President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Daura, Katsina State, said the process that led to election of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was purely democratic, and a reflection of the will of party members.
“When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) signaled parties to elect their presidential candidates, we had 30 aspirants, mostly ministers in my cabinet and governors,’’ the President said during Sallah homage to the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman.
“I told each of the aspirants to go and do their best. One particular governor, in his wisdom, came to meet me and asked who they should vote for at the party convention, checking if I had a preferred candidate.
“There was no need for interference, knowing the competence of all the aspirants. They went and elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and he picked his running mate, Sen. Kashim Ibrahim process for the 2023 elections. I am praying that we will have peaceful and successful elections,’’ he said.
The President said the openness and fairness with which the election convention and the nomination convention of the APC were conducted should be seen as the affirmation of the spirit of fairness and openness with which the 2023 general elections will be conducted.
President Buhari, who thanked Nigerians for their support for the APC in 2015, and 2019, said he had a rich experience in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, travelling to all the 774 local councils in the country, and in 2019 visiting 36 states.
“They say he who wants to serve should be ready for the responsibility of leadership. Three times I wanted this position and three times I ended up at the Supreme Court. For that reason, in terms of experience, I have gathered a lot. I visited 774 local councils in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
“I feel privileged that Nigerians elected me in 2015. Since then, we have been doing our best to tackle the challenges, with God helping us. We are not alone. If only we knew what other countries in Africa are passing through, we will be grateful to God, and protect our country. Other African countries are passing through a lot.
“As leaders, we are doing our best, and will keep doing our best to improve the situation. I am praying that the Almighty God will give us more strength and wisdom to protect our people, and fulfill our promises of ensuring wellbeing,’’ he said.
The President said his administration will keep doing its best to address the concerns on security, which the Emir of Katsina and Governor Aminu Bello Masari highlighted in their remarks.
“I have heard all that the Governor and Emir have to say on what people expect from government. I will not add anything. I am the one receiving the orders. I will continue to do my best,’’ he said.
President Buhari returned appreciation to God that the seasons had been favorable for farming and food production.
“As I was going to Daura from Katsina, we had to use choppers, so I had a good view of some farms. May God continue to bless our efforts in farming.
“We are still craving the understanding of all citizens. We are doing our best. We are praying that our efforts will translate into more good results. Nothing surpasses living in peace. We are praying that God will give us the advantage of dealing with all those that trouble the country. We don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. We pray our people show more understanding.’’ he added.
In his remarks, the Governor of Katsina State thanked the President for his foresight in closing the borders across the country to promote local production of food, which led to self-sufficiency.
He said the lockdown during COVID-19 epidemic would have been more devastating if Nigeria was depending on other countries for food, noting that many countries and their citizens suffered more.
“The Emir listed some things of which I will add my voice to one. I am happy with all the Emir said because if someone has done his best, and you show appreciation then you have encouraged the person to do more,’’ he said.
The Governor thanked the President for many interventions in the state, especially with the Federal Teaching Hospital Katsina, and the Cancer Centre that had been designated for the state.
“To be honest with you, sometimes I find it hard to go to the President, knowing the burden he carries. In Katsina, we are largely Muslims, sharing many similarities in culture, but the President is trying to tackle challenges across many religions, ethnicities and cultures. It is a tough job.
“My position is that we should help and support him, and not add to his burden, except it is absolutely necessary,’’ he added.
Masari noted that many countries in the Sahel like Niger, Chad and Mali were struggling, with some having no stable government, admonishing that the social media had empowered many people to put out mischievous and false reports.
“Our religious leaders are right by encouraging us to pray for our leaders as the world is passing through difficult times that need God’s intervention,’’ the governor said.
While thanking the President for his foresight, wisdom and patience, the Emir urged the President to pay more attention on security and infrastructure.
Usman, in his remarks, made four demands to the President: the immediate implementation of the Cancer Research Center which had been appropriated for by the federal government; the commissioning of the Rimi windmills as promised by the Minister of Power two years back and the resumption of work on Katsina-Kano dual carriage way and the Kano-Maradi rail track.
Before departing Katsina for Abuja, President Buhari donated four bulls, two to the army and two to the airforce officers, bags of rice and some money to those on parade at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Airport.