Should President Muhammadu Buhari been unable to contest the 2019 presidential election, he will direct his supporters on the way to go, Governor Nasir el-Rufai has said.
Speaking to State House correspondents in Abuja on Friday, he however expressed he hope that since the president is recovering well from his ailment, he will run again for the office.
He said that is the position of state governors and ministers including himself who he described as “Buharists.”
This is against the backdrop of the revelation made my Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Aisha Alhassan who said that Buhari had promised to run for only one term.
The Kaduna governor said: “As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is the president is looking very well. He is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he will contest in 2019.
“Everything that our group is doing, and we have a group, we have a Buharists amongst governors, ministers. Our group wants to ensure that President Buhari runs in 2019.
“If he chooses not to run, he will tell us which direction to go.”
El-Rufai who had been asked to comment on the possibility of himself replacing Buhari as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2019, remarked that Buhari’s supporters have no personal political ambitions.
According to him, “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 every political effort we are making, every structure we are creating, and we know many people that have already started campaigning, they want to tag some of us as part of the problem and we are ready for them.
“But our political ideology is to support whatever President Buhari wants to support. That has not changed.
“And I want to assure you whatever names you hear, Nasir El-Rufai is not an aspirant for the presidency neither any of the governors that are known to be Buharists as well as some of the ministers that are known for from time.”
On Alhassan’s position that she will not support Buhari if he chooses to re-contest, El-Rufai said that he was not surprised at the minister’s view since she was never in Buhari’s camp.
He noted that the president himself was aware of that and still went ahead to appoint her a member of his cabinet being the persons he is.
El-Rufai stated: “The Minister of Women Affairs Jummai Alhassan has been in the Students Union. In the APC she was never in the Buhari’s camp. She did not support our candidates during the National Convention, she didn’t vote for Buhari during the primaries.
“But out of largeness of the president’s heart and to encourage women in politics, he felt that even though she was never a supporter of his politics nor his beliefs or ideologies, and what she has tried to do in Taraba, he felt she earned being nominated as a minister.
“Many in Buhari camp did not support it but he overruled everybody because that is how he is. He tries to be inclusive, he considers every Nigerian 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 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 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’s government is a different thing because 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. And it is okay. There is no problem with that.”
On whether she should be retained in Buhari’s cabinet, El-Rufai added: “It is the president’s prerogative.
“Look, you can retain a person in the cabinet even if he doesn’t support you, if he adds value to the country because this is a government, it is not a political grouping that we are fighting for some political progress.
“If Jummai Alhassan is performing as Minister of Women Affairs and adding value to the government and the people of Nigeria, is the president’s prerogative to retain her in spite of her political views.
“But if she is not adding value in spite of her political views she can be dispensed with. That is the president’s decision. I don’t think people should get worried about it.
“I have worked closely with the president. I know him and I know how he thinks. He doesn’t take this things personally or to heart.
“What is primary to him is Nigeria’s progress and how well the government is doing and what everyone is contributing. That is what matters ultimately.”
El-Rufai announced that public hearing on restructuring of the country will begin on September 18. It is being organized by the committee headed by him and set up by the APC following increased agitation in the country.
He said 13 of such hearings will be conducted around the country to listen to Nigerians, synthesize their views towards making recommendations to the party.
The governor explained: “What is important for us in the APC is to separate the signal from the noise.
“There is a lot of noise about restructuring, there is a lot of opportunism, there are people that are restructuring their career, that is their meal ticket and we’ll put that as the noise.
“But the signal is what Nigerians say, what young people whose country we are supposed to be restructuring for want.”