The Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a true and dedicated nationalist, whom he said loves Nigeria more than himself.
Stressing that Mr Buhari is an embodiment of honesty and integrity, he said, “We have in him a true and committed leader.”
He made the assertion on Monday at the South-east APC dinner for Mr Buhari which took place in Owerri, the Imo State capital, in the presence of newly emerged leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from the region.
The president was not at the dinner.
A statement issued to journalists by the Chief Press Secretary to Mr Ganduje, Abba Anwar, early on Tuesday, narrated what transpired at the event.
“Buhari is a symbol of unity. Buhari loves Nigeria more than the way he loves himself. He is too much committed to bringing sustainable development to our dear nation. This dinner in his honour is timely and apt,” the governor was quoted as saying.
“Before our dear president came in, we had series of bomb attacks all over the North-east. So also in places like Kano, we had terrible experiences.”
He said there was “a time in Kano when 10 police stations were bombed simultaneously. Over 300 people were killed. We can still remember when there were explosives at Kano Central Mosque, where another set of more than 200 were killed by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents. But everything is now history. When President Buhari came in now it is a different story.”
According to Mr Ganduje, before they came on board as leaders under APC, the military was in disarray and soldiers were using almost obsolete weapons while there was not much enthusiasm at the time for fighting insurgency then.
“But when Buhari came on board, things were put in good shape. Buhari is absolutely for Nigeria. If we are looking for economic prosperity for the nation, Buhari is the answer. If we are looking for integrity, Buhari is the answer. If we are looking for honesty in the fight against corruption, Buhari is the answer,” he said.
On the recently concluded National Convention of the APC, Mr Ganduje dismissed all speculations before the convention that the party would disintegrate after the convention.
“Where are the doubting Thomases who speculated that the party would disintegrate after the convention? But because of our able president we had a very successful convention,” he said.
“The convention is a huge success for Nigeria. It is a huge success for democracy. It is a huge success for South-east and a huge success for Imo politics.”
Mr Ganduje also spoke on alleged moves to humiliate Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo at the convention.
It was reported how two separate delegates from Imo appeared and had a fracas at the APC convention in Abuja. One was backed by Mr Okorocha while another had the support of a former senator, Osita Izunaso.
Mr Okorocha eventually had the upper hand as his candidate for the position of National Organising Secretary defeated Mr Izunaso who sought to retain the seat.
“I can remember when there was a gang up to humiliate our brother politically, Governor Rochas Okorocha, we went there directly and said ‘No that will not happen in our presence. And over our dead bodies!
“We all believe that Okorocha is a bridge builder. Therefore not in our presence for a gentleman like him to be dwarfed and to be rubbished. We didn’t allow that calculated attempt to happen. Any gentleman will not feel comfortable if another gentleman is being manhandled. So we said No,” Mr Ganduje stated.
Revealing the role he played when some Northern youth gave Igbo people residing in the 19 Northern states ultimatum to leave North, Mr Ganduje mentioned how he sought permission from Mr Buhari to douse the tension.
“I went to Mr President and requested him to give me the go ahead in reconciling the situation. Our dear President said ‘Please go ahead’! I converged all the members of that Northern Youth group and also invited all the Igbo leaders from the 19 Northern states and sat with them for five days in Kano. We accommodated them all,” he said.
“We had a very fruitful discussion with all of them. It was after that, that they, the youth, went to Abuja and announced their withdrawal of the ultimatum. We all believe in peaceful resolution of any tensed situation.”
The governor commended the South-east APC for organising the dinner and the unity rally for Mr Buhari. He also rejoiced with all those recently elected at the national convention who are from the South-east.
At the event, the newly elected members of the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee from the region, alongside other state executive members of the party from the South-eastern states were introduced to Mr Ganduje.
A standing ovation was reportedly accorded Mr Ganduje after his remarks at the occasion.
On his part, Mr Okorocha commended Kano State for being a state that accommodates more Igbo people than any other state in Nigeria.
“I must commend your state for being the state that hosts more Igbo people than any other state in the country. This shows your receptive and accommodative postulation. As far as I am concerned also, my friend the governor of Kano State Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje ‘Mai Gandujiyya’ is a bridge builder,” Mr. Okorocha said.