Governors from the northern states of the country who are members of the All Progressives Congress on Saturday said nothing would stop President Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2019 election.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, a close ally of the President, also backed Buhari for a second term.
They spoke just as the Special Adviser to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said on Twitter on Saturday that, “We’re working on Buhari’s return to power in 2019.”
The development came barely 48 hours after the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, vowed to ensure the realisation of the presidential ambition of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, instead of Buhari in 2019.
She had said, “If am to choose between Atiku and Buhari if both contest the forthcoming 2019 presidential election, I will support Atiku.”
Her declaration made the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to declare in an interview with State House correspondents that APC governors and ministers would support Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
El-Rufai said Alhassan did not believe in President Buhari’s political ideology and that she voted against the President during the APC presidential primary.
The Northern Governors Forum made its position known through the Deputy Chairman of the group, Abdullahi Ganduje.
Ganduje, who is also the Governor of Kano State, said the support for Buhari was total and unconditional and that in case the President decided to seek re-election in 2019, Nigerians across the six geo-political zones would troop out to re-elect him.
The governor spoke through his Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Muhammed Garba.
He explained that Buhari’s support base had increased over the last two years because of the transparent manner he has been handling the nation’s economy and his administration’s war against corruption and insecurity.
He said the foundation laid by the current administration would be consolidated and improved upon should the President decide to offer his services to the nation again in 2019.
Mohammed said, “The Buhari brand is a unifying factor because Nigerians across ethno-religious divides have come to see him as a man who walks the talk.
“For us in Kano for example, our support for him is 100 per cent. We know him as an honest Nigerian who thinks Nigeria first before anything else.
“His performance over the last two years — especially in the war against corruption, insecurity and terrorism — has been exemplary.
“Should he decide to hear our cry to seek re-election, we will not only support him but also do everything humanly and legally possible to ensure his victory.
“For those who have the privilege of travelling outside Nigeria, it is common knowledge that we are now respected because of the value the Buhari administration has brought to governance.”
In the same vein, Amosun, who spoke to journalists on Saturday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at a book launch, said the President has the right to a second term.
He said, “The only thing that can prevent President Buhari from contesting is if his health cannot take it.
“If not for this present administration, only God knows where Nigeria would have been. When the government came on board, it was like jumping into the pool at the deep end.”
He scored the Federal Government high in its fight against insurgency, insecurity, corruption as well as efforts geared at economic recovery through serious diversification drive.
Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum has said it will support Buhari in the 2019 presidential poll.
The socio-cultural group, however, gave a condition.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari is able to deliver on his campaign promises substantially and be as fit as a fiddle to undertake presidential responsibilities and tasks by the end of his tenure, there will be no reason not to support him,” the ACF Secretary General, Anthony Sani, said.
Meanwhile, a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, said that Buhari’s overall performance would determine his support for him in 2019.
Obasanjo, who spoke in an interview he granted the BBC Hausa Service on Saturday, explained that Buhari had not disappointed him because he had solved the problems he was expected to find solutions to.
He said the Nigerian leader started dealing with the problem of bribery, corruption and the war against insurgency.
Obasanjo said, “It is not everybody that will be satisfied with the way he is fighting bribery but the important thing is that he has started waging war against the problem.
“The same way we know that with his status as a retired soldier, he will try his best to find a solution to the problem of insurgency.”
Asked whether he would still support Buhari if he re-contests the next election, Obasanjo said, “If he (Buhari) says he will re-contest, I will look at his overall performance before I take a decision. I voted for him two years ago because I could vote for anyone besides Goodluck Jonathan.”
The Yoruba Council of Elders said President Mohammadu Buhari has the right to begin presidential campaign for 2019 but stressed that the nation’s governing architecture must be restructured before the elections.
Speaking through its Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, YCE said it suspected that those who were benefitting from the Buhari government and those close to him, were spearheading the campaign.
He said, “As far as we are concerned, Buhari has absolute right to start campaign ahead of 2019 just like any other Nigerian. I don’t think that he has personally begun the campaign. We suspect that his fanatical supporters are the ones pushing him and behind the campaign.
“He is still spending one term so he has the constitutional right to contest for one more term in office. However, Nigerians will decide if they still want him in the seat. His fate is in the hands of the electorate.
“YCE insists that we cannot go into 2019 election without restructuring the country. We want a restructuring of the architectural outlook of government before 2019 election.”
But the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said it would decide on the candidate to support for the 2019 presidency at the appropriate time.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the group’s spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin, said it would not speak specifically on Buhari’s ambition for now.
When prodded on whether Buhari deserves a second term, Odumakin said, “Afenifere is not a political party. When the time comes, we will look at all the candidates and weigh them.”