â€¢ Insist on second term for presidentÂ
â€¢Atiku is politically damaged, says presidentâ€™s political associate
By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja, Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The controversy trailing recent public endorsement of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for the presidency in 2019 by Women Affairs Minister, Senator Aisha Alhassan, took a new dimension yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari Support Group insisted on a second term for the president.
The group, Buhari Support Group (BSO) in a statement by its Chairman in Enugu State, Chief Anike Nwoga, said Buhari at no time told anybody that he would not run in 2019.
The group called the minister a â€˜liar and agent provocateur,â€™ for claiming that President Buhari told her that he will stay only one term in office.
BSO said the president needs eight years to consolidate on his achievements in office noting that the president is already revampingÂ decayed infrastructure, war against corruption and insecurity, hence laying a solid foundation for economic prosperity.
â€œWhereas Women Affairs Minister, Alhassan has the inalienable right to support anybody of her choice for president in 2019, they were of the candid opinion that President Buhari should complete his second term.Â â€œFrom all our interactions and that of our leadership, with President Buhari before the election, there was no day the issue of one term was discussed. Rather, from day one we had always known that the rot left behind by the successive Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) squandermania regimes was deep and that President Muhammadu Buhari needed eight years in order to cleanse the Augean Stable. And to be exact, he needs to consolidate the war against corruption, insecurity in the land and to consolidate the solid foundation for economic prosperity.â€
â€œAll we in the BSO is praying to God is to guide and give PresidentÂ Buhari good health to complete the good works he is doing in revamping our critical infrastructure, Enugu Coal, second Niger Bridge and so on,â€ Anike said.
The group also expresses optimism that the president would redress the imbalance in his appointments which he said had not favoured the South-east zone.
Meanwhile, Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has declared support for President Buhari should he declare his intention to run for the presidency in 2019, saying the president is justifying his mandate through â€œsound economic reforms and genuine fight against corruption.â€
The governor, who made this known yesterday in Lokoja through his Director General on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, said Nigerians still need Buhari beyond 2019 â€œto consolidate the gains of the past two years.Â Nigerians have seen why this nation was messed up for many years with institutionalised corruption, institutional failure and absence of visionary leadership. The present administration has restored the confidence of the international community in Nigeria.
â€œIn two years, President Buhari has given hope to the international community and Nigerians that the country is capable of fulfilling its potential for the benefit of her citizens, Africa and the world at large.â€
Bello said the recent â€˜rescue from recessionâ€™ is a clear indication that â€œNigeria is set to take the world by storm through sound economic policies that are germane to improved standards of living of Nigerians.â€
Meanwhile, one of the closest political associates of President Buhari and Board Member of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mohammed Lawal, said former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is politically damaged, saying his rash and hard criticism of the president would not make any difference in the policies and programmes of the federal government.
Speaking with THISDAY last night in Abuja, Mallam Lawal said the former vice-president started plotting to cause problem for Buhari-led administration right from the day the president was sworn in to ensure that his administration does not succeed.
In an interview aired on morning programme of the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VOA), Atiku accused Buhari of side-lining him despite the fact that he used his contacts and resources to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved,â€™â€™ he said
However, speaking with THISDAY, Lawal, who was Deputy Director in the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, said Atiku lied about his contribution to Buhariâ€™s victory, stating that during the campaign the former vice-president granted an interview to BBC and stated that Buhari would not win the presidential election.
â€œAtiku is nobody in APC; he is politically damaged; he was making preparations to go back to PDP and get the ticket after ex-President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s exit in 2019, if Buhari fails in the election,â€™â€™ Lawal added.
â€œImmediately after the presidential primaries, Atiku left the country. He did not come back. All along — while we were prosecuting the presidential campaign, Atiku was not in Nigeria at all. He did not participate in the presidential campaign.
â€œAfter the presidential election, he came to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and left the country. He is now complaining that he was not contacted.â€™â€™
As former Deputy Director at the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Lawal said Atikuâ€™s name, like all other names, was included in the list of leaders who were to campaign for Buhari, saying he however left the country and only came back to congratulate the President after he was sworn in.
â€œI knew all the intrigues. Atiku fought Buhari tooth and nail. He was extremely unhappy about his loss of presidential primaries. He did not campaign for Buhari during the election,â€™â€™ Buhariâ€™s political associate added.
Contrary to Atikuâ€™s claim that he spent huge amount of his money for Buhariâ€™s election, Lawal said he refused to contribute any money.
â€œAtiku promised to campaign and contribute to the campaign. He did not contribute anything. This is Atiku. And out of magnanimity, Buhariâ€™s first outing in Abuja, after winning the election, was to attend Atikuâ€™s daughterâ€™s wedding,â€™â€™ Lawal added.
â€œThere are many Atikuâ€™s loyalists in this government and he is saying he had been side-lined. Atikuâ€™s loyalists were given appointment because of Atiku. They know themselves. And Atiku is saying nothing has been given to him? At least the principal appointment given to Atiku went to Aisha as the Minister of Women Affairs.
â€œTo be candid with you, Atiku started fighting Buhari since 2015. They just came out now because they were choked up; they did not get any reaction from Buhari. They thought he was going to start fighting, abusing and dealing mercilessly with the opposition in government.â€™â€™
He also dismissed the insinuation that the former vice-presidentâ€™s planned exist from APC would affect Buhari-led government, saying Atiku has no political values as some of his loyalist would want the public to believe.
Lawal also urged the Minister of Women Affairs, Haija Aisha Allhassan to resign her appointment, saying she free to campaign for anybody.