Nigeria's Buhari makes controversial decisions in his last days as president

Outgoing President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari

Outgoing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Photo credit: AFP

In preparation for his exit, Nigeria's two-term leader Muhammadu Buhari, 79, inaugurated some legacy projects, released last-minute funds and chaired his final Federal Executive Council meeting.

President Buhari, who first came to power on 29 May 2015 and was re-elected in 2019, is handing over to 71-year-old Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared the winner of the 25 February presidential election.

The inauguration of the president-elect would take place on 29 May at the Eagle Square in Abuja, despite the plethora of election petitions against Mr Tinubu.

The presidency said on 24 May that President Buhari had given the nod for the last-minute funds to be handed over to Tinubu's administration a few days before the inauguration because the government needed funds to pay off debts.

President Buhari wrote to the Senate seeking approval for a request to pay the $566,754,584, £98,526 and N226 billion judgment debts so as not to burden the incoming administration.

Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said: "If you owe and you refuse to pay, the Bible says you are a wicked man. If the government owes all these debts, why shouldn't it pay? It should pay.

"The government has a mandate from a certain time to a certain time, that mandate was from 2019 to 2023, so the government is working," he said.

President Buhari on Tuesday also commissioned seven legacy projects completed by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing across the country.

The projects are the three major bridges, three federal secretariats and a road.

One of the major projects is the Second Niger Bridge, which was conceived in 2005 for the South-East but could not be executed until President Buhari commenced construction in 2016.

In 2014, there was an attempt to start the project through a public-private partnership (PPP), but this was not successful. Construction began in 2016 with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

Others are the Loko-Oweto Bridge across the River Benue to link Benue to Nasarawa State and the Ikom Bridge in Cross River State, while the road project is the completed section of the over 200-kilometre Kano-Kaduna Dual Carriage Expressway and three new Federal Secretariats.

The first of the Federal Secretariats in Awka is located at the Executive Business District Layout, Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State and sits on 5,106 hectares of land.

The president also held a valedictory meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, but did not dissolve the cabinet.

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, President Buhari directed all ministers to return to their desks and continue working until 29 May when the new government will be inaugurated.

"I just want to make this clarification. While we were in the chambers, there was a false report that the Federal Executive Council had been dissolved, which is not true," Lai said.

"In fact, we were directed by the president that we should all go back and return to our offices. So it is not true that the Federal Executive Council has been dissolved, it is still very much alive.

"We have all been directed to go back to our offices and ensure that we continue to work till the end of the 29th of May. So, please ignore the fake news."

Meanwhile, President Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, have moved from their official residence in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa to the Glass House, a temporary structure that has served as the residence of outgoing presidents since 1991.

The move is to allow for maintenance work on the residence in preparation for its next occupant, President-elect Bola Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shetimma.

Their aides have also been moving their personal belongings out of the seat of power to make way for new aides and key presidency officials.

President Buhari's wife, Aisha, has shown the incoming First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, around the State House official residence.

"I have shown the new First Lady, Senator Remi Tinubu around. She has seen the main house; we are now at the popular Glass House. The Glass House is a temporary home for outgoing presidents.

"I advise that the Glass House should maintain its tradition of being a transitional home for outgoing presidents. As I speak to you now, I am staying here with my husband.

"There are only two of us here, and I think that should continue as a norm of the institution and the house."