Buhari spoke when Federal Capital Territory Minister Muhammed Bello led a delegation to pay him a Christmas tribute to the presidential villa, Abuja.
The president, joined by some state governors and other senior officials, celebrated his 75th birthday. He was born on December 17, 1942 in Daura, in the present state of Katsina. While thanking his guests for the visit, Buhari recalled the health challenge that took him away from the country for months earlier in the year, admitting that 2017 had been a tumultuous year for him.
The president said he had recovered from the illness because he obeyed his doctors who ordered him to eat well and sleep well. He said, “I am very grateful to you for taking the time to go out and spend time with us.
“It was a tumultuous year. I thought I was 74 but I was told that I was 75 years old.
“I’ve never been so sick, even during the 30-month civil war,” But this disease … I do not know, but I came out better. Everyone who saw me before said that I looked a lot better when I came back.
“But I explained 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 long hours. That’s why I feel much better. ”
Buhari said he appreciated the visit because he respected good neighborliness both at the individual and national level.
He said that was the reason why, immediately following his inauguration as President in 2015, his first trip abroad was to Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin.
“If you are on good terms with your neighbors, then you can save money for development. But if you start fighting against your neighbors, then, I’m afraid the resources you have you lose it by trying to be very smart.
“So, I try to be very close to my neighbors both individually and nationally. Thank you very much for being very good neighbors, “he added.
The president admitted that 2017 had been a difficult year for Nigeria, expressing hope that next year would be more prosperous for the country.