President Muhammadu Buhari has said his long-distance trek on Sallah day was not about his physical fitness but to show respect to thousands of people who wanted to greet him
Garba Shehu, spokesman of the president, had said by trekking a distance of 800 meters, Buhari showed his fitness to seek another term.
This attracted criticisms. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had mocked Buhari over the comment.
#BuhariChallenge also trended on Twitter, with different innuendos by the president’s opponents.
But speaking when he received some socio-political groups at his private residence in Daura, Katsina state, on Friday, Buhari said his walk had nothing to do with his bid to seek re-election.
He said he had already made his intention known to Nigerians about his political ambition.
“Let me react to some media reports about my trekking on Sallah day insinuating that I trekked to demonstrate my fitness for 2019 presidential election,” he said.
‘‘They were not seeing me so I came down so they could see me. I didn’t need to convince anyone about my health and the decision to contest for a second term- a decision that I made public in April this year.
“After the prayer, I noticed that many people wanted to see and I was in a black vehicle and security men were blocking them from seeing me.
“So, I opted to trek in spite the security implications because I knew nothing would happen to me by the grace of Allah.”
The president used the opportunity of his meeting with his kinsmen to inform them that he has directed the ministry of agriculture and the CBN to review the processes on the issuance of loans to smallholder farmers.
“We want to make it easier for them to assess the loans, particularly the underprivileged people in the society,” he said.
“It has become necessary for the government to do this because banks will insist on collaterals which majority of farmers do not have.
“For our agriculture policy to succeed, we must be able to reach smallholders farmers with loans without collaterals. Collateral are always a problem with smallholder farmers.’’
Buhari also highlighted the achievements of the administration on local rice productions, which had expectedly led to the reduction of imports by over 90 percent.