President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday stirred up a fresh controversy over his real age when he said he thought he was 74 but was told he was 75.
Buhari spoke when the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammed Bello, led a delegation to pay him Christmas homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President, joined by state governors and other top government officials, celebrated his 75th birthday penultimate Sunday. He was said to have been born on December 17, 1942, in Daura, present day Katsina State.
While thanking his guests for the visit, Buhari recalled the health challenge that kept him away from the country for months earlier in the year and admitted that 2017 had been a tumultuous year for him.
The President said he had recovered well from the sickness because he obeyed his doctors who instructed him to be eating and sleeping well.
He said, “I am very grateful (to you) for taking time out on a very important day to come out and spend it with us.
“It has been a tumultuous year. I am thinking I am 75. I thought I was 74 but I was told I was 75.
“I have never been so sick, not even during the 30-month civil war that I was stumbling under farm of yams or cassava.
“But this sickness…I don’t know, but I came out better. All those who saw me before said I look much better when I came back.
“But I have explained it to the public that as a General, I used to give orders. But now, I take orders. The doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours. That is why I am looking much better.”
Buhari said he appreciated the visit because he respects good neigbourliness both at individual and national levels.
He said that was why immediately after his inauguration as President in 2015, his first foreign trip was to Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republic.
“If you are in good terms with your neigbours, then you can make some savings for development.
“But if you start fighting your neigbours, then I am afraid the resources you have you will lose it in trying to be very clever.
“So I try to be very close to my neigbours both individually and nationally. I thank you very much for being very good neigbours,” he added.
The President admitted that 2017 has been a tough year for Nigeria.
He expressed the hope that next year would be more prosperous for the country.