- State APC endorses president, to sue him if he fails to contest in 2019
- Atiku to declare for presidency after PDP convention
Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano and Laleye Dipo in Minna
In a clear pointer to his popularity in the most populous state in Northern Nigeria and with an eye on contesting the 2019 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Kano disclosed that the overwhelming reception accorded him by the people of the state was a clear message to the opposition in the country.
Speaking at an interactive session with community leaders held at Coronation House in Kano, Buhari expressed his satisfaction with the massive reception he was given, saying: “Definitely, since this is partisan politics, I think it has sent a clear message to the opposition.”
Buhari, who was in Kano on a two-day visit, said the reception accorded him was impressive, while conveying his appreciation to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II for the horse parade for him at the palace, which he reiterated was an affirmation that Kano State remains his stronghold.
He noted that during his drive around the city to inaugurate projects, he observed that many of those who thronged the streets to welcome him were young people who tried to get a glimpse of him.
The president pointed out that his administration has focused on major issues that will foster development in the country, stating that in the last two years, fighting corruption was a major challenge in the country.
He also said plans were afoot to ensure that the properties of corrupt persons are sold and the proceeds go into government coffers.
He assured his audience that his administration would not relent in its efforts to ensure that corrupt persons are prosecuted.
In the area of agriculture, Buhari said rice imports had dropped by 90 per cent through the land borders, pointing out that he would continue to do his best to ensure that the country attains greater heights.
On the trans-border relationship with ECOWAS countries, the president said his government was working to establish a cordial relationship with neighboring countries.
The president also spoke on the issue of drug abuse, stating that his government will check the proliferation of hard drugs in the country, adding: “Many people have talked to me about this. That is why I have assigned a retired military officer to handle this. You all know about the performance of Hameed Ali (Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service). He is doing a good job and by God’s grace we will do more.”
He said his administration would continue to accord priority to education, so as to empower youths and enable them to contribute their quota toward the development of the country.
“If you educate people, you empower them. So we have to make sacrifices to prepare the youths for the future,” Buhari said.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State said his administration was able to execute a number of projects, in addition to initiating various empowerment programmes for women and youths.
He said as part of efforts to address unemployment challenges, the state government had awarded contracts worth over N2 billion for the construction of a skills acquisition training centre which would soon be completed and put to use.
During Buhari’s visit to Kano, the state’s All Progressives Congress (APC) also endorsed him and Ganduje for second term in office come 2019.
The party’s stakeholders, in a meeting with the president yesterday at the Kano Government House, had in attendance Ganduje, his deputy, Professor Hafizu Abubakar, the APC state chairman and members of the party’s state executive committee.
Also in attendance were two of the state’s senators, members of the House of Representatives from the state, and the speaker and 34 members of the Kano House of Assembly, among others.
Others included Governor Muhammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa and other leaders of the party in the state.
Buhari, however, did not accept or decline the endorsement in his speech, even after the party leaders promised to procure the nomination form for him and threatened to sue if he refused to contest in 2019.
The president merely beamed with smiles and went on to underscore the need for unity in the party and among the diverse peoples of Nigeria.
The Kano State chairman of the APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas hinged their endorsement of the president on his achievements in the last two years, especially in the area 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 the best for these times when the country has begun to muster energy and resources to develop agriculture, infrastructure and empower younger citizens,” Abbas said.
On a humorous note, Ganduje said the party was prepared to drag the president to court to force his acceptance of the second-term ticket.
In his response, Buhari said he understood the clamour by the ordinary people on the streets who had raised four fingers on each hand, meaning four plus another four years.
He also 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 things really upset me. I don’t wish to see that anywhere. I would not have won if money and killings were the mode of operation. That is my view of politics,” the president said.
Atiku to Declare for Presidency
But as Buhari luxuriated in the endorsement of the Kano APC, it emerged that a possible rival in the presidential race in 2019, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was likely to formally declare his intention to contest the presidential election after the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holding in Abuja today.
A source close to the campaign organisation of the Waziri Adamawa said in Minna, Niger State, yesterday that all arrangements for the declaration had been completed and the former vice-president would declare for the presidential race after the convention.
“Atiku will formally declare his intention to contest the presidential election on the ticket of the PDP after the convention of our party,” the source said.
It was also learnt that one of the prominent leaders of the party is expected to play a major role in the 2019 presidential campaign of the former vice-president.
Atiku was in Minna thursday on what the PDP described “as a purely private visit”.
The former APC chieftain who recently defected to the opposition PDP, arrived Minna in his private aircraft at 12.15 p.m.
He was received at the Minna airport by the state deputy governor Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso and a team of PDP leaders in the state, including former governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Tanko Beji, his deputy, Alhaji Aminu Yussuf, Senator Shem Zagbayi Nuhu and the secretary of the party in the state, Alhaji Umar Santali.
From the airport, the former vice-president drove straight to the Minna hilltop residence of former military president General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
Immediately after some formalities, Atiku went into a closed-door meeting with Babangida at 12.45 p.m.
The meeting between Babangida and Atiku lasted for almost two hours, after which he left for Abuja, declining to speak to the press.