President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with seven northern governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) extraction at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after the Muslim faithful had joined him in the Juma’at Prayer session at the Aso Rock mosque.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the session, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said the other governors, whose meeting in the presidential villa was a coincidence, were Jibrila Bindo (Adamawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).
Ganduje in the brief encounter with the newsmen explained that the seven of them “came separately and not for any purpose,” but only “decided to say hello to Mr. President.”
“It is just a coincidence that we met in the Mosque and some joined us later and we decided to go and greet him,” the Governor said.
However, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, who also spoke, renewed calls for President Buhari to continue in office for a second term despite the divergent opinions expressed by party members on the suitability of his (Buhari) candidature for the 2019 Presidential election.
Fielding further questions from the newsmen, Governor El-Rufai also confirmed insinuations that the visit had a political colouration.
He said: “We are politicians and those of us you see here want the President to contest the 2019 election, we have no apologies for that.
“We believe in Mr. President, we want him to continue running the country in the right direction. People can speculate about 2019 we have no apologies,” he added.
On the propriety of the group’s insistence for President Buhari’s candidature despite opposition within his party, Governor El-Rufai simply said, “everybody is entitled to their own opinions.”
His words: “Whether they are right or wrong is besides the point. Everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but as governors, and most of us here with the exception of Yobe governor are first-time governors.
“We are interested in continuity and stability and we want the President to continue with that.”
He also denied giving directive for the Police to disperse the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC)-led protest rally over the sacking of workers under the Kaduna state employment.
“I did not direct the police to stop the workers, I was not even in Kaduna. For me the right to protest is guaranteed in the constitution provided you don’t go violent and you don’t violate any laws.
“I think the concerns of the police is because of the precarious situation in the country, particularly in Kaduna made it unsuitable to have such protest.
“And the last time they did such a thing they attacked the State House of Assembly, a legislator for which they have filed criminal charges. So this is the concern. The concern is over the break- down of law and order and not protest or strike. They are free to do so but it will not change our position.
On whether he was prepared to rescind his position on the matter, El-rufai said: “There is nothing to step back on. It is a well-thought out position. We took one and a half years before we made the decision and we will not change it.”