*Vows never to let anyone impose himself on Nigerians
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, while inaugurating some projects in different parts of Kaduna State, gave a generous pass mark to the Northwestern state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, saying he was writing history in letters of gold.
Buhari, who confessed to having taken El-Rufai’s loyalty for granted, and went on to profusely thank him, however, vowed never to let anyone raise an army of thugs with a view to forcing himself on Nigerians, as the nation journeys through the next national elections.
The president was in Kaduna for a two-day working visit, and arrived Wednesday night from Banjul, Gambia, where he attended the inauguration of President Adama Barrow, for a second term of office.
Buhari, who flew in a helicopter, landed at the Murtala Square and commissioned the remodelled Square.
Received by El-Rufai and top government functionaries, the president commenced his activities in Kafanchan, where he commissioned some road projects under the Urban Renewal Programme, before returning to Kaduna at about 11:45am.
At the Murtala Square, the new city centre of Kaduna State, the president, while admiring the remodelled edifice, recalled that he was constrained by family challenges to relocate from Daura to Kaduna, after he was released from detention as a former military Head of State.
”I can hardly find my way in Kaduna due to the development taking place here and the governor, has committed himself to change Kaduna for good and has been very successful at that, and Nigerians are appreciative that you are writing your history in letters of gold,” he said.
In yet, another instance, an overly impressed Buhari added: “Thank you very much, Your Excellency, and remarkably, you became my governor. I don’t think I have any input. Zainab became my minister of finance.
“I didn’t know you are from the gentleman I respect and go to his house (apparently referring to El-Rufai). This is fabulous coincidence and I thank God for it. Therefore, I have taken your loyalty for granted,” Buhari said.
Still in Kafanchan, Buhari underlined his resolve to consolidate the country’s political system to improve the quality of the people’s lives, because “the people matter.”
Addressing the palace of Alhaji Muhammadu Isa II, the Emir of Jama’a, Buhari said, “We are doing our efforts to consolidate the system for the good of the people because they matter.”
He used the opportunity to speak about the use of the police and the military, in dealing with security situations but urged Nigerians to develop confidence in civil authority to build a system “free of chaos.”
Buhari, therefore, reiterated that, “Nobody should be allowed to raise an army of thugs to force himself on the people. This must be very clear.”
The president further gave assurances of the determination of his administration “to hand over a better Nigeria than the one we inherited,” and urged Nigerians to be fair in their assessment of what his government has achieved especially, on the campaign promises he made ahead of the 2015 elections.
The president, who inaugurated the newly remodelled Murtala Mohammed Square, also unveiled the 136-bed Infectious Disease Hospital, LEA Lokoja Road Primary School, Rigasa, Aliyu Makama road and the Leventis underpass, executed by the State government.
He praised Governor El-Rufai for completing people-oriented projects in the Kaduna metropolis as well as other senatorial districts in the state.
Also, while inaugurating the 800-metre long flyover in Kawo, Kaduna, amid tight security, the president recounted how he narrowly escaped a targeted bomb attack in the vicinity in 2014.
Reminiscing on the unfortunate incident, which claimed the lives of many innocent Nigerians, Buhari thanked God for sparing his life on that fateful day along Ali Akilu road, Kawo-Kaduna.
His words: ”For many years, I always plied this route and I cannot recount how many times I crossed it. There was an attempt on my life on this road. Nothing happened to me just like the 30 months I spent during the civil war.
”They wanted to blow up the vehicle I was in around the secretariat but my escort somehow stopped them. But before we came to this bridge (Kawo), they became more desperate and there was a small market in the area, where the device exploded. But God protected us and here I am again,” he said.
After commissioning the newly constructed Dan Haya Road, Katsina Road and the Emir’s Palace Road in Kafanchan, Buhari, Buhari stated again, “I’m very impressed by the rehabilitation of the town (Kafanchan) I have seen.”
He urged residents of the area to show appreciation for the projects, and commended the Emir, for his consolidation of peace among the diverse ethnic and religious communities of the Emirate.
In his remarks, El-Rufa’i acknowledged the President’s investments in security in the area, noting in particular that the establishment of security outfits, had paved the way for reduced attacks on people, stating categorically that Kafanchan was much safer today than it used to be.
The Emir, in acknowledging the improvements in security in the area, requested permanent bases for the Air Force and the Mobile Police, as well as the restoration of the rail services for which Kafanchan was known.
Buhari was welcomed to the community by the Senator and Members of the House of Representatives from the zone, as well as a large crowd of enthusiastic citizens, who thronged the streets.
Meanwhile, a combined team of heavily armed soldiers and the police were deployed to strategic places in the state while helicopters were seen hovering around the city.
Kaduna is one of the northwest states under constant attacks by bandits with people being killed or abducted almost on a daily basis.
Buhari is expected to be in Zaria today to commission more road projects under the Urban Renewal Programme.
Curiously, however, the visit was without the usual fanfare and celebrations as not many people came out on the street to welcome him.