President Buhari officially flags off campaign for 2019 election

President Buhari and wife, Aisha
President Buhari and wife, Aisha

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the opening of his first campaign office in the South-West.

This is coming ahead of his final declaration for the 2019 presidential election. Minister of Communication, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this yesterday to State House Correspondents at the presidential villa, Abuja after a closed door meeting with President Buhari, said the office in the South-West will be commissioned on February 20.

The minister said that he seized the opportunity of the meeting to inform the President that already, the Board of Trustees of the Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group had been appointed and will be inaugurated at a grand event.

Shittu explained that as presently constituted, himself would serve as board chairman of the Buhari/ Osinbajo Campaign and Support Group.

While justifying his action, the Communication Minister stressed that Nigerians have never had it so good like what is being witnessed across the country. Shittu described President Buhari as “a saviour” who is at the helm of affairs in Nigeria.

He said: “Everyday since he came into office, all his activities are geared towards letting Nigerians know that they have a saviour, a rescuer.

Somebody who is committed to providing relief for Nigerians in all respects.” The minister emphasised that Buhari deserved a second term in office and should be encouraged to recontest.

He also noted that the President has done well in certain areas including the fight against corruption, insurgency whether in the North-East or the Niger Delta, economy and the provision of jobs as well as social stability nationwide. “You will agree with me that today, but for Buhari, Boko Haram would have invaded even Lagos,” Adebayo said.

Speaking further, the minister, who responded to questions on whether the campaigns for 2019 had started in earnest, said: “If you have a child who goes to primary school, does well; proceeds to secondary school, does well, and you keep asking is he going to university?”

Shittu said that even though the President had not made up his mind on the matter, he, along with other ardent supporters, would urge him (Buhari) to contest for a second term in office. “I know he has not made up his mind, but I can say that some of us can assist him in making up his mind so that Nigeria can continue to enjoy stability and progress in the land.”

Shittu’s revelation is coming amidst reports that President Buhari has already appointed former governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi as his Director General (DG) for the 2019 presidential election. Two cabinet members in the Buhari administration, who prefer not to be quoted in print, confirmed to New Telegraph the appointment of Amaechi as campaign DG of the President.

“We need to start early, that is why Amaechi has been picked as the campaign DG. We have been holding series of meetings with him on the re-election of Mr. President,” a minister in one of the sensitive ministries told New Telegraph yesterday. In separate interviews on the development yesterday, one of the ministers said that the decision of the President for appointing Amaechi as DG was based on the premise that it was better to start early, considering some of the many challenges that may stand in the way of the reelection bid.

The second minister, who served in the 2015 APC Presidential Campaign Council, confirmed that Amaechi has been picked by the President to superintend his re-election in 2019.

“It is true; Amaechi has been appointed, though unofficial, as the Director General of Buhari’s reelection campaign organisation,” the cabinet member said.

The minister added that Amaechi would retain his cabinet position in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) while serving as Director General. An aide of the Transport Minister also confirmed the appointment of his boss as DG of the Buhari campaign for 2019 on the condition of anonymity.

However, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adisana, in a telephone interview with Channels Television yesterday, said it was not true that Buhari had appointed Amaechi as his DG for 2019 election.

Adesina said it was not possible for the President to appoint a DG when he was yet to become a candidate in an election. He explained that there was also a proper channel of communication in the Presidential Villa to disseminate such information if the development was true.

Our Correspondent gathered that before the appointment of Mr. Boss Mustapha as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) by President Buhari, all structures had already been put on ground in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the President’s re-election.

A source confirmed that the Office of the SGF and some Buhari’s political associates have put in place state and zonal coordinators for grassroots mobilization. Already, Buhari has hinted on the possibility of his seeking re-election.

At an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire during the recent 5th European Union- African Union (EU-AU) Summit, Buhari said he came late to the meeting because he waited for two governors to accompany him to the event because of their electoral value.

“…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 in the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up.”

Also, during his recent visit to Kano in December, Buhari said Kano State “is in his pocket.”

The President polled the highest votes in Kano in the 2015 president election. He secured 1,903,999 votes in the state. “I know the elections. If they are to be free and fair, if it is a question of numbers; if it is a question of allowing people to make their choice, then I think the people of Kano are in my pocket,” Buhari said.

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