• We’ve no apologies for supporting his re-election
By Yemi Adebowale
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday got a boost for his yet to be declared bid for a second term in office, when seven northern governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) endorsed him after meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Those involved in the endorsement were Abubakar Bello (Niger); Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna); Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
The governors, who had earlier prayed along with the President at the State House Mosque before the meeting, declared that they have no apologies for endorsing Buhari.
Governor El-Rufai who spoke to journalists as they emerged from the session with Buhari, said they remained committed to the President’s re-election bid.
“We are politicians and those of us you see here want the President to contest the 2019 election. We have no apologies for that.
“We believe in Mr. President, we want him to continue running the country in the right direction. People can speculate about 2019, we have no apologies. Whether they are right or wrong is beside the point.
“Everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but as governors, and most of us here with the exception of Yobe Governor, are first time governors. We are interested in continuity and stability and we want the President to continue with that.”
El-Rufai, also spoke on the crisis sparked in his state by his recent mass sack of teachers for failing to measure up to standard.
He said there was no going back on the sack and that the severance packages of the affected teachers are ready for collection.
He said:”There is nothing to step back on. It’s a well thought out position we took one and half years before we made the decision and we will not change it.
“We have announced that in line with the public service rule, we will pay three-month severance pay and we have provided incentives for those that are retiring to go through the retirement training.
“Those that are interested in farming, we have the reserve land available, and for those that want to go into trade, we have micro credit to support them. If they are not suitable as teachers, they can do other things and the government will do other things to support them.”
On the allegation that he asked the police to stop workers marching to Government House on Thursday to protest the sack of about 21,000 teachers in Kaduna State, he said the right to protest was guaranteed in the constitution and that he was not in the state that day.
The governor said: “I think the concern of the police was because of the precarious situation in the country and particularly in Kaduna. This made it unsuitable to have such protest. And the last time they did such a thing, they attacked the State House of Assembly. So, this is the concern. The concern is about the break down of law and order and not protest or strike. They are free to protest but it will not change our position.”
Also speaking, Governor Ganduje said the coming together of the seven governors was a mere coincidence.
He said: “We are seven in number here but we came separately not for any purpose but after the Friday prayers, we decided to say hello to Mr. President. It’s just a coincidence that we met in the Mosque and some joined us later and we decided to go and greet him.”