PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has apparently given a hint on contesting the 2019 election, telling Nigerians in Côte d’Ivoire that he wanted to be seen with some state governors so that their people may vote for him in future. In an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Abidjan on Tuesday night, he had tried to rationalize his lateness to the occasion, saying he wanted the two state governors with him on the trip to be present.
The president is currently attending the 5th European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit in Abidjan accompanied among others by Governors Udom Emmanuel and Mohammed Abubakar of Akwa Ibom and Bauchi states respectively as well as All Progressive Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
While apologizing for turning up late, he said: “First, I want to apologize for keeping you for too long seating. This is because I insisted on the governors attending this meeting.
“This is why I came along with them so that when we are going to meet you, when you are going to meet the rest of Nigerians, if you tell them that their governors were in the company of the president, I think that will be another vote for me the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up.”
Beyond this hint, President Buhari has not spoken about the possibility of his contesting the 2019 presidential election even though many governors elected under the All Progressive Congress (APC) have spoken out in support of a second term for him.
The president also said that his support for President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, despite serving as minister in a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration was a confirmation of the statement he made on May 29th, 2015 inauguration, that he belongs to nobody and belongs to everybody.
The President was reacting to Adesina’s gratitude to his administration for supporting him to clinch the AfDB’s job as the first Nigerian to head the continental bank since it was set up in 1964.
He added: “The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), who forgot to mention that he was serving in the PDP government as a minister but all the same I picked him and recommended him for AfDB. I think it emphasized what I said during my swearing in that I’m for everybody, I’m for nobody. As long as you are a Nigerian be prepared to be on the receiving end from me.”
Buhari also revealed that Tinubu had brought him a beautiful piece of information which he said he was not aware of until now.
Without disclosing the information, he said: “I also thank our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He has brought me a very beautiful piece of information which I was not aware of it until I sat down and read it this evening (Tuesday night). Thank you very much for your hard work and I will discuss that paper with you.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari has assured that all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world will be brought home and rehabilitated.
He vowed to reduce the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare, and food security at home.
He told the Nigerians in Abidjan that all necessary steps will be taken to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.
He, however, noted that it is very difficult to know the origin of the people who died, while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, because of lack of documentation.
“When it was announced that 26 Nigerians died recently in the Mediterranean, before they proved that they were all Nigerians they buried them.
“But the evidence I have from the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, (Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa) is that only three of them were identified as Nigerians. But I’ll not be surprised if the majority of them were Nigerians.
“For people to cross the Sahara desert and Mediterranean through shanty boats… we will try and keep them at home. But anybody who died in the desert and Mediterranean without documents; to prove that he is a Nigerian, there is absolutely nothing we can do,’’ he said.
Reacting to a recent footage on the sale of Africans in Libya, President Buhari said it was appalling that “some Nigerians (in the footage) where being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya.’’
‘‘After 43 years of Gadhafi, why are they recruiting so many people from the Sahel including Nigerians? All they learned was how to shoot and kill. They didn’t learn to be electricians, plumbers or any other trade,’’ he said.
On domestic issues, President Buhari told Nigerians in the Diaspora that there is ‘‘good news from home’’ in the area of security, economy and anti-corruption.
“We are not doing too badly in trying to secure the country, improve the economy and deal with corruption.
“We are doing our best at all levels including security. It is absolute madness for people to blow others up in markets, churches, and mosques. No religion advocates violence. Justice is the basic thing all religions demand and you can’t go wrong if you do it,’’ he said.
On food security, the President said that his vision of repositioning Nigeria as a food-secure nation is on course as the country is on the verge of attaining food security.
He attributed the development to positive agricultural reform programmes and bumper harvest occasioned by good weather.
According to the President, interventions through the Anchors Borrows Programme of the CBN and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, among others, had been very successful in the agricultural reform initiative.
“People have gone back to the farm. We got the CBN, agriculture minister and money was provided at very low interest to farmers and the farmers responded and it was very positive.
“We are lucky that we are in a position to feed ourselves. So we are going to have food security in Nigeria earlier than anybody ever thought,’’ he noted.
The President advised Nigerians in Cote D’ Ivoire to be good ambassadors in their host country, warning that the Embassy will not hesitate to repatriate those who tarnish the image of the country abroad.