Governor Issa Moussa of Zinder and Maradi State Governor, Zakiri Umar, both from the Republic of Niger, were on Thursday in Kano to rally support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
Salihu Yakasai, media aide to Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, said this on his Twitter handle beneath a photo of the governors and Ganduje.
Yakasai said, “H.E @GovUmarGanduje with his deputy H.E Dr Nasiru Gawuna, his former Dep H.E Prof Hafiz Abubakar, Minister of Interior Abdurrahman Dambazau and that of Water Resources, Suleiman Kazaure, Governors of Zinder and Maradi from Niger Republic, & others getting ready to receive @MBuhari #PMBinKano.”
Yakasai added that the two Nigerien governors were in Kano to rally support for the President Buhari’s re-election.
But the Peoples Democratic Party has berated Buhari and the All Progressives Congress over the presence of two governors from the Republic of Niger at the presidential rally of the APC in Kano.
The PDP accused Buhari of mortgaging the future of Nigeria.
He alleged that the President and his party, the APC, would also import voters from neighbouring countries for the February 16 Presidential election.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents, called the attention of the international community to the alleged plan by the ruling party.
Elections, he said, were internal affairs of Nigerians, wondering why the two foreign governors would be in Kano to welcome the President to his own country.
He said the presence of the two foreign governors had also vindicated the PDP’s claim that President Buhari and his party had been importing foreigners to attend the APC rallies.
Secondus said, “We have been saying it that the President does not consider the interest of Nigerians first in any of his actions. The President of Nigeria has sold the country to those who he loves more than the people who own the nation.
“The present of the two foreign governors is significant in many ways. One, it shows that the President and the APC, like we said, have been importing foreign leaders to the country to attend their rallies.
“We have been saying this and I’m happy Nigerians now that God has exposed them. Their evil plot has come to the open.
“You know that even in almost all the states where the President and his party have become unpopular, they keep on boasting that they will win with a landslide victory. One of the ways they planned to get the votes is the illegal importation of foreign voters, who are also underage.
“We want to call the attention of Nigerians to this assault on our sovereignty. We want the foreign and developed democracies to take note of this action and hold the President responsible if there is crisis before, during and after the elections.
“It is sad that the minister in charge of internal security of the nation was present. We know that they are planning negative things ahead of the elections. We just want to warn them not to plunge the country into crisis.”
Secondus added that the President had also demonstrated why his government had been treating the killer herdsmen with kid gloves.
But the President, Nigeria Voters Assembly, Mashood Erubami, said, “There is nothing unusual about the presence of the two governors with President Buhari. It could be coincidental but having to do with the joint efforts between them and the Kano State Government to confront the scourge of insurgency in Nigeria.
“The two governors are not registered voters in Nigeria and there is no possibility that they will mobilise their citizens across the borders without PVC to come and vote in Nigeria. It is unfortunate that opposition politicians always turn red to blue and would want gullible Nigerians to accept their agenda for the truth.
“I will advise those suspecting to be extra-vigilant during the elections. Also voters must be vigilant too in their different voting centres to ensure that those who did not register in their vicinity are exposed and are not allowed to vote.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari at the campaign rally in Kano said the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a sitting governor.
He also noted that under the Nigerian laws, an accused person remained innocent until proved guilty by the courts.
Besides, the President noted that the alleged dollar bribe Ganduje was seen stuffing in his pockets in a video widely circulated on social media had been taken to court.
Buhari was reacting to criticisms that he shielded his political associates like Ganduje and others from prosecution in the face of glaring evidence.
Emir of Kano hails Buhari on poverty alleviation
However, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has commended President Buhari for initiating programmes aimed at alleviating poverty in the country.
Sanusi gave the commendation when Buhari visited him while on a campaign tour on Thursday in Kano.
“Programmes like the N-power and TraderMoni where small traders across the country are given N10,000 each, can go a long way in boosting the country’s economy,” he said.
The Emir also called on the President to initiate more of such programmes so as to ensure the well-being of all citizens.
He also commended the Federal Government for introducing the school feeding programme, saying that the gesture had encouraged more parents to enrol their children in school.
According to Sanusi, the Emirate Council will continue to remind government on issues relating to well-being of Nigerians whenever the need arises.
Earlier, Buhari said his visit was not only to seek for re-election, but to also commend the people for their tireless support for his administration.
“I am in Kano not to tell the people what we are doing to develop the country, but to remind them on the need to perform their civic responsibilities by voting the right candidates. This is because I believe they are aware of what we are doing,” he said.
President denies shielding associates from prosecution
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Thursday, the President dismissed criticisms suggesting that his association with Ganduje was a smear on his anti-corruption stance.
The statement said some high-profile persons, including a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and a former governor he did not mention, were being prosecuted for corruption.
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, was also cited as another government official serving administrative leave to pave the way for investigation into corruption allegations levelled against him.
“Despite some of the suspects being close to the President, he had not shielded them from investigation, administrative suspensions and prosecution,” the statement added.
Specifically on Ganduje, the Presidency said “as a sitting governor, (he) enjoys immunity from prosecution in his own right.
The Social Democratic Party said the presence of the foreign governors at Buhari’s rally only confirmed the opposition’s claim that the nation’s voter register contains names of foreigners.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alfa Mohammed, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday.
He said, “When you see representatives of foreign government attending a re-election campaign rally of a candidate in another country, it shows desperation of such foreign government to do everything possible to help influence votes in favour of its prepared candidate.
“In other words, the open show of commitment to Buhari’s re-election by the two governors from Niger Republic is a confirmation of the long time held allegation that a large chunk of the names contained in the voter registers in some of Nigeria’s border states belong to foreigners.
“It therefore suggests that most of the crowd we see in the APC rallies in Kano, Katsina and other border states are mixture of Nigerians and foreign citizens. That indeed amounts to driving election rigging to the ‘Next Level.’
“Be that as it may, the opposition by this revelation have been sensitised to expect and be ready to fight foreign influence during the election, especially in the form of hiring and importation of foreign commercial voters.
“The role of the Nigerian Immigration Service in this form of cross-border electoral malpractice needs to be investigated. It is therefore very unfortunate that the same government that is warning the UK and the US against interference in our election is busy inviting vulnerable foreign governments to come and help it fight the opposition in the election.