Will the President run in 2019?

The question remains unanswered, with the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday explaining why President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to speak on his political future.

According to Adesina, Buhari’s stand is to prevent opponents from sabotaging the country.

If the President speaks too early about his ambition, he said, that it may arm opponents, who may throw everything at him and sabotage the country.

In Adesina’s view, the President cannot speak on his intention to run or not to run with the election still about one year away as he knows the consequences of doing so.

On when the President will declare his intention, he said: “You know the peculiarity of Nigeria, particularly now. If the President speaks too early, it’s a problem. There is a lot of sabotage in the country.

“You have also heard so many have said ‘don’t run’. Because they know that if the President runs, other people should just run a way because they don’t have the foggiest chance in hell to beat him. So, they want to discourage him from running.

“Now, if he tells you, ‘I’m going to run’, and elections are still one year away, it gives them one year to sabotage the entire country from all fronts – politically, socially, economically – they would throw everything at him just to dissuade him from running.”

“So, when you know that, why then do you speak early? I think it makes a lot of sense for you then to keep things close to your chest till it is time for you to then say, ‘ok, I’m running’ by which time they can do less damage,” he added

Hinting of his intention to run in 2019, the President had in November, last year while speaking with some members of the Nigerian community in Cote d’Ivoire said that he came to the meeting with two governors so that their people may vote for him in future.

While apologising for turning up late at the occasion, he said: “First, I want to apologise for keeping you for too long sitting. This is because I insisted on the governors attending this meeting.

“This is why I came along with them so that when we are going to meet you, when you are going to meet the rest of Nigerians, if you tell them that their governors were in the company of the President, I think that will be another vote for me the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up.”

On his visit to Benue State over herdsmen killings, Buhari had also said at a stakeholders meeting that he could only make promises to them when he returns there for campaign if indeed he would be coming to campaign.

Adesina also explained the President’s proposed visit to Rivers State, which Governor Nyesom Wike is faulting because of what he described as being based on a wrong premise.

The Presidency had listed Rivers among the states the President will visit over killings in parts of the country most of which are blamed on herdsmen.

When told that Wike does not understand why the President is basing the Rivers visit on a crisis, Adesina said that Buhari wanted to condole with the families of those affected by various killings in the state.

He recalled the Omoku killings and the beheading of other victims whose heads were taken away by their assailants.

He said: “If he (Wike) doesn’t understand, the rest of the country understands. We understand; other Nigerians understand. Even people in Rivers State understand because on New Year’s Day, a minimum of 24 people were killed in Omoku.

“So, is that not crisis? And can you count the number of people that have been beheaded in Rivers state in recent times?

“People will be killed and heads will be cut off and the assailants will go away with the heads. So, can anybody say that there is no security issue in that kind of place?

“It’s left to the governor. He’s the chief security officer. If he says there’s no security crisis in his state, good luck to him.”

On what will become of the trip if the governor does not welcome it, Adesina said: “I’m sure he will be formally informed of the date. So, if he now says he doesn’t want the visit, it’s left to him and the Federal Government to decide the next step.

“But the President is visiting so that he can condole with people who lost their loved ones; 24 people minimum, were killed in Omoku.

“So, those people are the reason. Those people and the many beheaded; relations of those beheaded and their heads taken away, are the reason why the President is visiting the state.”

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