Some politicians, including ‘ministers and governors’ under the banner, ‘Buharists’ are working behind the scene to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari recontests the presidency in 2019, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has disclosed.
This is despite claims by Nigeria’s minister for women affairs, Aisha Alhassan, who said that Mr. Buhari promised to serve for just one term during a political meeting before the 2015 polls.
“In 2014/2015 he said he was going to run for only one term to clean up the mess that the (previous) PDP government did in Nigeria. And I took him for his word that he is not contesting in 2019,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The minister, popularly called Mama Taraba, had also during the week stirred the hornets’ nest when she said she would support the bid of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar for the presidency, in 2019 even if Mr. Buhari decides to contest.
But on Friday, Mr. El-Rufai while addressing journalists at the State House after a meeting with President Buhari said efforts were on to ensure Mr. Buhari’s re-election in 2019 becomes a reality.
He also said Mrs. Alhassan had never been a supporter of President Buhari.
“We have a group. We have Buharists amongst governors, ministers. Our group wants to ensure that President Buhari runs in 2019. Our political ideology is to support whatever President Buhari wants to support. If he chooses not to run, he will tell us which direction to go.
“We are Buharists, we don’t have any personal ambition, we don’t have any personal aspiration and we are waiting for him to decide. And we are making every political effort and creating every structure to achieve this”
When asked on his opinion on Mrs. Alhassan’s controversial statements in the media lately, the Kaduna Governor said it was a known fact that Mrs. Alhassan was never in support of a Buhari presidency but that “she was entitled to her own opinion.”
The governor said that despite the minister’s support for Mr. Abubakar during APC primaries in 2014, she was nominated as a minister “because the President felt she earned the nomination, given the need to encourage women in politics and her impressive – though failed – run in the Taraba governorship election.”
“Many in Buhari camp did not support it (Alhassan’s nomination) but he (Buhari) overruled everybody because that is how he is. He tries to be inclusive, he considers every Nigerian as his own son or daughter and he nominated her to be minister.
“Her comments are not surprising, she has never been a supporter, she has never believed in the Buhari ideology. So, I am not surprised and as a Nigerian, as an individual, she has every right to express her views and support whoever she wants.
“But what I am saying is that Nigerians should not be surprised or shocked. This has always been her position because from time she has never supported ‘Buharism’ or what Buhari stands for. Being part of Buhari government is a different thing, because the government sets policies and if you are a minister, you execute the policies. You can execute those policies while pursuing a different brand of politics,” the governor said.
Mr. El-Rufai also denied having a presidential ambition.
“What I want to say here very, very clearly is that I have never been a presidential aspirant. I have never even been a gubernatorial aspirant. As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is that the president is looking very well. He is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is that he will contest in 2019,” he said.
The presidency is yet to make any comment on the raging controversy.