President Muhammadu Buhari
In this concluding part of the interview President Muhammadu Buhari granted Eric Osagie, The SunMD/Editor-in-Chief in company of Paulinus Aidoghie in 2012, he explains why he is not super rich despite being former Head of State.
Read some excerpts from the interview below:
President Buhari: I used to smoke, but of course, I abandoned it I think in 1977.
Oh really? Before you became head of state?
President Buhari: Yes, I stopped smoking.
Have you ever taken alcohol?
President Buhari: No.
President Buhari: Never.
Even as a young man and all that?
President Buhari: No, no. Even in the military tradition, how they break you in, I said well, the military did not stop anybody practising his religion. My religion said no alcohol and no alcohol. So, that was respected. I was never forced to take alcohol and I have never voluntarily taken it because I want to remain alert all the time. There is a tendency that when you drink, you would want to have a bottle more, or a glass more and do something stupid.
As a young man, very handsome because I saw some of your old pictures, did you have women flocking around you? And women like soldiers, people who have power…
I also thought women ought to have taken more interest in me but I don’t know why they didn’t. I must have something they didn’t like. I assure you of that. I didn’t drink, I smoked, I had girlfriends; it was true.
How many did you have?
President Buhari: I hope you won’t publish this because my wife will read the interview. So, you will be very kind to me if you don’t publish that (general laughter).
You joined the army and there was coup and counter-coup and civil war. You still had time to unwind?
You can create it but we had too much eventful time, professional career. It was too eventful. There were too many things happening almost at the same time. If I could recall, the 30 months civil war that we had, I was just having two weeks after every six months to come back home just to see my old mother and some of my relatives because I refused to get married till after the war.
Was it deliberate?
President Buhari: It was deliberate.
Why? I thought that would have been the reason to get married.
President Buhari: No, no. Some of our colleagues, like late Vatsa, like Babangida, they were more adventurous than myself. They took a weekend and had a quick marriage and went back to the front. I thought I would be putting the poor girl or the poor woman under a lot of stress. So, I said if I survived the war, I would get married, but if I didn’t survive, no woman should cry for me other than my relatives.
Some of your General-colleagues became stupendously rich. Today, they have means. I am not a lawyer taking inventory of your assets or preparing your will, but tell me what property do you have now at 70? I am sure you have a house in Abuja, you have one in Lagos. You have one in Daura and you have one here (Kaduna). So, if I count your property, maybe five. Am I right or wrong?
You are right but am not going to read or declare with you. My assets were on record, I told some of your colleagues when they came. When Murtala/Obasanjo regime came, they made sure that certain grades of public officers must declare their assets when they assumed that office and they must declare when they were leaving. So, when I was sworn in as governor of North East, I declared my assets.