On Friday, at least seven of Nigeria’s State Governors were not on seat in their home states; they were in Abuja, as has become a tradition for some in the last few months, to have Jumaat pray in the Aso Villa mosque.
But these are the only seven known to be off their official posts for that day. Many more across party lines may just have been away just as local government area chairmen are reportedly away in state capitals with governors all the time.
Friday’s absentee governors, according to Kano Governor, Umar Ganduje, were at the Villa by coincidence.
“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,” he said.
“It’s just coincidence that we met in the Mosque and some joined us later and we decided to go to greet him,” Ganduje said.
Curiously, they are governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress and from the north. They are: Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa, Simeon Lalong of Plateau State, Abubakar Bello of Niger, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and Umar Ganduje of Kano.
In his comments, el Rufai responding to suggestions of a political meeting ahead of 2019 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,” he declared.
“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.
“Whether they are right or wrong (about speculations) is besides the point. Everybody is entitled to his 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.”