By NASIR ABDU CHIKAJI
The popularity of President Muhammad Buhari and that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is still unprecedentedly strong in the country.
Recent political happenings in Kaduna State have further proved that apart form being Buhari’s second home, Kaduna has been one of the strongest domains of the APC.
Some weeks back, the Special Adviser to Governor Nasir el-Rufai on Political Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations, Malam Uba Sani, took analysts off guard, with a rally to welcome the President back from medical vacation in London.
There were two striking things about the rally, like I later found out. First, was the timing of the invitation the governor’s Political Adviser gave the participants, which was less than 48 hours. Notwithstanding the short notice, the people massively mobilized to the take-off venue of the Buhari solidarity rally, the famous Murtala Square.
This development undoubtedly rattled the political rivals of Governor el-Rufai, who engaged in false flag social media campaigns against the Political Adviser of the governor, Malam Uba Sani. What some observers found striking however, was the mammoth crowd that turned out for the rally, an indication that they were happy with Governor el-Rufai’s administration.
The second striking thing about the rally was that, of all the solidarity rallies held so far across Nigeria in celebration of Buhari’s healthy recovery, none could match the one held in Kaduna State in terms of attendance and the calm atmosphere, which some analysts described as the biggest political carnival in the North, in recent months.
The next significant happening in Kaduna that revealed the kind of political capital President Buhari has in the North-West was when he commissioned the $150 million agricultural investment by a company known as Olam.
Significantly, it was the first official outing of the President after his return from medical vacation and many were dazed that the President gladly honoured Governor el-Rufai’s invitation. And perhaps for the first time, both Buhari and his Minister of Agriculture attended the commissioning ceremony.
Ordinarily, only the minister of agriculture would have been in attendance.
And here again, the venue of the commissioning was flooded by youth from all the local government areas in the state, chanting solidarity slogans.
Surprisingly, other stakeholders from many states within the North-West as well as North-Central thronged the venue of the commissioning ceremony, which was graced by other potential foreign investors, the monarchy, Northern political power-brokers; professional organizations, civil society activists, musicians from both northern and southern Nigeria amongst others.
It is now evident that Kaduna has become the best example of growing solidarity for Buhari in Northern Nigeria, ahead of 2019. The two events in Kaduna did not just prove the acceptability of Elrufai or the level of influence of his political team, but confirmed the admiration and respect Nigerians have for their President. On the whole, Kaduna State could be said to have set the pace for further boosting Buhari’s political fortunes in the North and indeed Nigeria. For once, it has signalled that the road to 2019 in Buhari’s second home (Kaduna) and his immediate constituency (Northwest) will be smooth. These two Kaduna events have undoubtedly confounded el-Ruufai’s rivals on one hand and Buhari’s critics amongst the opposition elements, leaving them in a state of confusion. And such is the impact of correct political calculation.
Chikaji, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Sabon Gari Local Government Area of Kaduna State and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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