key to President Buhari’s commitment to self-reliance as a nation and determination to build Nigeria into a manufacturing power, the ships paved the way for construction of larger more capable warships over time.
“In the future, Nigeria will move to become no more an arms importer to a defence exporter.
“In addition, the president surveyed and inaugurated a Navy helicopter that will join the new vessels in scouting for and countering piracy that impedes security and trade,’’ he stated.
Shehu added that while in Lagos the president also graced the launch of an autobiography by Chief Bisi Akande, pioneer Fourth Republic governor of Osun State.
He described Akande as a leader who played a crucial role in keeping democratic opposition to military rule alive.
Akande later played a critical role in the development and ultimate unity of that opposition to create today’s All Progressives Congress.
“Without visionaries such as Bisi Akande, the corrupt PDP and its acolytes who have done so much to strip our nation of its wealth, stunt its growth, and subject it to derogation abroad would still be in office.
“Of course, those in the PDP who have nothing positive or new to add to the debate about the future of the nation seek to trivialise the president’s Lagos visit.
“They choose to ignore the crucial launch of the naval vessels; they suggest the primary reason for going to Lagos was to attend a book launch.
“They try to make further mileage by claiming the president should not have attended given the attack by bandits elsewhere in the country that same day.
“Should the president not have launched the naval ships the day after that attack? Should he listen to the PDP who feign concern for those affected by banditry when they did nothing to combat it for decades – not on land or at sea?
“Should our famously austere president not attend a book launch of his friend and fellow democratic opposition veteran when it coincided with a visit to Lagos to tend the affairs of state?
“Through their attacks, the PDP revealed their priorities.
“Of course, for decades, as the PDP enjoyed their decadent parties at others’ expense, the navy and the armed forces rotted through negligence,’’ he added.
He noted also that the PDP did not criticise the president for boosting the country’s seaborne defence capacity, but instead, only managed to make the attack personal.
“It reveals the difference between a president who cares for the country while managing to show courtesy to his comrades and the opposition who corrupted the country through the sharing out of its wealth.
“Sadly, these opportunistic opposition elements, in a desperate search for political points, have dragged respected religious leaders into the discussion, feeding them misleading information.
“The latter have in turn used this distorted picture to black-paint the president in the eyes of innocent members of the public.’’