Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state has said that governors and ministers under the governing All Progressives Congress have resolved to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the 2019 presidential election.
El-Rufa’i, who made this known to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, said the governors and the ministers made the call as members of the “Buharist Group”.
However, Minister for Women Affairs, Aishat Alhassan, had on Wednesday disclosed in a BBC Hausa Service interview that she would rather resign as minister than abandon the former vice president “if he decides to run for presidential elections in 2019’’.
However, El-Rufa’i said that Alhassan neither supported Buhari’s candidature during the APC National Convention nor voted for (Buhari) him during the party primaries.
The “Buharist Group” is an association of APC governors and ministers, whose primary aim is to promote and defend the perceived sociopolitical interests of President Buhari.
The governor dismissed the assertion that he was being groomed to replace President Buhari in 2019.
According to him, as a member of the “Buharist group’’ he has no presidential ambition as being speculated since he left the public service as minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 2007.
“My name has continuously been mentioned as a Presidential aspirant since 2007 after my years in the FCT, there is nothing new about that.
“What I want to say here very, very clearly is that I have never been a Presidential aspirant, I have never even been a gubernatorial aspirant.
“I am governor today by the grace of God because President Buhari called me and said go and run for Governor of Kaduna state.
“As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is the President (Muhammadu Buhari) is looking very well, he is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he will contest in 2019,’’ he said.
On the recent political comments attributed to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aishat Alhassan, El-Rufa’i said Nigerians should not be surprised or shocked over her utterances, saying she was never in the Buhari camp.
“This has always been her position because from time she has never supported Buharism or what Buhari stands for.
“Being part of Buhari government is a different thing because government sets policies and if you are a minister you execute the policies. You can execute those policies while pursuing a different brand of politics,’’ he said.
The governor, who said he was at the Presidential Villa to wish the President “very happy Sallah’’ and also join him in performing the Juma’at prayer, said it was the President’s prerogative to either retain or remove the minister from the cabinet.