The Chief of Staff to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, has explained that his boss will not run against President Buhari in the 2019 presidential election out of respect.
Speaking on a weekly Hausa Programme aired on DITV/Alheri Radio, Baba-Ahmed said as long as Buhari seeks re-election, “Saraki will not contest”. His words:
“There is no way Senator Bukola Saraki will contest for president in 2019 as long as President Buhari will contest. This I know very well because I work with him and I should know that.
“But if President Buhari says he will not re-contest the position, that is a different case. The Senate President will not contest against President Buhari because he sees and respects him as a father.
“The same thing happened in 2011 and 2015 if you remember. Saraki declined to contest against him; instead, he joined others to work for the success of the president in the 2015 elections.”
Baba-Ahmed, however, said he was not aware if President Buhari will seek re-election. It will be recalled that before his election, Buhari told members of his party that he would seek only one term.
While many Nigerians argue that Buhari has not delivered well on his campaign promises and doubt whether he is healthy enough to serve another term in Nigeria, some others have urged the president to seek re-election in 2019.
For instance, Senator Mas’ud El-Jibrin Dogowa, the first elected Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kano State, has given reasons why President Buhari should not bother to seek re-election in 2019.
Dogowa, who represented Kano North Senatorial Zone in the national assembly highlighted security and economic issues facing the country and lamented Buhari’s inability to tackle them squarely due to his frail health.
In a recent interview with Sun, the ex-lawmaker advised President Buhari “to go home and rest.” Hear him:
“You see I don’t want to talk for APC. I am not an APC man. But I want you to talk as a Nigerian affected by governance.
“When you look at the level of insecurity in the country when you look at the level of disunity among different sections of this country.
“When you look at the rate of inflation and the attendant hardship in the polity and when you look at the rate of unemployment staring us in the face, then definitely you will tell Buhari to just go home and rest.
“I think I am also telling him to go home and rest so that he would take care of his health like any other Nigerian is telling him at this time.”
It will, however, be recalled that one of the governors from the opposition, PDP, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, had recently joined the league of governors that expressed their readiness to drag President Buhari into the 2019 electoral contest.
Umahi said that his best wish for the President would be for him to seek re-election in 2019. According to him, since as a first-term governor he was already warming up for a re-election, he would wish that the President did the same.
“Well, any first-term governor would want to go for a second term and what you wish yourself, you should be honest enough to wish another person the same. Since Mr President is doing his first term and I am doing my first term, it’s my wish to re-contest and I will as well wish the president the same to re-contest,” he said.
The Ebonyi state governor joined other governors like Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in calling on Buhari to re-contest.
According to Governor Samuel Ortom, he had looked around and was unable to find any Nigerian that possessed Buhari’s level of integrity and credibility.
However, Governor Rochas Okorocha noted that there would be no automatic ticket for Buhari, adding that the President would have to slug it out with other contestants at the party’s presidential primary.