President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday mixed up the dates of his assumption and relinquishing of office as Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister.
Speaking in Warri, Delta State, at the presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Buhari said he was Petroleum Minister from 1978 to 1979.
“I am impressed by what previous speakers have said, especially the Minister of State for Petroleum who told you what we have been able to do in Delta State, because he happens to come from here and he happens to be my Junior Minister as Minister of petroleum Resources,” Buhari told the audience.
“Since 1984, or 78 to 79 when I was the Minister, I never lost interest in the petroleum industry. I am acutely aware of your influence because God has placed you on top of this national asset. I hope you will understand and appreciate the favour God has done to you in favour of the rest of Nigerians.
“I am trying to remind you to please reflect very seriously: where were we when we came in 2015, where are we now? What were we able to achieve with the resources available to us. I assure you, under this leadership, is to serve Nigeria.”
Buhari’s claim, though, isn’t true.
As Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Buhari as the Federal Commissioner (now known as Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources between March 1976 and June 1978. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was created in 1977, Buhari was also appointed as its Chairman; he held this position until 1978.
In the 1978-to-1979 period that Buhari erroneously thought he was Petroleum Minister, he was actually Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters, and was also a member of the Supreme Military Council.
The President made the mix-up minutes before he mistakenly handed over the party's flag to the party’s “governortorial candidate” at the rally.
"I am handing over this flag of honour to our presidential candidate," he had said. When the man to his left corrected him, saying "gubernatorial", Buhari responded with "to our senatorial candidate". Again, the man corrected him, saying "gubernatorial". This time, Buhari said: "governortorial candidate".
Just one day ago, Buhari gave a wrong date of his assumption of office.
"I'm very impressed at this very short notice [sic], you turned out for so many hours standing in the sun to see us and to listen to us," he had told the presidential campaign rally of the APC in Lokoja, capital of Kogi State.
"I assure you that I am very aware of your appreciation of the efforts for what we were able to deliver since came in 19th of May, 2015. All we are trying to do is to remind you to think, 'where were we in 2015 when we came in, where are we now?' What have we been able to achieve with the resources available to us?"
Buhari became President on May 29, 2015, after contesting the presidential election three times — in 2003, 2007 and 2011 — eventually defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the March 28, 2015 presidential election.