The Presidency on Sunday clarified a statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari about Governor Hope Uzodimma at a meeting with some south-east leaders last week.
Buhari had said during his concluding remarks that he would be “careful with your (Uzodimma’s) future invitations.”
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina in a statement said Buhari at the event made it clear that he was expressly overwhelmed by the reception and galaxy of personalities that travelled from the five south-eastern states to have a heart-to-heart discussion with him in Owerri.
Mr Adesina said the president had assumed that he was in the state to commission projects alone but the governor pulled a surprise on him with the calibre of over 50 elders that came to receive him.
The statement read partly: ”We have observed that President Buhari’s concluding remarks at the meeting with South East 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 South East 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, retired Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe; and former Senate President Ken Nnamani.
”Former Military Governor in old Imo State; Sen. Ike Nwachukwu; the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Chairman of the South East 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.”
The presidential aide quoted the president’s words at the event as: “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.”
He said the president later in his concluding statement at the same event, made reference to his earlier remarks on the ‘‘surprise’’ action pulled by the governor.
On a lighter note, Adesina said the president quipped: “Governor of Imo State, I cannot thank you enough, but I will be careful with your future invitations.”
He maintained that Buhari’s historic visit to Imo was very successful and the Igbo leaders who met him shared the same enthusiasm that his coming to the eastern heartland would bring peace, foster unity, encourage good and better understanding among the citizenry.