President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said he declared his intention to contest the 2019 Presidential Election early in order to douse rising speculations in the country.
Buhari also said the decision would the All Progressives Congress (APC) enough time to prepare for the polls.
The president offered this explanation when he received members of the Buhari Support Group Centre (BSGC) at the State House, Abuja.
According to him, speculations are already constituting distraction to governance and stirring unnecessary tension so he had to declare his intention during the National Executive Committee meeting of the party.
“I had to announce before the National Executive Committee of our party about my intention to ask for the party’s nomination for next year’s election so that we can save a lot of time and cool tempers.
“A lot of people were trying to make it a habit of being a nuisance to themselves and many Nigerians, so when I came out I said those who are serious let them come out.
“And I tried to make sure that the party is organised and consolidated so that we start from the bottom to the top,
“And that Nigerians will be involved in a way that each constituency will pick those that are going to represent them at various levels, whether as local government chairmen, in the State Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and finally the president,’’ he said.
Buhari said early declaration guaranteed more participation and inclusivity within the party and further strengthened the bond with supporters and Nigerians.
“Some of the people thought to be uneducated and unsophisticated are very educated and sophisticated during elections; for those who have money to give they say bring the money we will still do what we want to do,’’ he added.
The president noted that God’s divine intervention and the use of technology during the 2015 elections exposed the weakness of previous processes where a privileged few sat and allocated figures to constituencies during elections.
“They just sit and look at a constituency and they award the numbers, then they say anybody who disagrees should go to court;
“Now for somebody who is looking for the next meal where does he get money to pay Senior Advocates of Nigeria?
“Thank God for technology, with the PVC you know where you registered and it can be shown whether you voted or not,’’ the president said.
He therefore advised Nigerians to get their voters card for the 2019 elections and ensure that they vote to please their conscience with pride as citizens.
The president commended the BSGC members for all their sacrifices and steadfastness in championing his candidacy.
“I thank you very much for the sacrifice you have been making. I am happy to use this opportunity to meet you and thank you for the sacrifices and steadfastness.
“I don’t think I can thank you enough because by identifying yourself as a group for all these years and getting nothing for it visibly I think its worthy of commendation,’’ he said.
The Coordinator of the group, Alhaji Umaru Dembo, said “through thick and thin, rain or sun shine, hot or cold we are here to assure Mr President that since 2014 we have been working, expanding and helping to explain the new life that your government has ushered in for the good people of Nigeria’’.
He said the BSGC had initiated the documentation of the president’s achievements in a book authored by Dr Sani Muktar Bichi and himself.
Dembo assured the president of a bottom-up process of mobilising more supporters for the administration, while appreciating him for reversing the trend of impunity, corruption and lawlessness that reigned before 2015.
He said the group was an umbrella organisation encompassing “Women for Buhari and Osinbajo’’, “A kasa, a tsare’’, “Northern Youth Assembly,” “Buhari Renewal mandate’’ and others in support of good governance in Nigeria.