The presidency declared yesterday that the 800 metres walk President Muhammadu Buhari joined other Muslim faithful to embark on from the Eid-ground to his private residence in Daura was a manifestation that he is physically fit to seek reelection in the 2019 presidential poll.
President Buhari Tuesday joined the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk and other Muslim faithful, to observe the Eid prayers at Kofar Arewa Eid Ground, Daura, Katsina State.
After the prayers, the president shunned protocol and opted to trek some 800 metres, acknowledging cheers from Nigerians who had trooped out en masse to attend the Eid prayers and also catch a glimpse of him in his home town.
He also performed the symbolic slaughtering of the ram at the Eid ground, signifying total obedience to the will of Allah as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim.
The senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, who described Buhari’s 800 metres trek as a mark of his physical fitness was reacting to claims by Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, that the president was too old to govern the country beyond 2019.
Speaking during a solidarity visit to him by students and youths in Sokoto last week, Tambuwal had said President Buhari is too old to be president, his integrity and impeccable character not withstanding.
But speaking to journalists yesterday, Shehu noted that the 800 metres trek embarked by the president yesterday was a response to Tambuwal’s claim about his fitness.
The presidential spokesman said, “I think there are two things here. One is to say that the president is responsive to the enormous support and commitment of his own people that had come out in their numbers to see him and he just decided that he couldn’t go on riding in a blacken vehicle and he came out and walked to the distance.
“The second thing; he is curious that these days one or two people who are aspiring to be president are campaigning on their youthfulness and good health. I think the president has done one thing today; that the issue is not how old one is but how fit he is and how healthy he is.
Now that the president has proven his fitness and well being to continue in office, it is a settled matter. I think that if people want to campaign against him they should do so on issues that are of significance to Nigerians. The president is fit, he is healthy, he is good to go’’.
Buhari who also spoke to reporters at his residence after the 800 metres walk said he didn’t expect anything less from his people even as he 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 said, noting that he didn’t expect anything less from his immediate constituency.
The president wished all Nigerians happy and successful Sallah celebrations, just as he expressed delight that the country is now spending less on food imports, noting that it is a major boost to the agricultural policies of his administration.
At a separate event, the President received members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently serving in Daura community.
Reaffirming his support to the scheme established in 1973, the President told the corps members: “It is better to know all the country than for people to be state-inclined. 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”.
The president formally welcomed the Corps members to the ancient town of Daura and asked them to enjoy their national service year.
In his remarks, the Corps Liaison Officer, 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 said.
The representative of the Corps members prayed God to sustain the president with good health, long life and prosperity.
The President, in the spirit of the season, donated a bull, 10 bags of rice and N500, 000 to the Corps Members.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar, yesterday berated warned erstwhile bigwigs of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who jumped ship recently and had been strident in condemning the Bihari presidency.
He warned that the few politicians inciting Nigerians against the president were taking undue respect accorded them by Buhari for granted.
Querying the critics’ moral right to condemn the present administration, the monarch warned that they should not push their luck too far, saying the majority of Nigerians who believe that Buhari deserves to be re-elected to enable him consolidate on the policies and programmes he has initiated to transform the country are ready to challenge them.
The monarch said the people of Daura Emirate and other well meaning Nigerians will defend President Buhari against intimidation under any guise.”
His Re-election Will Complete Anti-corruption Fight – Lai Moh’d
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday explained why Nigerians should re-elect President Buhari in 2019, saying a second term in office for the president will allow the ruling APC complete its ongoing battle against corruption.
Mohammed spoke with journalists in his Oro country home in Kwara State during the Sallah celebration.
“A second term for the president will allow us conclude several ongoing corruption investigations and allow the court to properly adjudicate on them”, the minister said, pointing out that while the administration has been able to put corruption under check, those affected are fighting back using the social media and some traditional rulers.
Appealing to Nigerians to be vigilant and not to yield the space to naysayers”, he said, “The gains of the past three years plus must be preserved. Nigeria must continue on its present trajectory to sustainable growth and development. Never again must we go back to Egypt.”
In a statement titled ‘2019, Year Of Decision For Nigeria’, the minister listed 11 key areas of performance by the APC government and promised Nigerians that their endurance and perseverance in the last three and half years would not be in vain.
His words: “Let me start by thanking the good people of Nigeria for their perseverance as well as support for the Buhari Administration. The sacrifice of Nigerians shall not be in vain. I want to appeal to them to remain steadfast, as the 2019 general elections approach.
“The year 2019 is the year of decision for Nigeria. It is the year that the critical decision will be made as to whether Nigeria will continue along the path of development, in all ramifications (social, economic, political, etc), that this Administration has embarked upon since 2015, or the country will retrogress and backslide to the throes of massive and primitive looting and lack of development.
“As we approach this critical fork on the road, I have no iota of doubt that the good people of Nigeria will choose the path of development, having seen the commitment, sincerity and patriotism of this administration. It is clear, from all indications that Nigerians are not going back to Egypt.
“Because of the support of the people, our party will win, even with a wider margin, in 2019, thus sealing the fate of the naysayers. The fear of this impending victory explains why they have been running from pillar to post, desperate to thwart the victory of the APC in 2019. They labour in vain”.
Faulting critics of the Buhari administration on the performance of the APC government so far, Mohammed said, “Many cynics have asked: Why should the APC-led administration be returned to power? What has it achieved to justify the votes of Nigerians?
“My answer has been consistent: This Administration has done what no other administration has done in the history of Nigeria in putting the country firmly on the path of sustainable growth and development in all areas, including infrastructure, economy, agriculture and the fight against corruption.
“Never in the history of our country has any Administration embarked on such a massive infrastructural development as this administration. The whole country is one huge construction site. Roads are being constructed in all the six geo-political zones. As you all know, I have been touring the various infrastructural projects of the federal government across the country, with the media.
“So far, we have inspected about 10 projects, including the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Oyo-Ogbomoso road, the Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port Harcourt roads, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Abuja light rail project and the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bida road. The Administration had built over 700km of roads and rehabilitated about 650km.
“In the area of agriculture, it has been a huge revolution. Let’s take one of our national staples, such as rice, as an example. When we came in, there were 5 million rice farmers. Today, we have in excess of 11 million rice farmers. Our rice import has been cut by over 80 per cent”.
Kogi Gov Urges Nigerians To Be Patient With President
On his part, Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, yesterday appealed to Nigerians to be patient with president Muhammadu Buhari as he battles to fix the country’s ailing economy and security challenges.
Bello who spoke after the Eid- Kabir prayer in Okene, his country home, said the president has demonstrated unequalled ability in tackling the nation’s economic transformation in the last one year.
“The National Bureau of Statistic record shows that the economy of the country is growing on a daily basis. So, Mr President is doing a good job”, he said.
The governor expressed confidence that President Buhari will win for another four year-term because “Nigerians believe in him and it is evident in the conduct of all the by-elections in the country recently”.
Governor Bello also disclosed that a total of 105, 000 women will be empowered under his government empowerment programme designed to lift the state out of poverty.
He said the effort will go a long way in addressing the financial predicament of the aged people and the youth in the state.
“We are doing our best in Kogi State to make sure that we secure the lives and property of the people through continuous provision of security surveillance”, he added.
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