•Say they believe in continuity
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
SEVEN Northern governors met with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in a closed-door after the Friday Juma’at service at the State House Mosque, Presidential Villa, Abuja insisting that they wanted the president to contest the 2019 presidential election.
The governors who met President Buhari were Abubakar Bello of Niger; Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe; Yahaya Bello of Kogi; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna; Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa and Simeon Lalong of Plateau State.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Governor Ganduje of Kano State claimed that the coming together of the seven governors was coincidence and not for any purpose.
Ganduje said, “We are seven in number here but we came separately and not for any purpose. But after the Friday prayers, we decided to say hello to Mr. President. It is just coincidence that we met in the Mosque and some joined us later and we decided to go and greet the president”.
But when Gov Ganduje was asked to respond to insinuation that the meeting was all about 2019 and that the governors wanted Buhari to contest the next presidential election, Governor Nasir El-Rufai interjected and 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.”
On whether those speculating that the meeting was about the election were right, he said, “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.
“Like our leader the governor of Kano said, we just happen to be here by coincidence and we went to pray and decided to felicitate with the President and we feel satisfied that any time we see him, he is getting better and better.”
It will be recalled that last Friday, the Northern youths, under the aegis of Arewa Youth Forum, rejected the re-election bid by President Buhari describing it as inhuman, insulting and insensitive. In a statement signed the National President of the Arewa Youth Forum, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, the forum said “as the apex body of youths in the 19 northern states and Abuja with affiliates across the country, we see the re-election bid of Mr President at this point in time inhuman, uncalled for and an insult to the sensibilities of the suffering masses”.
Meanwhile, at the presidential villa, when Governor El-Rufai was asked whether he directed the police to stop workers who were marching to government house on Thursday to protest the alleged sack of about 21,000 teachers in Kaduna State, and he said the right to protest was guaranteed in the constitution and that he was not in the state that day.
He said, “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 concern of the police was because of the precarious situation in the country particularly in Kaduna which made it unsuitable to have such protest. And the last time they did such a thing they attacked the State House of Assembly, and a legislator for which they have filed criminal charges. So this is the concern, the concern is 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.”
The governor ruled out the possibilities of recalling the sacked teachers and said that the state government had made provisions for their severance package.
According to him, “There is nothing to step back on. It is a well thought out position we took one and half years before we made the decision and we will not change it. We have announced that in line with the public service rule, we will pay three months severance pay and we have provided incentives for those that are retiring to go through the retirement training. And for those who are interested in farming, we have the reserve land available and for those who want to go into trade, we have micro credit to support them. But they are not suitable as teachers, they can do other things and the government will do other things to support them.”