The presidency has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment in Owerri, Imo State, last Thursday, does not mean he is unhappy with Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Buhari had been quoted to have while addressing Uzodimma said he would “be careful with your future invitations”.
And the comment has since been trending on social media as meaning the president is not happy with the governor.
Reacting in a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the presidency said: “We have observed that President Buhari’s concluding remarks at the meeting with Southeast leaders during his one day visit to Imo State is being deliberately contorted and twisted out of context.
“The purveyors of disinformation want Nigerians to believe that the President bluntly told Governor Uzodinma, ‘I’ll be careful with your future invitations’.
“They have adduced different meanings to the phrase, contrary to the context wherein the President spoke during his successful dialogue with leaders of thought from Igbo land.
“When he arrived at the banquet hall of Imo State Government House for his last assignment in Owerri, the President was welcomed by over 50 leaders from the Southeast, who had waited patiently for him for a Town Hall engagement, after commissioning strategic projects in the state.
“The President began his extempore speech by acknowledging the calibre of personalities present at the dialogue including the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (Rtd), former Senate President Ken Nnamani, former Military Governor of old Imo State, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Deputy Governors of Abia, Anambra and the SSG of Enugu State, who represented the Governor, the Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Province, Most Rev David Onouha, and his brother Bishop of Enugu, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ahaejiagamba Ndigbo, just to mention but a few.
“An elated President Buhari made it clear that he was expressly overwhelmed by the reception and galaxy of personalities that travelled from the five Southeastern states to have a heart-to-heart discussion with him in Owerri, the Imo State capital.”
To set the records straight on what the President said, the statement quoted him as saying: ‘‘I am overwhelmed by this reception, overwhelmed in the sense that when I accepted the invitation by the Imo State Governor, who wants to justify investments the government has done to the people of Imo State, I thought I would see the bridges, the roads and a few renovations.
‘‘He didn’t tell me he was going to get the whole Igbo leadership here. So, in the future when he invites me, I’ll know what to do. But I think he has done what the military didn’t like. He has achieved surprise. He has surprised me beyond description.”
The statement added: “Later, in his concluding statement at the same event, the President made reference to his earlier remarks on the ‘surprise’ action pulled by the Governor. On a lighter note, he quipped ‘Governor of Imo State, I cannot thank you enough, but I will be careful with your future invitations.”
Meanwhile, Uzodimma, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Oguwike Nwachuku, blamed the development on the opposition.
“In their desperation, they doctored and proceeded to post on social media platforms, a misleading video on President Buhari’s remarks during his Town Hall Meeting with highly respected Igbo leaders who were in the audience at the exclusive meeting, in total disregard for the good intention of Mr. President’s remarks,” the CPS said.
“Because the opposition in Imo State is too bitter with hate to notice even the smallest of humour, nobody would have been surprised if they also lost their sense of understanding when President Buhari went humorous in his remarks.
“Let me explain to them what Mr. President meant in the language they will understand if at all they would be ready to learn.”