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*Claims to have known APC presidential candidate for over 20 years as a committed Nigerian
*Tinubu says his relationship with president not frosty
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday specifically told the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of his unwavering commitment towards ensuring that he wins the February 25 presidential poll.
The President, who is the leader of the party and Chairman of the APC presidential campaign council has, therefore, assured all party supporters that he will continue to campaign for emergence of Asiwaju Tinubu as the ‘next president of Nigeria.’
President Buhari spoke before a mammoth crowd at the presidential campaign rally in Lafia square, Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, where he endorsed the candidature of Tinubu, his running mate, Senator Shettima and the second-term bid of Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
He thanked party supporters for defying the hot weather and standing in the sun for hours to express their support for the party’s flag bearers in the forthcoming presidential and gubernatorial elections.
His words: ‘‘I congratulate and assure you that God willing we are going to win through and through. As Tinubu said in his speech, I have known him for more than 20 years, and I will continue to campaign for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is a committed Nigerian and I believe he will give all his best to Nigeria.
‘‘Also vote for Abdullahi Sule for a second and final term as governor’’ he said.
Earlier in his speech, the APC presidential candidate thanked the President for being the ‘‘poster boy’’ of his campaign, fighting and working hard for the survival of Nigeria.
According to him: ‘‘Nigeria is surviving as a nation. Because of constitutional democracy we would have asked you to continue, but you said no, you are going back to Daura, your hometown.”
Tinubu also used the forum to chide those insinuating that he is having a frosty relationship with the President, saying: “those who think there are cracks in our friendship and relationship would continue to be disappointed and have their short-term joy limited.
“Ours is not about the individual but about nation building, honesty, integrity and character,’’ he said.
The former two-time Governor of Lagos state, who compared President Buhari to great and courageous leaders like Abraham Lincoln, praised him for remaining focused in the midst of distractions.
He promised that under his presidency, Nigeria will recover from all challenges because of the courage and resilience of its citizens.
Tinubu added that his administration would prioritize agriculture, build the nation’s mineral resources and create wealth for Nigerians.
‘‘We will work hard. We promise you that your children and grandchildren will have no regret about this nation and ourselves,’’ he said.
Speaking earlier in the day while paying homage to the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Dauda Bage,
President Buhari thanked the first-class traditional ruler for always welcoming him to his palace, noting that in the last eight years, he had lost count on the number of visits.
The President was accompanied by the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, some APC Governors and party stalwarts.
‘‘Thank you very much Your Highness for the affection Lafia and the entire people of Nasarawa State have shown to me always.
‘‘I congratulate you on the rapid transformation of the city. Once more, I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for the hospitality I have always enjoyed during my visits,’’ President Buhari wrote in the visitors’ book.
Commenting On Tinubu’s ambition, the Emir and retired Justice of the Supreme Court said: ‘‘I have known him for many years since my days in Lagos State at the Court of Appeal, we saw what he did, his transformational agenda in the State. We are waiting for that for our nation. We know you can do it, you have the capacity to transform this nation.’’
President Buhari also on Saturday inaugurated the Federal Secretariat, Lafia, Nasarawa State, naming the edifice situated on 10.9 hectares of land after Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and the Emir of Lafia.
The President also named the Conference Room at the Secretariat after another citizen of the State, Maimuna Joyce Katai
He noted that the recognition of the two Nasarawa State indigenes, Justice Bage and the Late Katai, was in recognition of their contribution to national development.
He also inaugurated the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Development Institute of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the Sadami Street road, executed by the Nasarawa State Government.
Governor Abdullahi Sule, who thanked the President for inaugurating Federal and State projects, noted that the NASENI Institute would transform agricultural production in the country.
He also lauded the President’s support towards education, health delivery and increased security in the state, saying that the remaining four primary school pupils kidnapped recently at Alwaza, a community in Doma Local Government Area, in the State have been rescued.
‘‘We didn’t pay any ransom for their safe return,’’ the governor said.
Governor Sule declared that the 2.2km Loko-Oweto Bridge and link roads between Benue and Nasarawa States would be formally inaugurated by the President in March.
Commending the Federal Government’s commitment to infrastructure, the governor described Oweto bridge and the second Nigeria Bridge as signature projects of this administration that will impact positively on Nigeria’s economic development.
The Emir of Lafia thanked the President for naming the Federal Secretariat after him and his unflinching support toward the development of the State.
Earlier at the Agricultural Institute, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, told the President that the newly inaugurated edifice was built in six months.
He toured the Lafia Institute, equipped with modern laboratories and machines for mechanized farming and agricultural development.
The President had approved the establishment of six Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Development Institutes, one per geopolitical zone of the country.
At the Federal Secretariat, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, acknowledged the support of the President, the State government, and the National Assembly in making the project a reality.
According to official figures from the Ministry of Works and Housing, the contract for the project was awarded to M/S Falpins Nigeria Limited on December 9, 2011 at the original sum of N2.3 billion.
It was revised to N3.1 billion in August 2020 and ‘practically completed’ and taken over by the Ministry on September 8, 2022.
The Secretariat will accommodate over 2000 staff from several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, who have already indicated interest in moving into the facility once inaugurated.