Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu on Tuesday night reacting to what he called brouhaha over Buhari’s comments in an interview granted to the United Kingdom’s Telegraph Newspaper on February 5.
Shehu described as misconstrued, the various interpretations of President Buhari’s comments in the interview.
He said 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 Buhari’s point.
He said: “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 mother land at any cost, and it was this question that elicited his response”.
The presidential spokesman asked Nigerians to avail themselves of a full text of the interview which, according to him, has been made available on the Telegraph’s website.
He said 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”.
Shehu, however, clarified further that “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”.
“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”.
He said Buhari’s many efforts towards “cleaning up” the image of Nigeria included the ongoing war against corruption.
According to the presidential aide, “acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to preferring a solution. 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”. (Daily Trust)