By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
African leaders, who attended the inauguration of the French version of the book, Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria, in Niamey, Niger Republic, have shared glowing testimonies of the leadership qualities of the Nigerian leader.
A statement by Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman on Friday, said President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic, President Umaro Embaló of Guinea Bissau and former President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou gave speeches at the event.
Gen. Mahamat Deby Itno, Head of the Transition Military Council and President of Chad also delivered goodwill message at the launch of the French version of President Buhari’s biography authored by John Paden.
Paden is a Professor of International Studies at George Mason University, Northern Virginia, U.S.
The event took place on the side-lines of the African Union Summit on Industrialisation and Economic Diversification, as well as the Extraordinary Session on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), running from Nov. 20 to Nov. 25, 2022 in Niamey.
Shortly after his arrival in Niamey on Thursday, Buhari had earlier inaugurated a 3.8-kilometre boulevard, named after him by the Government of the Republic of Niger.
Speaking at the book launch, the President of Niger described the Nigerian leader as ‘‘an austere man, uncompromising, humble man, an ardent patriot and a committed democrat.’’
Bazoum also commended author of the book, Paden, for writing about the life and work of the Nigerian president.
He said: ‘‘Professor John Paden, you were well-inspired to have chosen to write about the life and work of an exceptional man.
“I commend your work for being comprehensive, objective and for shedding new light on the personality of the patriot, the courageous military man and the conscientious politician that is President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Nigeria is Niger’s main trading partner. It is, therefore, normal for any Nigerien politician to follow the evolution of political life in Nigeria.
“That is why I have closely followed Muhammadu Buhari’s political struggles, especially his participation in the presidential elections from 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.”
Bazoum disclosed that the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, being waged together with Nigeria and other neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin, had allowed him to discover the “strategist and statesman in Buhari, who is determined to ensure peace for his country and the sub-region.
“His fight against corruption and for good governance has earned him the esteem of all. It is a pleasure to work with a man of conviction like him.
“I am sure that those who read the book will not fail to draw useful lessons for their political or professional careers. They will not fail to learn life lessons at all. This book will certainly educate the younger generation.”
Guinea Bissau President Embalo, who is also the current chairman of ECOWAS, told guests at the event that his father was equally called Muhammadu and was born the same year as Muhammadu Buhari.
“I just want to emphasise that there is a reciprocating affection for this man.
“Today, l am the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, firstly it is God and secondly it is this man, Baba. Thank you very much,’’ he said.
Embalo stressed that the book was a portrait of a great African leader, saying: “I pay homage to President Buhari for his patriotism and commitment to maintaining peace in our sub-region.
“We have an avenue in Guinea Bissau bearing Buhari’s name since a year ago. Baba, as I fondly call him, is a mentor, always available to offer solutions. Baba is a tireless artisan in the maintenance of peace and solidarity in the sub-region.’’
On his part, the President of Chad described Buhari as a very experienced man with a great dream for Nigeria and a clear vision for Africa.
“President Buhari brings a heritage and a source of knowledge to us all. Thank you for this inestimable gift, Mr President.
“President Buhari is undoubtedly an icon, whose role and action make the African voice to be heard in the world.
“He has always contributed to development in Africa by protecting and defending Africa and Africans. You are undoubtedly a model. You taught us perseverance in politics.
‘‘As a major actor in fight against terrorists and trans-border insecurity, especially in the Lake Chad region, where Boko Haram is, I want to use this opportunity to appreciate the relations between my country Chad and Nigeria and President Buhari for his availability, especially in difficult times,’’ he said.
Issoufou, the immediate-past President of Niger, praised the incumbent for launching the French version of the book, whose idea was conceived during his tenure as president.
He recounted that he graced the launch of the English version of the book in 2016 in Abuja, commending the author for documenting the life ‘‘of an exceptional man.’’
Issoufou said: ‘‘As a military head of state, his primary preoccupation was fighting corruption, and even now as a democratic president, he is a leader who knows the close links between security, democracy and development.
“His fight against Boko Haram, organised crimes and corruption is notable. Part of his priorities include education and health development, climate change, democratic transition.
“I agree with John Paden to state that Buhari is known for patience, honour, faithfulness and sense of duty. These helped him rule Nigeria differently from a military leader.
“He is ‘Mr Dignity’ and ‘Mr Truth’ as he is called and a sincere friend of Niger.”
One of the book reviewers, Prof Abdallah Adamu, former Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), said that Buhari had rightly earned the name Mai Gaskiya, which is translated to mean “someone who keeps his words”.
He added that the author, Paden, had fairly provided a biography of the current Nigerian President where he exposed the qualities of Buhari, which might not be known to many.
‘‘The author is very much qualified to give an account of President Buhari, having been involved in Nigerian politics in the 1970s and 80s,’’ he said.
Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, recounted the role played by the president’s nephew, Mamman Daura, in the publication of the book, describing him as the initiator and driving force.
“It is a book on the personality, character, content of President Buhari, what he stood for and what he still stands for,’’ he said.
Sirika and three other Nigerians, Mohammed Indimi, Chairman of Oriental Energy Resources (OER), Sayyu Dantata, Chief Executive Officer, MRS Holdings Limited and Farouk Adamu Aliyu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) received awards from the President of Niger.
The awardees were recognised for their roles in fostering excellent bilateral relations between Nigeria and Niger.
Oil mogul Indimi donated 1,000 free copies of the book to AU Summit delegates in Niamey.
The President of the Niger National Assembly, Seini Oumarou, Prime Minister, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, the High Representative of the President of the Republic of Niger, Foumakoye Gado and the presidents of the institutions of the Republic were also present at the event.