DAILY SUN HEADLINE: 2019: Why Buhari can’t declare now –Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari cannot declare his intention to contest next year’s presidential election because he wants to prevent opponents from sabotaging the country, the Presidency has said. 

In November 2017,  when he went on a state visit to Cote d’Ivoire, the president told some members of the Nigerian community in Abidjan that he came to the meeting with two governors so that their people may vote for him in future.

The president reportedly spoke on a lighter note.

Buhari had, while apologising for turning up late for the meeting, said: “First, I want to apologise for keeping you for too long, seating.

“This is because I insisted on the governors attending this meeting.

“This was 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 company with the president, I think that will be another vote for me in the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up.”

But, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said if  the president speaks too early about his ambition, it may give ammunition to unnamed opponents to throw everything at him and sabotage the country. 

The presidential spokesman, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja, at the weekend, explained that president Buhari cannot speak with the election still about one year away because he knows the consequences. 

Asked when the president will declare his intention, Adesina replied: “You know the peculiarity of Nigeria; particularly now. If the president speaks too early, it’s a problem.

“There is a lot of sabotage in the country. 

“You have also heard so many have said ‘don’t run.’ Because they know that if the president runs, other people should just run away because they don’t have the foggiest chance in hell to beat him. 

“So, they want to discourage him from running. 

“Now, if he tells you ‘I’m going to run,’ and elections are still one year away, it gives them one year to sabotage the entire country from all fronts – politically, socially, economically – they would throw everything at him, just to dissuade him from running. 

“So, when you know that, why then do you speak early? 

“I think it makes a lot of sense for you then to keep things close to your chest till it is time for you to then say, ‘ok, I’m running,’ by which time, they can do less damage.”

On his visit to Benue State over herdsmen killings, last week, Buhari told a stakeholders meeting that he could only make promises to them when he returns there for campaign if, indeed, he will be coming for campaign.

Adesina also spoke on the president’s proposed visit to Rivers State which Governor Nyesom Wike has kicked against.

The presidential spokesman said the visit to Rivers is in connection with the people killed on New Year day, in Omoku area of the state. 

“If he (Wike) doesn’t understand, the rest of the country understands. We understand, other Nigerians understand.

“Even people in Rivers state understand because, on New Year day, a minimum of 24 people were killed in Omoku. 

“So, is that not crisis? And, can you count the number of people who have been beheaded in Rivers state in recent times?

“People will be killed and heads will be cut off and the assailants will go away with the heads.

“So, can anybody say that there is no security issue in that kind of place?

“It’s left to the governor. He’s the chief security officer.

“If he says there’s no security crisis in his state, good luck to him.”

The Presidency had listed Rivers among the states the president will visit over killings in parts of the country, most of which were blamed on herdsmen. 

On what will become of the trip if the governor is not in support, Adesina said: “I’m sure he will be formally informed of the date.

“So, if he now says he doesn’t want the visit, it’s left to him and the federal government to decide the next step. 

“But the president is visiting so that he can condole with people who lost loved ones, 24 people minimum, were killed in Omoku. 

“So, those people are the reason (for the president going to Rivers).

“Those people and the many beheaded; relations of those beheaded and their heads taken away, are the reasons why the president is visiting the state.”
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