President Muhammadu Buhari has shown his fitness to seek reelection in 2019 by walking 800 metres back home from the Eid ground, the Presidency said yesterday
After the two-rakat Eid–el-Kabir prayer, President Buhari shunned protocol and walked the 800-metre distance back to his Daura country home in Katsina State, amidst chants of ‘Sai Baba’ by well- wishers. He acknowledged cheers from people who line the road to catch a glimpse of him.
The President joined thousands of Muslim faithful to observe the prayer. The President arrived at the at Kofar Arewa Eid Ground in Daura with some of his relatives and aides at about 9.48 a.m.
He performed the annual sacrifice of slaughtering of the ram immediately after the prayer.
Chief Imam of Daura Safiyanu Dansanwai, who led the prayer, stressed the need for peace.
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He called on Muslims to pray for the country’s peace, harmony and development.
Emir of Daura Alhaji Farouk Umar was among those at the praying ground.
Presidential aspirant and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, said last week that the President is “too old’’ to continue to rule the country beyond 2019 despite his integrity and impeccable character.
While hosting some youth groups and student, Tambuwal said: “We love President Buhari and that was why we supported him in 2015 unconditionally, and while doing that, we are too sure that he will seek re-election after his first term, but when things are wrong we have to tell him.
“We still believe in his integrity, patriotism and courage but these are not enough for a leader.
“We all know that there is a vacuum in the government occasioned by his disposition probably because of his old age or health condition.
“That is why Nigerians are yearning for younger ones to lead this country.’’
But President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu said the trekking by the president was a positive response to Tambuwal’s diatribe.
The spokesman said: “I think there are two things here; one is to say that the President is responsive to the enormous support and commitment of his own people that had come out in their numbers to see him and he just decided that he couldn’t go on riding in a black vehicle and he came out and walked to the distance.
“The second thing, he is curious that these days, one or two people who are aspiring to be president are campaigning on their youthfulness and good health.
“I think the president has done one thing today – that the issue is not how old one is but how fit he is ; how healthy he is. Now that the president has proven his fitness and well-being to continue in office is a settled matter
“I think that if people want to campaign against him they should do so on issues that are of significance to Nigerians. The President is fit, he is healthy; he is good to go for second term.’’
Speaking to reporters on the receprion he got, the President said:
‘‘I am very happy about it (the warm reception) and I do not expect anything less from my immediate base.’’
Wishing Nigerians a happy and successful Sallah celebration, the President expressed delight that the country was spending less on food imports, noting that it was a major boost to the agricultural policies of his administration.
At another event, the President received members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Daura community- an audience that has become part of his schedules during the Sallah celebrations
Reaffirming his support for the scheme established in 1973, the President told the corps members that‘‘It is better to know all parts of the country than for people to be state-inclined.
‘‘I always look forward to meeting the NYSC team because since I served mostly in the South when I was in the military, some people in Lagos the only thing they know is the sea.
‘‘For them (NYSC members) to be brought to the desert or near the Sahel region is a very difficult thing but it will make an impact on Nigeria.
‘‘I have personally spoken to Gen. Gowon to thank him for having the initiative to start the NYSC programme. It is very good for Nigeria,’’ he said.
The Corps Liaison Officer Jibrin Ishak thanked the President for prioritizing the welfare and a secured future of the Nigerian Youths through his style of leadership and developmental initiatives.
‘‘The voice of the people is the voice of God and by the grace of God, we pray that in 2019 you will continue to be President of Nigeria to do more for us,’’ Ishak said.
The representative of the Corps members prayed God to sustain the President with good health, long life and prosperity.
In his usual tradition, the President donated a bull, 10 bags of rice and half-a-million naira to the corps members.