2019: 7 Northern govs meet Buhari
behind closed door
—Say they believe in continuity
—As El-Rufai says severance package for sacked teachers is ready
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – SEVEN Northern governors, Friday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari in closed-door after the Friday Juma’at service at the State House Mosque, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governors who met President Buhari behind closed-door were Abubakar Bello of Niger, Ibrahim Gaidam, Yobe, Yahaya Bello, Kogi, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano, Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna, Jibrilla Bindo, Adamawa and Simeon Lalong, Plateau State.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Governor Ganduje of Kano State claimed that the coming together of the seven governors was coincidence and not for any purpose.
Ganduje said, “We are seven in number here but we came separately not for any purpose but after the Friday prayers, we decided to say hello to Mr. President. Is just coincidence that we met in the Mosque and some joined us later and we decided to go to greet him.”
When asked on the best way forward of resolving the Fulani herdsmen crisis with farmers in the country, the governor said, “The president met with stakeholders from the affected states and I think a suggestion has been put forward by the Minister of Agriculture concerning the colony and I think eventually that is the answer.”
But Governor El-Rufai interjected when Ganduje was asked his response if people insinuate that the meeting was all about 2019, saying they wanted Buhari to contest the 2019 presidential election.
El-Rufai said, “We are politicians and those of us you see here want the President to contest the 2019 election, we have no apologies for that. We believe in Mr. President we want him to continue running the country in the right direction. People can speculate about 2019 we have no apologies.”
On whether those speculating that the meeting was about the election were right, he said, “Whether they are right or wrong is besides the point. Everybody is entitled to its own opinion but as governors, and most of us here with the exception of Yobe Governor are first time governors, we are interested in the continuity and stability and we want the president to continue with that.
“Like our leader the governor of Kano said, we just happen to be here by coincidence and we went to pray and decided to felicitate with the President and we feel satisfied that anytime we see him, he is getting better and better.”
When also asked whether he directed police to stop workers marching to government house on Thursday to protest the alleged sack of about 21,000 teachers in Kaduna State, he said the right to protest was guaranteed in the constitutional and that he was not in the state that day.
He said, “I did not direct the police to stop the workers, I was not even in Kaduna. For me the right to protest is guaranteed in the constitution providing you don’t go violent and you don’t violate any laws.
“I think the concerns of the police is because of the precarious situation in the country particularly in Kaduna made it unsuitable to have such protest. And the last time they did such a thing they attacked the State House of Assembly, a legislator for which they have filed criminal charges.
“So this is the concern, the concern is break down of law and order and not protest or strike. They are free to do so but it will not change our position.”
The governor ruled out the possibilities of recalling the sacked teachers and said that the state government had made provisions for their severance package.
According to him, “There is nothing to step back on. Is a well thought out position we took one and half years before we made the decision and we will not change it.
“We have announced that in line with the public service rule, we will pay three months severance pay and we have provided incentives for those that are retiring to go through the retirement training. Those that are interested in farming we have the reserve land available and for those that want to go into trade, we have micro credit to support them but they are not suitable as teachers they can do other things and the government will do other things to support them.”