PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Friday denied that the 800 meters trek he undertook after Eid prayers on Tuesday in Daura was a fitness test as claimed by his Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu.
The presidential aide had said that the president discarded protocol to walk for 800 meters to the admiration of his supporters, saying that the walk was an affirmation that the president is fit to contest the 2019 presidential election.
According to a statement issued by Shehu in Daria on Friday, the president broached the issue in a meeting with representatives of the 5 local governments in Daura Emirate, explaining that the walk was not about proving his fitness level or scoring cheap political capital.
The statement quoted him as saying: ‘‘This is my constituency, the people came out in their large numbers to see me and the car in which I was being driven had tinted windows.
‘‘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,’’ he said.
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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. 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 small farm holders with loans without collaterals. Collaterals are always a problem with smallholder farmers,’’ he said.
The President also highlighted the achievements of the administration on local rice productions which had expectedly led to the reduction of imports by over 90 per cent.
The President expressed delight that young people are returning to the farms and reaffirmed the Federal government’s commitment to implement policies to promote agriculture.
Speaking on behalf of the civil society groups in Daura Emirate, the spokesman of the group, Yusuf Bello Maiadua, applauded the President on his numerous achievements.
‘‘You have made us proud, the economy is back on the path of growth and you have laid a solid foundation for the development of the country.
Maiadua who hinted the President of plans by the Daura Emirate to organise a massive rally for his 2019 campaign, as soon as the ban on political campaign is lifted, invited him to make out time to attend.