Exactly one week after throwing his hat in the ring to run for a second term in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has begun strategic moves ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the president who is currently in London for an official working visit ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting has been consulting widely and holding talks with interest groups and powerful individuals.
The idea, it was learnt, is to enable him gain how much ground he needs to cover politically in garnering support for his re-election bid, both locally and internationally.
Buhari had last Wednesday met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who visited him in the Abuja House in London.
During the meeting, the president explained why he declared his intention to run for another term in office, saying he bowed to pressure from Nigerians who had over flogged the issue of his re-election bid.
Yesterday, President Buhari also met behind closed doors with leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in London.
Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, it was learnt that the meeting may not be unconnected with the party’s chances in the forthcoming general election.
Confirming Buhari’s meeting with Tinubu, the president’s personal assistant on Social Media, Alhaji Bashir Ahmad, tweeted on his tweeter handle, @BashirAhmad: “President Muhammadu Buhari receives National leader of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Jagaba) today in London.’’
According to political analysts, the president, in recent weeks, had unleashed a full-scale charm offensive in wooing key political actors, including Tinubu who they believe Buhari needs to win Southwest votes in 2019.
They also averred that Buhari’s stance on the recent tenure extension of the Chief John Odigie‑Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) was seen as a strategy to placate Tinubu who has never concealed the fact that he wants Oyegun out as national chairman of the party.
Also, President Buhari yesterday in London met with the Buhari Diaspora Support Organization led by Mr Charles Efe Sylvester.
At the meeting, the president assured Nigerians that his administration will do its best to justify the trust in him, just as he stated categorically that the confidence reposed in him by Nigerians will not be abused.
“I am happy that people like you are here, on your own, defending the country. You have shown courage and sacrifice. I assure you that your confidence in us won’t be abused, we will do our best to justify it,” Buhari said.
He told the support group that, while the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive and his government was doing its best to recover some of the loot, it is impossible to identify and recover all.
He noted that Nigeria is gifted with tremendous human and natural resources, even as he regretted that failure of some of the country’s leaders in the past who were unable to capitalise on resources to improve the lot of the people.
Buhari declared that his administration has not done too badly considering the condition in which the administration met the country.
Noting that wicked people plundered the country, “and kept Nigerians poor,” the president added that looking at the condition in which the current administration met the country, without savings and the economy badly vandalized, “we have not done too badly”.
President Buhari said the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive and that government was doing its best to recover some of the loot, even as he noted however that it was impossible to identify and recover all.
A statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying: “If they (past leaders) had used 50% of the money we made when oil prices went as high as $143 dollars per barrel and stabilised at $100 dollars with production at 2.1 million barrels per day for many years, Nigerians would have minded their businesses.
“You could almost grow food on our roads, as they were abandoned. The stealing was so much, and they were so inept that they could not even cover the stealing properly. I wonder how all those things could have happened to our country.”
He commended the Buhari Diaspora Support Organization for deciding to identify with the country when they could have stayed very comfortably abroad.
On his part, the coordinator of the organisation, Sylvester, said the group is happy with the achievements of the Buhari administration so far.
He said, “You met a difficult situation, but you have overcome most of them. We are happy with the agriculture revolution, the ease of doing business, the anti-corruption war, the employment of youths through the N-Power programme, and the blockage of leakages in the public sector through the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“We are proud of the speed with which you recovered the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls. It shows you as a worthy general. We are happy that you have declared for 2019. Majority of Nigerians are happy, but agents of corruption and darkness are unhappy. The same God, who healed you when you were ill, will grant you victory in the 2019 elections.
“You are a General who does not fear combat, either with Generals or non-Generals. We declare our love and support for you. You are fixing the faulty foundations of our country and second term is when you will build the enduring structure.”
President’s Track Record Will Guarantee His Re-election- Kogi Gov
Meanwhile, Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has expressed confidence that the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari will guarantee his re-election in 2019, saying the “real voters are behind the President”.
Bello who stated this in a statement issued by his Director General of Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo in Lokoja yesterday said the president remains the most popular political figure among the masses of Nigeria.
He noted: “Two classes determine the electoral success of any candidate in Nigeria- the powerful elites and the masses. In 2015, the masses took over by trooping to the polling units massively to elect Africa’s most popular and most trusted political figure, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Many of us who supported him actually supported his incorruptible and disciplined personality. I founded the Kogi Youth Arise Group with like minds to ensure the victory of the President in Kogi State. President Buhari is a phenomenal leader who truly loves Nigeria.
“Almost three years into his first tenure, the President has proven why we elected him in the first place. He has destroyed the roots of corruption, which was our number one problem as a nation. He has taken steps to unite the nation by ensuring his style of leadership brings people of diverse cultures and faiths together.
“It is not out of place to expect corrupt individuals and protectors of corruption to antagonize the fighters of corruption. Those who could not steal from the national pot anymore are coming out with all sorts of ideas and strategies to stop the man who is determined to continue to move Nigeria forward.
“2019 is not about PMB, but about the determination of Nigerians to finally own Nigeria by re-electing a President that has done so much to fight corruption, fight insurgency and develop the nation. Nigerians will surely re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari”.
Bello further observed that when President Buhari rolled out his achievements, the opponents of his good governance scampered for cover because he has surpassed all expectations.
He continued: “In Kogi State, I told my Media Office to give updates on what we have done so far and where we have to be in the next one year. Now the song has changed. There is a deliberate choice of the opposition to promote falsehood and generate misinformation to rail their ways into power in 2019.
“Nigerians know better. As Mr President stopped them on the national stage, we also stopped them in Kogi State. Former Governors of the state who didn’t remember to put good roads and electricity anywhere, including their villages now go home to find out a Governor is doing that already.
“The people are with us. The people are with the APC and by the grace of God and the powers of the electorate to choose light over darkness the party shall triumph again in 2019”.
Bello added that the All Progressives Congress is united ahead of 2019, saying there is no division in the party.
“APC is a big family. We are united and prepared to continue to serve Nigeria beyond 2019. PDP helped us to sell Buhari in 2015 and they have started again now. The people know the truth about Buhari and will continue to follow his leadership which protects the poor masses”, he noted.