• Says he won’t be distracted by defectors, their sponsors
• FG tackles South-east govs, reveals 69 projects ongoing
Omololu Ogunmade and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in his Daura, Katsina State country home, met with some governors and senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in an apparent move to rally his base for the impending presidential election scheduled for February next year.
Led by the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Chief Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, the top party brass were hosted to lunch by the president who told them that the combined efforts of defectors and their backers in the opposition would not distract his administration from the good work it is doing for the benefit and development of Nigeria.
According to him, the APC has the full understanding of Nigeria’s challenges and is encouraged by the support of Nigerians in addressing them.
His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who in a statement gave snippets of what transpired at the closed door meeting, said the APC governors were accompanied by some members of the national and state assemblies as well as commissioners.
He quoted the president as saying: ‘‘We are always encouraged when all our constituents are happy with the work we are doing and our genuine efforts to make sure that what we campaigned for in 2015 is still very much in our minds and we have not lost focus.
‘‘In terms of security, economy and the fight against corruption, we have maintained focus. Even the opposition with all their resources cannot fault our identification of Nigeria’s priorities and the efforts being made to better them.
‘‘We will continue to do what we ought to do in the leadership position God has placed us and we thank the constituents for the support.”
The statement said the president reiterated his earlier message to defectors, emphasising: “For those who have decided to change camp for whatever reason, we wish them good luck.”
The statement noted that the leader of the delegation, Okorocha, commended the president for what he described as his great efforts in keeping the nation together through visionary leadership.
It added that Okorocha said Buhari had remained focused and unshaken by situations and circumstances, adding: “It shows that your administration is approved by God.”
The statement further quoted Okorocha as saying: “We are here to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing as Nigerians are very pleased with you.
“We also want to inform you that we had wonderful and peaceful Sallah celebration across the country because of security of lives and property you have guaranteed in our nation.”
It said Okorocha was accompanied to the meeting by the governors of Katsina, Kebbi, Kano and Niger States.
On Tuesday, Buhari undertook 800 metres walk from the prayer ground in Daura to his residence in what Shehu said was sufficient evidence of the president’s physical fitness for the rigours of the presidential run.
APC: We Will Unseat Saraki
In a related development, the APC said Thursday that it had not relented in its desire to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki from office, stating that it would work harder to secure the constitutional requirement to achieve its objective.
Section 50(2)( C ) of the 1999 Constitution requires two thirds of members of the Senate to support the removal of its president, translating to 73 of 109 legislators in the upper chamber.
The ruling party also disassociated itself from the outburst by one of the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBA) that the group would forcibly remove Saraki from office.
“APC is a law abiding political party and we have no business with Miyetti Allah. PDP is just crying wolf and trying to make baseless allegations. As for the National Assembly, we are determined to fulfill the constitutionally mandated two third majority at the Senate to remove Saraki,” the party said in a statement by its Acting National Publicity, Mr. Yekini Nabene.
Regarding the allegation by the PDP that the APC and Miyetti Allah were in cahoots over the plot to forcibly remove the Senate president, the APC said the party had nothing to do with the statement credited to the group or its members.
“It’s laughable that PDP is trying to link such a group to APC. PDP is merely clutching to every straw in its desperation to remain relevant,” the party said.
PDP had in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday alleged that the Miyetti Allah was taking a cue from the threat by the National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, to remove Saraki from office.
The main opposition party said the unguarded statement by Miyetti Allah had exposed the synergy between the ruling party and some troublesome elements, who were being used to stoke division and create violent crisis that had resulted into daily bloodlettings in various parts of the country.
“However, in the light of these treasonable and inciting utterances by Miyetti Allah, we demand that President Muhammadu Buhari, should within the next 24 hours, order the arrest and commence immediate trial of the leadership of this group, otherwise Nigerians will henceforth hold him directly responsible for the utterances and actions of the Miyetti Allah,” it said.
PDP also alleged that before now, majority of Nigerians had thought that the Miyetti Allah represented the military wing of the APC and the Buhari Presidency.
APC yet to Release Timetable for 2019 Primaries
The APC also said Thursday that it was yet to issue the timetable for its state and National Assembly, governorship and presidential primaries for next year’s general election.
According to a statement by Nabene, any timetable being circulated is fake and should be disregarded.
“Our attention has been drawn to a timetable circulating in the social media and published today purportedly for the APC primaries for state House of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship and presidential positions.
“The timetable is fake and should be disregarded. The party is yet to announce its official timetable for the listed primaries.”
FG Tackles South-east Govs, Reveals 69 Projects Ongoing
Meanwhile, the federal government has denied it shortchanged the South-east geo-political zone in the execution of infrastructural projects.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who issued the rebuttal Thursday, said a statement credited to the governors of the five South-east states that the region had been sidetracked in the implementation of infrastructural projects in the zone, contradicted available evidence.
Speaking at a lecture by Mr. Festus Keyamo, the spokesman for Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mohammed said there were 69 ongoing projects in the zone alone.
The minister averred that the federal government had implemented massive projects valued at N16.6 billion in the South-east out of the N100 billion from the Sukuk Bond.
Mohammed insisted that the zone received the same amount from the Sukuk Bond like other zones to ensure that no part of the country was left out from infrastructural projects.
“While this claim may have made headlines, it is totally untrue. Their excellencies were either misquoted or they were quoted out of context.
“Either way, this allegation flies in the face of available evidence,” Mohammed said.
He promised that the federal government would publish the full list of the projects and the breakdown in the states.
According to the minister, the four projects financed with proceeds from the Sukuk Bond in the South-east included, Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section II, Umuahia; Tower-Aba Township Rail/Road Bridge Crossing in Abia State; Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section I (Lokpanta-Umahia Tower) in Abia State; outstanding section of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea-Enugu State Border) and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway Section III (Enugu-Lokpanta) in Enugu State.
He also said he recently embarked on a media inspection of the roads, including the Aba-Port Harcourt section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, where the contractor had already completed the first three phases of the project.
“In conclusion, the South-east has never had it so good in the area of infrastructure. Had the previous administrations done even half of what we are doing now in that region, no one will be complaining today. It is alright to ask for more, but it is unfair to say nothing has been done,” he said.