President Muhammadu Buhari has described the massive reception for him on his arrival in Kano for a two-day working visit, which started on Wednesday, as a clear message to the opposition that his popularity in the region remained unshaken.
According to a statement on Thursday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke at a state dinner held in his honour on Wednesday.
The President said results of the 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential elections showed that Kano State remained his stronghold.
He stated, “I am overwhelmed with the massive reception I have received and definitely, since this is partisan politics, I think it has sent a clear message to the opposition.
“Even going by the details of the election results in 2003, 2007 and 2011, it was very clear that nobody could even dare to rig my scores from the elections in Kano.
“It has been so consistent and I don’t think I have the vocabulary to express my thanks to the people of Kano.
“I am very grateful to God and the people of Kano for the complete trust you have in me.”
The President noted that during his drive around the city on Wednesday to inaugurate projects, he observed that many of those who thronged the road to welcome him were young people.
He pledged that as a person in a position of authority, his priority is to provide a meaningful future for the teeming youths in the country through education, and the faithful management of the economy and resources.
The President congratulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on his development strides in the state, urging other political office holders to emulate and support the state governor.
“He is a great politician and I am afraid I am still learning,” the President said.
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Buhari reaffirmed that his message at his inaugural address would continue to guide his stewardship to the Nigerian people.
“My problem is Nigeria and I have been involved in almost all the instability Nigeria experienced – the civil war, the coups and counter-coups. That was why I said during my swearing-in that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.
“Nigeria is my target and I will continue to maintain focus.”
Nigerians will decide 2019, says Atiku
But former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has reacted to Buhari’s statement in Kano State, noting that Nigerians alone would decide the emergence of the president in 2019.
The spokesman for Atiku, Paul Ibe, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents when asked to comment on Buhari’s statement that the reception he got in Kano was an indication of his popularity.
He said, “The only thing I can tell you is that Nigerians will decide 2019. Nobody else can decide but Nigerians.”
Also, a Second Republic lawmaker and northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said Nigerians could not rely on either the All Progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party, noting that the alternative for the country in 2019 might be the formation of a new political party.
He said, “Both political parties are two sides of a coin. Both are irresponsible. Both have top members who are very corrupt. As much as Nigerians are disgusted with the performance or non-performance of President Buhari, I don’t think they see an alternative in the PDP or most people who are now making noise about wanting to get Buhari out of power. This is a very unfortunate situation.
“What the PDP is offering to us presently is nothing. What anyone, who is currently dissatisfied may want to do, is to form a new political party. But in Nigeria, everyone is an opportunist; they want to defect to a political party, make money and grab positions.
“Unfortunately, the party system in Nigeria is still evolving. This is my concern. We do not have strong alternatives yet to the present administration.”
Also, stakeholders of the APC in Kano State, on Thursday, endorsed the Buhari as their candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
Ganduje declared that the party was prepared to drag the President to court to force his acceptance of the second term ticket.
Shehu disclosed this in another statement on Thursday.
He said the endorsement was made at a stakeholders’ meeting held as part of Buhari’s two-day visit to the state.
Shehu however said the President did not accept or decline the endorsement in his speech even after the party leaders promised to procure the nomination forms for him and threatened to sue if he declined their promised gesture.
The APC stakeholders meeting was attended by Ganduje, his deputy, Prof. Hafizu Abubakar; and the state Chairman and the members of the state executive committee and members of the national executive committee of the APC from Kano State.
Also in attendance were two of the state’s senators, members of the House of Representatives from the state, the Speaker, and 34 of the 40 members of the Kano State House of Assembly and the 44 party chairmen, their deputies and the Local Government Area secretaries of the APC.
Others are Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and other leaders of the party in the state.
The President said he understood the clamour by the ordinary people on the streets who raised four fingers on each arm, ‘‘meaning four plus four’’.
He, however, stressed the need to sanitise party politics by ridding it of vote buying and violence.
“What I saw in the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers, the use of money and those headless bodies really upset me. I don’t wish to see that anywhere. I would not have won if money and killing was the mode of operation. That is my view of politics,” the President said.