President Muhammadu Buhari remains electorally unbeatable with his attachment to the people unwavering, despite recriminations by the elite class on social and conventional media, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has said.
Governor El-Rufai, who is also Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Committee on Restructuring, also affirmed President Buhari’s endorsement of the committee’s recommendations on restructuring, saying the President was ready to give up his powers if it would help to move the country forward. Governor El-Rufai’s claim of Buhari’s endorsement of the report was immediately pooh-poohed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which challenged the governor and the APC to forward the committee report to the National Assembly.
The PDP in its response said Nigerians, having been once deceived by the lies and propaganda of the APC, would not be taken in for a second time. Affirming the president’s electoral invincibility, El-Rufai in an interview on Channels Television said: “I do not have any doubt in my mind that we are going to win the next elections; not only in the centre but we are going to preserve our 24 states, and even more,” he said.
Insisting that the president remained popular despite insinuations to the contrary in conventional and social media platforms, the governor said: “We are not saying this foolishly; this is scientific. We are monitoring the pulse of Nigerians, not the pulse of a section of Nigerians and I am confident that we are going to win the 2019 elections. “We know the pulse of the nation, we know where we are losing support, we know where we are gaining support; I have no doubt in my mind that we are going to win the 2019 elections. “There are two pulses of Nigerians – there is the pulse of the Nigerian elites which is the noise that you hear in the media, the social media and so on; then there is the pulse of the people. “If you remember how many people came out to welcome President Buhari in Kano, then you will know that there are two Nigerias.” Affirming the President’s endorsement of the APC Committee report on restructuring, El-Rufai said the President will sacrifice any of his powers if necessary, to move the country forward.
“If giving up power will make Nigeria progress, he will give all of it up. Not just part of it, but all of it. This is the real Buhari that many people don’t know. It is the most comprehensive review of this subject matter ever in Nigeria’s history. “APC’s true federalism committee differs from other confabs in at least two ways; first, previous confabs were conclaves of the elite. The government picks who goes there, they decide who participates, and it is mostly old people with a sprinkle of a few women. Our committee opened the space for everyone.
“More than one-third of the membership of our committee were women. More than a quarter of the membership were young people, below the age of 40. It was a very broad range of consultation. Many opposition figures have expressed support for the report. We have proposed more than 20 alterations to the constitution. Everything we did is in the best interest of Nigeria. “So, this is the first time that a platform has been given to young people and women and those that are vulnerable to give their voices to what shape of the federation they want to see. Because old people like me, 50, 60, 70 cannot define the future for Nigerian youth below the age of 40. What young women and our people see is completely different from what old people see.”
The Kaduna State governor, however, drew back from commenting on President Olusegun Obasanjo’s missive to President Buhari, saying he had not fully read the special statement issued by Obasanjo last Tuesday. “I have not. It is too long. I am very busy, but I got the gist of it. President Obasanjo is a Nigerian, he is a patriot, and he is entitled to his opinion just like every other Nigerian,” he said. “The Presidency has issued a response, the party has issued a response, and that closes the matter. We are moving on. I believe that President Buhari is the one that will advance the interest of Nigeria and the stability of the country.”
The governor also dismissed insinuations that his vociferous support for a second term for the President was because he wanted to ride on his coat-tail for his own second term. “I believe that it is in the overall interest of our party and the stability of Nigeria; It is not because I stand to gain or lose anything. But it is because in everything I’ve done since I got into public service, for me the interest of Nigeria comes first. “God has given me everything through the instrumentality of this country – I don’t need anything as a person but what I need is to see a country that is making progress, that is stable and leave a legacy for our children to build on it,” he added.
Governor El-Rufai’s claim on Buhari’s readiness to implement the APC Committee report on restructuring was, however, tackled by the PDP. Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan, the party said: “They think that they can take Nigerians on a second ride after they dropped them on a land of fantasy. But Nigerians are aware and are awake to their false rides and fantasy and there can never be a repeat of it.
“If El-Rufai is saying that Buhari believes in restructuring, we challenge and the Federal Government to pick up a copy of the 2014 National Conference report and take it to the National Assembly for amendment into the 1999 Constitution as amended. But the unfortunate thing is that in their usual game, they are telling Nigerians what they do not believe. “They still have between now and February, 2019 to showcase to Nigerians that they believe in restructuring. And the Senate and the House of Representatives members will be sitting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 30, 2018 (today). So we challenge them to take a copy either to a joint committee of the National Assembly or to deliver to each chamber. “There is no way making post-election promises of 2019; they should do it now. Now is the time to do it. We have always told the APC Federal Government that deceit, lies and propaganda will help you win election but it cannot sustain them,” he said.