By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Presidency was upbeat yesterday as it declared President Muhammadu Buhari fit to face the rigours of next year’s presidential contest slated for February, citing the president’s 800 meters walk home from the prayer ground as evidence of his clean state of health.
The president returned from a 10-working day vacation last weekend and proceeded to his Daura, Katsina State homestead for the Eid-el-Kabir Festival on Monday.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement said if anyone was in doubt about the fitness of the president, yesterday’s walk home amid cheers from his supporters was enough to erase such doubt.
Shehu said the president undertook the walk after joining the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk, and other Muslim faithful, to observe the Eid prayers at Kofar Arewa Eid Ground, Daura in Katsina State.
According to him, Buhari performed the symbolic slaughtering of the ram at the Eid ground, which he said signified “total obedience to the will of Allah as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim.”
He said after the walk, the president spoke with reporters in his residence, saying he didn’t expect anything less from his ‘immediate constituency’ and thanked the almighty God for a bumper harvest and Nigeria’s steady progress towards food sufficiency.
‘‘I am very happy about it (the warm reception) and I do not expect anything less from my immediate base,” he was quoted as saying. He said the president who wished all Nigerians a happy and successful Sallah celebration, expressed delight that the country was spending less on food imports, noting that it was a major boost to the agricultural policies of his administration.
Shehu also said at a separate event that Buhari received members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently serving in Daura community- an audience that has become part of his schedules during the Sallah celebrations in the past years.
He said the president while reaffirming his support to the scheme established in 1973, told the corps members that it was better to know all the country than for people to be state-inclined.
Buhari said, ‘‘I always look forward to meeting the NYSC team because since I served mostly in the south when I was in the military, some people in Lagos the only thing they know is the sea.
‘‘For them (NYSC members) to be brought to the desert or near the Sahel region is a very difficult thing but it will make an impact on Nigeria.
‘‘I have personally spoken to Gen. Gowon to thank him for having the initiative to start the NYSC programme. It is very good for Nigeria.’’
Shehu added that Buhari formally welcomed the corps members to the ancient town of Daura and asked them to enjoy their national service year.
The media aide indicated that the Corps Liaison Officer, Mr. Jibrin Ishak, thanked the president for prioritising the welfare and a secured future of the Nigerian youths through his style of leadership and developmental initiatives.
‘‘The voice of the people is the voice of God and by the grace of God, we pray that in 2019 you will continue to be President of Nigeria to do more for us,’’ Ishak was quoted to have said.
The statement added that the representative of the corps members prayed to God to sustain the president with good health, long life and prosperity.
It also said in his usual tradition, the president, in the spirit of the season, donated a bull, 10 bags of rice and N500,000 to the corps members.