As the country begins to gear up for general elections in February 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the mammoth crowd that thronged the streets of Kano to welcome him on Wednesday was a clear message to the opposition that his popularity in the North remains unshaken.
Buhari made the observation at a state dinner organised in his honour during a two-day official visit to Kano.
He said he was full of thanks and gratitude to the government and people of Kano for the very warm and peaceful reception.
“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,” he said.
Buhari had also on Wednesday in Kano said that he had no doubt that if he contests election in 2019 he will win following the reception on that day.
The president had also in Abidjan, capital of Côte d’Ivoire, revealed his intention to seek re-election in 2019.
The president noted that during his drive around the city on Wednesday to commission several projects, he observed that many of those who thronged the road to welcome him were very young people.
He said his priority was to provide a meaningful future for the teeming youths in the country through education and the faithful management of the economy and resources.
Buhari also congratulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on his development strides in the state and urged other political office holders to emulate and support the governor.
“He is a great politician and I am afraid I am still learning,” the president remarked.
Buhari reaffirmed that the message in his inaugural address, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,’’ 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,” he said.
Buhari, who will be 77 years old in 2019, has spent more than five months in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical ailment.
Following his ill-health some observers had said he may not serve more than one term. But he returned in August with renewed vigor, regularly traveling on official trips both at home and abroad.
To win again, he’ll need to rebuild the coalition that formed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which guaranteed him votes in the North and parts of South West.
But one of the leaders of the APC, Bola Tinubu, said the party would follow due process in picking a flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election.
Fight Against Corruption Most Difficult Task Of Our Agenda – Buhari
Buhari also said on Thursday that the fight against corruption was the most difficult task of the Federal Government’s agenda.
The president, who made the remark at an interactive session with community leaders in Kano, said the Federal Government would remain resolute in the fight against corruption in the country.
“The fight against corruption is the most difficult task of the present administration’s agenda since its inception over two year ago,” he said.
Buhari, who spoke at length on his experiences on the fight against corruption when he was military head of state, said the Federal Government had directed for the sale of assets confiscated from corruption officials with a view to putting the proceeds into the government’s coffers.
“We are planning to sell all confiscated properties so as to put the proceeds into government coffers.
“This is because I learnt a lesson when I was military head of state. The assets confiscated from corrupt officials were returned to their owners after we were removed.”
He said he would continue to pursue the All Progressives Congress (APC) agenda to ensure justice and fairness to all for the development of the country.
Buhari urged Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and support the Federal Government in its determination to tackle the various challenges in the country.
He said his administration would continue to give priority to education and urged state governments to also focus on sector for socio-economic development of the people of their respective states.
The interactive session was attended by the Minister of Interior, retired Lt-Gen. Abdurrahman Dambazau and members of the state and National Assembly from the state.
Also in attendance include representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, civil society organisations and business community, among others.
Shops For ‘Incorruptible Judges’ To Handle Anti-Graft Courts
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has given hint of plans to set up a special anti-corruption court that would be dedicated to prosecuting corrupt persons.
He, however, noted that such courts must be manned by ‘incorruptible judges’.
He gave the clue at an interactive meeting with religious leaders in Kano, on Thursday, in the course of his two-day state visit.
Buhari’s intentions was conveyed in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who quoted the president to have reaffirmed his strong support for the proposed anti-corruption courts.
The president was quoted to have said, “To strengthen judicial integrity and the rule of law, anti-corruption courts must be manned by ‘incorruptible judges’.”
President Buhari also assured the religious leaders that the war against corruption will be prosecuted with the highest regards to due process and respect for human rights.
APC Stakeholders In Kano Endorse Buhari For Second Term
Stakeholders of APC in Kano State on Thursday endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as their candidate for the 2019 general elections.
The party leaders also expressed their commitment and support for Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as their sole candidate for 2019.
But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who accompanied Buhari on the trip, noted in a statement that Buhari did not say he accepted nor did he decline to accept the endorsement in his speech.
The party leaders also promised to procure the nomination form for him and threatened to sue if he declined the endorsement.
Shehu said Buhari merely beamed with smiles and went on to underscore the need for unity in the party and among the diverse peoples of Nigeria.
The APC stakeholders’ meeting, held on the margins of the president’s state visit to Kano, was attended by Governor Ganduje; his deputy, Professor Hafizu Abubakar, the state chairman and the members of the state executive committee and members of the national executive committee of the party 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 secretaries of the APC.
Others are Governor Muhammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa and other leaders of the party in the state.
The state Chairman of the APC, Alhaji Inuwa Abbas, hinged their endorsement of the president on his achievements in the last two years especially in the fields of security, the war against corruption and the restructuring of the economy.
“Security is important for everyone, not just for Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“It is even more so for us as a commercial and industrial state. We are convinced that you are best for these times when the country has begun to muster energy and resources to develop agriculture, infrastructure and empower the younger citizens,” Abbas said.
On a humorous note, Governor Ganduje said the party was prepared to drag the president to court to force his acceptance of the second term ticket.
In his response, President Buhari 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 modus of operation. That is my view of politics,” the president said.
Buhari’s Kano Popularity Claim Irrational— Junaid Mohammed
Reacting to Buhari’s claim of popularity in Kano, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a Second Republic politician, described it as irrational.
Mohammed stated that the president has not done anything for the people of the North or Kano to warrant such statement.
“The idea that he has done nothing for the people of Kano or North and now claiming that he has overwhelming support of the people to me is irrational”, he said.
The Kano State-born politician stated that he doesn’t believe that because President Buhari is from the North then he should support.
“I don’t know how people play their own politics, but for me before any politician can claim to have the total support of the people, he must have counted what he has done for the people, but the situation we have at the moment is not like that”, he said.
Mohammed further explained that in 2015, the people of the North blindly supported Buhari, but now that the people cannot see what he has done for them, it is difficult for anybody to say things would be the same in next election.