President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that his 800 metres walk home from Eid praying ground on Sallah day was not about testing his physical health but to show respect to thousands of people that wanted to greet him on the fateful day.
The President said this when he received some socio-political groups from Daura Emirate Council, who paid him Sallah homage at his personal residence in Daura, Katsina state, on Friday.
President Buhari stated the trekking had nothing to do with his bid to seek re-election in 2019, adding that he had since made his intention known to Nigerians about his political ambition.
The President, who spoke in Hausa, stated: “Let me react to some media reports about my trekking on Sallah day insinuating that I trekked to show my fitness for 2019 presidential election.
‘‘They weren’t seeing me, so I came down so they could see me.
“I didn’t need to persuade anybody about my well being and the decision to contest for a second term- a decision that I made public in April this year.
“After the prayer, I observed that many people wanted to see and I was in a black car and security men were blocking them from seeing me.
“So, I opted to trek despite the security implications because I knew nothing would happen to me by the grace of Allah,’’ he stated.
The President used the opportunity of his meeting with his kinsmen to tell them that he has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and the CBN to review the processes on the issuance of loans to smallholder farmers.
He stated: ‘‘We want to make it easier for them to access the loans, notably the underprivileged people in the society.
“It has become necessary for the federal government to do this because banks will insist on collaterals which majority of farmers don’t have.
“For our agriculture policy to succeed, we should be able to reach smallholders farmers with loans with out collaterals. Collaterals are always a problem with smallholder farmers.’’
President Buhari additionally highlighted the achievements of the administration on local rice productions, which had expectedly led to the reduction of imports by over 90 percent.
The President expressed delight that younger people were returning to the farms and reaffirmed the Federal government’s commitment to implement policies to promote agriculture.
The spokesman of the group, Malam Yusuf Mai’adua, applauded the President on his numerous achievements.
‘‘You have made us proud, the economy is back on the path of development and you have laid a stable foundation for the development of the nation,’’ he stated.
Mai’adua disclosed the plans of the groups to organise a massive rally for his 2019 election campaign, “as quickly as the ban on political campaign is lifted’’, and invited him to make out time to attend.