As we mark the 81st birthday of former President Muhammadu Buhari, born on December 17, 1942, in the ancient town of Daura, Katsina State, it’s a moment to reflect on the remarkable journey and enduring legacy of this esteemed Nigerian leader. Serving as the President of Nigeria from 2015 to 2023, Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure was marked by a steadfast commitment to discipline, honesty, and a selfless dedication to the nation’s progress.
His leadership was a period marked by significant strides in infrastructure development, particularly in the transportation sector, and a resolute fight against terrorism, notably against Boko Haram.
Muhammadu Buhari’s administration focused intently on reviving Nigeria’s infrastructure. One of the key highlights was the remarkable progress in the transportation sector. Under his leadership, hundreds of thousands of kilometers of roads were constructed across the six geographical regions of Nigeria, fundamentally altering the landscape of national connectivity and commerce.
Notable achievements include the construction of Muhammadu Buhari Second Niger Bridge, the completion of the Abuja – Kaduna standard gauge rail line, the construction of the Lagos- Abeokuta rail, and the initiation of the Kano – Kaduna rail project. These projects not only improved transportation but also served as a catalyst for economic growth and regional integration.
Another significant infrastructure project was the Abuja – Kaduna – Kano gas pipeline, which marked a major step forward in the nation’s energy sector, aiming to boost domestic gas utilisation and industrialisation.
In addition to infrastructure development, President Buhari’s tenure was crucial in degrading the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group. When he came to power, Boko Haram was a significant threat, having control over 17 local government councils particularly Borno State.
Through strategic military and security measures, his administration successfully liberated these territories and significantly reduced the group’s capabilities, bringing a semblance of peace and stability to regions that had been under the shadow of terrorism.
Before his presidency, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Nigerian army major general, served as the country’s military head of state from December 31, 1983, to August 27, 1985. His military career was distinguished by the same values that later defined his political journey: integrity, discipline, and a tireless work ethic.
As his special assistant during his presidency, I had the unique privilege of witnessing firsthand the profound depth of his dedication. President Buhari’s days in office were not just about policy-making and governance; they were lessons in personal integrity and national service. His commitment to discipline and honesty was not merely rhetoric but a lived experience, evident in his daily interactions and decisions.
One of the most striking aspects of Muhammadu Buhari’s personality is his selflessness. Contrary to the popular trope of political self-interest, Baba, as we fondly called him, always put the needs of the nation and its people first. His approach to governance was never about personal gain but about what was best for Nigeria. This selflessness, a rare virtue in the realm of global politics, has been a beacon of inspiration for many, including myself.
As he celebrates his 81st birthday, it’s not just the years that we celebrate but the legacy of a leader who has profoundly impacted Nigeria. Muhammadu Buhari’s life and career have been a testament to the power of dedicated and honest leadership. His contributions to Nigeria’s political landscape have set a benchmark for future leaders.
In a time where global leadership often seems to be wavering, Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy stands out as a reminder of the virtues of dedication, discipline, and selflessness in service to a nation.
Happy 81st birthday, Baba. Your journey continues to inspire us, and your legacy will undoubtedly shape the contours of Nigeria’s future. Your life is a narrative of selfless service and an unwavering commitment to the betterment of our nation.
As we celebrate this special day, we are reminded of the immense contributions you have made to our country and the values you have instilled in those who have had the honor of working with you.
May your years be filled with health, happiness, and the continued love and respect of a grateful nation.
Allah ya ƙara lafiya, Baba!
* Bashir Ahmad is a Special Assistant to former President Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023)