This week, the seat of power moved to Daura, Katsina State, as President Muhammadu Buhari chose to spend the Sallah holidays in his country home. Since he assumed office in 2015, President Buhari had not missed spending the Eid-el-Kabir in Daura and this year was no different.
On Tuesday, the Sallah day, Buhari had the honour of performing the symbolic slaughtering of the ram at the Eid ground, signifying total obedience to the will of Allah as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim.
After the prayers, the president stunned his aides when he 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 hometown.
The 800 metres walk has continued to elicit reactions in the public space. For the past four days, the buzzword in town had been the 800 metres trek the president embarked on.
Not wanting to be outdone by President Buhari, his arch political rival, in a show of fitness ahead of 2019, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar shared a picture on his twitter page of himself in the gym doing a walking out exercise. Also, some media aides of former President Goodluck Jonathan shared pictures of the former president in a sports tracksuit doing exercise.
While there have been a mixed grill of reactions on the propriety or otherwise of the president trekking a distance of 800 metres, others contend that Buhari’s walk was a message to the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who said recently that the president was not medically fit to lead Nigeria beyond 2019.
The presidency, in its reaction, stated that Buhari has shown that he is as fit as fiddle with the 800m walk.
Speaking to reporters at his residence after the walk, the president said he didn’t expect anything less from his ‘immediate constituency’ who filed out in large number to cheer him. He thanked the almighty God for a bumper harvest and Nigeria’s steady progress towards food sufficiency.
The president also wished all Nigerians a happy and successful Sallah celebration, expressing delight that the country was spending less on food imports. He noted that it was a major boost to the agricultural policies of his administration.
President Buhari also received members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently serving in Daura community, an audience that has become part of his schedules during the Sallah celebrations in the past years.
Reaffirming his support to the scheme established in 1973, the president told the corps members that ‘‘it is better to know all the country than for people to be state-inclined.
He said, ‘‘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.
In his usual tradition, the president, in the spirit of the season, donated a bull, 10 bags of rice and half-a-million naira to the corps members.