– Presidency says President Buhari’s statement was misconstrued
– Asks Nigerians to read the full text of the interview before reaching conclusions
– Insists that the president would have implicated himself as a criminal with the said statement
The social media had been awash with reports of the Nigerian president referring to Nigerians as criminals, stating that it is the reason they are not allowed to stay in those foreign countries.
The reports even received a backlash from Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who lambasted President Buhari over such statements, adding also that one of his ministers reportedly hosted a dinner for about N80 million.
The presidency has now swiftly reacted to the reports about him calling Nigerians criminals, saying that his statement during the interview with the UK newspaper was misconstrued by Nigerians with each individual giving it different interpretations.
Malam Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to president on media and publicity, in a press statement issued on Tuesday, February 9, explained that the wave of negative reactions to the president’s remarks about the reputation of Nigerians abroad was as a result of an incomplete understanding of President Buhari’s point.
“President Buhari was asked about the flood of migrants from Nigeria and the fraudulent applications for asylum put in by people desperate to leave their motherland at any cost, and it was this question that elicited his response.”
Malam Shehu added that it was preposterous for anyone to imagine that the President of Nigeria would describe all the citizens of the country he leads as criminals, when he himself is a Nigerian, obviously not a criminal, and when there are many Nigerians of honest living making their country proud all over the world.
“Unfortunately, there are also Nigerians giving their country a bad image abroad, and it is to those Nigerians that the President referred in his comments,” noting that people may play politics and online games with the President’s comments, but the fact of the matter remains that Nigeria’s reputation abroad has been severely damaged by her own citizens.
“These Nigerians who leave their country to go and make mischief on foreign shores have given the rest of us a bad reputation that we daily struggle to overcome.
“President Buhari is very aware of the problems the people of Nigeria face both at home and abroad, and he is not shying away from admitting them even as he focuses on solutions to bring them to a permanent end.”