Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai has denied nursing ambition of replacing President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, saying that he had never been a presidential aspirant despite the fact that his name had been bandied around in the press.
According to him, governors and ministers, whom he described as Buharists, would wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to show them the direction to go if he would not contest the 2019 presidential election.
Speaking to State House Journalists yesterday ,the governor said that they were all fervently raying that Buhari should seek re-election come the next general elections.
“Look, my name has continuously been mentioned as a presidential aspirant since 2007 after my years in the FCT, there is nothing new about that. I want to say very clearly that I have never been a presidential aspirant, I have never even been a governatorial aspirant.
“I am governor today by the grace of God because President Buhari called me and said go and run for Governor of Kaduna State. 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 Buharist 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. 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 from time,” he said.
On comments attributed to the minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, to the effect that she would not support President Buhari if he chooses to contest for a second term, el Rufai noted that she was just being herself as she had never been a supporter of Buhari at anytime.
He said: “The minister of Women Affairs, Jummai Alhassan, has been in the Students Union. In the APC she was never in the Buhari camp, she did not support our candidate 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 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 he thought Buhari should retain Alhassan, el Rufai stated:
“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 Afairs and adding value to the government and the people of Nigeria, it’s 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.”